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Herbs to Bring Out the Natural Beauty in You - Part One

Want beautiful, healthy looking skin? Then look no further than your garden. Many of our common plants have wonderful properties to bring out the best in your skin and are safer and cost far less than store bought products. They can be added directly to steams, washes and baths or soaked in oil to make the base for massage oils and creams.

In part 2 of this blog we will show you how to create some of these types of formulations and even share some recipes with you. Watch for this post later in March!

Here are just a few of the many plants that you might want to consider adding to your beauty regime!

Aniseed – rich in volatile oils, this licorice-scented seed, has traditionally been used in cosmetics to soothe away wrinkles, eliminate strong body odour and impart its wonderful fragrance to herbal products. Great ground and added to facial scrubs as it will help exfoliate dead skin cells. Particularly good for oily to combination skin types (aniseed's cousin, fennel seed, has the same properties).

Calendula – high in skin-loving carotenoids, calendula is perfect for all your cosmetic needs. Whether infused in oil, extracted in liquid or used dry, the petals of this plant are wonderful in everything from creams, lip balms, and bath oils to shampoos, bath bombs and soaps. Fabulous for all skin types.

Chamomile – this fragrant herb has been used traditionally to calm the nervous system and to reduce inflammation. Its soothing properties make it an exceptional addition to almost all skin care products, especially those designed for babies. In hair care products it will reduce an inflamed scalp and help to lighten blonde hair. Please note: If an allergy to ragwort exists, this herb should be used cautiously as in rare incidences it may result in skin irritation or allergic reaction.

Comfrey – rich in skin-healing allantoin, comfrey has been valued throughout the world for centuries for its ability to soothe, strengthen and regenerate skin and hair. With this regenerative ability of allantion, comfrey has even been incorporated into facial care for its "anti-aging" actions. It has also been shown to combat effects of sun damage to skin. Perfect for all skin types, comfrey root or leaf can be used in steams, baths, creams, hair care and just about anything in between!

Elderflowers – these skin softening flowers are loaded with antimicrobial properties (bacteria fighting!), which makes them a fabulous addition to products for acne-prone skin. Added to steams, baths and herbal wraps, their astringent action helps to draw impurities from the skin. A must for combination to oily skin.

Juniper Berries – an excellent astringent, juniper berries draw out impurities from the skin, act as a mild antiseptic and ease aching muscles. A great addition to products that are used for eczema, acne and skin irritations. When added to bath or herbal wraps, juniper berries are refreshing to aching muscles and mildly diuretic.

Lavender – one of the most famous herbs used in cosmetics, lavender has been used for thousands of years to fragrance and to enhance the quality of beauty products. Calming to the nerves, it is a staple item in relaxing or anti-stress baths and cosmetics. Antiseptic and antifungal, it is an excellent addition to facial scrubs and shampoos. Wonderful for all skin types, its uses are only limited by your imagination

Lemon Balm – this lively lemon herb adds a delightful smell to steams, baths and body splashes. Calming to the nervous system it works well in relaxing or balancing herbal baths. It is a gentle cleanser and astringent and is a useful addition to facial toners, scrubs and massage oils. Works well with all skin types.

Marshmallow & Hollyhock – rich in mucilage, both marshmallow and hollyhock have an emollient action that heals and soothes dry, irritated skin. Used in everything from steams to baths, lotions to hair care, these two close relatives are perfect for dry or mature skin and hair.

Mullein – a wonderful demulcent for skin, mullein flowers and leaves will soothe and soften dry, irritated skin. Its antimicrobial properties make it a wonderful addition to acne products, were it heals and soothes inflamed tissue. Great in steams, scrubs, baths and herbal wraps for all skin types.

Peppermint – cooling and refreshing peppermint is a great addition to most skin care products. Its lively fragrance enhances baths and body splashes, while its stimulating properties make it perfect in steams, scrubs, foot baths and hair care products.

Plantain – this plant is not only a demulcent to the skin, it also has anti-itch properties, which make it excellent in cosmetics for dry, irritated skin. Add to baths, powders, salves and creams for a soothing and healing effect. Great in baby products, especially creams and powders for diaper rash.

Raspberry Leaf – wonderful for oily to combination skin, raspberry leaf is an effective astringent for drawing out impurities and refining pores. Great in steams and toners, raspberry leaf is also useful in shampoos and vinegars for oily hair. A strong infusion can be used to enhance the colour of dark hair.

Red Clover – an excellent cleanser and cell regenerative, red clover is particularly useful for mature or sun damaged skin. Added to steams, baths, or herbal wraps it gently eliminates toxins while strengthening the tissue. In creams and lotions, it will soothe and heal the after effects of sun exposure.

Rose Petals – Throughout history roses have been associated with beauty. They are soothing and healing to all skin types and their wonderful scent is a delightful addition to any natural cosmetic preparation. Add a large handful of rose petals and two cups of milk powder to your bath and feel like Cleopatra!

Rose Hips – these vitamin C-rich fruits from wild or domestic roses are fabulous in skin care products. The skin just loves soaking up the flavonoids in these wonderful fruits! Infused in oil or water, they will impart their vitamin-rich healing to all skin types and act as a mild preservative to increase product shelf life. Ground, they are a wonderful addition to scrubs as an exfoliant.

Rosemary – this warming herb is invigorating to the skin and works well to increase blood circulation to the tissue. Used in steams, baths and herbal wraps it will warm and stimulate the skin, leaving it with a healthy glow. In hair products it increases blood flow to the hair follicles and enhances growth.

Sage – a strong astringent and pore cleanser, sage is excellent in toners and scrubs for oily to combination skin. Its antimicrobial properties make it a great choice for extra preservation in products.

Viola – sweet violets, hearts ease and pansies are all part of this family and the flowers and leaves are high in flavonoids helping to strengthen skin and repair sun damage. They are wonderful infused in oil and added to creams to improve tone and reduce the signs of aging. Sweet violet also adds a wonderful sent to baths!

Yarrow – a strong astringent, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory herb, yarrow is an exceptional herb to add to steams, toners and lotions for oily to acne prone skin. In baths it increases circulation and draws toxins from the skin. In hair care it helps clean and stimulate the scalp and the hair follicles.

Note: While these are all natural that does not necessarily guarantee that a reaction won’t occur. If you are unsure if a herb is safe for you, rub a small portion on your skin and leave it for at least 30 minutes to see if a rash occurs. If irritation occurs immediately wash the area thoroughly with warm water and a mild soap.

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