When it comes to health and wellness, we often focus intently on what we put in our bodies – but what we put on our bodies can be just as important! Have you ever looked at the ingredient list of your favorite skin care products? More often than not, these products contain hard-to-pronounce ingredients with unknown origins.
Just as herbs and plant resins can be supportive and beneficial when used internally and in aromatherapy, they can be nourishing to the skin and soul when applied topically. Aromatic plants and resins have a unique place when it comes to herbal cosmetics. Beyond perfumery, incense and essential oils, aromatic botanicals can be prepared into fragrant skin oils, lotions, body butters, creams, serums, lotions, lip balms and beyond!
There is something special about creating your own beauty products from the plants in your herbal apothecary. This way, you know exactly where the ingredients came from and can feel a sense of connection to your cosmetics that is different from using store-bought items. You can ensure that the products you put on your skin are plant-based and all natural. It’s also a way to save money as these types of products are increasingly expensive.
Making your own beauty products can sometimes feel overwhelming, but it can actually be very simple. In this article, we will take a look at some aromatic plants that can enhance your beauty routine, and highlight some of the different ways you can use them. You will also learn how to make some of your own herbal skin care products. Plus, you will get three different skin care recipes for a facial serum, face mask and lip balm!
Making Your Own Topical Herbal Products
Your beauty routine can transform into a therapeutic ritual, through being with the entire process – from plant-to-product – of crafting your own creations. Being able to witness and experience the entire production process allows space for you to connect with the herbs and ingredients going into your skin care items.
Making your own topical herbal products is a fun way to embrace your artistic and creative expression, and the sky is the limit for the options you have to create. There are many herbs and resins to choose from when creating your own herbal skin care items, many of which are aromatic plants. You may choose to work with freshly dried plant material, or opt for working with essential oils, depending on your preferences and what you are making.
On top of that, there are lots of moisturizing and all-natural ingredients you can choose to incorporate into your topical products, like shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter, beeswax, aloe vera, and countless types of carrier oils. Many of these natural substances offer an array of health benefits of their own. To discover the wide variety of carrier oil options available, you can read our blog post: How Carrier Oils Do More Than Just Carry.
Aromatic plants for your beauty cabinet
Rose petals are lovely prepared as a serum, oil, lotion or cream, as the flowers have a calming effect on the skin. To make any of these products, you can use Rose essential oil and dilute it into a carrier oil, or use Rose water for water-based preparations like lotions and creams. Sunflower, jojoba, coconut or grapeseed are good options for carrier oils, as they don’t have an overpowering scent. Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, Rose can help to reduce redness, rashes and other irritations, as well as acne, and helps with anti-aging and wrinkles.
Dried Rose petals can be ground into a powder to be used in a face mask paste or infused into an oil blend. Another beautiful way to use Rose as a cosmetic, is to create your own blush from the petals. For extra sparkle in the blush, mica powder can be added.
Jasmine is popularly used in perfumery and cosmetics due to its beautiful, dreamy aroma, and its anti-aging, skin tone promoting, and anti-inflammatory properties. Jasmine can also be used topically for skin conditions such as dermatitis or sunburns. Similarly to Rose, Jasmine essential oil can be diluted into a carrier oil and applied topically to the skin as a serum, lotion, perfume or creme.
The aroma of Jasmine can connect one to the divine feminine. In Ayurveda, it has also commonly been paired with Sandalwood, and is said to awaken love, compassion, psychic qualities and expand the state of the mind.
Lotus leaves, flowers and seeds can be used to protect your skin from sun exposure this summer. Lotus used topically is said to have anti-aging properties due to its ability to help block ultraviolet (UV) rays . Exposure to UV irradiation can damage the epidermis, causing the skin to become dehydrated, lose elasticity, and wrinkle over time. Acutely, it can cause skin conditions such as sunburns and hyperpigmentation .
In addition, Lotus has cooling, calming properties that can help relax the mind and nervous system. As an aroma, it has traditionally been used to unfold pleasant dreams. Ayurveda relates Lotus to Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance, and is said to help with devotion and spiritual growth .
Note: Lotus can be used to help protect your skin from the sun and UV rays, but it is not recommended to be used as a substitute for sunscreen.
Elemi is an amazing lemon-scented tree resin with some great topical benefits. You can use it in serums or facial creams and lotions to make your skin feel bright and vibrant. Overall, it can help to even out complexion and have anti-aging benefits through reducing the look of wrinkles and helping to tonify and strengthen the skin. Elemi has anti-inflammatory properties and is also wonderful when prepared as a salve, balm or energizing massage oil.
Elemi is well known for its ability to heal and repair scar tissue and reduce different skin blemishes or colorations. It adds a nice aroma to your beauty products because it has a zingy scent that is very similar to the smell of Lemons – due to its high limonene content. The aroma of Elemi can have a calming, grounding, as well as an uplifting effect on the mind and emotions.
Lavender can be helpful in reducing inflammation and cleaning the skin due to its antiseptic qualities. Lavender essential oil has antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant properties and can help to heal the skin. It is great for relieving dry, itchy skin issues like eczema and bug bites, as well as for healing sunburns.
A great way to use Lavender essential oil is to dilute it to be used as a facial toner. Lavender is a popular plant commonly utilized for its anti-aging qualities and its relaxing aroma, as it has been known to help reduce wrinkles, acne, redness, and even promote healthy skin tone.
As an aroma with nervine properties, Lavender can relieve anxiety, tension, restlessness, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, stress, headaches and migraines. The benefits of Lavender can be well-received when prepared as an oil or lotion and applied to the skin. This way it can help calm the mind and body via inhalation of the aroma, as well as entering the system transdermally.
Sandalwood is considered to have a calming, cooling and soothing effect on the skin, and it is used in many types of beauty and skin care products. It is helpful with reducing heat in the body and the mind, and can soothe emotional upset, stress, anger, frustration, tension and anxiety.
Topically, Sandalwood can help with many issues related to the skin, including inflammation, acne, rashes, dryness, irritation, psoriasis. The essential oil of Sandalwood can be diluted into a carrier oil to make serum, lotion, skin cream or ointment. Sandalwood in powdered form can be infused into oil, or simply made into a paste and used directly on the skin.
Three DIY Herbal Skin Care Recipes
Lavender Lotus Lip Balm Recipe
1 tablespoon of beeswax pellets
1 tablespoon of shea butter
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
2-3 drops of Lavender essential oil
2-3 drops of Lotus essential oil
1 or 2 lip balm containers
Double boiler (or Google how to make a DIY double boiler)
1. In a double boiler on the stove, bring the water to boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Melt the shea butter, beeswax and coconut oil in the double boiler and stir together with a spoon or chopstick.
2. Remove the double boiler from the heat source. Add 2-3 drops of each essential oil to your mixture and then stir again.
3. Pour the mixture into your lip balm containers.
4. Put it in the fridge to harden. Be sure to label the container with all your ingredients and the date. Enjoy!
Sandalwood Rose Face Serum Recipe
1 ounce of jojoba oil
4 drops of Rose oil
4 drops of Sandalwood essential oil
6-8 drops of vitamin E oil (optional)
1. Combine all of the oils together and store them in a 1 oz glass dropper bottle. Be sure to label it with all ingredients and the date.
2. Shake well before each use. Gently dampen the face with water, put a few drops of the serum in your palm and rub your hands together. Apply the serum to your face once or twice daily.
Aromatic Ayurvedic Facial Mask
½ oz Sandalwood powder
½ oz Manjistha powder
½ oz Rose petal powder
½ oz Neem powder
1. Combine equal proportions of each powder in a container and mix well.
2. Take approximately 1 tsp of the powder into a bowl and add a small amount of water to create a soft paste. (Option to use 1 tsp of milk and ½ tsp of raw honey rather than water for application.)
3. Apply the paste to your face and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes. (Avoid getting it on or near your eyes.)
4. Wash your face with lukewarm water gently to exfoliate the skin, and then dry your face with a towel.
5. Apply a face oil or serum for extra moisture afterwards.
For more guidance on how to work with aromatic plants, be sure to also check out our past blog on Herbal Preparations for Healing & Beauty.
Article Written By Dawn Gibson
1. L.C. Wu, C.L. Lin, C.C. Peng, T.L. Huang, T.H Tsai, Y.E. Kuan, and Y.C. Chung. (2021). Development from Jasminum sambac Flower Extracts of Products with Floral Fragrance and Multiple Physiological Activities
2. S.Y. Kim & G.S. Moon. (2015). Photoprotective Effect of Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.) Seed Tea against UVB Irradiation .
3. Lad, V. & Frawley D. (1986). The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine.
© 2023 The Northwest School of Aromatic Medicine. All rights reserved.
*The statements above have not been evaluated by the FDA, and are for educational purposes only. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your physician before you use this information for health purposes.