The use of herbs in skincare and plant based products do more than just add a lovely scent or an extra-natural element to the ingredients list. Botanicals have been used for centuries and continue to be used to this day for their natural healing properties in skin care and our health.
They have become very prominent in the use of treating skincare conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, sensitive, dry or damaged skin and you will find them in many of our skin care products.
Herbalist Shani Crofton, from Boundary Herbs, believes that it is important to minimise our exposure to the number of chemicals we put on our skin, so this is where herbs come in and play a major role in aiding our skin concerns.
"Skin conditions are exacerbated by inflammation – the natural immune response which should under normal conditions facilitates healing – redness, pain, swelling and heat. However, this causes discomfort and often makes the condition worse, so what we need is an anti-inflammatory. Some herbs have been proven to be potent topical anti-inflammatories. Added to this some of these herbs have pain relieving properties, are cooling, are anti-itching or have antiseptic properties, and some will accelerate healing."
This is why healing herbs are so amazing!
With this in mind, we have taken a look at a few key ingredients to seeing how they are used in skincare and how they are used to benefit our skin and health.
Aloe Vera has a rich history and culture of being a plant of many uses. However today it is most commonly known for healing and soothing sunburn.
The spiky green plant is a cactus which belongs to the Liliaceae family. It grows in very dry climates, including parts of Africa and India - however, it is very easy to grow your own at home if you wish.
Aloe Vera has become a bit of an all-round health aid, but the useful bit comes from the secretion of clear gel which can be gathered by snapping the leaf away from the rest of the plant. This gel can then be applied directly to wounds and to soothe the skin, which is what makes it perfect for treating sunburn. Its fast-absorbing moisturising properties provide a protective layer over the skin and can leave it feeling soft, firm and revitalised.
You can find it in many soothing skin care ranges from Santeverde and Jason Natural, but we love how it's used in the Jurlique Soothing Herbal Recovery Gel where it works together with Jojoba, Chamomile and Lavender to soothe, restore and rebalance cleansed skin.
Witch Hazel is most commonly associated with aiding irritated skin or spots and blemishes and can often be found in toners and facial cleansers. It is a topical astringent (to protect the skin) which is derived from the leaves and bark of the Hamamelis Virginiana, or the North American Witch Hazel shrub.
As a natural astringent, its high concentrations of tannins work towards removing oil from your skin and to shrink down pores. Due to these wonderful properties and the removal of excess oil, with regular use, it may prevent further blemish breakouts or blackheads appearing.
Witch Hazel is infused with Aloe Vera in The Organic Pharmacy Herbal Toner, along with 18 other organic herbs, which work in harmony to minimise pores and keep your skin in a healthy condition.
This amazing sweet-scented oil is taken from the dried leaves of the eucalyptus tree. It's colourless liquid is used in many treatments for both our health and wellbeing. It is commonly used in aromatherapy and by inhaling the sweet scent it can bring a feeling of relaxation to your body.
Skin & Tonics founder, Sarah, explains why they love working with eucalyptus oil:
"Eucalyptus is a powerful essential oil, and therefore we use it at a very low percentage. It has amazing antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties and is highly effective at combating blackheads, pimples and helping to prevent acne outbreaks. Our Steam Clean also works as a rejuvenating and invigorating aromatherapy treatment because Eucalyptus is an excellent decongestant (it's always such a treat to breathe in the wonderful aroma while cleansing)."
You can activate the eucalyptus essential oil in Skin & Tonics Steam Clean by massaging a small amount of the balm into your skin and applying to your face, hold a warm, wet organic face cloth against your skin for a minute to steam and bring out the soothing, cleansing properties of the added eucalyptus.
Yarrow has become famous in medicine as it is believed to be one of the first plants to be used by humans for medicinal purposes and has been found in burial sites from around 60,000BC. It continues to be used today for its healing properties, most notably to heal wounds as it staunches bleeding, it is antimicrobial and can also be used as pain relief.
It is the primary and hero ingredient in Moa's The Green Balm which has many beautifying remedies and is a vital product to have close by if you are out and about, exploring the great outdoors or have particularly sensitive skin. The multi-purpose green balm can be used to remove makeup, help fade scarring, heal minor cuts, grazes and bruises, sooth dry and calm inflamed skin after shaving - just to name a few, all thanks to the wonderful herb, yarrow.
Chamomile is an excellent, calming addition to your skincare routine. It is perfect if you have particularly sensitive, mature or irritated skin, this healing herb works towards cooling the skin and easing inflammation.
It has antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. There are two types of chamomile: Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis),also known as 'English' or 'Common' Chamomile and German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita),also known as 'Hungarian' or 'Blue' Chamomile. Both variations are used widely in skin care.
You can find Roman Chamomile in the Natural Deodorant Co Clean Deodorant Balm Lavender Chamomile. The Natural Deodorant Co co-founder Laurie explains why they've used chamomile in their natural deodorant:
"We chose to include chamomile in our formulation because of its skin-soothing and antibacterial properties. It’s a great all-rounder, and it is ideal for sensitive skin too."
Good news for those with tender underarms!
You can also find the second variation of chamomile on our website; the German Chamomile is used in the Fushi Eczmaid Chickweed & Chamomile Ointment to target inflamed skin and those in particular who suffer from eczema.
Belonging to the mint family, Lameaceae, rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region where the oil is extracted from the flowering tips of the plant through steam distillation.
The colourless to pale yellow liquid remains one of the most popular aromatherapy oils and is rich in healthy properties benefiting our skin, health and wellbeing. This remarkable herb is used to boost mental focus, stimulating the mind and aiding with concentration, memory and mental awareness. Other health benefits include the use of rosemary oil in treating headaches, respiratory problems, muscle pains and dental problems such as bad breath!
It works wonders for our skin as it contains skin rejuvenation properties. If you massage your skin with the essential oil, it helps rehydrate and tone the skin by encouraging cell regeneration, effectively treating visible skin conditions such as scarring and spots.
It's not just used to treat your skin, rosemary also makes a great natural conditioner, so it is often found in hair care products such as the Odylique Tea Tree & Herb Shampoo. Used on a regular basis, rosemary helps make your hair soft and manageable, as well as being beneficial for those who suffer from dry and flaky scalps.
These herbs are just a few of the hundreds which feature in our natural skincare and wellbeing products! If you would like us to look into the background and benefits of any more in the future, please let us know in a comment below.
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