You know how it is. You’re heading down that path toward a gorgeous, sustainable lifestyle and you hit a major curve: the health and beauty aisle. Am I right? From crow’s feet to eczema, everyone has a skin issue or two to care for. But, did you know that some of the best flowers for skin care can be grown in your own garden? Read on to learn more about what to grow for which purpose.
For a lot of us, skin care regimens require a trip to the drugstore, and a wellness market product or two. But did you know your garden can provide homegrown skin care solutions? There are so many flowers that beautify and heal if you give them a chance.
Take a look! Then plant the flowers that best suit your skin care needs. It’s easier than you think to whip up healing remedies straight from the garden.
1. Comfrey (Symphytum)
Tall, leafy comfrey has a spike of soft bluish-purple flowers and an amazing ability to repair skin. Its common name, “knitbone”, emphasizes this plant’s powerful healing properties. Infuse comfrey leaves and flowers in olive or almond oil for a powerful repair tonic. I love adding infused comfrey oil to diaper balms and homemade wound creams.
2. St. John’s Wort (Hypericum spp.)
Long ago, St. John’s wort was known as ‘heal-all’. It was considered a general remedy against everything from acne to insanity. These days, we use it primarily as a mood-balancing herb, but St. John’s wort is also among the best flowers for skin care and healing.
This powerful plant ally’s pretty yellow flowers make a deep, blood red oil when steeped. Use infused St. John’s oil for burns, skin inflammations, sore muscles, and as an antiseptic on scrapes and sores.
3. Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Everyone knows a bit about Calendula’s many skin-soothing properties. There’s a good reason why this pretty flower is in so many mass-marketed products! It’s effective for countless skin issues, and easy to use at home as well. Calendula has always been popular in both internal and topical measles remedies, but today, it’s used primarily on sunburned, aged, damaged, or dry skin.
Calendula (pot marigold) is a helpful addition to almost all skin care salves and creams. Use it for breakouts, eczema, contact dermatitis, or itchy bug bites.
Recipe: Triple-Healing Salve
Combine the three herbs above in equal parts. Steep them in olive or avocado oil, in a sunny place for 3 weeks. Then, strain the oil and warm it with beeswax: 1 part beeswax to 4 parts oil. Stir on low heat until all the wax is melted. Remove the melted salve from heat and mix well before pouring it into jars to cool.
This salve is ideal for rashes, burns, shallow cuts, and scrapes. Apply it to skinned knees, sunburns, and skin inflammations like dry eczema or chicken pox.
4. Borage (Borago officinalis)
Delicate and fairy-like, these sweet purple flowers are a delicious addition to salads or white wine spritzers. In Medieval England they were eaten to “maketh men merrie”. But borage flowers maketh skin happy as well. Throw a handful of pretty blossoms in the tub with oats and burdock root for a delightful, skin-softening soak.
Borage beautifies, smooths, and softens. Try resting a cloth soaked in cool borage flower tea on tired eyes, or making a borage-chamomile night cream to refresh inflamed skin.
5. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
No collection of healing flowers is complete without this magical beauty. Yarrow is one of the most healing plants around, and a must-have for your medicinal garden. The clusters of delicate white blossoms and ferny leaves are the healing parts of the yarrow plant.
Yarrow is best known for staunching bleeding and healing cuts. Its folk name, “staunchweed”, underlines this particular healing property. You can also use a cloth soaked in a yarrow infusion, as a compress on varicose veins.
I love mixing up an intense yarrow salve for summertime cuts and scrapes. Steep all aerial parts in caster oil for 3 weeks, then mix up a salve with it. I intensify this salve by adding a drop or two of yarrow essential oil after removing the salve from heat, before the final mixing.
6. Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris)
Named for the Virgin’s cloak in medieval images, Lady’s mantle is a low, quickly spreading plant. It’s amazing for open sores, weeping eczema, and wounds. Avoid using Lady’s mantle during pregnancy, as one of the herb’s uses is as a uterine stimulant: it can be abortifacient.
Soak in a Lady’s mantle bath with borage or chamomile, or make an ointment with it to soothe itchy skin.
7. Rose (Rosa spp.)
Roses are “good for the skin and the soul” according to the old saying. They are a joy in any garden, and the rose is known as “queen of the flowers”. These are deeply beautifying flowers that cool, sooth, heal and moisturize the skin. Additionally, rosehips are rich in vitamin C, which is essential for acne or aging skin.
Flowers and hips can be used in a myriad of ways to soothe, heal, and beautify. Steep rose petals in witch hazel for a cooling moisturizing toner. Wash with rose-infused honey for a clear complexion, or soak in a rose petal bath to soothe itchy skin and calm breakouts.
Recipe: Rose-Honey Face Wash
Start with a cup of raw honey. Stir in half a cup of rose petals and 3 drops of rose essential oil. Let honey sit in a cool, dry place for 1 week. Then use as a gently exfoliating facial scrub by scooping up a nickel-sized dollop and rubbing it with your fingers all over your wet face.
Massage in for about 5 minutes. After that, you can let the honey sit on your face for another 5-15 minutes, or just rinse it off right away.
This face was does wonders for moderate acne, as well as dry or mature skin!
8. Elder (Sambucus spp.)
Everyone knows about the benefits of elderberries, but did you know that elderflowers are healing too? Elderflowers are a calming, anti-inflammatory herb. In the 18th century, these blossoms were often used to remove freckles and lighten the skin.
Today, elderflower is among the best flowers for skin care to even out tone and texture. An infusion of elderflowers in water can make great facial rinse if your skin tends to get blotchy. A cream made from the blooms is fantastic for chapped skin and chilblains, making it a winter essential.
9. Violet (Viola spp.)
Sweet violet and Heartsease are two viola varieties that are great for gentle, herbal skin care. Violets can be used for a wide variety of skin issues, from cradle cap to bug bites. Although safe and mild enough to use on infants, they’re strong enough to heal the most frustrating skin problems.
Use this gentle herb in baby baths, or as a soothing poultice for cystic acne. You can also turn it into a cream with chamomile and comfrey (both are baby-safe) to apply to small children with itchy, broken skin.
10. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Itchy, tired, dry skin loves chamomile! This profoundly restful herb is gently beautifying, and a true joy to grow and use. Place a chamomile tea-soaked cloth on your eyes to reduce dark circles and refresh your face.
Try infusing witch hazel with chamomile for a soothing toner. Or, take chamomile baths with Epsom salts and lavender blossoms. An ointment made from chamomile and lavender is able to draw out itchy insect bites, sooth rough skin, and relieve irritation.
11. Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
This herb gets its name from the Latin word Lavare, meaning “to wash”. In fact, lavender has been used as a washing and healing herb for thousands of years. It relaxes the skin, boosts circulation, and cleans wounds. Lavender is an essential for a home made first aid kit. It can calm bug bites, clean small wounds, and sooth sunburn.
This is one of the best flowers for skin care, and ideal for inflammation. For example, a lavender-chamomile oil is ideal for eczema, breakouts, and sunburns.
Recipe: Chamomile-Lavender Oil
For a basic, healing oil that can be used on its own or mixed into a cream, salve, or ointment, mix one part each of lavender and chamomile blossoms. Fresh flowers are ideal, but dried flowers do well too.
Steep the flowers in almond oil for 3-4 weeks, strain the used flowers, and then steep fresh lavender and chamomile flowers in the infused oil again. Leave the flowers to steep for another 2 weeks. Strain again, and bottle up the oil.
You can use this oil directly on the skin—it makes a great moisturizer! Or turn it into an ointment.
Beautiful Flowers for Beautiful Skin
Too often, skin care is seen as nothing more than wrinkle-reducing recipes and anti-blemish advice. But beautiful skin is so much more than that: it’s healthy, well-nurtured skin. It’s young skin and old skin, male and female. Beautiful skin is an extension of whole-body health.
One of the benefits of herbal skin care is that it really isn’t just “skin deep”. Herbal skin care soaks into your body and heals within and without. A chamomile-lavender skin oil isn’t just going to soothe just your skin: it’ll soothe your heart as well.
Enjoy every moment you spend walking in your garden. Make a pot of chamomile tea, toss some borage on a salad, and cook up some healing salves for your skin while you’re at it.