Our skin is a protective layer encapsulating our body, and its health is vital to how it looks and feels. Moisturizing is a vital part of skin care, especially for dry skin. There are a number of causes of dry skin, including insufficient levels of sebum (natural skin oils), nutritional deficiencies and skin conditions such as eczema. If you live in dry weather, exposure to dry winds, sunlight, pollution and central heating further exacerbate this condition.
Develop a Skin Regimen
That is certainly the key to a healthy skin. Regular cleansing with soaps, cleansers and alcohol-based toners can leave dry skin feeling taut. To avoid this, replace these products with herbal cosmetics: a vegetable-based soap enriched with moisturizing herbs such as calendula; and herbal-based toners such as rose or lavender water.
Sebaceous glands in the skin’s outer layer (the epidermis) secrete natural oil – sebum. This substance is essential in keeping the skin soft and supple. From the age of 25, your skin becomes progressively drier as levels of natural oils drop. Some plants excrete complex carbohydrates called “mucilage” that help moisten, soften, and smooth the skin. Try using cosmetics that contain herbs rich in mucilage, such as marshmallow and comfrey. Frequent hot baths and showers can deplete the skin of its natural oils. Add lubricating oils such as Jojoba or wheatgerm to your bath or shower gel to keep your skin moist and supple.
Herbs for Dry Skin
This herb is renowned for its healing and moisturizing properties; it has a soothing effect on chapped skin. Aloe vera can be applied as a lotion, or it can be purchased from most drugstores as a concentrated gel to treat severe dry skin disorders such as eczema.
A softener for dry, sensitive skin, marshmallow is rich in mucilage and polysaccharides that soften tissues, keeping them smooth. It can be used in a variety of ways to treat dry skin. Make an infusion with the pink flowers to calm inflamed skin. Try preparing a facial wash from a decoction of powdered root or mix the plant powder with beeswax for a soothing ointment.
This old-fashioned garden plant is rich in mucilage. Comfrey leaves can be used in infused oil or cream to soothe sore, cracked skin.
This versatile herb helps to balance levels of oil production in the skin and is also a wonderful skin tonic. Prepare lavender water by placing a handful of flower heads in a bowl; pour over boiled water. Soak for two days, then drain off the lavender-infused water into bottles. Apply as a toner after cleansing.
Rich in unsaturated fatty acids, it moisturizes rough skin and promotes new tissue growth and also has outstanding rejuvenating properties.
A versatile herb for dry and inflamed skin conditions, oil from the bright orange petals of calendula makes an effective hand softener. Use as an ointment, lotion or cream for dry elbows and knees or on sunburn and mild eczema. Calendula cream blends well with essential oils such as rose and lavender.
Marshmallow Hand Cream
The skin on your hands can be especially prone to dehydration due to constant exposure to the elements, pollution, and everyday wear and tear. You can make your own moisturizing hand cream to protect this hard-working area of skin, using natural, readily available herbal ingredients:
- Soak half a cup of dried, grated marshmallow root in one cup of water overnight at room temperature.
- In the morning, strain and reserve the liquid. Heat in a basin over a pan of hot water stirring continuously.
- Add 2tbsp of glycerine and mix throughly. Pour into a sterilized jar with a lid.
- Massage the mixture into the hands each evening for smooth skin.
Store your cream in a clean jar and enjoy!
Balch, P.A. (2002). Prescription for herbal healing. New York, NY. Avery.
Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism. Rochester, VT. Healing Arts Press.