We welcomed in 2018 with a wonderfully-scented evening courtesy of The Perfume Mistress, Tanya Moulding from the Garden Museum. A fantastically-packed room of familiar faces and fresh, new ones with those joining receiving their Borough Belles 2018 Member’s Pack. This included our new member’s pin badge and Plastic Challenge letter encouraging us all to contact teabag manufacturers to convince them to remove plastics from their packaging and the bags themselves (!). One of the WI Resolutions for 2017/18 concerns micro plastics in our oceans and calls for research into combatting this – several Belles have attempted a January Plastic-Free Challenge and you can read about our member Ruth’s story in her blog here.

Explaining why we should value olfactory experiences just as much as any other, Tanya who’s an aromatherapist and natural perfumer helped us get there with her dryly amusing directions to create our own natural body scrub.

The recipe contained just 3 ingredients: sugar, oil and essential oils

Sugar – white granulated is good at mixing with oil. Demerara can also be used and is more coarse. Muscovado can be a bit too fragrant.

Oil – sunflower oil or cheap olive oil are both good and easy to get hold of. Coconut oil made for the beauty industry (it’s liquid at room temperature) is what we used with Tanya. Also grapeseed and sweet almond oils are options.

Organic essential oils – we used combinations of lime, ginger, lavender, orange, geranium, rosemary and ylang ylang

Other variations could include salt (a bit stingy on cuts) and poppy seeds or even ground almonds to make a smoother scrub texture. Adding honey (particularly set honey) makes the scrub adhere to the skin and helps slough off those dead skin cells.

Adding other botanicals: use dried flower petals (rose) or dried, ground herbs (lavender, mint, rosemary) for cosmetic effect. Also, dried fruit peels – orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit – could be added for additional interest and aroma. Split open a vanilla pod and use the seeds to include in your recipe – also imbues a beautiful aroma!

Method (for a lime and ginger-fragranced scrub):

Fill 120ml jar half full with white sugar, add coconut oil to cover, then add 3 drops of ginger to 2 drops of lime. Stir.

Continue to add sugar and coconut oil gradually until you are happy with consistency of the scrub (‘sludgy’-like), then continue to add lime and ginger essential oils until you achieve your desired aroma – you can go up to 25 drops (in a 120g jar).

Depending on desired fragrance strength, the rule of thumb for dilution is 1-2 drops of essential oil to 10ml/gram of product. Also some oils have a much more powerful fragrance than others, so you would need less – i.e. Geranium, Ginger, Ylang etc.

We were surprised to find that was all it took to make a simple body scrub anyone could prepare at home and they smelled amazing!

Tanya advised massaging using circular motion our scrubs on dry skin before showering or bathing and to concentrate on those bodily bits that suffer from poor circulation such as feet, knees, shins, bum, legs and upper arms and to avoid using it on the face as it’s a bit coarse for the delicate skin there.

Store in a cool, dry place away from heat and humidity. Shelf life is dependent on the essential oils used but for those containing citrus oils is would be approx. 6 months.

Essential oil recipe alternatives

Use these ratios, to build up to desired fragrance strength, not exceeding 25 drops in total

2 drops Lavender + 2 Orange                        2 drops Geranium + 2 orange

2 drop Juniper + 1 Black Pepper                   1 drop Ylang + 2 Black pepper

1 drop Ylang + 2 Mandarin                            3 Frankincense + 1 Ylang

For some packaging and gift-wrapping ideas from Tanya plus supplier contacts please scroll to the end of this post.

For the second half of the evening we learnt how to give a hand massage – first warming our hands and feeling the energy in our palms and watching Tanya expertly demonstrate with Muireann the hand massage techniques.

Tanya’s thoughts on hands:

Our hands are the most amazing and underated tools;

They can express; Joy, love, protection, indicate, feed and nourish, caress, punch, pinch – be used for expressing affection and aggression.

They express our creativity

Devotion, give thanks

Identify us

Provide and tell our fortune.

Use in healing, can sense temperature, touch, energy

Unique in that every set of finger prints are ours alone

This is how you can use them in hand massage:

Massage tips and sequence:

Loosen your hands up. Shake them out and wiggle your fingers about. Stretch your hands by flexing them as wide as you can, and then make a fist. Bend your wrists with your hands points down, and then flex your hand up and down several times. Continue to use these techniques for about one minute before you begin to massage your hands


  1. Stroke with your thumbs in furrows between the tendons, starting between the knuckles and stroking toward the wrist, one thumb following the other.


2. The fingers benefit from a firm massage even though they are small and bony.  Hold the person’s hand palm down in one hand and use the other to work on each finger separately. Pinch the tips of each finger and thumb on both hands. The pressure applied to your fingers should be firm, but not painful. A few seconds for each fingertip will do. After pinching the tops and bottoms of your finger and thumb tips, go back to each tip and pinch them again, this time squeezing from side to side

3. Do circular pressures around each joint with your thumb, then rotate the finger in each direction. Finally, make your hand into a fist and grip the finger between two of your fingers. Stretch it gently to ease the joints, but don’t jerk it.

4. Change hands when you reach the thumb and massage it deeply. Strong, firm pressure usually feels good here as gentle pressure can be annoying.


5. With the ‘clients’ hand still palm down and support it with your fingers. Stroke the back with your thumbs, making fanning out strokes from the knuckles to the wrist. Like ‘breaking chocolate’!


6. Hold the person’s hand palm up, in one hand and stroke the palm with the heel of your other hand.  Push down toward the wrist then glide back.


7. Use your thumb to do most of the work. Start by holding out one of your hands, keeping your fingers straight. Then, wrap your opposite hand’s fingers around the back of your hand with your fingers facing straight up. Your thumb should be laying on your palm, and pointing towards you.

8. Move your thumb along the edges of your palm. This technique is most effective at massaging the pads of your palms just under your fingers and thumb, and the entire edge of your hand. Compress your palm with your thumb, using short, caterpillar-like movements, going up and down, and working your way from the inside to the outside of your palm.

9. Apply the amount of pressure you are comfortable with. Start off using light pressure, and then work your way towards a deeper massage. This will help you find tender, sore, or tight spots.

10. Apply pressure to the webbed area. Use your thumb and index finger to make small, circular motions that will facilitate tension release. Hold pressure as long as it feels comfortable. It should result in a dull ache that is not unpleasant, but may take some getting used to over time.

11. Keep a firm hold and tug at the skin gently until the fleshy web snaps away from your grasp. Repeat this process on the skin between all of your fingers.


12. Stroke the whole hand, then turn it over and sandwich it between your palms.  Press them together firmly for a couple of seconds.

13. Release the pressure and slide your hands slowly off the fingers. The hand should now be completely relaxed.  Repeat this a couple of times.


There’s helpful demos on YouTube but from personal experience it didn’t matter what the techniques were, it all felt wonderful!

Afterwards we performed some stretches to limber up for the cake and chat.


Anyone keen to find out more can find the superb Ms Moulding leading sessions at The Garden Museum – the next one will be 4th February designing your own botanical-flavoured gin and tea.

Packaging/Gift Ideas

Kilner jars (available on-line of from discount and ‘pound’ shops) are a decorative way of presenting your Scrub. Or re-use jam jars or any pretty jars/glassware you may have around the house.

You can use ribbon, stickers, luggage labels, glass paint/inks to decorate your jars.

For wrapping you could use tissue paper, cellophane, magazine pages, brown paper, a silk scarf to wrap your item in – you are only limited by your imagination!


Baldwins – Walworth road – herbs, oils and carrier oils like coconut and sweet almond. – essential oils – my first choice – essential oils (more affordable and lots of info on website) and fractionated coconut oil (plus other carrier oils

Scrub recipe and massage technique originated by Tanya Moulding. Words a combination of Tanya Moulding and Alison Pearce.
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