Nothing boosts your mood and self-esteem more than a bright, healthy complexion. Several herbs and plants that will leave your skin looking radiant easily can be added to your skin-care regime.
A monthly at-home facial is essential to maintain a healthy and glowing complexion. Although it may take you up to an hour to complete, it is time well spent. The following is a six-step process that you easily can do at home using common kitchen ingredients and your favorite herbs. Be sure to choose a time in the day that you can really devote to a full facial cleansing (when you don’t have to go outside). This complete cleansing process will make your skin a bit more sensitive, and it will need some time to calm down. Evening time is ideal for facials so that your skin may rest and rebuild as you sleep.
Herbal Facial Masks
• Fennel Leaf Cleansing Lotion
• Herbal Facial Steam
Choose Your Mask By Skin Type
• Oily Skin: Rosemary-Citrus Mask
• Normal Skin: Parsley-Carrot Mask
• Dry Skin: Lavender-Avocado-Honey Mask
6 Steps for Healthy Skin
1. Cleanse & Examine: Gently wash your face with your favorite mild cleanser and pat your skin dry. Pull your hair back from your face and examine your skin carefully in the mirror. This will help you pinpoint any troubled areas that need extra care. Look at the condition of your skin. Is it oily? Take note of any blackheads or blemishes, and pluck any stray facial hairs with tweezers.
2. Steam: Fill your bathroom sink with very hot water, make a tent with a towel and lean forward over the basin. Let the steam open your pores and soothe your complexion for five to 10 minutes. You can add a tablespoon or two of your favorite fresh herb leaves or flower petals to the hot water. Note: If you have severe acne, skip steaming. It is not recommended for severely blemished skin; it can aggravate the condition by stimulating blood vessels and activating oil glands. Also do not steam if you have rosacea or very sensitive skin.
3. Massage: Using your fingertips, gently massage your face in smooth upward strokes. The length of the facial massage depends on your skin type: 12 to 15 minutes for dry skin, and as little as five minutes for oily skin (to avoid producing more oil).
4. Mask: This is the most relaxing part of the facial process. Create a fresh mask based on your skin type. Using your fingers or a small paint or pastry brush, spread the mask on your face and neck. Create a thin, even layer, avoiding the delicate skin around your eyes and mouth. Leave the mask on for 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Rinse: Rinse your face with warm water. Follow with a cool water rinse for at least one minute, then pat your skin dry. You also can use a mild, water-based herbal toner to close your pores and refresh your skin.
6. Moisturize: Using your favorite facial moisturizer, cream or light natural oil (such as almond or sesame), moisturize your face and neck, and allow the product to soak in. Your skin will look radiant and you will feel relaxed and refreshed.
Adapt Your Facial to Your Skin Type
On the opposite page are some herbal recipes to use during your facial, but feel free to experiment with your favorite herbs and flowers. If you are using a new ingredient for the first time, try a spot test on the inside of your arm or the back of your neck first.
Fresh Herbs for Fresh Faces
These common garden herbs can be added to facial steams, masks and toners to keep your complexion fresh and glowing:
• Chamomile—This is an all-around beauty herb, and is used in just about all facial-care products. It is useful in calming an irritated complexion and treating breakouts. Fresh chamomile tea is an excellent facial toner and a refreshing pick-me-up at the end of a long day.
• Comfrey—A healing and soothing herb that contains allantoin, a protein that speeds up cell renewal. This herb is good for rough and dry skin.
• Hollyhock—Fresh hollyhock leaves are valuable skin soothers. They also are naturally antiseptic (other antiseptic herbs are lavender, geranium and lilac) and are useful in calming sunburns and skin inflammations.
• Lavender—A healing and gentle cleanser for all skin types. The fresh natural scent is relaxing and refreshing.
• Parsley—Fresh parsley is beneficial to dry and sensitive skin, and is naturally soothing and cleansing.
• Rose—A soothing and gentle cleanser that has a refining and softening effect on the skin. Add some fresh rose petals to your facial steam for extra skin softening.
• Rosemary—Rosemary boosts your skin’s circulation and also is a useful and invigorating skin tonic.
• Sage—This fresh herb will help tighten your pores when added to facial toners and used in facial steams. It also is naturally antiseptic and cleansing.
• Witch hazel—A classic skin astringent that can be found at most drugstores. It does contain alcohol, but is healing and soothing to your skin.
Try These Products
Don’t have time to whip up our recipes? Ensure your skin gets the TLC it needs with these Herb Companion picks.
• Juice Beauty Facial Rejuvenating Mask, $32
• Zia Aloe and Citrus Wash, $18.95
• Alba Hibiscus Facial Toner, $11.95
Herbal Tip: You can use fresh or dried herbs for your facial, but remember that dried herbs are more potent than fresh and you will only need half the amount.
Janice Cox is the author of Natural Beauty from the Garden (Henry Holt and Company, 1999), available in bookstores nationwide. For more recipes and ideas, visit her website.