Many flowers have what it takes to hydrate, soothe and even heal skin.
Way back in the first century, a Greek physician named Dioscorides wrote the first-ever book about plants and their medicinal uses. For centuries afterward, medical practitioners throughout the Western world turned to De Materia Medica (Regarding Medical Matters) for information on the healing properties of plants, from roots to flowers.
Dioscorides wasn’t the first to recognize that flowers are more than pretty petals and pleasing scents. Ancient Romans used blossoms of calendula (a relative of the marigold) in wine to calm upset stomachs, and calendula petals were used in ointments to soothe skin and eye irritations and toothaches. The Romans also prized lavender’s healing and antiseptic effects on the skin—not to mention the flower’s relaxing aroma, which is still used in aromatherapy.
Today, the time-honored use of flowers to pamper, heal and improve skin continues. “Botanicals have been used for thousands of years in folk remedies for beauty, and now these are being proven in studies all over the world,” says Elizabeth Trattner, a Florida-based physician of acupuncture and a contributor to the book Cosmetic Dermatology: Principles and Practice.
When you’re in the market for a new lotion, toner or other skin care product, check the ingredients to see if flowers are listed. Some blooms are included simply for their smell-nice or sound-pretty qualities, but others go well beyond that. For example, if roses are part of the mix, that’s a bonus for anyone looking to improve the skin’s look and feel, Trattner says. Rose oil can improve the appearance of scars, wrinkles and even age spots, and its astringent effect can reduce redness.
A veritable garden variety of flowers can be found in topical beauty treatments, and each bloom-based ingredient is included to achieve specific results. Linden flower is prized for its skin-softening qualities, while chamomile blossoms combat breakouts and calm sensitive skin. Extract of cherry buds hydrates, rejuvenates and energizes skin. The yellow-orange, daisylike blooms of arnica montana are infused into lotions and creams to advance healing. Thanks to their high vitamin C content, hibiscus blooms serve as an antioxidant to repair and restore skin.
How fitting that such beautiful products of nature have the power to beautify us as well.
Beauty Garden by Sothys features a variety of floral extracts in its line of lotions, toners, cleansers and masks, including cherry bud and lavender. $30-$52 at sothys-usa.com.
Pangea Organics’ Turkish Rose and White Tea Eye Cream contains rose oil to improve and smooth skin around the eyes. $55 at pangeaorganics.com.
You can actually see the rose petals eimbedded in Wembe’s White Rose Soap, which also contains essential oils. $9.70 at wembe.com.
Moisturizing Flower Mask
Plenty of products have floral ingredients, but why not try a homemade flower beauty treatment? Here’s an easy recipe you can make with inexpensive, readily available ingredients:
2 teaspoons fresh marigold flowers
1 teaspoon chamomile flowers, dried or fresh (optional; can be purchased at health food stores)
1 teaspoon uncooked oatmeal, finely ground
3 teaspoons plain unflavored yogurt
¼ teaspoon lemon juice
1. Crush marigold flowers and (if used) chamomile flowers. A mortar and pestle work well, or you can crush them in a shallow bowl with the back of a spoon.
2. Using the same technique, grind the oatmeal.
3. Mix flowers and oatmeal into the yogurt; blend well.
4. Stir in the lemon juice.
5. Allow mixture to stand for 30 minutes before applying to a clean face, keeping the mask away from your eyes.
6. Leave mask on for 10 minutes before rinsing. Discard any leftover mixture.