For millennia, fresh and dried herbs have been used to make teas and tisanes with health benefits. Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda practices use teas as part of holistic skincare healing and nourishment.
Herbal teas can significantly reduce cholesterol, lower the risk of heart problems and provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial protection for the skin.
I have been growing a number of herbs in an organic walled garden, to make soap and skincare preparations as well as herbal teas.
Herbal teas can be used in three ways:
- To create a tea infusion, or tisane, to drink.
- To create a tea infusion for toning the skin
- To create a herbal facial steam
Herbal tea infusion to drink
In order to help cleanse and detoxify our skin we need to drink at least six to eight big glasses of water every day, or the equivalent level of hydration in herbal teas, which provide flavour, fragrance and active medicinal properties to our daily diet.
Herbal teas contain vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and catechins that work holistically to slow down the ageing process, stimulate collagen production (the scaffolding of skin), help reduce body fat by assisting metabolism, and maintain healthy skin cells. Tea also combats dehydration, a major culprit of dull and ageing skin.
For every 250 ml of hot water (1 mug) spoon a heaped teaspoon of herbs into a teapot and steep in hot water for 4 minutes. Strain the herbal tea into the mug and leave to cool slightly. You can add honey to sweeten or a slice of lemon or lime to add zest.
You can also cool your infusion and serve it with ice, lemon, or mint.
Herbal tea infusion as a skin tonic
Make the herbal tea infusion as described above and leave to cool. Use as a skin tonic after washing the face with farm Soap Co. soap. Apply with a muslin or linen face cloth and dab the skin gently, cleaning away the last residues of dirt or make up.
Herbal tea facial steam
Herbal tea facial steams are very effective for opening pores, encouraging sweat and circulation of the blood, cleansing the epidermis and creating a rosy glow. Place 3 tablespoons of herbal tea in a heat resistant bowl and pour 1 litre of kettle hot water over it. Mix well. Cover the head and bowl with a towel to create a steam "tent" and hold your face at a comfortable distance from the steam for 5 - 10 minutes. After your facial steam you can strain the tea infusion and add it to your bath or foot bath water.
The petals of the English pot marigold are scientifically tested to provide a lasting, continuous supply of skin soothing compounds. Each individual calendula petal contains five compounds — oleanic acid, lupeol, quercetin, α amyrin and β amyrin which are known to provide antioxidant protection, soothe skin and reduce discomfort.
Since Neanderthal times, chamomile flowers have been used for their soothing and calming properties.
They have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and calming properties for sensitive skins and chronic skin problems. The flowers contain quercetin, which protects the skin from sun damage.
Soothing and cooling, mint encourages cell regeneration in the skin. Its anti-androgenic effect helps the female endocrine system. It is a powerful antioxidant, useful in the treatment of itchy skin and eczema. The menthol content in the leaves helps to reduce oiliness in the skin, thereby reducing the risk of skin breakouts or acne.
Rose petals are filled with Vitamin A (a natural form of retinol – which increases the production of collagen). Rose tea is rich in polyphenols, such as gallic acid, anthocyanins, kaempferol, and quercetin. These antioxidants help neutralize free radicals and contribute to good health.
The antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of sage tea is a good cure for oily skin, regenerating deal skin cells and curing acne.
High in beta carotene and vitamin K, sage tea repairs under eye tissues, reduces under eye swelling and dark circles.
Yarrow is one of the most ancient healing, nourishing and restorative herbs and tonics, strengthening the circulatory system and opening up capillaries, thereby helping to lower blood pressure.
Yarrow tea is very famous as the go-to remedy to fight flu symptoms but it is also a skincare treatment – azulene, the blue volatile oil extracted from the plant is anti-inflammatory and is used to help with eczma, rosacea and scarring.
Lemon balm, or Melissa (meaning honeybee in Greek, for its ability to attract insects) is a perennial plant belonging to the mint family. It contains two compounds, caffeic acid and ferulic acid, that penetrate through the top layers into the deeper cutaneous layers of the skin and provide protection against Ultra Violet light radiation-induced skin damage. Lemon balm is also high in flavonoids, which have an antioxidant effect. Other skin benefits can be attributed to the herb’s tannins, which are astringent and contribute to the lemon balm’s antiviral effects.
Geranium leaves and flowers, and the essential oils derived therefrom, help to reduce inflammation, heal skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, and stop pores from getting clogged which reduces acne outbreaks.
The antibacterial and antiseptic properties of the plant prevent acne breakouts caused by bacteria that naturally live on the skin but get trapped in pores, causing pimples, blackheads and whiteheads when mixed with sebum.
Geranium herbal tea can help to prevent breakouts by regulating sebum production and may help regulate imbalanced hormones - another common acne trigger. In particular, the hormones oestrogen, progesterone and insulin are linked to acne flare-ups.
The name of the herb thyme comes from the ancient Greek "thymos" which means perfume.
The ancient Egyptians used the herb in the mummification process, owing to its antibacterial and antiseptic compounds, caryophyllene and camphene. Thyme helps to stimulate circulation, eases stress and anxiety, and is very anti-inflammatory, hence effective in treating skin break outs.