5 Herbs for Skin Wellness
It wasn’t until recently that I started on a skin wellness journey. When diagnosed with fibroids, I started taking care of what went IN to my body, so it was only natural that next came what I put ON it. I started researching about toxic ingredients in black health, like formaldehyde in pads and douches, and BHA’s in relaxers and hair growth products and connected a lot of dots to toxic ingredients in black skincare. Drowned by a mountain of research I decided then and there to drastically reduce the amount of toxins I’m ingesting via skin or orally. I’m a black bohemian millennial though, so it’s not like I was going to stop wearing makeup, and stop getting my manicures. But I do think a lot about conscious living, so I adapted to more of the natural beauty trend. There are many buzzwords floating around when it comes to beauty, I created this infographic to explain the differences between some of the more popular buzzwords you may hear on a regular basis. Also, if you’re interested in some of the ingredients I’m talking about, check out this great PDF from womensvoices.org about toxic ingredients marketed towards black women.
Natural and Clean beauty seem to be used interchangeably. What I’m trying to do is stick to as close to the botanical plant as possible, also knowing that in natural and clean beauty, sometimes there will be a need to add a naturally derived synthetic ingredient here and there. It’s simply being aware of what is NATURAL and what is TOXIC. Take a look at this infographic.
Herbs make wonderful ingredients for skin wellness. You’ve heard of farm to table, I’m talking farm to face. Farm to face isn’t anything new though. For generations ancestors used dried herbs in poultices and salves, they used the natural ingredients nature provided. I believe that there is grand sense of connection felt to a higher source when natural products are used on and in the body. A native, down to the soul, sense of harmony that I have experienced when connecting with botanicals. And when you connect to source in that innate, intuitive way your body and the energies around you react in magical ways. The list below is by no means complete, just 5 basic herbs that are jam-packed with magical and wellness properties for your everyday botanical needs! I included a few skin recipes here and there, feel free to drop your own DIY skincare recipes in the comments, I am ALWAYS eager to learn and acquire more skincare recipes!
1 - Calendula
I love CALENDULA! It is honestly up there as one of my top 10 favorite herbs. There are many positive properties to this herb, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal to name a couple. I use this herb in many DIY recipes like my Itchy+Dry bath soak especially in the spring/summer when my eczema tends to crop up! Calendula has been used throughout history to support the treatment of a variety of ailments associated with the skin, including wound infections and fungus growth.
Itchy+Dry Bath Milk
2 Packets Colloidal Oatmeal
1/2 Cup Powdered Coconut Milk
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, scoop 1/4c-1/2c into reusable muslin bag and toss in warm bathwater. Stew for 20-30 min.
2 - Rose
Rose is such a revered herb. Our ancestors adored this herb using it in oils and in wrappings of bodies during burial, even the Egyptian Goddess of love Isis used the rose as her symbol. Today we use rose in many topical ways, oils for our skin, and steams for a relaxing moment of rest and self care. The benefits of adding rose to your skin wellness routine will pay off in droves! The natural oils in roses help retain moisture in skin, and as our skin matures, it loses its moisture. That’s why you’ll find ingredients derived from roses in anti-aging (I’m trying to get away from the use of that word). Rose is also high in vitamin-C which is a great antioxidant, fighting free radicals from the sun.
3 - Aloe Vera
Okay, so…our ancestors called Aloe the “Plant of Immortality” and they just happen to have been on to something there lol. For hundreds of centuries ancestors have used aloe-vera for it’s moisturizing and soothing properties. When opened and applied directly to inflamed skin, one immediately feels relief because aloe vera is anti-inflammatory. How many of us have used the gel like insides of an aloe vera leaf and applied it directly to your skin after a day in the sun? Honestly a great soother. Aloe vera was also used in mummification for it’s anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties because ancestors believed that by stopping the decomposition of the body could lead to eternal life. We know from history lessons that ancestors were obsessed with the concept of life, so this plant must have some spiritual properties also. It would be pretty rad to research that! ***Tip – add aloe vera water to face masks in replace of water!
4 - Hibiscus
HIBISCUS SUPPORTS NATURAL COLLAGEN PRODUCTION!! Collagen is THE most abundant protein in our bodies. There are 16 types of collagen, separated by 4 different categories, I’ll go further in to that in a later post. I put hibiscus in my Fine Wine face mask for it’s firming, hydrating, and exfoliating properties. Hibiscus is also known for it’s ability to help lower blood pressure! Recent studies have shown a decrease in blood pressure when hibiscus is ingested orally. I have high blood pressure myself, and have recently started drinking “Jamaica” which is a drink found in south America, where, for generations has been known to help with what major organ? You guessed it! The heart!
5 - Witch Hazel
Witch Hazel is an astringent, it helps draw out, dry and tighten the skin. I love to use Witch Hazel as a toner after cleansing my skin to get the last traces of dirt and to tighten my pores after using warm water to open and clean them. The uses of witch hazel on the skin go farther than beauty though! Sure, it helps dry up oil on the face of those with with oily acne prone skin, but many people reach for a bottle of Witch Hazel for itchy, inflamed skin too! Yea! Witch hazel is also anti-inflammatory so applying it to inflamed skin from a bug bite or to a rash or to hemorrhoids can help soothe the area.
DIY Hibiscus & Rose Face Toner
2oz Dried Hibiscus
2oz Aloe Vera Juice
In a glass jar with a lid place dried herbs and cover with witch hazel extract. Make sure to cover herbs completely, if needed add a bit more witch hazel extract. Place in a cool, dark place in your apothecary for 2-4 weeks, shaking daily. Use cheesecloth the strain herbs from liquid, dispose of herbs. Funnel liquid into spray bottle along with aloe vera juice. Shake well, use before moisturizer in daily skincare routine. Shelf life of about 2 months...longer if you store in the fridge.
Mix and match with skin-friendly herbs to formulate your very own personalized face toner. Drop your recipes in the comment section below and tell me some of your favorite herbs to use in your botanical skincare regimen!