Top 11 Herbs & Spice to Spruce Up Your Beauty Routine
Dr. Kara's Health Insights

Top 11 Herbs & Spice to Spruce Up Your Beauty Routine

by DK Kara MD on Feb 28, 2022

They say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. It means people have different things they find attractive in a person.

Regardless of whether you’re wanting to attract a partner or simply feel good about yourself, the beauty industry is one that remains an evergreen priority. Last year alone, people around the world spent roughly $438 billion dollars on the latest creams, serums, and ointments (1).

But many commercial beauty products sold in the US contain harmful chemicals and ingredients. Some of the most popular contaminants found in cosmetics include (2):

  • Isobutyl or isopropyl parabens: hormone disruptors
  • Mercury: kidney and liver damage
  • Formaldehyde: carcinogen
  • Quaternium 15: releases formaldehyde
  • M- and o-phenylenediamine: Carcinogen and skin irritant
  • Dibutyl and diethylhexyl phthalates: hormone and reproductive disruptors
  • PFAS (long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl): linked to cancers

Why should this matter? Because what you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body. Studies show that your skin absorbs about 64% of everything you put on it (3). It makes you wonder if looking good is really worth it.

Does nature offer a better alternative? While nothing will keep you looking young forever, herbs and spices have been used for centuries as natural remedies for health, wellness, and yes… even beauty!

But what’s the secret? The reason why these herbs make great beauty choices is due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation accelerates the aging process, so keeping things nice and calm can help you stay youthful and vibrant.

Some of these top herbs and spices may very well be in your house. Here are the top 11 that you can use to spruce up your beauty routine.

Note: Because beauty starts from within, many of the herbs on this list can be taken internally as herbal teas, powders, or supplements.

Chamomile

This dainty flower is famous for its calming attributes, but it can also help brighten your skin. This flower contains flavonoids that act as free radical scavengers. One botanical study observed how chamomile extract can help soothe acne, lighten dark spots, and encourage wound healing (4).

It also contains high amounts of antioxidants, which help protect your DNA against ultraviolet radiation damage (5).

Tea Tree Oil

The small melaleuca tree found in Australia gives us what is known as tea tree oil. The oil extracted from these leaves can help with dry skin, acne, and dandruff.

Studies show it’s anti-inflammatory properties can help soothe and calm the skin, as well as fight off infections (16).

Basil

Not only does this aromatic herb add the perfect touch to an Italian dish, its anti-inflammatory properties make it a great addition to your skincare regimen.

Research has found that topical basil extract can help with skin ailments such as roughness or wrinkles (12).

Turmeric

This orange-yellow herb comes from the turmeric root that grows in Asia. Used often to add flavor to certain dishes, it also has a lot of potential to keep your skin glowing.

Studies have shown that turmeric contains powerful antioxidants, which help fight against oxidative stress. This is why we age the way we do, so it’s a great spice to add to smoothies or other dishes.

It also shows promise in helping with certain skin diseases, and is an area of growing interest among the medical community (9).

Aloe Vera

A desert jewel, the Aloe Vera plant offers a host of health and beauty benefits. Because of its high anti-inflammatory profile, it works great for soothing the skin after sunburns or other UV ray exposure.

It also works as a great moisturizer and can help alleviate skin conditions such as eczema, acne, rosacea, or dryness (14).

Witch Hazel

A unique looking flower that blooms in the winter, witch hazel has been used for centuries for a variety of different skin conditions.

The tannins and flavonoids within the plant offer anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects (13). It also act as an astringent, temporarily tightening the pores. Some use it to help reduce acne and redness.

Cinnamon

This reddish-brown spice comes from the dried bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree. Found primarily in places like Sri Lanka, India, and Burma, this fragrant component is found to not only smell wonderful, it has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.

During your teenage years (and sometimes in your 20s or 30s), your hormones are shifting wildly. This can create excess sebum production, which can lead to clogged pores. That, combined with a common skin bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, can result in those red bumps we know as acne.

One study showed that cinnamon oil could help clear up acne when added to a topical concealer (6). You can also make a face mask consisting of 1 tablespoon cinnamon mixed with 2 tablespoons of Manuka honey. Apply to face with clean hands, and allow to sit for about 30 minutes. Rinse with warm water, pat dry and moisturize (7)

Thyme

If you’ve ever suffered from dandruff, you know how annoying and embarrassing it can be. Whether it stems from overproduction of oils, dry skin, or a yeast like fungus called malassezia, it can be a pain to get rid of.

Thyme is an herb that grows naturally in rocky soil. It’s small, pointed leaves are full of antimicrobial compounds in them. One study observed how thyme oil can help treat dandruff, as well as other fungal-related skin ailments (8).

Lavender

This cluster of small, purple flowers is famous for its aromatic and calming qualities. Grown in European fields, lavender can calm both your mind and your skin.

Research shows that lavender oil can help kill bacteria, which may help with acne. And because it also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, concerns such as wrinkles, age spots, and wound healing can also be addressed (15).

Rosehip

While the rose itself is often a symbol of beauty, the seedpod within the flower has some pretty cool skin benefits.

If beautiful skin often means without spot, wrinkle, or scar, then rosehip can help. Research shows that compounds within rosehip oil have been found to help promote skin healing, as well as reduce the look of scars (11).

Calendula

A close family member to the Marigold, Calendula is a flowering plant that originated from parts of North Africa and Eurasia. The leaves and flowers are used in many herbal remedies and can help with dry skin and wound healing.

One study involved two groups of people that were given creams to apply to their cheek. After 8 weeks, their skin was analyzed. Those that had calendula extract added to their facial cream reported firmer skin and boosted hydration (10).

Wrap Up

Beauty is something humanity has always held in high regard. From flowers to mountains, lakes and streams, there is no end to the vast beauty the earth has to offer.

When it comes to our own beauty, inner beauty always trumps good looks. Even so, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good and age well. There are lots of beauty products on the market today, but many come with a price tag of potentially negative health effects.

Nature offers herbs and spices that are high in anti-inflammatory properties. These can keep your body function optimally and slow down the aging process.

Many of these plants can be found at your local herb store or farmer’s exchange. Have you incorporated any of these herbs or spices into your beauty routine? If not, start today!

References & Disclaimers

(1) https://www.statista.com/statistics/243742/revenue-of-the-cosmetic-industry-in-the-us/

(2) https://www.ewg.org/the-toxic-twelve-chemicals-and-contaminants-in-cosmetics

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1651599/

(4) https://ijpjournal.com/bft-article/botanical-study-of-skin-lightening-agents/?view=fulltext

(5) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19898857/

(6) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32587816/

(7) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315877#how-to-make-a-face-mask

(8) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31704415/

(9) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31509968/

(10) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21928714/

(11) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30199901/

(12) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3304398/

(13) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3214789/

(14) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/aloe-vera-for-face#conditions-it-can-treat

(15) http://europepmc.org/article/med/22558691

(16) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360273/

✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author