7 Herbs For Your Beauty Routine

7 herbs for your beauty routine

Herbs are well known for their medicinal qualities, but they can also be a valued part of your beauty routine. Discover the beauty benefits of seven herbs: frankincense, green tea, camomile, lavender, calendula (marigold), rosemary and turmeric.

Before cosmetic products existed, many cultures around the world utilised native herbs, oils, spices, mud and even insects in their beauty regimes. Cleopatra’s go-to shade of lipstick was created from ground carmine beetles or mud mixed with water. Many of the herbs, spices and oils used throughout history for beauty have stood the test of time and are widely used in today’s cosmetics. Want to weave a few more natural products into your beauty routine? Why not start with these seven?

Frankincense

Historically frankincense has been used topically in both Chinese and Ayurvedic cultures to help heal wounds, scars, wrinkles and stretch marks.

In more modern times, frankincense oil has become an increasingly popular ingredient in skincare and other therapeutic products, which is likely due to this resinous plant’s anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

Camomile can be applied topically in a carrier cream, sipped throughout the day as a tea or taken as a herbal tincture.

While the research on frankincense’s beauty benefits is limited, a promising 2017 study showed the biological activities of frankincense to be beneficial in treating inflamed skin cells and encouraging the regeneration of 17 skin protein markers that help remodel and heal damaged skin. It seems that Ayurvedic and Chinese cultures intuitively knew the benefits of frankincense oil for skin health.

How to reap the benefits: It is important to mix essential oils with a carrier oil as they can be very harsh applied neat to the skin and may result in a reaction. Mix a few drops of frankincense essential oil into a carrier oil such as jojoba or cream base such as vitamin E.

Green tea

Are you someone who needs a coffee to get you through the day? Why not try swapping out your morning brew for green tea? While you will still get a cognitive and energy boost, as green tea does contain caffeine, you won’t feel jittery or anxious as it also contains the amino acid L-theanine which has been associated with improvements in mood and cognition and a reduction of stress and anxiety-like symptoms.

Sipping this herbal tea will not only help your mood and brain but also your skin. This is because green tea has a high content of protective polyphenols known as flavonoids, the most active of which are catechins and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which function as powerful antioxidants and possess anti-inflammatory properties, perfect for reducing redness and irritation of the skin. Antioxidants are one of the body’s best defences against oxidative stress that cause premature ageing, metabolic disease, cancer, drug toxicity and degenerative disorders, so the more antioxidants in your diet the better.

Additionally, ECGC has been shown to help repair DNA damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, which will help to keep your skin youthful and protect you against skin cancers.

How to reap the benefits: Sip as a tea throughout the day or look for green tea as an added ingredient in skincare products for topical use.

Camomile

Camomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind and likely one you have seen in the garden or sipped as a tea.

Camomile contains terpenoids and flavonoids, constituents which contribute to its anti-inflammatory, wound-healing and digestive carminative medicinal properties.

Research has shown that camomile’s anti-inflammatory action in the body is similar to that of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, making it the perfect remedy for irritated, itchy, red and sore skin conditions such as acne, dermatitis, eczema, bites, wounds and ulcers. Camomile is very gentle and can be used safely as a topical agent on babies and children.

If you have sore eyes or an infection such as conjunctivitis, dip a camomile tea bag in boiling water, squeeze the water out, allow to cool and apply it to the eyes. This easy remedy can help calm inflammation and irritation and speed up healing.

A cup of camomile tea is also the perfect medicine if you’re experiencing digestive discomfort such as cramping, wind or bloating due to the herbs’ carminative actions.

How to reap the benefits: Camomile can be applied topically in a carrier cream, sipped throughout the day as a tea or taken as a herbal tincture.

Lavender

One cannot help but feel relaxed and at ease when smelling this beautiful flower. Burning lavender essential oil around the house, dabbing it on your wrists or adding a few drops to your pillow can be very effective in helping calm anxiety and promote restful beauty sleep.

Not only is lavender exceptionally soothing for the mind but it also possesses some potent beauty benefits due to the herb’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties.

Research has shown that lavender can encourage the healing of mouth ulcers and canker sores when used topically due to the herb’s anti-inflammatory actions. Another study showed the topical application of lavender essential oil applied to wounds increased the number of fibroblasts in the skin, which encourage wound healing and collagen synthesis.

Lavender has been shown to combat Staphylococcus aureus, a common bacterium that is associated with the development of eczema. Creating a balm with a few drops of lavender essential oil mixed with a carrier oil such as jojoba or vitamin E can be applied to eczema rashes to help fight bacteria and encourage healing.

One of my favourite uses for lavender is as an alternative to chemical insect repellents as it works wonders for keeping mosquitos away. See below for a DIY insect repellent recipe.

How to reap the benefits: Lavender can be applied topically mixed with a carrier oil or diluted for an insect spray, sipped in a tea, taken as a herbal tincture and added to a diffuser.

Calendula (marigold)

Calendula, also known as marigold, is one of the happiest looking flowers you will ever see. It is characterised by bright yellow-orange petals that looks like the sun.

Calendula contains constituents called polysaccharides, which allow it to possess powerful anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties. Calendula is the perfect remedy for healing many skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, rashes, irritation, insect bites, abrasions, cracked nipples from breastfeeding, baby’s nappy rash, bruises, boils and burns.

Calendula’s antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties have been shown to directly inhibit Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans bacteria, which are associated with the development of eczema and fungal skin infections. Calendula has also been shown to be beneficial in speeding up the healing of cold sores resulting from herpes simplex virus.

Calendula is the perfect remedy for healing many skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, rashes, irritation, insect bites, abrasions …

This golden flower is one of my favourites when it comes to making herbal tinctures for my clients experiencing acne; this is not only for its anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties but additionally for its action on the lymphatic system. Calendula encourages “cleansing” of the lymphatic system, helping to move lymphatic fluid and support toxin removal from the body. If your detoxification organs (skin, lymphatic system, liver, kidney, intestines and bowels) are compromised in any way a build of toxins in the body can result. The body is always striving for balance so it will try and eliminate these toxins any way it can, often resulting in toxins being excreted by the skin, the largest detoxification organ. This elimination process can sometimes manifest as acne, inflammation or eczema.

How to reap the benefits: Enjoy calendula as an infusion, tea, tincture, ointment or cream, or as an added ingredient in beauty products such as shampoo.

Rosemary

Another wondrous culinary herb that does far more than add flavour to meals is rosemary. Rosemary is an antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant and a circulatory stimulant. The most important constituents of rosemary are thought to be caffeic acid and its derivatives rosmarinic acid.
Rubbing a few drops of rosemary oil into the scalp daily may help stimulate circulation and hair growth. For this reason, rosemary is a popular ingredient in many shampoos and conditioners for helping reduce or reverse hair loss.

Rosemary’s antibacterial activity has also been shown to fight against the bacteria E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, which have been associated with eczema and other skin infections.

How to reap the benefits: Add the fresh herb to meals, tincture or supplemental form, essential oil mixed with a carrier oil or as an ingredient in shampoos and conditioners.

Turmeric

This golden spice has been used for thousands of years in the Vedic culture of India for its medicinal properties. Turmeric is a powerful antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antioxidant, antiseptic, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, nephroprotective, radioprotective and digestive. These incredible actions are due to the plant’s compounds including curcumin, volatile oil and curcuminoids, which have been found to have potent pharmacological properties.

Turmeric is most widely known for its use in treating inflammation and this is due to the active constituent curcumin. Turmeric can be applied to the skin directly as a cream or poultice, or for a greater therapeutic dosage taken as a herbal tincture or supplement to remedy inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and acne.

Turmeric’s use for skin conditions is long-standing; South Asian countries use turmeric as an antiseptic and antibacterial agent for cuts, burns and bruises, Indians use turmeric to purify the blood and remedy skin concerns and in Pakistan and Afghanistan, turmeric is used to cleanse wounds and stimulate their recovery by applying it on a piece of burnt cloth that is placed over the wound.

One of the primary causes of ageing and damaged skin is oxidative stress. Oxidative changes occur due to genetics, smoking, poor dietary choices, stress, sun damage and illness. Luckily, eating antioxidant-rich foods such as turmeric can help fight oxidative stress and improve skin appearance, speed up wound healing and slow the ageing process.

How to reap the benefits: Freshly grated from the bulb, dried crushed powdered form, tincture, supplement, as an ingredient in many beauty products.

DIY natural lavender insect repellent

 

You’ll need:

90mL spray bottle
30–40 drops lavender essential oil
90mL distilled water

  1. Add lavender essential oil drops to an empty spray bottle. Start with about 30 drops and continue to add depending on how strong you want the scent to be.
  2. Fill the bottle up with distilled water.
  3. Twist the nozzle back on, shake and spray.

Camomile and calendula healing balm

 

Infused Oil
1 cup organic olive oil|
¼ cup camomile flowers
¼ cup calendula flowers

Balm
¼ cup infused oil
¼ cup beeswax

There are three options detailed below for making the infused oil for the healing balm: solar infusion, time infusion and heat infusion.

Infused oil using the solar method

  1. In a clean 1-litre mason jar, combine the oil, camomile and calendula flowers.
  2. Place in the sun and shake daily for 2–4 weeks.
  3. After infusion is complete, use a metal strainer lined with a cheesecloth to carefully strain out the herbs.

Infused oil using the time method

  1. In a clean 1-litre mason jar, combine the oil, camomile and calendula flowers.
  2. Place in a cool location, such as a cupboard or above the fridge and shake daily for 6 weeks.
  3. After infusion is complete, use a metal strainer lined with a cheesecloth to carefully strain out the herbs.

Infused oil using the heat method

  1. Combine the oil, camomile and calendula flowers.
  2. Add to a slow cooker or a double boiler and simmer on low heat for several hours until the oil takes on the scent of the herbs and changes colour slightly.
  3. After infusion is complete, use a metal strainer lined with a cheesecloth to carefully strain out the herbs.

To make the healing balm

  1. After the oil is infused and strained, add ¼ cup of the infused oil and the ¼ cup of beeswax to the top portion of a double boiler.
  2. Place water in the bottom portion of a double boiler so that the water does not touch the bottom of the top portion.
  3. Heat over low heat, stirring, just until the beeswax has melted.
  4. Pour into a jar to store.
  5. Use balm for eczema, abrasions, breastfeeding nipples or chapped lips.

Ema Taylor

Ema Taylor

Ema Taylor is a naturopath, clinical nutritionist and certified fertility awareness educator. For more, visit emataylor.com or @emataylornaturopathy on Instagram.

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