In this post, we’re going to show you how to make Helichrysum oil at home. We’ll use fresh Immortelle flowers and quality carrier oil, following an old, traditional Dalmatian procedure to make a Helichrysum macerate for home use.
Helichrysum oil, often called Immortelle oil or Everlasting is one of the most sought-after oils due to its healing properties and use in the beauty industry as well as in aromatherapy.
- Uses of Helichrysum oil
- Benefits of Helichrysum oil
- What do you need to make Helichrysum oil at home?
- When to harvest Helichrysum
- How to harvest Helichrysum flowers
- How to make Helichrysum oil at home – step by step instructions
- How to store Helichrysum oil?
Uses of Helichrysum oil
The name Helichrysum comes from the Greek words “helios” and “chryos” or golden sun. Helichrysum grows mostly in dry, stony, or sandy soils of the Mediterranean, South Africa and Australia.
We can recognize it by its golden yellow flowers and curry-like smell. It’s called »Immortelle« in French and »Everlasting« in English. The Greeks used it to decorate temples dedicated to the gods. Even then, it already had names like »amaranthus « or »forever young«.
The usage of Helichrysum has been evidenced since ancient times.
Helichrysum is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey in the 8th century BC as the secret of the extraordinary beauty of the Phoenician princess Nausicaa.
The earliest mentioned method of Helichrysum medicinal use is recorded in the »Historia Plantarum« by the Greek scientist and philosopher Theophrastus (2-3 century BC). He stated that »Heleiochrysos« can be used in the treatment of burns, mixed with honey, and in cases of stings of poisonous animals.
Pliny the Elder, the author of the Natural history, mentions Helichrysum and claims that bruised leaves macerated in white wine prevent blood clotting.
A Dutch botanic Herman Boerhaave noted in 1727 that Immortelle is useful in the treatment of nervousness and hysteria.
Although it became popular worldwide popularised by the cosmetic industry in the early 2000s, it has been used in the wider Mediterranean region since ancient times.
It’s associated with many customs on the Croatian islands, coasts, and dalmatian hinterland.
Croatian folk medicine is rich in recipes and customs related to the Helichrysum plant. In the Dalmatian hinterland, women used water in which Helichrysum flowers were briefly boiled. A bottle of Helichrysum macerate was used to treat skin injuries, burns and problems with heavy legs or thrombosis.
Immortelle flowers were used to dye cotton and wool and because of their beautiful yellow color were used for painting as well.
Based on a belief that helichrysum absorbs sunrays, pillows and blankets from its fluffy flowers were made to protect from cold winds and keep them warm. Dried bouquets were placed in closets along with lavender to protect clothes.
The warm and strong scents of the Helichrysum give the Mediterranean region a characteristic and recognizable identity. Napoleon once declared that he smelled his land of Corsica before he set foot on it, referring to the intense smell of the Immortelle. In Corsica, Immortelle is still called the plant of st. Ivan. It was used as a bactericide and air freshener during the famous Spanish flu epidemic.
Benefits of Helichrysum oil
ANTIMICROBIAL ACTIVITY OF HELICHRYSUM OIL
Helichrysum is well known for its antibacterial activity, reducing the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans and Streptococcus mutans. Besides that, it shows inhibiting properties with Enterobacter aerogenes, Escherichia coli, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Candida albicans, and Herpes simplex virus.
Insect repellent and antimalarial activity
Immortelle was used as a repellent that was very effective against mosquitos. Helichrysum extract shows antimalarial properties by killing the larvae of mosquitos.
Helichrysum oil for the skin
- It acts against free radicals
- Flavonoids in Helichrysum act as a natural protective UV factor, making it a perfect and powerful sunscreen
- It significantly affects collagen production. Its Neryl acetate prevents the breakdown of collagen and elastane in tissues by blocking the action of two enzymes, collagenase and elastase. That way, it regenerates the skin and reduces the visibility of wrinkles
- it helps with chronic inflammation of the skin
- it’s used in treating wounds, burns and scars; it helps treat stretch marks
- it helps with the healing of diabetic wounds
- it’s effective against acne, fighting the bacterium that causes acne
- it prevents the formation of spots
- it prevents hyperpigmentation
- it reduces dark circles under the eyes
- is effective against eczema
- it promotes skin cell renewal and alleviates skin reactions from allergies
Other Helichrysum plant benefits
In folk medicine, it was used to stop bleeding from the nose and mouth. It’s an excellent remedy for bronchitis and cough, acts as a sedative, lowers blood pressure, and blood cholesterol levels, prevents blood clots, relieves pain, and strengthens the whole organism.
It’s used in the treatment of hematoma, inflamed veins, thrombosis, ruptured capillaries, sports injuries, and rheumatoid arthritis. It stimulates liver function.
Immortelle essential oil is also excellent for muscle inflammation and pain, sciatica and spasms.
Helichrysum tea regulates digestion, lowers blood pressure, helps to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol and strengthens the entire body.
Psychological effects of Helichrysum
Helichrysum is a mild antidepressant, and it helps with mental and emotional exhaustion. It works against mental restlessness, irritability, sadness, and distress; it helps healing emotional trauma, old emotional wounds, anxiety, excitement, acute fear or anger and helps to fight burnout.
What do you need to make helichrysum oil at home?
- Hand-picked Helichrysum flowers
- Carrier oil – we used homemade olive oil from a Dalmatian village
- Big glass jar
- Clean gauze or strainer
- Glass storage bottles
When to harvest helichrysum
There are about 500 different species of Helichrysum.
To make this oil, we harvested wild-growing Helichrysum italicum on the island Murter in Croatia in June 2022. Helichrysum italicum is the most known for its extraordinary skincare benefits. It blooms mostly between June and the beginning of August.
Depending on where you harvest helichrysum flowers, you must count on the fact that its strength comes from the harsh conditions of its origin. Therefore, a plant grown higher in the north will not be able to give the same therapeutic effects as a wild plant from the southern Mediterranean.
The chemical composition varies greatly depending on the origin, which depends mainly on the composition of the soil in which the plant grows and the climate.
However, regardless of the place where you are harvesting your Helichrysum flowers, it should be done when the plants are just before full bloom. That is when the flowers have the strongest yellow color, but have not yet opened fully.
You should harvest the flowers only on a sunny day when the plants are dry. Make sure you harvest them before noon or actually before the sun begins to dry the beneficial ingredients from the flowers.
How to harvest Helichrysum
Depending on your location, it’s very advisable (or better say crucial) to check first if there are any regulative measures for harvesting Helichrysum in your country. For example, since Immortelle became a »fashionable« skin care ingredient, it got almost extinct in certain places in Croatia.
It was in 2015 when Croatia wisely adopted measures that regulate the harvesting of Immortelle. They have precisely defined the dates and locations where people can collect it. Croatian law also defined the method of harvesting, how many flowers should be plucked from each plant etc.
If you live in a mild climate, it’s best to try planting your own Helichrysum italicum at home. That will enable you to enjoy the beauty and many benefits of its golden flowers every summer. Besides hundreds of uses, it will turn your garden into a smelling Mediterranean heaven.
When harvesting Helichrysum flowers for making Helichrysum macerated oil at home, harvest only flowers without the stem and leaves. Choose only adult and healthy plants. Keep in mind that you should never pick up all the flowers from a single plant as that might severely affect the healthy growth of the plant.
Store the freshly plucked flowers in a paper bag or a wooden basket. For the best quality macerated oil, use the flowers instantly. If you can’t do that, at least make sure you use them the same day. Meanwhile, store them in a dry place, but not directly in the sun.
How to make helichrysum oil at home – step-by-step instructions
Macerate is made by soaking plant material in carrier oil. Through a process called maceration, the lipophilic active ingredients from the plants are slowly transferred into the oil and thus enriched with medicinal substances.
We chose to soak the immortelle flowers in homemade cold-pressed olive oil from Croatia. The oil we used was actually from olive trees that were grown in the same place as helichrysum flowers.
Step 1: Cut the harvested helichrysum flowers into smaller pieces and fill up the jar.
Step 2: Make sure that the flowers are completely covered with oil; otherwise, they could produce mold at the top.
Step 3: Place the jar in a warm place with constant temperature, but not in direct sunlight. Because the carrier oil (if possible) is a cold-pressed and unrefined oil, it is important not to expose the jar to direct sunlight and temperature too high as that could potentially spoil the oil and certain active ingredients.
An additional measure to protect the oil is covering the jar with aluminum foil.
Step 4: Leave the jar in a warm place for about four weeks.
Make sure you check your jar often, push the flowers gently in the oil, and add additional oil if the flowers start peeping out of the oil to prevent the formation of molds on top.
Step 5: After four weeks, strain the oil using a clean gauze or a strainer.
Step 6: Pour the oil into smaller glass bottles or jars for storage.
How to store helichrysum oil?
You made your own Helichrysum oil at home; now it’s time to store it. We suggest you store it in preferably dark glass bottles or jars. Fit the bottles with a label and keep them in a cold and dark place.
If you choose a stable carrier oil, it could last up to two years stored in dark glass bottles, but it will definitely last till the next season when you can make a fresh batch of helichrysum oil.
Another way of storing it is processing the macerated oil further into homemade therapeutic ointments.
Helichrysum has a unique smell. Depending on the carrier oil and the place of growth and origin, the scent of Helichrysum oil can vary greatly, most Helichrysum specie’s smell contains a curry-like note.
Generally, the Helichrysum oil smell is gentle, sweet and herbal honey-like. It definitely charms you with an enchanting note of the Mediterranean.
On some rare occasions, some people are allergic to certain oils and the oils can cause skin irritation. To be on the safe side, it’s best to make a test patch with a small amount of oil first. If the test patch is showing any signs of irritation, it’s best not to use the oil.
If your skin tolerates the oil normally, you can use it more generously. If you are using only the oil for face skin care, it’s best to apply it on a clean face in the evening. The soothing and warming Mediterranean scent of Immortelle will make you sleep like a baby.
If you used your Immortelle macerate for other homemade skin care products like cream or ointments, apply it on the skin when needed.
For treating medical conditions with Helichrysum oil please consult your doctor.
Helichrysum essential oil is highly valued in the cosmetic industry and is also very expensive because it takes more than a ton of flowers to produce a kilogram of Helichrysum essential oil.
Due to the high price of the oil, the best alternative to helichrysum essential oil is a helichrysum macerated oil made at home.
Although Helichrysum oil macerate is made with olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil or some other cold-pressed oil, is entirely organic and thus not poisonous, it’s recommendable to use Helichrysum tea for internal use instead.
Before using Helichrysum tea, always follow the recommendations of your doctor regarding your medical condition.
Although helichrysum essential oil should be used with care when applied directly on the skin, using Helichrysum macerated oil with the usual carrier oils should be safe to use moderately on cat’s and dog’s skin.
For internal use consult your veterinarian first.
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How to make helichrysum oil at home
- 1 big glass jar
- 1 l of organic carrier oil (olive, almond, coconut,..)
- 1 basket of fresly picked helichrysum flowers
- 5 smaller glass storage bottles
- Pick up fresh, healthy Helichrysum flowers
- Cut the flowers into smaller pieces
- Put the flowers in a big jar before toping the flowers in the jar with oil. Make sure the oil covers the flowers completely.
- Leave the jar on a warm place with constant temperature (but not on direct sunlight) for about 4 weeks. Check the jar every day and add additional oil to make sure the flowers are completely covered with oil all the time.
- After 4 weeks strain the oil with a strainer or a clean gauze.
- Store the oil in glass bottles or jars.