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Medicinal Plants For Skin And Hair Care

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

Rosemary bush with violet flowers

What Is It

With cute little flowers, rosemary is known by the technical name of Rosmarinus officinalis, 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 piney, camphorous scent.

Medicinal Properties

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

Skincare Properties

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.

Haircare 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.


Lemongrass

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.

Medicinal Properties

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.


Spearmint

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.  

Medicinal Properties

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:

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.

Skincare Properties

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.

Haircare Properties

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.


Calendula

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. 

Medicinal Properties

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!

Skincare Properties

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.

Haircare Properties

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.


Lavender

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.

Medicinal Properties

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.

Skincare Properties

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).

Haircare Properties

For the same reasons as above, it may help improving your scalp health with its anti-fungal, antiseptic and soothing properties.


Aloe Vera

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.

Medicinal Properties

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.

Skincare Properties

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.

Haircare Properties

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.


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4 thoughts on “Medicinal Plants For Skin And Hair Care”

  1. Wow! Just Wow Sofia. How haven’t I seen you earlier?! Your articles are really highly informative and interesting to read. bookmarked this. These plants are easy to find. Got Lemon grass and Spear leaf at my backyard. Would look up online on how to extract the essential oils from the Lemon grass and add it to my black soap mix.

    Reply
    • Hello Josh and thanks for your comment.

      I did look up and I wouldn’t have high hopes for it… Essential oils are quite expensive to make because they need a LOT of plant material, and it’s not practical to make them at home… But it seems that you can make easily hydrolats with a distiller!! I am planning in purchasing one myself and trying out. I also hope they are scented enough to use them as fragrance, but again I am not expecting lasting scents 🙂 Just a very nice scented water for lotions and cream (even a natural toner!)

      Cheers,

      Sofia

      Reply
  2. Your article contains some very interesting details about three of my favorite herbs: spearmint, lemongrass, and rosemary. I use these in cooking, especially rosemary, but also enjoy each brewed into a tea.

    While I use herbs, including those you mentioned medicinally (often as essential oils) I had not thought of them as cosmetics. This gives me some great ideas for gifts for my young adult daughters!

    Thanks for providing such good information. I’ll be sharing this with others!

    Reply
    • Hello Diane and thanks for you comment.

      Yes, essential oils are used in cosmetics. For creams, lotions and leave-on products, they not only add their scent as also their properties to cosmetics. For soaps it’s debatable if that’s true, because of the chemical reaction.

      Still, essential oils are one of the few natural ways to add scent to a soap, and that’s the main reason why you add them to soap. There’s a saying about naturals cosmetics: ” If you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin.” And I think it’s a good principle ( with some exceptions, of course).

      Hope you come back and enjoy more articles. If you wish, please, subscribe to HerbAlcochete mailing list to receive the latest news firsthand.

      Cheers,

      Sofia

      Reply

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