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I started my path to herbalism when I was in my teens. You know us girls. I had purchased a trial pack of skin care products, including cleanser, toner and moisturizer. I was going to treat myself to a mini-spa day with a facial, hair treatment and foot scrub/soak.

I started by getting all of the materials that I would need together. I truly believe that there is a little bit of OCD in all of us. In my case, I have to do what “I” consider the most logical things first. Okay, I understand that my logic may not be the same as, anyone else’s, as you’ll soon learn the longer you follow my adventures. So I thought I would begin with the hair treatment because the mayonnaise and egg mixture needed to stay in for 10 minutes. Yes, at this point I would have the equivalent of salad dressing all over my head (minus the vinegar, which was suppose to be used to rinse the hair). I was also aware that my feet were suppose to stay in the foot scrub/soak for about 10 to 15 minutes. Now, I couldn’t very well treat my hair and face while soaking my feet, owing to the fact that I am short and would not able to reach the sink in a seated position. So, the hair was first. I mixed the ingredients and applied them to my hair telling myself next time, I would get it wet before layering on the goop. That step went well, I had my hair pulled up like a Wishkin Troll with a towel around my shoulders so I wouldn’t get oil on my shirt.  Now on to the facial. This began with the cleanser and then followed with the toner. The treatment felt fine, even though my skin was a bit tight and tingly. I thought to myself, “Okay, it must be working!” That was when it all went so, so very, very wrong!

I applied the moisturizer and the next thing I knew, my face felt like it was actually on fire. My eyes were watering so much at this point that I couldn’t see and I was in severe pain. I began blindly stumbling around the bathroom, knocking things over. It was as if I had suddenly forgotten where the sink was. The egg and mayo concoction had now become like congealed cottage cheese and was dripping all over the place. I went from cute Wishkin to the troll under the bridge. I, at this point, gave up on finding the sink. I will admit that I did think briefly of giving myself a swirly. Instead, I just jumped into the shower, clothes and all. I rinsed off the moisturizer and tried shampooing out the dressing. This caused the shower drain to become plugged up with egg. I was soaked and my face was still on fire! After taking off my wet clothes, I looked in the mirror. What a sight I was! There was egg still in my hair and my face was bright red like I had a bad sunburn. I’d had an allergic reaction to the chemicals in the face products and basically gave myself a chemical peel. This took two months to heal and become less tender. A side affect of this wonderful treatment is that I had become chemical sensitive.

For the uninitiated, being chemical sensitive, for me, meant that, for starters, my sense of smell became acute; you people with strong perfumes are waging gas warfare on me! I can’t use any products that are not natural. Environmental poisons, fertilizers and herbicides make me very sick. There is no “cure” for this and you can’t build up tolerances. What was a girl to do? This girl went to the library. Remember, I was in my teens and the all-powerful World Wide Web was not available, yet. I found some books on making your own cleansers, toners and moisturizers using plants and ingredients found in the kitchen. I went home, tried some and found that they worked great and, best of all, healed instead of hurt my skin.

I am also a child of the 80’s. I grew up on Star Trek reruns, The Star Wars Trilogy, ET, Mork and Mindy, ALF, the original Battlestar Galactica and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, to name just a few. In a word, I am a sci-fi nerd, heavily on the sci. Now, knowing this, combined with what I had discovered in the use of plants in skin care and medicines, it was not a big leap to medicinal herbalism.  I just had to know more, which lead to what follows and what you will see in this section of The Suburban Reaper.