In the world of natural healing, those who use plant-based medicines often keep to one form of plant product. For instance, an herbalist may use only whole dried herbs or tinctures made with the same. Many Aromatherapists stick to essential oils with unscented carriers for diluting them. But formulations can be layered by borrowing from both modalities. Essential oils and herbs can be combined for better skin health.
One way of using both herbs and essential oils is by joining powdered herbs with essential oils. They can’t be fully mixed on their own, but in the following recipe I blend the essential oil in honey before adding it to the herbal base. In this mask you get the antioxidant effects of green tea along with the anti-inflammatory benefits of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil.
Lavender Green Tea Facial Mask adapted from Numi Tea’s blog
1½ tsp raw honey
2 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil
1 Numi Gunpowder green tea bag
½ tsp baking soda
Stir honey and Lavender essential oil together in a bowl. Grind contents of tea bag into a fine powder. Mix tea powder and baking soda in another bowl, adding Lavender honey until mixture turns into a thick paste. Apply mask to a clean, dry face. Let dry for 10 minutes (or 5 minutes for dry/sensitive skin), then rinse off with tepid water.
A good way to follow a face mask is with a facial toner. This toner gets anti-aging herbal help from the rooibos and anti-inflammatory and anti-redness assistance from the rose hydrosol. (For more on hydrosols, read here.)
Rose and Rooibos Facial Toner
½ cup purified water
1 TBS loose rooibos tea
1 TBS aloe vera juice
1½ TBS Rose (Rosa damascena) hydrosol
Boil water and add rooibos. Steep for 15-20 minutes. Strain and remove solids, then refrigerate for 10-15 minutes to cool. Add aloe vera juice and rose hydrosol. Pour mixture into a 4-ounce spray bottle. Shake before each use. Use within 1 month, or refrigerate for 2-3 months.
Another way to join plant forces is to use an herbal infused oil as the carrier for your essential oils. Take Calendula (Calendula officinalis) infused oil, known for its soothing and skin healing properties, and add Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) and Lavender essential oils to create a calming body oil good for burns and bites.
Adding essential oils to herbal extracts can also make powerful healing tools. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) extract has been shown to protect “skin and hair against oxidative damage” and Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) essential oil “stimulates the roots, improves hair growth, and increases circulation in the scalp.” You can change drab hair into luxurious hair by placing a few drops of the essential oil into the extract and mixing it into your shampoo.
By combining a variety of plant substances you can reap multiple benefits for your skin. And, with the added Aromatherapy, your skin can smell good, too.