Read these 11 Herbs For Beauty Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Vegetable tips and hundreds of other topics.
Herbs have been used for centuries to enhance natural hair color. Elizabeth Woodville, Edward IV's queen, was famous for her wonderful golden hair. History tells us that she washed it in chamomile tea, rinsed it in lemon juice and polished it with silk. I'm not sure about the silk, but – as a blonde – I have used both chamomile and lemon juice to good effect.
Red heads can use a strong infusion of calendula (marigold) to add highlights to their hair.
An infusion of sage will darken brown hair as will an infusion of rosemary. Both can also be used to darken gray hair, giving a brown tint.
Healthy hair is a result of a healthy diet and sensible maintenance regime. Fortunately, there are herbs that can help you maintain strong, shiny hair.
Nettles are doubly useful where healthy hair is concerned. They cleanse your body inside and out and help to remove toxins. Eat young nettle shoots in soups and stir-fries; add them to lasagna or omelets. Infuse dried nettle leaves and drink as a tea or use as a hair rinse.
Herbal infusions make efficient, inexpensive hair rinses, adding shine and condition to all types of hair. Use 1 ½ tablespoons of herb per liter of boiling water and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar (lemon juice for blond hair) to the mix when cool.
Use infusions of elderflower, parsley, sage or stinging nettle for rinsing dry hair.
For greasy hair use infusions of lemon balm, lavender, mint, rosemary or calendula.
With today's hectic lifestyles, we are all continuously ‘on the go'. The last thing we need is for our deodorants to let us down. Body odor is regarded as a sign of poor personal hygiene and while, in most cases, this is not true, nobody wants to be called ‘smelly'. Add to this the occasional reports that the use of commercial deodorants may be harmful, and it is not surprising that people are looking for alternative means to ‘smell as sweet as a rose'.
Herbs with antibacterial properties are especially useful as deodorants as they attack the microorganisms that cause the unpleasant smell. Coriander and licorice are traditionally used, as are cinnamon, rosemary, cumin and fennel. Steep the dried herbs in boiling water then leave to cool and use as a wash. Or tie them into a muslin cloth and add to your bath water.
In addition, sage is said to be an excellent antiperspirant. Drink it as a tea – it goes well with honey – or add a strong infusion to your bath water.
In the Middle East, soft herbs like peppermint, coriander and parsley are often served between courses to cleanse the palate or at the end of a meal as an inexpensive, efficient breath freshener.
There are plenty of commercial breath fresheners, mouthwashes and toothpastes on the market, but it is very easy to devise your own mixture using the contents of your garden or spice cupboard. You can mix it to your liking and it will be fresh and tasty as well as effective.
Any sweet tasting herbs can be used to freshen the breath, so choose the taste you like the best:
· For a ‘quick fix' keep cardamom seeds handy. When required chew them for a while before discarding. You can also add cardamom seeds to herbal teas.
Long hours in front of computer screens and office buildings with inadequate lighting contribute heavily to red, tired eyes, puffiness and dark shadows.
Make infusions of chamomile, rosehip, or black tea. Remove the teabags and cool in the fridge. Place over the eyes as a lovely relaxing compress.
Eyebright is the herb most commonly associated with eye treatments. Boil 1 tablespoon of fresh herb in 1 cup of water for 20 minutes and leave to cool. Strain and use as an eyebath.
We all need a little time to ourselves now and then to de-stress and recharge our batteries. Herbs like lavender, lemon balm and chamomile are well known for relieving stress and tension.
Treat yourself to some “me-time” with a soothing, relaxing herbal bath. Add a strong infusion of your chosen herb to your bath water or tie the chopped herbs into a muslin square and drop it under the tap. For an especially luxurious feeling, float some rose petals on the water.
Feet deserve more of our attention for all the heavy work they do. Herbal footbaths are good for your feet and very soothing and relaxing for your body and mind.
For a warming footbath add a tablespoon of sea salt and 1 tablespoon of crushed mustard seeds to a bowl of warm water.
To freshen feet, make up a footbath of sea salt and sage or lovage.
Tired feet can be revived in a bath of sea salt and lavender, marjoram or thyme.
Hands can sometimes show age more clearly that a face, but while we spend time and effort caring for our faces, many of us ignore our hands.
Bathe your hands in an infusion of lady's mantle, fennel, calendula or chamomile to soothe irritation. Follow with a good rich moisturizer.
For strong nails, infuse two tablespoons of chopped dill seeds in a cup of water. Leave to stand for one hour, then strain and bottle. Warm a little of the mixture and soak your nails for 10 minutes at a time.
If you think that putting porridge on your face is silly, think again. Oatmeal gently exfoliates, while the milk whitens, softens and plumps the skin.
In a blender or with a whisk, mix 2 tablespoons of oatmeal with enough milk to make a paste. Use buttermilk if your skin is oily. Add an egg yolk if you have very dry skin.
Apply the paste to your face, except the eye area, and leave for a few minutes. Remove with a damp muslin cloth, gently massaging any trouble spots.
If you have never tried to make your own cosmetics, you want to start with a simple but effective recipe to give you an idea what can be achieved. In “The Complete Book of Herbs” Lesley Bremness gives recipes for cleansing milk for dry and sensitive skin and for oily skin. Both are blissfully straightforward to make:
Chamomile cleansing milk should be used for dry and sensitive skin. Elderflowers, sweet violets or lime blossom can be used in place of the chamomile. To make the cleanser:
· Heat 125ml creamy milk with 30ml (two tablespoons) of dried or fresh chamomile flowers in a double boiler for 30 minutes.
Buttermilk and fennel cleansing milk is for use on oily skins. The fennel's deep cleansing action removes impurities. To make the cleanser:
· Gently heat 135ml buttermilk with 30ml (two tablespoons) of crushed fennel seed in a double boiler for 30 minutes.
If you can follow a simple cookery recipe or make a cup of tea you can make your own cosmetics. That said, there are a few rules to follow:
· Use glass or ceramic cookware.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|