Garden Spa: Using Fresh Herbs for Beauty

A kitchen herb garden provides avid cooks with a resource for fresh aromas, flavors, and colors to incorporate in their dishes.  This same garden can also be used to incorporate beneficial actives into home spa creations.  Fresh facials, hair teas, and tonics can benefit greatly from the addition of fresh herbs.  Here are some uses for both common, and exotic garden herbs.

Herbs

Basil
Basil makes an effective cleanser, and can help to tone and rejuvenate the skin.  In hair care, Basil can help eliminate scalp irritation, dandruff, and excess oil.  Try making a water based infusion with fresh basil to take advantage of its properties.  This tonic can be used as a wetting agent in facials, a fresh toner, or a hair rinse.  Fresh Basil can also be mashed and used as a cleanser.

Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm has natural astringent properties which can be helpful in the treatment of oily akin and hair.  Try steeping Lemon Balm leaves in hot water to create an herbal hair rinse, or a fresh facial toner.  This Lemon Balm infusion may also be helpful in the treatment of cold sores.

Mint
Fresh Mint leaves can be used to add a cooling, refreshing sensation to many types of home spa recipes.  The leaves can be infused into oil or water, or can be minced, mashed, or used whole.  Water that has been infused with Mint leaves can be added to hair rinses, used as a wetting agent in masks, or as a rinse for summer pedicures.  Try adding the infused oil to scrubs, cleansers, and hair conditioning treatments.  Fresh leaves can be incorporated into fresh scrubs, ubtans, and masks.

Lavender
A classic skin care ingredient, Lavender can be used a number of ways to take advantage of its antiseptic, balancing, and soothing properties.  Like Mint, Lavender is versatile, and can be infused into oil or water, can be minced, mashed, or used whole, and can also be dried for use in herbal sachets and potpourris. Try using fresh Lavender to create toners, skin tonics, hair rinses, or fresh body scrubs.

Sage
Sage is a potent cleanser with strong astringent properties.  It can be used in facial toners and hair rinses to help balance oily skin or scalps.  In hair care, Sage can also help to darken hair, making it a great choice for those with black or brunette hair who are hoping to intensify their look.

Ladies Mantle
This lesser known herb has been used historically to enhance the appearance of the bust and decolletage.  Traditionally, a tea is made from fresh or dried Ladies Mantle and applied like a toner to the neck, decolletage, and bust on a daily basis.  It is believed that the regular use of a Ladies Mantle tonic could help to increase the appearance of the skin in this area by toning and tightening the area.

Eyebright
Another uncommon herb, Eyebright contains a rich amount of Zinc, which can be helpful in repairing skin's tissue.  Eyebright is often used to create herbal facials and eye packs and is believed to help reduce puffiness, and dark circles around the eyes.  Try combining Eyebright or Eyebright tea with fresh cucumber and potato for quick under-eye treatment.

Yarrow
Easily found at most nurseries and garden shops, this lovely, flowering herb has a reputation for its soothing, comforting abilities.  Infused in oil or water, Yarrow makes a wonderful addition to sensitive skin treatments.  Try using Yarrow tea as a wetting agent in simple masks, and as a moisturizing toner.  Yarrow can also help to soothe sensitive scalps, or itchy, irritated skin.  Yarrow can sometimes cause photo-sensitivity, so take care when using Yarrow treatments during the day. 

Thyme
Thyme can be very handy when used in hair rinses and tonics due to its ability to help relieve oily scalp and dandruff.  It strong cleansing abilities also make it a good choice for oily and acne prone skin care.  Try adding Thyme to hair rinses and tonics by infusing the herb in water.

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