Herbs and flowers that flavour our food and drinks are also being used in beauty products with many brands boasting botanical and plant-based extracts as the principal active ingredients.
Whilst we all love high-quality skincare products, we don’t much like the expensive price tag. However, the big secret is, many of the botanicals used by the big brands are easy to grow at home - well so I am told, I am most definitely not a gardener!
Growing your own beauty garden means that will you know the life story of the plants – how they were grown, when they were picked and how far they travelled from the garden into the house! When creating your own products, you will know exactly what the ingredients are and that no nasty chemicals have been added.
If you have a garden, you are probably already growing skincare plants. They are a diverse group ranging from shrubs to aromatic herbs, vegetables and weeds. But how do we transform them from garden plants to skincare? Well, the beneficial compounds in the leaves, roots, bark and flowers need to be extracted and then mixed with a carrier product, namely oil, water, glycerine and in some cases alcohol. For instance, you can steep flowers and herbs in oil and use this oil in various products.
If you like the idea of making your own skincare products, there are beauty kits on the market to help you get started. Plenty of books and online articles are also available to help you to choose the right ingredients, formula and even the best containers for your products along with advice on usage recommendations and natural preservatives.
Ten of the Top Plants used in Skincare Products
1. Aloe Vera leaves contain a sticky gel which is known for its skin soothing and healing properties. Aloe Vera contains more than 75 nutrients and 200 other ingredients, including 20 minerals, 18 amino acids and 12 vitamins. It certainly seems a bit of a wonder plant.
2. Roses are not only stunning flowers but they are also a valuable natural cosmetic ingredient. Especially the rose oil which is high in vitamin C with extremely hydrating properties. The beautiful rose scent is used in many fragrances and other products of high-end brands such as Chanel and Dior.
3. Calendula has the reputation of reducing redness and healing the skin. More and more farmers are choosing to cultivate medicinal plants and calendula is a popular choice because it does not require much care. Sounds like the perfect flower to grow!
4. Lavender oil is used to moisturise skin and, due to its gorgeous fragrance, is suitable for many scented products such as perfumes, bath and body care products. Lavender also has good antiseptic properties. In fact, the French Academy of Medicine used it as a disinfectant during the Second World War.
5. Jojoba is often used as an ingredient in face creams because the oil extracted from the plant has similar properties to the sebum secreted by human skin. It also improves skin elasticity and prevents skin dehydration, making it perfect for sensitive skin.
6. Tea tree is one of the main ingredients used in cosmetic products which aim to combat acne and treat acne prone skin. It’s considered one of the best natural alternatives to chemical substances that are potentially skin irritating.
7. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, decongestant, disinfectant, analgesic and healing properties. Various cosmetic products for skin, neck, hands, hair or feet are obtained from the chamomile flowers or the aerial part of the plant.
8. Geranium is not only a popular decorative plant but also a key ingredient in various cosmetic products. Geranium oil has cleansing and toning properties, helpful for those who have to deal with oily skin, acne and eczema.
9. Basil is a popular herb and medicinal plant but it is also used as a cosmetic ingredient. It is used mainly in acne treatments, hair care products, perfumes and several cream and body care products.
10. Rosemary has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. It can successfully treat alopecia, stimulating hair growth and giving it a healthy look. Rosemary oil is also great to reduce fine wrinkles and to treat acne affected skin.
Natural beauty product jargon…
Balm – a firm, hard oil based product that needs rubbing into the skin.
Salve – similar to balms but softer due to a higher percentage of liquid oils.
Lotion – either a thin cream or a herbal water infusion used to bathe the skin.
Cream – made by blending a small amount of oil into water using an emulsifier.
Decoction – created by heating tough plant material like roots and bark in water.
Oil infusion – dried plant material infused into a liquid oil.
Water infusion – fresh or dried plant material infused into water. Essentially a tea.
Rinse – a water infusion with botanical extracts that you use on your skin or hair.