The dog days of summer are upon us. That hot sun not only dries out our skin causing premature wrinkles, but is can also increase the risk for skin cancer. Herbs can help skin in a number of ways, including cleansing, cooling, and protecting.
Make an infusion or strong tea from herbs that can be applied to the skin or put in the bath. Also try herbs as a steam facial by putting them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them. Lower your face into the steam being careful not to burn yourself. Feel your pores open and your worries drift away. Yet another way to use herbs for your skin is to make a tall glass of iced herbal tea to relax with. These are some common plants for summer skin care:
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) – Some call it a weed, but it is a very good source of vitamin A which is important for maintenance of the skin’s epithelial layer. Vitamin A is also found in stinging nettles, parsley and violets.
Rose Hips (Rosa spp.)– After the rose flower fades you still have the hips, which are high in vitamin C. This vitamin is essential for making collagen, the foundation upon which the skin rests. Rose flowers also make a good face cleanser and are considered hydrating for the skin. Parsley and strawberry leaves are also high in vitamin C.
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) –The phytoestrogens in red clover can help diminish wrinkles, giving your skin that plump youthful look. It has also been used to treat several skin conditions including eczema. Since it is a legume, it can also feed your soil!
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)– It’s anti-inflammatory properties can be soothing to the skin, especially after a sunburn. It is also antiseptic which can help prevent infection of minor scrapes.
Mint (Mentha spp) – The cooling properties of the mint family are refreshing on a hot afternoon. Make a tea to drink as well as to apply to the skin in a mister or with a cotton swab. Mint can also help relieve dry cracked skin.
Green Tea (Camillia sinensis) – Although you probably don’t have this one in your garden it is an important one for summer skin care. Many animal studies have shown that green tea can prevent skin cancers when applied topically. Try making a strong infusion to put in the bathtub, or apply it directly to moles on the skin. It also provides beneficial properties as a drink. Better safe than sorry.
Calendula (Calendual officinalis) – This orange flower is great for dry skin and can hasten the healing of cracked hands or abrasions of the skin. It is also antiseptic and anti-inflammatory and has been used to treat eczema.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) – This herb can bring relief from sunburn and has also been used as an insect repellent and to treat skin allergies and rashes.
Rose water toner
2 c rose petals
1 cup water
2/3 cup witch hazel
2 tsp honey
Bring water to a boil and add rose petals. Remove from the heat and steep for one hour. Strain out the petals. Add the second cup of rose petals to the water and again heat to just boiling, steep for one hour and strain. Mix in witch hazel and honey. Keep this refrigerated and use within three days.
You can find a good green tea herbal bath mix from Colorado Aromatics to use after exposure to sun here.