It’s autumn and, although seasons are no longer what they used to be, they still show signals we recognize. Brown leaves, all over the place, wind and cold. Yes, having a garden of your own is really a luxury. Planting some common herbs and trees to prepare your own herbal teas and have your own fruit and vegetables to eat is truly rewarding. Of course, took me a second to go from that to thinking about growing medicinal plants for skin and hair care, to use on my homemade products.
The plants listed here are all very common in natural skincare and haircare, and they are easy to plant and maintain in most gardens.
Rosemary is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. Rosemary is considered a cognitive stimulant and can help improve memory performance and quality. It is also known to boost alertness, intelligence, and focus
Rosemary is best known for hair treatment, but it might help with skincare as well. An infusion of rosemary leaves can be used as an aromatic astringent. It is also wise to treat acne or pimples with products containing rosemary because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties.
There are some scientific studies showing its capability to stimulate and improve hair growth with certain patologies, like androgenic alopecia. Take these conclusions carefully as there are very few studies done on humans. Still, folk medicin defends rosemary as very good for hair growth. Besides hair growth stimulation, rosemary is also conditioning for hair.
What Is It
It is called erva-príncipe in Portugal, who knows why. Lemongrass feels much more intuitive. Technically called Cymbopogon citratus, it’s a bush with long and thin leaves. It makes a really nice tea filled with intense lemon flavour and scent.
There are several claims about lemongrass medicinal properties, such as fighting anxiety, lowering blood pressure, anti-inflamatory, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, and there are some encouraging lab tests that corroborate them, but there are lack of data in humans to back up these claims. One is proven by scientific studies: it is effective against bacteria responsible for oral health problems (chronic gum disease and tooth decay).
Skincare and Haircare Properties
Apart from being effective against certain bacteria, lemongrass has no particularly strong properties. However, its essential oil has a lemony strong scent that survives saponification, and is used in cosmetics and perfumery. You may add this plant to your skincare and haircare products for its scent and antibacterial properties.
What Is It
Spearmint is very easy to grow. Its technical name is Mentha Spicata and is native to Europe and southern Asia, being present in most temperate zones in the globe. It is very used in culinary as a flavoring to food and drinks, like, herbal teas. Its aromatic oil is also used as flavoring and scent.
Due to its main active substance, carvone, spearmint is scientifically proven to be antitumor, antioxidant, antimicrobial and antispasmodic. Here are some scientific articles about it if you wish to take a look:
- Effect of drying method on the phenolic content and antioxidant capacity of spearmint
- The continuing search for antitumor agents from higher plants
- Antibacterial and antioxidant activities of Mentha piperita L
Like peppermint, it holds a refreshing herbal scent. Unlike peppermint, it has only minimal quantities of menthol, meaning it doesn’t cause the “cold” reaction effect characteristic of menthol.
Spearmint is known to help with acne due to its antimicrobial properties. Its essential oil (as well as peppermint essential oil) provide a delicious minty refreshing aroma to any homemade beauty product.
Peppermint oil is proven to kill several bacteria. Peppermint contain menthol, which can help fight pain in sore muscles. One study found that peppermint oil, when used on mice, increased the number of follicles, follicle depth, and overall hair growth. Again, no significant studies in humans. Spearmint, being a milder version of peppermint, might not even have any effect. Still, I do use peppermint essential oil in my homemade haircare products , if for nothing else, because of its scent.
What Is It
Calendula officinalis is better known as daisy, pot marigold or simply marigold. It has very cheerful and fragrant flowers and of varied colors, including yellow, orange and red tones. It is a 100% edible plant (leaves, flowers and stems) and can be consumed, especially in teas and salads.
Potent anti-inflammatory, a strong skin wound healer, soothing for burnt and irritated skin, calendula’s properties list is big: astringent, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, soothing, healing, anti-allergic, antiviral, skin toning and bactericidal properties and more!
Calendula is mainly used for its many medicinal properties that help healing skin. They can be used in helping wounds, sores, varicose veins, pulled muscles, bruises, and burns (Heinerman, 1996). Best used infused in oils, healing salves or balms.
Due to its many medicinal properties and high content in polyphenols and flavonoids, calendula shows anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties which may help with itchy scalp or dandruff. It may also help with hair growth by stimulating hair roots and follicles to grow more robust and dense hair.
What Is It
Lavender, or lavandula angustifolia in Latin is a small, evergreen shrub with blue or violet flowers, blooming from June to September. Likes poor, dry soils with sun exposure. It posesses a very well known earthy floral scent.
It is known to be sedative, digestive, anti-rheumatic and anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, healing, relaxing, insecticide and reduces fatigue. However, most of these clains lack human clinical trials to be backed up. It is believed that lavender acts as a anti-depressant as it is able to enhance mood and lift mild anxiety, and there is scientific evidence that it helps with insomnia.
In cosmetics, it is beneficial for inflammations and skin irritations. It relieves tension, may aid in resolving fungal infections, and is a gentle herbal antiseptic. It can be used to disinfect and support the healing of scrapes, burns, and other superficial wounds (Gladstar, 2012).
For the same reasons as above, it may help improving your scalp health with its anti-fungal, antiseptic and soothing properties.
Aloe Vera is a species of succulent plant of the genus Aloe. It grows wild in tropical climates around the world and is grown for agricultural and medicinal uses. It is also used for decorative purposes and grows successfully indoors as a potted plant.
Its use in cosmetics is justified due to some evidenced biological activities, with emphasis on moisturizing, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, healing and antimicrobial properties. Aloe vera fresh gel not only helps with healing and inflammation but is also a mild tonic and non-greasy moisturizer.
Its healing properties can penetrate up to three internal layers of the epidermis and, therefore, help in the recovery of injuries caused by burns, especially sunburns. This very same property is also what facilitates the treatment of pimples so that regular use can reduce the frequency of acne. In addition, it provides better skin hydration and a healthier appearance.
Aloe vera makes for a great hair and scalp mask since it removes extra oil, fights product buildup, soothes the scalp, and protects strands. You’ll be left with soft, healthy hair. Aloe has long been used for treating hair loss. It also soothes the scalp, reduces dandruff and unblocks hair follicles that may be blocked by excess oil.