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Healthy Skin DIY: Fennel, Thyme, and Lemon Cleanser

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In Healthy Skin DIY, we ask the experts for tips and recipes on how to achieve healthy skin with natural and everyday ingredients. We believe that what's good enough to eat is also good enough to treat your skin. Have a suggestion? Email us at healthyskin@marthastewart.com

A lot of people take the simple ritual of washing your face a step too far. And it's nobody's fault: sometimes, blame can be found in the soaps and products that have a few too many chemicals on their ingredient list.

Thankfully, ideal facial cleansing can be accomplished without a lot of harsh soaps and chemicals. Even if you’re not a DIY nut, this simple cleanser is made of only four ingredients, including water, and only requires a bit of simmering and straining.

Gentle cleansing can be very helpful, because the skin is a self-regulating organ and doesn’t want to be taken to the extreme. Even with intense breakouts, take the middle ground, says Randi Ragan, owner and founder of the GreenBliss EcoSpa in Los Angeles. “One of the things I really love is an herbal face cleaner that you can make from fresh thyme and fennel seed. It’s a really gentle daily cleanser that can take the place of harsher soaps, and it smells quite refreshing.”

Sometimes, it's nice to just know you could make it. For our Buyer's Guide to Facial Cleansers, click here.

Secret life of...everyday ingredients

Thyme: This fresh herb is a natural antiseptic and cleanser that's loaded with antimicrobials. It’s great for getting dirt and grime off, stabilizing pH levels, and as a bonus, it leaves skin feeling refreshed and bright.

Fennels seed: This spice does wonders for more than just an everything bagel—it dries out impurities and stimulates blood flow. Indians have been using it as an aperitif to calm digestion after a large meal.

Lemon juice: That stinging sensation when lemon juice seeps into cuts on your hands? It’s caused by the natural astringent and antiseptic qualities of lemon.

Fennel, Thyme, and Lemon Cleanser
If you normally use dried thyme, check out your local grocery store for the fresh variety. Randi grows her in a pot outside by the back door. Oh California…

Fresh thyme, washed
Fennel seeds
Fresh lemon juice


  1. To make an infusion, drop the thyme and fennel seeds into a pot of simmering water on the stove. Let them steep like you would when making a strong tea, for about 5-8 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and strain the liquid. Pour the liquid into a glass jar or other seal-able container. Add a bit of fresh lemon juice. Keep refrigerated for up to a week.

Use: Take cotton ball and use this natural cleanser as you would any other cleanser, rinsing afterwards.

Randi Ragan is the owner and founder of the GreenBliss EcoSpa in Los Angeles, a green-conscious and mobile venture. She strives to link everyday self care to long-term beauty and wellness. Holistic living means linking all aspects of self-care—beauty, nutrition, exercise, and mediation—to create a living, breathing wellness and beauty plan.

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Comments (6)

  • How much thyme and how much fennel seeds?

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