Grab the opportunity of any sunny spells between the storms to explore locally and see which new skincare plants you can find. You might stumble upon a new favourite.
All the sunshine and rain has encouraged luscious new growth so you may need to forage a bit deeper among the greens to spot these five suggestions:
A really pretty plant to have in gardens, often it’s the variety Alchemilla mollis that you’ll find in cultivated form. In the wild we have Alchemilla vulgaris and, once you spot it, you’ll see it can be quite abundant. Look in scrubby or meadow areas, its quite comfortable in mountainous regions.
Called Lady’s Mantle after the shape of the leaves, thought to represent Our Lady’s Cloak, but it is also a reknowned herb for treating breasts – either make a decoction to apply or simply soak the leaves and lay them on sore breasts. Soaked leaves can also be applied directly over fine lines as a gentle combatitive treatment. There’s a lovely recipe for a face mask in the book Vital Skincare, which uses this technique.
Lady’s Mantle Video Monograph
To learn more about Lady’s Mantle and how she can be helpful against acne, sore eyes, and more, take a look at this video.
‘Lilac’ is the Persian name for flower. Blooms of lilac are irresistible in the spring garden though it always seems such a short season for finding them at their best.
While there are not many direct skincare benefits to recommend lilac, its beauty is the scent. This can be captured in macerations or infusions while the traditional technique for doing so is enfleurage (mashing the flowers in hot fat).
Lilac scent is similar to tuberose, it’s often used as an adulterant for this scent. Many of the compounds in lilac are the same as those in popular perfume ingredients. They include indol (also found in privet and related to menthyl). This is the active principle of civet. Be careful not to inhale in excess, it can cause nausea and depression. Gerard, the herbalist, described lilac scent as ‘troubling the head in a strange manner exciting sexual instincts’.
LILY OF THE VALLEY
In woodlands and valleys you may be lucky enough to sniff out lily of the valley. As well as its fantastic scent, lily of the valley can be infused or distilled and used as an astringent toner to tighten the skin and whiten complexion. Much prized for use in perfumery, the essential oil of lily of the valley is very difficult to extract.
The thyme in my garden is looking happy to see Spring again. If you like a legend then you’ll be happy to know that thyme was thought to have emerged from the tears of the beautiful Helen of Troy. That might be a myth but it makes it worth considering as a skincare plant. Indeed, since Roman times, thyme has been included in toilet waters and unguents. It’s a lovely ingredient for soaps and cleansers and, as a powerful antiseptic, is often included in deodorants.
Yarrow is one of my wild skincare treasures. Lovely frothy foliage is good infused for a facial steam or face pack. It can also be helpful in hair treatments for an itchy scalp or oily hair. Generally good for oily or problem skins. It’s other great property is referenced in many of its common names (such as ‘staunchweed’ and ‘woundwort’) in that it is helpful in stopping bleeding – so great for small shaving cuts.
Yarrow video monograph
There’s a video all about yarrow.
LIKE THE IDEA OF GATHERING YOUR OWN SKINCARE INGREDIENTS? …
… you might like to read some more.
For everything you need to know to get started with Blend-it-Yourself skincare using the plants that grow around you, see Vital Skincare by Laura Pardoe. This book takes you through the techniques and ingredients you’ll need to know to make your own natural skincare.