You may be familiar with using herbs and spices in your cooking, but have you considered using them on your skin?
Many herbs and spices have been used in traditional medicine for centuries, and they generally contain high levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and nutrients to benefit skin and hair.
Want to fight wrinkles, soothe red, itchy skin or simply to get that glowing complexion you’ve always wanted? Read on to find out how to unlock the power of herbs and spices.
1. Use Chamomile for Beard Burn
If you have a fondness for bearded or stubble-cheeked men, you could end up with beard burn after a steamy make-out session. This consists of patches of redness, itching, flaking and irritation around the mouth, chin and cheeks. Fortunately, there is a natural and inexpensive way to soothe your outraged skin – chamomile.
Jessica Wu, MD, a clinical associate professor of dermatology, says that “Chamomile is a natural anti-inflammatory, with the power to reduce redness, itchiness and swelling, and it’s a great alternative to cortisone”.
Steep a chamomile tea bag in boiling water for two or three minutes. This will release the anti-inflammatory enzymes. Once boiled, place the tea bag in a sealed container in your fridge. Once it is cold, apply the tea bag directly to the irritated, red patches on your face.
2. Get a Glowing Complexion with Cinnamon
Cinnamon tastes great in drinks and baked goods, but it’s also great for your skin. It’s full of antioxidants that fight skin damage. For a great-tasting morning skin boost, sprinkle half a teaspoon of cinnamon of your coffee grounds before brewing.
Store cinnamon and other spices in a dark cupboard, as heat from the stove and sunlight can reduce their potency. Also check how long you’ve had the spices, and discard any that are over two years old.
3. Stronger Hair with Garlic
Garlic isn’t great for promoting social interaction, but it is fabulous for your hair! Garlic contains cysteine, an amino acid that can help rejuvenate your hair follicles, and help them to produce thicker, healthier hair. Dr. Wu says that cysteine molecules link together in disulfide bonds, which give your hair its strength.
4. Protect Your Skin with Green Tea
Green tea is full of catechins, which have a strong anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and antioxidant effect. Applying green tea to skin can help speed wound healing, thicken the epidermis and reduce uneven pigmentation, says Dr. Wu.
Studies have shown that using a green tea lotion or serum 30 minutes before going out in the sun can reduce DNA damage and sunburn risk. Wu suggests applying green tea on top of your normal sunscreen for extra protection.
5. Fight Wrinkles with Hot Peppers
Chili, paprika, cayenne and jalapeno peppers contain vitamins A and C, which can help defend your skin from the free radicals that break down collagen and cause wrinkles.
The peppers also contain a natural sunscreen called capsaicin, which can protect from UV rays. The only way to get these benefits from peppers is to eat them, as capsaicin will burn the skin if applied directly to it. Hot peppers make a great addition to a lot of dishes, and you can make a rub for fish or chicken with paprika.
6. Soothe Eczema with Red Clover
Eczema sufferers struggle not to scratch and pick at their red, scaly and terribly itchy patches of eczema, and they are often prescribed mild steroid creams to help get rid of it. However, prolonged use of steroid creams can thin the skin, so a more natural solution is to drink red clover tea, or apply it topically in an ointment.
For tea, steep one to two teaspoons of dried flowers in hot water for half an hour, and have two or three cups a day for best results. You can also buy red clover as a supplement, and 40 to 160mg per day is the recommended dose. If you prefer an ointment for skin, you can buy ones that contain 10 to 15 percent red clover flower.
7. Reduce Inflammation with Turmeric
Turmeric is high in curcumin, which is an antioxidant. Research has also shown that turmeric may help to fight melanoma when it is applied topically. Susan Blum, MD, an integrative medical practitioner at Blum Center for Health, says that “A lot of cancer research is focused on ‘starving’ the cancer cells, and curcumin appears to be a potent inhibitor of tumor activity in animal studies.”
Mix turmeric with ginger to make a tasty tea, or add it to deviled eggs, or pasta and potato salads. It also goes well with savory soups, chili or brown rice.