Last updated 12/13/2020
It’s something, centuries have gone by and we still continue to use herbs. Aside from the fact that we now manufacture products, the use has not changed.
Many cultures have a common history of herbal use. This use of herbs today spreads worldwide. They still play an important role in our lives as, spices, home remedies and yes, in our skincare. There are good qualities. (You might also like Essential Oils to Relax).
Hundreds of herbs can be used together or alone. In skincare they soothe, stimulate, tighten, cleanse and heal as well. They also can be used as antiseptic, antibiotic and disinfectants.
Herbs may take some time to work but they are gentle and usually no side effects. However, there is a possibility of having or developing an allergy. So be aware of any allergic reaction and consult your doctor.
The herbs are found through specialty stores (Penzey’s Spices) or manufactures. You might want to grow in your garden or window sill for convenient availability. If you have access you may find in the wild (fields or woods).
Herbs do have the best effect when they are fresh. They tend to have a short shelf life. For this reason they are often dried. Moisture absorption will cause them to spoil. It is best to keep them in a dark, air tight container.
6 Herb Preparations:
Infusion (ex: your herbal tea) steeping (soaking) in boiling water. This extracts beneficial ingredients and vitamins. The hot water absorbs the oils and flavor of the herbs. The hot water is then strained and may be used internally or externally.
A true infusion usually will use roots, shoots, leaves and flowers (Banyan Botanical). The steeping is done for a longer period to make a stronger brew. Use of a store bought tea bag is a weaker variety.
Decoction this is similar to infusion, except the herb is actually boiled in the water. More qualities of the plant are extracted. This creates a stronger drink using roots, bark, dried berries along with other parts of the plant. This requires more heat at a longer period to extract the oils. Like infusion, the liquid needs to be strained before using.
Poultice is achieved by crushing the herb. The pulpy mass is then mixed with hot water or a gummy substance producing a paste. This paste than can be used directly on the skin or wrapped in a hot, moist towel and wrapped around the body part to treat. The heat will stimulate circulation. Using a cool wrap will soothe pain like sunburn.
Fomentation is achieved by soaking a towel in a hot infusion or decoction. This is similar to a hot compress. Then this is applied to the body part to treat and kept warm. Because this method is not as direct as a poultice, it is not as effective.
Tincture is achieved through soaking bark, berries, leaves (that are dried or fresh), roots of one or more plants in alcohol or vinegar. The beneficial qualities of the plant are extracted by the alcohol or vinegar. This can be kept longer.
Ointment is achieved through mixing the herb with a hot fat or ghee can be used. A thick cream or salve is produced. A salve can then be spread on the body part to treat. Ointments are to be used externally only.
22 Most Common Herbs in Skincare
Acacia (AKA Gum Arabic) shrubs and tree native to Africa and Australia from the pea family. The gum is taken from stem. Its qualities; astringent, tightening and stimulating. Acacia sooths and softens skin. In its gum form, it usually helps to bind other ingredients together.
Almond a tree found in many areas of the world. The kernels of the nut are harvested. Its qualities; cleansing, moisturizing. Almond as an emollient can help soothe rough skin while moisturizing. This makes it useful as an anti-wrinkle agent. Almond meal is made into a cleansing scrub assisting blackhead removal.
Aloe Vera is a cactus-like plant having spiny leaves. It is now found worldwide and has become a popular houseplant as well. Its qualities; healing, soothing and softening. Known to reduce inflammation. As it moisturizes it slows the outer appearance of aging. Using it too often can dry out the skin.
Arnica a perennial plant in the sunflower family. It is found across Europe. It is toxic (helenalin) if eaten. The flowers and roots are harvested. Its qualities; astringent, healing. The gel is used in creams to reduce pain, swelling and discoloration associated with bruises. Arnica stimulates circulation and helps remove waste materials. Read label. Be caucus of allergic reactions.
Balm Mint (AKA Lemon Balm and many more) a perennial native to Europe from the mint family. The leaves smell like lemons. It is widely grown everywhere in gardens. Its leaves are mostly harvested but the whole plant can be used. Its qualities; soothing and stimulating. As an anti-viral used in cold sore creams and lip balms. It is used for acne-prone and oily skin.
Birch (AKA White Birch) We see these in WI and MN is loaded with them. They can be found in northern US and Canada. The bark is usually harvested but leaves and sap also has been used. Its qualities; soothing, healing and acts as astringent. The bark contains salicylic acid used in many acne products.
Calendula (AKA Marigold) native to Europe. The flower petals are harvested. Its qualities; soothing, reduces inflammation and healing. Good for acne and eczema.
(German) Chamomile a perennial plant grown throughout Europe. The flowers are harvested. Its qualities; astringent, soothing, cleansing, anti-inflammatory. Chamomile can soften and heal skin as an astringent. It contains azulene, an anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory agent. Used for blackhead removal and anti-wrinkle agent. Can help with dermatitis and eczema by soothing dry and irritated skin. As anti-inflammatory for rosacea. Avoid if you have allergy to ragweed.
Coltsfoot a perennial plant resembles dandelion, found near wetlands of US and Europe. The leaves and flowers are harvested. Its qualities; healing and soothing. Usually used to reduce inflammation making it helpful with couperose skin. It can cause allergic reactions.
Comfrey a perennial plant common in US and Europe. The roots are harvested. Its qualities; heals wounds and bruises. Also conditions such as diaper rash and wind burns. It contains allanloin which softens keratin allowing skin to store water better.
Cucumber some call a fruit and some a vegetable. A common garden plant. It is also becoming popular in skincare products. The moist flesh is harvested. Its qualities; astringent and soothing. The cucumber juice is an astringent. It softens, moisturizes and soothes skin. The flesh reduces puffiness in eye area. Also soothes irritation and tightens skin. Used in facial mask.
Echinacea is a mid-western perennial plant. The root is harvested. Its qualities; reduces inflammation, astringent and healing. As a blood purifier it can effectively be used on eczema and acne skin. Provides quicker skin regeneration.
Green Tea this is also becoming popular in skincare products. The leaves are harvested. Its qualities; anti-inflammatory and healing. It contains antioxidants to control sebum (oil) production. Good for rosacea.
Lavender a common fragrant shrub. Native to Mediterranean. Flowers are harvested. Its qualities; antiseptic and anti-inflammatory (good for rosacea).
Lemon a citrus fruit grown in FL and CA. Squeezed into juice. Although, pure lemon juice used directly on the skin may be too acidic. It needs to be diluted with water. Its qualities; astringent and cleansing. Used to remove excess oil and brighten dark areas.
Rose Most species of the flower are native to Asia. Petals are harvested. Its qualities; astringent and hydrating.
Rosemary an evergreen shrub native to Mediterranean. The leaves are harvested. Its qualities; astringent and stimulate. For all skin types. Stimulates blood flow to skin for healing.
Sage a perennial evergreen subshrub native to Mediterranean. In the mint family. Leaves are harvested. Its qualities; astringent, healing and antiseptic. Helps to cleanse oily skin and reducing perspiration.
Thyme common garden herb. Leaves are harvested. Its qualities; antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal. Effective for clearing acne bacteria when dabbed on blemishes. As a germ killer in mouthwashes.
Wild Oregon Grape an evergreen shrub found in North America. Roots are harvested. Its qualities; anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. As an effective blood purifier helps with acne, eczema and psoriasis.
Witch Hazel a scrub which grows in wooded areas of Canada and the eastern US. The leaves and bark are harvested. Its qualities; astringent, healing and antiseptic. Used in commercial toners to remove oil and also tighten the skin.
Yarrow maybe a weed in some circles (AKA Milfold). A perennial found around the world. Flowers and leaves can be harvested. Its qualities; astringent and stimulating. Used to remove oil, improve skin tone and reduce inflammation. Good for eczema skin.
Warning: Herbs can cause allergic reactions.
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