Regarding the incorporation of nature’s finest gifts into one’s hair- and skin-care regimen through herbal therapies, longtime herbalist Jeffery Bowles advised, “Just as the seasons change, so should we.”
In turn, when used properly and with care, herbs—in both their natural state or via their encapsulated forms—are an all-natural and eco-friendly way to enhance the health and appearance of hair and skin, especially when it comes to moisturizing.
For example, in addition to regularly using a humidifier to help counteract the thermal, drying effects of indoor heating during cold-weather months, using herb-infused olive oils on skin and hair is an effective, natural remedy that’s beneficial year-round, not just during winter, since it’s always important to moisturize skin and hair.
Olive Oils: All-Natural Weapon Against Dry Skin, Hair
“There’s a lot of protein value in olive oils, and using it on facial skin or areas that are especially dry— including places on one’s feet, hands or on a dry scalp—is beneficial,” offered Bowles, who’s also served as a licensed cosmetologist for 25 years. “It’s just an all-natural way to help promote healthy skin and hair.”
When it comes to the oil’s application, “A little goes a long way,” he added, “and when people first use it, they generally tend to use too much; less than a capful is usually all you need.”
Additionally, those who have a naturally oily scalp but dryer hair on the ends can benefit from olive oil, too, as an “ends-only application,” noted Bowles, who says olive oil is easy to find in most stores and, yes, “it is the same olive oil you cook with.”
Sea Salts Soften Skin and Benefit Some Hair Types
Because of its organic nature, sea salt is another natural remedy for skin and hair. Formed from the natural evaporation of ocean water and mined from land-based sources, natural sea salt does not contain added sugar, anti-caking ingredients or potassium iodide.
“Regardless of whether it’s cold, you need to moisturize … and sea salts provide great moisture for your skin,” said Bowles, who suggested adding about 1/4 a cup of sea salt to one’s bath water.
Those who have color-treated hair, however, may want to avoid using sea salts on the hair, because the color may be affected, he warned. Still, many find favor with the “natural woolly … ‘at-the-beach’ look” after using sea salts, which will also add a bit of curl to naturally wavy hair, Bowles said.
Lavender: Nature’s Aromatherapy Moisturizes, Too
Lavender, which is a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, has a number of uses, including serving as a source of aromatherapy. Plus, Bowles suggested, it’s also an ideal herb to infuse into sea salts when using on one’s hair or in a bath. To use as part of a sea salt bath recipe, add about 10-12 drops of lavender to 1/4 a cup of sea salt.
“Lavender, along with aloe, is one of the two most-moisturizing things available on the planet,” reported the Tennessee-based herbalist/cosmetologist.
Chamomile: A Multi-Use Self-Care Aid
German chamomile, an annual plant of the sunflower family Asteraceae, is yet another useful natural self-care tool and often preferred as a final rinse—after shampooing and conditioning. The chamomile hair rinse also is often preferred to another all-natural application, the apple vinegar rinse used by some to combat an oily scalp, because of chamomile’s more pleasant smell.
To use German chamomile as a final hair rinse application, simply boil about a teaspoon of German chamomile with two cups of water on the stove in a pan—or, place it in a coffee filter and add two cups of water to the coffeemaker—to produce the herb-based rinse. Then, Bowles advised, let the mixture cool before applying it to hair. (Chamomile also may be added to a hot tea mixture to help induce a feeling of slight alertness that is followed by mild relaxation.)
Beyond the Tea Cup: Tea Bags Relieve Eye Puffiness, Tighten Skin
Regular tea bags boast natural personal-care benefits also, and in particular, as a natural skin tightener and to soothe puffiness around eyes. After use, tea bags may be stored in the fridge until needed.
“Don’t use hot tea bags on your eyes, but warmly is OK and cold is fine,” Bowles said. “Tea is great for tightening the skin and soothing puffiness around the eyes. Most realize you can use cucumbers on the eyes, but tea bags are equally useful and an all-natural remedy, too.”
Clearly, beauty care is big business throughout the world, with Americans alone reportedly spending more than $7 billion yearly on beauty products—not including cosmetic surgery, diets or weight-loss programs. Analysts at Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, indicate that, as a global industry, some $38 billion is spent annually for hair-care products, with another $24 billion expended on make-up and $24 million on skin care—not including perfumes.
“Personal care, including beauty and skin care, doesn’t have to be expensive,” Bowles contended. “Nature, and especially herbs, is the best self-care aid around and it doesn’t come with a hefty price tag. It’s inexpensive and natural, and its results are invaluable.”