Find out what medicinal plants can do for skincare and haircare products. Infused in oils, water or other solvents, on in the form of essential oils, or extracts, you can – and should – use them to enrich your homemade products.
Having a garden of your own is really a luxury. Planting a few 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 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.
Table of Contents
- Aloe Vera
What Is It
With cute little flowers, Rosmarinus officinalis is the technical name of rosemary, and is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, along with many other herbs, such as oregano, thyme, basil, and lavender. It has a very characteristic and strong piney, camphorous scent.
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 a cognitive stimulant and can help improve memory performance and quality. It may also 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 makes for a great aromatic astringent. You may also to treat acne or pimples with products containing rosemary because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties.
Scientific studies show its capability to stimulate and improve hair growth with certain patologies, like androgenic alopecia. Take these conclusions carefully as there are very few clinical studies for humans. Still, folk medicin defends rosemary as very good for hair growth and conditioning for hair.
What Is It
Known as Erva-Príncipe in Portugal, lemongrass is its common name. 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. Fighting anxiety, lowering blood pressure, anti-inflamatory, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer are just a few. 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. Probably best used as tea.
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 common 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 helps 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 contains menthol, which can help fight pain in sore muscles. One study shows 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 commonly 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 useful for its many medicinal properties that help healing skin. They may help with 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.
Lavender can be sedative, digestive, anti-rheumatic and anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, healing, relaxing, insecticide and reduces fatigue. However, most of these claims 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. Quite common for aromatherapy.
In cosmetics, lavender may help with inflammations and skin irritations. It relieves tension, may aid in resolving fungal infections, and is a gentle herbal antiseptic. It is useful 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 anti-fungal, antiseptic and soothing properties.
What Is It
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 common as a decorative plant and grows successfully indoors as a potted plant.
Its usage in cosmetics is justified due to evidenced biological activities, with emphasis on being 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.