It’s no secret that beauty brands frequently turn to nature to develop the next miracle cream. The use of essential oils and herbal tinctures date back to Ancient Egypt, Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicines, and although advances in chemistry allow for the development of synthetic ingredients mimicking natural ones, there is a growing movement towards promoting and prioritising plant-based ingredients, some of which are not only beauty staples, but garden classics too. So what role do these ingredients play in beauty products, and could you be growing some in your back garden? Here are some essential ingredients you’ll find keep cropping up in your beauty products.
This versatile ingredient is used both in the formula and the packaging of beauty products. Often labelled as the world’s most sustainable material, it grows fast, reaching adult size in only 3 to 5 years, and needs no replanting, pesticide or fertilizer to flourish, so it’s easy to maintain even if you’re not the most green-handed gardener. A popular ingredient in K-beauty products, bamboo contains silica, which not only hydrates but also boosts collagen production for firmer skin. The result? Healthy, smooth, glowing skin. Not only that, bamboo also boasts anti-inflammatory properties which means it can tackle acne, and it’s antioxidant-rich so helps protect skin from environmental aggressors. As for its increasing use in beauty packaging, it’s a popular alternative to plastic thanks to its strength, durability and aesthetics – all great incentives to repurpose the packaging! And as bamboo easily grows in many parts of the world, there shouldn’t be any need for lengthy transportation and high carbon footprint. A note of warning: use of multiple materials – such as in Elate’s Essential Mascara – can cause issues with segregation for recycling. It is biodegradable and compostable, but not necessarily recyclable, so if possible you’ll want to separate the materials before disposing of them. If you’re a fan of sheet masks such as the ones from Natura you’ll find the mask fibres are typically bamboo.
You’ll probably be most familiar with this flower as a calming herbal tea that helps you drift off to sleep, but it can also do wonders for your skin and hair. Chamomile grows well in cool weather and British soils, it’s drought tolerant and low maintenance so ideal for newbie gardeners. As well as its many health benefits (boosting your immune system and reducing stress to name but a few), chamomile is packed with skin-protecting antioxidants, and its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties make it an ideal in combating acne. I found Pai’s Chamomile and Rosehip Calming Day Cream so nourishing and soothing.
These easy-to-grow flowers provide a bright burst of colour to any garden, but they work just as well in window boxes, hanging boxes or even as indoors plants. Just make sure they get plenty of light, water, well-drained soil and moderate temperatures. As for its use in cosmetic products, geranium essential oil is prized in skincare and body care for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (great to tackle breakouts and for washing hands), but more than anything it’s an fresh uplifting scent, perfect for a light floral perfume. I’m a fan of the Botanicals Nourishing Hand & Body Wash delicate scent.
Dreaming of summer holidays in Provence, the relaxing scent emanating from purple fields of blooming lavender? Bring summer on your doorstep with this easy-to-grow shrub with evergreen silvery foliage and flowers from late spring. Relatively hardy and great for pollinators such as bees, lavender flourishes in sunshine so avoid dark, damp and cold spaces. Referred to as the Oil of Calm, Lavender is probably one of the most popular essential oils you’ll find in cosmetics: relaxing bath soaks, acne-fighting purifying masks, soothing creams and anti-ageing facial oils. To use it in its purest form try Neal’s Yard Remedies lavender essential oil.
Another shrub I instantly associate with summers spent in Provence, rosemary thrives under similar conditions to lavender, so will need protection in cold and frosty temperatures. This evergreen plant favours well-drained soil and plenty of light, and is low maintenance, thriving in gardens or as an indoor plant. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it a great ingredient to treat acne and relieve dry hands so look out for it in hand creams. And if you’re looking to stimulate hair growth or soothe a dry scalp, look for rosemary in your hair products. My favourite characteristic of this plant? Quite simply its herbaceous scent. I included rosemary in my custom blend oil from Evolve which I review in this empties post.
A rose shrub is likely to be one of the most popular plants to feature in a garden, and with such beautiful fragrant blooms it’s no wonder. Caring for roses shouldn’t be too arduous, as long as they enjoy a sunny spot, rich soil and water. The rose has so many uses in skincare: in cleansers for its antibacterial properties, in toners to soften skin, and in creams to soothe and moisturise. But its use is particularly notable in perfumes for its classically fresh floral notes. The highly sought-after Rose de Mai refers to roses harvested in May in the Grasse region, famous for its clear and sweet scent. For a grown up rose scent I look to niche offerings such as The Merchant of Venice Rosa Moceniga.
OK so this one is less of a British garden staple as vines need warm weather and plenty of sun, but as the growth of the British wine trade shows, they can thrive in the southern regions. When it comes to skincare, the ingredient of particular interest is resveratrol. Extracted from grapevine stalks, this natural active ingredient helps the vine’s ability to regenerate, which translates to firming and anti-ageing properties for our skin. You’ll find this ingredient in Caudalie’s Resveratrol[Lift] face cream.
What garden ingredients do you rate in your beauty products? Leave a comment below to let me know.
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