Nature’s garden has always had abundant resources for our health, whether for body, skin or mind. It is never too late to rediscover our forgotten treasures, especially the remedies for skin that looks and feels healthy.
Globally, herbal and natural skincare products are making a comeback, as people embrace the power of plants for their regimens.
What are herbal products?
Herbal products are made from ingredients that are derived directly from plants and herbs and are free from synthetic chemicals and preservatives.
“The key ingredients in herbal products are plant extracts or essential oils. In addition, we add organic chemicals to achieve product consistency and deliverability,” says Rajalakshmi Nagarajan, founder, Thulir Herbals, Chennai.
Kochi-based beauty coach, Febi Joseph, says a pure organic or herbal product is a myth. “Anything that comes in a tube or packet should always contain preservatives and other additives,” she adds.
Are herbal products safe?
The choice between natural and chemical products for the skin is an individual one, and it is important to understand the benefits and potential risks of each.
Joseph says that herbal products are safer and gentler than synthetic or harsh chemicals. In a 2019 study researchers from the University of Rajasthan evaluated the toxicity levels of synthetic cosmetic products in comparison with herbal ones. They found that synthetic products had higher toxicity than herbal ones.
Experts bust some myths
Myth: All herbal or organic products are safe for everyone.
Fact: Just because a label says it is a plant-based or natural product does not mean it is safe for everyone. A seemingly safe aloe vera can cause rashes and allergies in some.
Any product that may work for one person may not work for another, clarifies Dr Amitha Muralidhar, cosmetologist at Fit Face Studio, Bengaluru.
Myth: Herbs can be directly used on the skin.
Fact: Turmeric powder, for example, has been a common and age-old skin application. Dr Muralidhar explains, “Using raw or substandard turmeric might definitely damage the skin when applied directly on the skin.”
Here are some beneficial herbal ingredients decoded
Tips to keep in mind
Dr Megha Nayak, head and consulting physician at Nirvana Ayurveda Wellness Centre in Bengaluru, lists points to keep in mind when choosing herbal skincare products.
- Fruit extracts are excellent face packs or masks, lending a naturally healthy look to facial skin.
- Fuller’s Earth or multani mitti in face packs is good for acne-prone skin.
- Cucumber-based toners can cool and soothe sensitive or agitated skin.
- Ghee and honey make natural lip balms.
- Beetroot- and carrot-based products can be good in a lip balm.
- Honey or sugar scrub eases dark patches in the neck and nape area. (hyperpigmentation).
- Neem and tea tree oil-based cleansers help in managing acne and allergic conditions.
- Know what suits you the best based on your skin type and choose products accordingly.
- Do not forget to research the ingredients listed on the products.
- Use brands that contain tried and well researched ingredients.
- Do not change the skincare regimen frequently.
- Avoid using aromatic or essential oils as they may irritate the skin.
- Avoid using products that have acidic ingredients such as lemon which may be harsh on the skin.
- Do not overuse any herbal product.
- Consult an expert if there is a skin concern such as extreme dryness, recurrent acne, excessive oiliness, ageing, tan or marks.