Floral ingredients have been one of the mainstays of beauty and skincare from time immemorial now. Age-old cosmetic recipes and remedies have documented the use of flowers, while grandma's handy hints across countries and cultures include them as well.
Roses: It was Aphrodite, the ancient Greek Goddess of love and beauty who christened the rose. No wonder then, that from time immemorial, it has been a symbol of both! So when you talk of flowers and their beauty benefits, it is no wonder then that roses are top of the list when it comes to skincare. The most common beauty ingredient made from this flower is the traditional rosewater, which has been used in grandma's remedies for centuries now.
Pure, distilled rosewater makes an excellent cleanser. It is found entirely in nature and has no harsh chemicals. It helps maintain the skin's pH balance, which is often lost thanks to stress and bad lifestyle. Because of its astringent properties, it is the ideal dab on to close facial pores and prevents the appearance of blackheads and whiteheads. Rosewater helps keep redness caused by heat and the sun at bay and is suitable for all skin types.
On younger skin, it soaks up excess sebum and keeps the skin fresh, non-greasy and free of acne. On older and more mature skin, it rejuvenates and restores, keeping the skin supple and preventing the onset of wrinkles. Rosewater is also great to treat tired eyes, with dark circles. Just soak some cotton wool in rosewater, flatten it and place it on the eyes for five minutes.
Besides rosewater, rosehip oil is also a fabulous source of skin nourishment. Derived from the fruit of the roseflower, it is packed with vitamins and fortifies the skin with these. It also has fatty acids, making it an ideal option for dry skin. Rosehip oil can delay the onset of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as perk up dull skin.
For dry skin, rose milk is a great option. People around the world include rose petals and rosehips in their diet in various ways, which have added skin benefits. The ancient Chinese used it to treat digestive and menstrual disorders, which reflect on the skin. Roses are also regarded as anti-depressants, besides being good for fertility and blood circulation.
Hibiscus: This magical red flower is packed with beauty benefits like no other. Often known as nature's botox, the hibiscus flower is the ultimate anti-ageing ingredient you can fall back on, without the downsides of artificial youth enhancing agents. Thee petals of the hibiscus plant are rich in antioxidants as well as AHAs or Marigolds: They travelled all the way to India hundreds of years ago, but the first recorded use of marigolds or calendula is in the De La Crus-Badiano Aztec Herbal of 1552, which say that the magical marigolds were used for diverse things - the treatment of hiccups, being struck by lightning or "for one who wishes to cross a river or water safely"!
Lavender: Queen Elizabeth I used to swear by lavender tea to do away with headaches, and spritzed herself with lavender perfume as well! You're probably are familiar with this lilac herb, thanks to its fragrance, and predominance in teas and skincare products. Calming and relaxing, the essence of this tiny flower is good for headaches, anxiety and sleeplessness. Lavender oil is a potent skincare product with anti-bacterial properties.
It keeps acne and inflammation at bay and does away with skin ailments caused by microbes. Lavender oil is helpful in treating eczema and other extreme skin conditions as well. It is also ideal for treating dandruff, controlling hair fall and healing insect bites. You can use it as a natural toner for the skin every morning and every night. Lavender oil is used in all kinds of products - from soaps to bath gels, from aroma oils to shampoos and from lotions to lip salves.
Chamomile: As a natural soothing agent, this beautiful white flower with its apple-like fragrance is used to treat inflamed skin by soothing it, as well as treating digestive disorders. Chamomile oil is your go-to product for all things calming - whether it is skin redness caused by allergies or freckles caused by sunburn. It also speeds up the healing process in rashes, acne scars, wounds and abscesses. Chamomile oil is also highly underrated as an anti-ageing ingredient.
It contains levomenol, which is an agent that naturally moisturises and prevents photodamage, improving skin elasticity. It adds a healthy glow and radiance when you use it repeatedly over a period of time. Dip a teabag with chamomile infusion into a pot of boiling water, let it brew, and drink up for a moment of tranquility. Don't throw away the teabag! Instead, refrigerate used teabags, and gently rub them over your face whenever desired, to cool down the skin and work towards an even complexion. Chamomile teabags are also great to place on the eyes, to reduce the appearance of undereye dark circles, puffiness, fine lines and wrinkles.
Jasmine: This staple hair embellishment in western and southern India is more than just that! Jasmine has so many beauty benefits, that it is hard to imagine that this small flower can pack in such a punch! Firstly, it is good for all skin types, and all kinds of seasons, making it a go-to flower all-year round. Jasmine and jasmine-based products are also easily accessible and affordable. Jasmine essential oil extracts are the ultimate skin hydrator.
They trap moisture into the skin, stopping it from drying out and thereby preventing dehydrated and scaly skin. It is gentle, light and doesn't clog pores like some heavier extracts. Jasmine oil also protects the skin against environmental stressors and pollutants and keeps it away from free radicals. It can potentially prevent various kinds of skin cancers, and keep age-related skin problems at bay. In winters, it alleviates dry skin and relieves aches and pains. The all-time favourite jasmine tea has been used in Chinese medicine from time immemorial, and purifies skin from the inside out, by eliminating toxins. It also controls blood pressure and releases anti-oxidants into the body.
Lotus: Revered in India as a sacred plant, celebrating in mythology and lore, the Indian lotus has several skincare benefits, with each part of the plant being used for a different purpose. The extract of the petals contain properties suited to Ayurvedic skincare, often used to improve the texture and elasticity of the skin. It is full of vitamins like C (essential for skin brightening and immunity), B complex (ideal for anti-ageing benefits) and a lot of essential minerals to skin and hair health.
The fatty acids and proteins present in the lotus flower keep the skin nourished at all times. Lotus extracts contain skin balancing properties, which help balance sebum production in the body. In oily skins, this is beneficial in preventing clogged pores, acne and blackheads. Lotus hair oil is also said to prevent premature greying, hair fall and dry scalp.
Sunflower: In ancient America, where the sunflower has its origins, it was synonymous with gold and the sun and therefore worshipped. It also has motor cells in its head, which automatically moves it so it faces the sun. No wonder then that noted artistes Van Gogh and Picasso both enjoyed painting sunflowers, for its benefits are manifold.
Sunflowers are synonymous with happiness and mental well-being. Besides this, they also pack a punch with their extracts being used across beauty products to provide the skin with vitamins and protein. The primary benefit of sunflower oil for skin, is that it is rich in vitamin E, which is a natural emollient, and essential to moisturise the skin thoroughly.
Also, thanks to its exposure to the sun, you'll get enough vitamin D from this magical flower - and underrated but much-needed vitamin in skin health. From fighting sunburn to wrinkles, you can just apply this to your face and watch it work its magic. Snacking on sunflower seeds as a healthy between-meals option is also good for the skin. Not only do you stock up on dietary fibre, you'll also be sending amino acids, protein, vitamin E to nourish the skin from inside out. These are also great to lower cholesterol levels.
Lily: A protected species in Austria, Switzerland and Germany, it is associated with the Virgin Mary because of its pure white colour. This beautiful and fragrant flower symbolizes the beginning of spring and regeneration. In aromatherapy, Lily of the Valley is used to cure depression and uplift the mood. The lily is an often overlooked and underrated flower in India, because of its inconspicuous size and colour, but it comes with a host of benefits.
The writer is a freelancer
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