By Kristen Blow
Holistic Skin Therapist, and Owner of Woodside Holistic Skin Therapies
I want to share with you some of my favourite ways to incorporate my top three medicinal herbs into your daily routine. I use these herbs in my treatment room as well as in my own home care beauty rituals.
I think I was always attracted to the idea that mother earth has provided us with this amazing plant kingdom that surrounds us on a daily basis. And how, when used with love and with care, they can really work wonders to boost our physical, mental and spiritual well being.
But for today, the focus of my work will be on the skin and how to use these specific herbs to help with various skin conditions that you may be experiencing!
The top three herbs that I’ve used extensively in my treatments as well as on myself are: Calendula, Yarrow and Rose! Here we go!!
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
A must-have in my herbal potion making! Its golden/orange blossoms always brighten up my day. Did you know that it has been used for centuries to treat wounds and inflammation? Calendula has a multitude of skin healing properties and is gentle enough that it can be used on even our wee ones! Gentle, but absolutely effective!
Best for: Dry, itchy, irritated skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. It will even help with diaper rash, as it speeds up the healing process. Dried Calendula petals contain high levels of flavonoids,which are antioxidants that help protect against infection and cell damage caused by free radicals.
How to: A simple solar oil infusion made with olive oil and dried calendula petals will be an amazing addition to your beauty cabinet. Fill a 1 litre mason jar half full with the dried calendula petals and fill the rest of the jar to the very top with olive oil (organic if you can). Leave in a sunny spot for 4-6 weeks, shaking gently daily. Strain the oil infusion with cheesecloth into a dark amber glass bottle and label with the date! You can use this oil topically for just about anything, especially a nice relaxing massage!
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow is my absolute favourite herb to work with as well as to harvest, as it grows in abundance where I live. It’s typically seen as a ‘weed’ to some, but I just love walking around my neighbourhood searching for this gorgeous herb! Referred to as ‘thousand leafed’ as it has these tiny fern-like leaves and almost as many uses! It has long been a symbol of love and it reminds us to take care of ourselves, especially with the hustle and bustle of life these days.
Best for: Acne, eczema, dull/devitalized, hot/inflamed, rashes, cuts/scrapes. Yarrow acts as an astringent (tightening and toning the tissues). It’s antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and styptic, which means that it stops bleeding! It also is wonderful for speeding up the healing process, acts a blood regulator, improves circulation and strengthens the lining of blood vessels and capillaries.
How to: A great way to introduce yarrow into your skin care would be to make tea infusion for about 10-20 minutes. The longer you let it infuse the stronger medicinal properties you will extract. Strain and pour into a spray bottle. Let it cool and can use it that same day. Spray your skin after cleansing to reap all the benefits of this beautiful herb! Store in the fridge for a couple of days before discarding.
Rose (Rosa ssp.)
I just love the smell of Roses… don’t you? Rose petals have been used for centuries in skincare. Even Cleopatra filled her chambers with rose petals to welcome visits from Marc Anthony so when he left her he would always remember her by the scent of a rose!
I use both Rose petals and buds, as they are astringent while also nourishing and soothing the skin. The volatile oil (essential oil) is what I use most as a drop or two can make any skin care product that much better! Rose essential oil acts as an emollient to moisturize skin; protecting the skin from moisture loss and preventing free radical damage. Energetically, the scent of roses helps reduce stress by connecting you to your heart, gently reminding you to “stop and smell the roses”.
Best for: Mature/aging skin, dry/ dehydrated skin, rosacea, hormonal acne and any type of redness in the skin.
How to: Rose essential oil can be very expensive, so I recommend creating a herbal facial steam! Make sure to buy organic rose petals or buds, if possible. For the steam, I would place a tbsp of rose petals into a clean bowl and pour 3-4 cups of boiling water over top. Make sure you have a towel large enough to cover your head and the bowl as you want to create a tent over the bowl to trap in the heat and aromatics from the petals. Lean your face over top of the bowl (not too close) with the towel over top of you for 5-10 minutes (if your neck is feeling good) and bask in the beautiful aroma of the rose flower.
The healing properties are endless when it comes to medicinal herbs and essential oils.
These are just a few that I adore and use frequently. Remember, with herbs less is always more!
I would love to hear all about your skincare journey and please feel free to contact me anytime with questions and I’ll do my best to provide you with simple answers!
You can also follow along my Instagram page for regular tips and tutorials.
With love from Woodside xx