Herbal Skincare: An Herbalist Tradition
Looking for the perfect skincare routine has never been so important. We fight environmental factors, dry skin, sensitive skin, and myriad ailments daily. We seek the perfect skincare routine because we want our skin to feel good. I’ll admit it, in addition to feeling great, I want my skin to look good for the rest of my life, but I’m not one to obsess over the fountain of youth. I am practical with my skincare standards, and I understand graceful aging is key to being happy. Feeling confident is the first step because no matter what anyone thinks, you are beautiful. We are all unique and so is our skin.
Why is skin care so important?
Let’s face it, our face is our most important feature. We express how we feel with our eyes and speak our truth with our lips. People also treat us, respect us, or speak their truth depending on what we look like. It’s true, and our skin is the first feature noticed when passing someone by.
Did you know that our skin is the largest organ of our body? Skin functions on a cellular level just like your liver would. There are three different types of skin tissue or layers constructing this incredible organ.
Epithelial tissue can be found in the most delicate places like inside our mouths, leading into our respiratory systems, inside the digestive track, or on the surface of our most private parts. Yesss ladies, your vagina is protected by the most delicate yet rapidly regenerative part of your skin, the epithelial tissue. This type of tissue is found in delicate areas because it’s the first line of defense from environmental invaders or nasty microbial troublemakers, therefore making it’s care important in our routines.
Have you ever wondered why herbal steams are a thing? Well, Herbal steams target epithelial tissue. Herbal steams work their magic when adding hot water to the appropriate herbs, extracting the water-soluble plant compounds. Most people will simmer the herbs on low heat and keep the pot covered. When ready to steam the desired area, placing a towel over your head or lap helps direct the steam into the skin, respiratory system, or other delicate places.
What is skin made of?
The inner layer of the skin is called the Dermis, our most cared for layer because it’s the bulk of our skin and holds majority of moisture. Pesky skin conditions like eczema and/or psoriasis can manifest in this layer. Painful bright red skin patches may occur and lead to poor quality of life for many people. It’s important to remember that oil glands, nerves, and blood vessels reside here further explaining why it’s important to be mindful with your daily skin care routines no matter if it’s topical or internal. Beneath the dermis is fat, in which feeds nutrients to all layers above. Consuming healthy omegas may lead to healthy skin tissue!
The Epidermis layer is found on the surface of the skin with hair and skin pores. It’s unique in skin tone, texture, and the type of skin aliments that affect it. Our skin doesn’t have lines nor much hair when we are babies, but as we gracefully age, many eventually come.
Herbal extractions like calendula oil may calm red irritated skin down and alleviate irritable sensations associated with eczema and/or psoriasis. This gentle botanical works within the dermis layer and supports the regeneration of skin tissue. It’s popular in herbal steams and teas because it targets delicate skin tissue’s ability to retain water or hydrate skin.
Calendula contains resinous plant compounds. These constituents work by holding moisture into the skin yet calms redness at the same time. Calendula supports a healthy inflammation response due to constituents such as flavonoids, triterpenoids, and polysaccharides.
Skin aliments like psoriasis and rosacea are tricky because these conditions are like an autoimmune response. The blood vessels and nerves beneath the Dermis layer can be overactive and damaged. Herbs like St John’s Wort oil may help after days to weeks of topical application. This fabulous herb has plant compounds that target damaged nerves and could even be used for sciatica or injury cases in trauma first responses. This beautiful botanical may also provide graceful aging qualities as it contains plant compounds to activate rapid cellular turnover, making a fabulous facial serum for nighttime use.
Herbs for Aging Skin
Gentle exfoliation is key. Plant physical exfoliants like clays are great for cellular turnover and keep our skin looking fresh and healthy. Green clay supports healthy skin by firming the skin. Pink clay like Rhassoul normalizes skin pores while supporting a healthy inflammation response.
After exfoliating a couple times weekly, it’s best to put your most prized skin care formulas or serums on after exfoliating because your skin pores are open and ready! My personal favorite is a gentle glycolic or retinol serum which should only be used 2-3 times per week in the evening. I top it off with a calming botanical oil.
Why use hydrosol? What is hydrosol?
When we are not exfoliating, plant waters like hydrosol assist in opening the skin pores and furthering absorption of serums, moisturizers, and/or oils during application. Hydrosol is a topical spray that contains water soluble plant compounds like essential oils. Volatile oils or essential oils can cross our skin layers quickly just like their ability to cross the blood brain barrier when experiencing their aromatics! In other words, hydrosol is a gentle plant based effective facial toner. It can be used all over the body if needed, however it’s best for facial skin care routines.
Lavender is mostly known for it’s beautifully calming aromatics. This botanical works quickly in calming down red irritated skin. It’s first aid actions help cool down sunburns, red flare ups, and may even soothe redness after chemical facials and/or waxing. I carry Calming Waters with me in case of first aid events and reach for it when applying retinol in the evening.
Don’t forget to protect your skin from environmental factors like the sun. All the hard work to care for your skin could be lost to sun damage!
Why use herbs?
Our ecological relationship with plants began thousands of years ago. Human bodies recognize plants and know how to utilize nutrients they offer us. Building daily botanical rituals or routines enhance our healthy lifestyles when aging gracefully. We all want happiness; plants make people happy.
Herbal skin care routines teach us patience yet resilience. Just like in the wild, botanicals strengthen our skin and provide building blocks to support healthy graceful aging. I invite you to explore herbal allies and incorporate one or two into your existing routine.
Lauren Ann Nichols attended The Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism and received her certificate in medical herbalism. She is the owner of Herbal Vice, a small batch skincare company, and grows the herbs used in her products. She is currently a customer service representative at WishGarden Herbs and copywriter.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.