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Leoniek Bontje1 min

How to Grow Your Own Skincare: The Queen of Hungary Water

Photographs by Anya van de Wetering and Bella Thewes This is a very old recipe that is still used to make a tonic for your face. Back in 1300, an alchemist created the tonic for the Queen of Hungary so that she would stay looking youthful. An alternative story is that this recipe originated with travelling nomads. This wonderful face toner is pH neutral, is soothing and calming for your skin, and minimizes the appearance of your pores. It also softens and nourishes your hair.

Ingredients (for 200ml)

  • 6g lemon balm
  • 4g camomile flowers
  • 4g rose petals
  • 3g marigolds
  • 3g common comfrey leaves
  • 1g rosemary leaves
  • Zest of half an organic lemon
  • 175ml apple cider vinegar
  • 100ml rose distillate or witch hazel hydrolate
  • A clean 200ml pot or jar with lid


Place all the plant parts in the pot along with the lemon zest. Pour over the apple cider vinegar to cover the plant parts. Put the lid on the pot and leave to stand at room temperature for three to four weeks. Strain and then mix the vinegar (the extract) with the rose distillate or witch hazel hydrolate in a 1:1 ratio. In other words, if your pot has a capacity of 200ml, then add 100ml extract and 100ml distillate/hydrolate. If the slightly sour fragrance of apple cider vinegar doesn’t appeal to you, then omit it and just use rose distillate or witch hazel hydrolate. Store in a cool, dark place. If you want to use the tonic as a face toner, decant it into an atomizer and spray on your skin daily, either in the morning or evening.   Extracted from Natural Homemade Beauty: 90 Recipes for Skin, Hair and Home by Leoniek Bontje (£14.99, Batsford). Available online and from all good bookshops.

Leoniek Bontje

Leoniek Bontje spent four years training to become a herbalist following the publication of her first book, Foraging. She has since authored books on using plants as medicine, creating a herbarium, and using plants for cosmetics. She currently works as a herbalist, teaches workshops, writes books about herbalism and offers advice on how to create edible and medicinal gardens. She lives in the Netherlands.