Gardening Herbs

Herbal Skin Care from Garden Plants

Which Plants Can Care for Your Skin?

Like most people, you probably think of herbs as condiments that go into food. But what about herbs for skin care? Believe it or not, many plants in your garden are ideal for making natural skin care products. 

There’s nothing quite like getting your hands dirty and enjoying the fruits of your labor. We know that the sun is the main component for growing plants. But what if I were to tell you that the sun could also benefit your skin? The Heliotherapy Institute provides additional information about light therapy for skin treatment.

This article will discuss some of the best herbs for herbal skin care and give you some easy gardening tips. So please grab a cup of tea, put on your gardening gloves, and read on!

How to Prepare the Garden for Planting

Senior woman planting herb garden.
There’s nothing very difficult about starting a garden full of plants beneficial to skin health. Photo: Goodluz, depositphotos

Gardening can be an exciting and enjoyable process. But there are a few steps to prepare it for planting:

  • Prepare the soil by lightly tilling it with a hoe to make it light and crumbly.
  • Prepare your seeds or seedlings. 
  • Plant them at the correct depth, depending on the plant type. 
  • Water them regularly. That will depend on the plant type and the climate in which you live. 

Once your plants have grown to a few inches (centimeters) tall, you can start harvesting them. To do this, cut off the leaves or flowers that you want to use. Be sure as you harvest to gather only what you need, leaving enough so your plants can continue to grow and produce more herbal material.

Plants for Skin Care

You can use several different plants for skin care. But you also need to know how to use them as skin care products. There are a few different ways to go about it.

One option is to infuse the herbs into oil or water to prepare homemade lotions or soaps. Another option is to dry the herbs, grind them into powder, and add them to DIY face masks or bath bombs.

Some of the best herbs for skin care include:

Chamomile or German Chamomile

Matricaria chamomilla, syn. M. recutita

German chamomile with white daisy flowers.
German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla). Photo: orestligetka.ukr.net, depositphotos

Chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it great for soothing irritated skin. It’s also antimicrobial, so it can help to keep your skin clean and clear. 

To use chamomile, make tea by steeping the herb in boiling water for several minutes. Once it’s cooled, apply it to your skin with a cotton ball or cloth. You can also use chamomile essential oil as a carrier oil like jojoba or almond oil. 

To grow chamomile in your home garden, carry out the following steps:

  • Start by sowing the seeds or planting young plants in early spring. 
  • Choose a spot in your garden with full sun and well-drained soil.
  • Dig a hole that’s twice the width of the plant’s pot. 
  • Gently remove the plant from its pot and place it in the hole. 
  • Backfill the hole with soil and water thoroughly.
  • Chamomille is an annual and needs to be resown each spring.

When the chamomile plants are about six inches (15 cm) tall, you can begin harvesting the leaves and flowers.

Sage

Salvia officinalis

Stem of garden sage with gray-green leaves.
Sage (Salvia officinalis). Photo: Heliotherapy Institute

Sage is an herb with a long history of use in culinary and medicinal applications. It contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. These properties make sage an excellent choice for treating various skin conditions.

To use it for herbal skin care, you can make a simple infusion by steeping dried leaves in boiling water for several minutes or adding a few drops of essential oil.

The plant grows about 20 inches (50 cm) tall and wide and does best in full sun to partial shade. Sage is drought tolerant once established, so it’s perfect for those who don’t want to worry about watering their plants too often. A perennial hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, it blooms in the summer, usually beginning in the second year, with attractive small purplish-blue flowers.

Mint

Mentha spp.

Spearmint plant.
Spearmint (Mentha spicata). Photo: asimojet, depositphotos

Mint is a refreshing herb that can be used in many ways, including as a skin care ingredient. It has a cooling effect and can help soothe irritation, brighten the skin, and even out the complexion. You can add mint to your skin care products or make a minty herbal infusion to use as a toner or face wash. 

For the infusion, steep some fresh mint leaves in boiling water for about ten minutes. Allow the mixture to cool completely before using it on your skin. You can store the infusion in the fridge for up to one week.

Mint is an easy-to-care-for perennial, with most species hardy to zones 3 to 9. It will thrive in sunny and shady areas. It can be invasive, so make sure you contain it.

If you’re considering starting a home garden, mint is a great plant. Not only can you use it for your skin care products, but you can also use it to flavor food and drinks.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera 

Aloe vera
Aloe vera (Aloe vera). Photo: etaphop, depositphotos

This is one of the most popular plants for herbal skin care. Aloe vera gel can treat sunburns, moisturize, dry and calm sensitive skin, and heal cuts and scrapes. The plant is also anti-inflammatory, so it can help reduce redness and swelling.

To use aloe vera gel, break off a leaf from the plant and squeeze out the gel. Apply it to the skin and leave it on for about 20 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. You can do this once or twice a day as needed.

It is easy to grow the plant at home. 

  • Aloe vera prefers warm, dry climates and well-drained soil. 
  • The plant should be watered about once a week, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings. 
  • Gardeners in temperate climates will need to grow aloe indoors near a sunny window. It is only hardy outdoors where there is no risk of frost.
  • Cut a leaf from the plant close to the base to harvest aloe vera gel. Using a sharp knife, cut away the green part of the leaf to reveal the clear gel inside.

Lavender

Lavandula angustifolia

Lavender in bloom.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). Photo: julitt, depositphotos

Lavender has a calming effect on the skin and can be used to treat acne, eczema, and other skin conditions. To use it in your skin care routine, add a few drops of lavender oil to your moisturizer or face cream. Mixing lavender oil with honey and yogurt can make a lavender face mask. But the best way is to create a tea with the dried herb.

If you’re interested in growing lavender, you’ll discover it’s pretty easy! This plant prefers well-drained, sandy soil and lots of sun. It’s also drought-tolerant, so you don’t have to worry too much about watering it. To dry lavender, tie the stems and hang them upside down in a dark, dry place. 

Calendula or Pot Marigold

Calendula officinalis

Calendula flowers and cream.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis). Photo: alexraths, depositphotos

Pot marigold or calendula is often used in skin care products. That’s because of its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, making it ideal for treating acne, eczema, and other skin conditions. 

You can grow this annual flower in your garden by sowing the seeds in early spring. Here are some easy gardening tips for planting calendula: 

  • Choose a sunny spot in your garden.
  • Prepare the soil by loosening it and adding some organic matter.
  • Sow the seeds thinly so that they have enough space to grow.
  • Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged.

Thyme

Thymus vulgaris

Thyme plant in bloom with white flowers.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Photo: Taigi, depositphotos

Thyme is an excellent herb in any garden, not only because it’s easy to grow, but also because it has many uses. Regarding skin care, it helps treat acne, eczema, and other skin conditions. It’s also an antimicrobial, so it can help to keep your skin clean and clear. 

This hardy herb (zones 3 to 9) grows in full sun or partial shade and prefers well-drained soil. Other than that, water thyme deeply and regularly during dry periods to encourage growth. Cut the plant by about one third when harvesting thyme to ensure continued growth throughout the season.

Rosemary

Salvia rosmarinus, syn. Rosmarinus officinalis

Young rosemary plant.
Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus). Photo: Dewins, depositphotos

Rosemary is a woody perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers. Rosemary grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. It can be propagated from seed or cuttings and is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens. It is usually hardy to zones 7 to 10, but there are some hardier cultivars.

This herb is known for improving circulation and promoting hair growth. Its essential oil can perfectly soothe muscle aches and pains. If you’re looking for an herb to help wrinkles or fine lines, look no further than rosemary. It contains ursolic acid, which has been shown to increase collagen production and skin elasticity.

You can make a rosemary-infused oil by steeping fresh or dry rosemary in olive oil for several weeks, then strain and use it as you would any other facial oil.

Roses

Rosa spp.

Damask rose petals and damask rose flower.
Damask rose petals (Rosa × damascena). Photo: Heliotherapy Institute

Roses are one of the most popular flowers in the world, and you can use them for herbal skin care in several ways: 

  • Make a facial toner or astringent from rose petals. 
  • Add petals to baths for a soothing and fragrant experience. 

When selecting roses for a home garden, look for varieties high in essential oils, such as damask roses. You can also try growing your roses from cuttings.

Basil

Ocimum basilicum

Pot of young basilic plants.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum). Photo: Zakharova, depositphotos

To grow basil, start by planting seeds in a sunny spot indoors in early spring. Only in mild climates should you sow it outdoors. Water the seeds regularly and thin them out once they have sprouted. When the plants are big enough, you can begin to harvest the leaves. 

Basil is one of the best herbs for skin care. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce redness and swelling. Additionally, it can help to fight acne-causing bacteria.

You can make a few skin care products with basil:

  • Blend the leaves into a paste and apply it to your skin as a mask. 
  • Make a basil-infused oil by steeping fresh basil leaves in olive oil for a few weeks. Just make sure to strain out the leaves before using them on your skin!

Lemon Balm

Melissa officinalis

Pot of lemon balm
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). Photo: CHROMORANGE, depositphotos

Lemon balm smells strongly of lemon. It’s calming when taken as a supplement, so you can use it as a skin care herb. It has antibacterial properties that can help to clear up acne, and it’s also good for reducing inflammation. You can apply lemon balm directly to your skin or make a lemon balm infusion by steeping the leaves in hot water.

Main steps for growing lemon balm:

  • Grow it from seeds, by divisions, or cuttings.
  • It prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade.
  • Water regularly during the first growing season to help the roots establish themselves. After that, only water during prolonged periods of drought.
  • It’s hardy to zones 3 to 7.
  • Lemon balm will self-sow, so if you don’t want it to spread, remove the flower stalks before they go to seed.
  • Harvest lemon balm leaves anytime during the growing season. 

Echinacea or Coneflower

Echinacea spp.

Dried cornflower and mortar and pestle.
Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Photo: ChamilleWhite, depositphotos

This flower is beautiful, but it’s also a powerhouse regarding skin care. Coneflower contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, making it great for treating acne and other skin conditions. There are a few ways to do so:

  • Make a tea by steeping the dried flower heads in hot water for about ten minutes. This tea is suitable as a toner or cleanser. 
  • Add the coneflower petals to homemade soaps or lotions. 

It is best to sow the seeds in late fall or early spring. Choose a spot in your garden that receives full sun. It’s a perennial hardy to zones 3 to 8 and begins to bloom in its second year. Once the plant blooms, you can harvest the flower heads and dry them to use in teas or skin care products. 

Summary

Home gardens are becoming increasingly popular as people look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and eat more organic foods. But they can also be a source of natural ingredients for your skin care routine. Several herbs offer benefits for the skin, from soothing irritation to reducing inflammation. And we’ve taken a look at some of the best herbs for skin care, as well as some easy gardening tips to get you started. 

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