Jayney Goddard looks at precious plants that can help to turn back time
Much more than just a flavour hit for your fantastic soup, salad or pasta, herbs have been used since the beginning of time for the enhancement and maintenance of beauty. Medicinal plants that are used nowadays in natural skincare and beauty products can provide great anti-ageing benefits – and even the vast beauty conglomerates now spend huge amounts of research and development money on ascertaining exactly what benefits the youth-giving properties of traditional herbs and spices confer. Given the exponential growth in the anti-ageing skincare industry, paired with an increase in interest in taking more natural approaches to skincare – and health in general, I wanted to examine which beauty herbs offer the best anti-ageing properties – and to find out if we can harness some of these benefits easily at home.
But first, what exactly do we mean by anti-ageing? Full disclosure: I’m not really a huge fan of that term. It feels a little negative to me – but I tend to use it as a form of shorthand that most of us understand to mean holding back the signs of ageing on our skin – reducing the appearance of wrinkles, or even preventing them, firming up skin and dealing with age spots and uneven tone.
Overall, an effective anti-ageing approach will help us to look younger – and it is crucial to realise that this can only be achieved with a truly holistic approach. It would be marvellous if we could nip to the shops and buy a cream that we could simply apply once that would make us look more youthful – but we all know, deep down, that despite the marketer’s promises that this elixir of life simply does not exist. Ageing is a holistic phenomenon – and that while we can really help improve the appearance of our skin – with diligent application of products – we need to ensure that our lifestyle choices support our overall aim of rewinding our body clock and reducing our biological age.
Why is a natural approach good? We can’t help seeing the thousands of anti-ageing skincare products on the market, but most of them contain all sorts of ingredients that – unless you have an advanced degree in chemistry – you don’t have a hope of identifying. Furthermore, many of these vast companies employ animal testing – not in Europe now of course – but through the back door by outsourcing their research and development to countries where the laws still permit this abhorrent and totally unacceptable practise.
So what do we need to look for when using plants as effective anti-ageing treatments? Youthful beauty develops from the inside, so first and foremost, we want to look towards plants that are high in antioxidants, and many of these will also possess anti-inflammatory and even regenerating properties. These herbs will contribute towards combatting many of the underlying factors that cause us to age prematurely. Of course, diet and lifestyle play a huge role in ageing well – and maintaining a youthful appearance – but as this piece is dealing specifically with anti-ageing herbs – we will stick to discussing those.
We also want to select herbs that will actually help us to look better on the outside too.
So, what are the best anti-ageing herbs for youthful beauty? Here are my top five – I have selected them because they are easy to use, safe and are genuinely effective.
Aside from being a delicious drink, hot or cold, it is a powerful antioxidant and provides numerous benefits as part of an anti-ageing skincare programme. I personally use ceremonial grade matcha tea – which provides around 137 times the anti-oxidant content of conventional green tea. (Culinary green tea is not as high quality and is best reserved for cooking – not drinking.) The EGCG compounds in green tea are protective for the skin, they provide UV protection and improve the appearance and hydration of skin.
This little power-packed wonder herb can be used in an antiageing beauty regime in two ways – as a tea – and as an essential oil. It has clinically established anti-inflammatory and repairing properties. Applied to the skin in a carrier oil, it is antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. It is also considered to be hypoallergenic and is able to protect our skin against irritants. As an essential oil, there are two different types of chamomile; German is more potent than Roman chamomile as it has a slightly higher content of azulene, the organic compound which promotes renewal of skin cells.
Rose petal extract and rosehip extract have long been used for their anti-ageing properties. Rose essential oil is helpful when moisturisation and regeneration is needed. I always use rose oil in a carrier oil – such as grapeseed – as this too has a profound antiageing effect. Rosehips have been shown to improve skin hydration and are frequently used in anti-ageing and antioxidant products.
Lavender – used in its essential oil form - is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial and is used to treat burns and wounds. It stimulates cellular growth and regeneration and tones the skin. Lavender also contains antioxidant properties – so this little flower packs a huge anti-ageing punch.
This herb has been used across the millennia – predominantly as a tea – and the ancient herbalists described it as soothing, healing and softening. Horsetail is very high in the mineral silica which is essential in strengthening connective tissue and helping to grow healthy hair and nails. It has been traditionally used to tone and regenerate the skin. Do try to harness the power of these valuable herbs in your beauty and skincare regime, they are generally extremely safe and are very effective. However, we aren’t all the same, so if you want to try some of the topical treatments mentioned above and you haven’t used them before, always remember to patch-test and check the result 24 hours later to see if you react in any way. If you intend to drink any of the teas I have mentioned, again, check for allergies first.Jayney is one of the leading experts in complementary medicine, helping clients worldwide achieve good health and abundant energy. Visit jayneygoddard.org
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