Your Beauty Routine Goes Botanical
● By Melissa Gulden
By Melissa Gulden
FLOWERS ARE POPPING UP everywhere this time of year, and not just from the ground. Flower petals, seed extracts and oils are showing up in everything from intensive beauty routines, to spa treatments, to entire skincare lines. You don’t have to be a botanist to incorporate favorites like rose, lavender and hibiscus into your beauty and relaxation routine.
While botanical goods are trendy right now, the use of flowers for their beauty and health benefits is not a new concept. Romans used calendula on their skin for its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties; orchid extract has been used in the fight against fine lines; the wellness benefits of lavender—for sleeping and migraine relief—have been studied for centuries. Then there’s Cleopatra, who is said to have bathed her feet in orange flower water, and used rose water as a facial toner. Even in today’s complex and highly scientific world, the simplistic, restorative power of flowers remains unrivaled.
Rose: Fights dryness, reduces redness and regenerates aging skin
Nicknamed the “queen of all flowers,” rose is best suited for mature skin because of its hydrating properties and ability to heal broken blood vessels that can cause lingering redness, and the large concentration of vitamin C found in rose is less harsh and more tolerable than citrus-derived vitamin C. Rose also works wonders for your emotional well-being, health and spirit. The oil and essence of these pretty petals help balance and soothe skin. Rose essential oil is a pricey ingredient, as blossoms must be harvested in early morning by hand. Rose oil offers vitamins and essential fatty acids to repair damaged skin, and is one of the most powerful skin rejuvenators.
Chamomile: Diminishes ruddiness, puffiness and inflammation
Like rose, chamomile eliminates a ruddy complexion and calms the skin while also improving skin’s elasticity. Chamomile is a vasoconstrictor, so it helps tone down redness in the skin, while the high concentration of azulene gives the flower its anti-inflammatory effect. If chamomile tea is known for its calming and soothing properties, wouldn’t it make sense for skincare, too?
Hibiscus: Revives skin and acts as an exfoliator and antioxidant
Commonly used in Chinese medicine, the hibiscus flower revives the skin, due to its anti-aging alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) and amino acids. The skin-perfecting benefits to hibiscus are endless—it exfoliates, tones, firms and hydrates, as well as protects against premature aging. Hibiscus is also revered for its scalp-replenishing and blood circulation-stimulation qualities. Indian women frequently use oil from the flower as an intense hair treatment. The vitamin C and amino acids in hibiscus promote hair growth and prevent hair loss, and also help to reduce dandruff.
Lotus: Soothes dry skin
With a history that spans thousands of years, the Asian-derived lotus flower is considered a sacred plant. Sweet and fragrant, this antioxidant-rich skin conditioner is known to be intensely hydrating and soothing, particularly for parched and mature skin. Lotus can also promote a more elastic complexion, fading brown spots and erasing fine lines and wrinkles. Chock-full of anti-aging enzymes, the root of the plant is plentiful in vitamins B and C and iron—which are all beneficial for maintaining healthy skin.
Lavender: Balances out oil levels
Besides acting as an antiseptic and antibacterial, lavender is known for its numerous skin benefits. Lavender is a rather mild essential oil and helps normalize oily, sensitive skin and dry types by balancing out sebum production. It’s also used in spa treatments to relieve stress and tension, induce a state of relaxation and promote a good night’s rest.
Orchid: Retains moisture, fights free radicals and renews the skin
Regularly used in fragrances, orchid petals protect the skin from environmental stressors while hydrating and renewing it. Due to its regenerative and protective properties, orchid is now being incorporated into mainstream beauty products. Orchids have water-holding capacities, making them perfect for all skin types.
Jasmine: Relieves congested skin and dry complexions
Jasmine is favored not only for its scent, but for its propensity for declogging pores and hydrating and softening the skin. Most products actually contain jasmine wax, due to the high cost of jasmine flowers. However, the wax itself offers skin-protecting measures, too. Jasmine typically blooms at night, which makes it a perfect ingredient for body lotions and creams. It has a warming effect and increases circulation.
Sunflower: Healthy for hair and skin
Perhaps not as well known for its cosmetic properties, the sunflower is primarily known as a food source; however, the oil from its seeds contains impressive quantities of vitamin E, which is important for hair and skin, facilitating moisture retention while not interfering with the natural exchange of oxygen through its protective, light coating.
Violet: Restores moisture to dry complexions.
Besides being fragrant, violets are filled with vitamins A and C, which protect and restore the skin. Violets also contain essential oils, which soothe and hydrate the skin. Additionally, violets are a natural source of salicylic acid and antiseptic, which fight against bacteria and can reduce the appearance of acne breakouts.
So put away the vase—for now. Flowers have many more benefits than simply brightening a room (although we love that about them, too). Flowers are so much more than a bouquet. They can help calm our stress and soothe our skin. Power to the flower! •