Our very first product that I ever made was our Herbal Aftershave. I use this product every day. No, I don’t have a beard (yet….I am getting older). I use it for removing make up, zapping acne, cleaning cuts and scrapes, and treating skin irritations. Why would I use an aftershave for something other than what it was intended? Because of how it’s made and the ingredients in it.
We use WHOLE herbs in the preparation of this product; not extracts or distillates. The entire plant goes into a vat and steeps for a period of time so all of the beneficial properties of the entire plant are extracted and absorbed into the liquid. The whole plant contains all the healing compounds found in the herb. Sometimes a single herb contains hundreds of these compounds that work together in ways that scientists don’t always understand. The combined effects of the compounds found in a whole herb often provide exactly what the body needs to heal itself. The problem with isolating a single compound is that it may not work as effectively when it’s used by itself. Increasing the concentration of one compound may also lead to side effects that aren’t seen when using a whole herb. Another issue is that chemical solvents are often used to extract the desired compound (when making an ‘herbal extract’). These solvents include acetone, hexane, benzene, and methyl chloride. Besides the fact that residues of these inorganic solvents may be found in the finished herbal extract, these chemicals also harm the environment.
That’s the ‘how it’s made’ part. Now here is what’s in it and what those plants do.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): A powerful herb used topically to speed wound healing, and improve other skin conditions such as rashes and abrasions, calm inflamed skin. The name Achillea is derived from mythical Greek character, Achilles, who reportedly carried it with his army to treat battle wounds.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis): Calendula has perhaps the longest history of use of any herb in skin care. The flowers help stop bleeding and promote healing. Calendula is also used for chapped and otherwise irritated skin, and is good for sensitive skin.
German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla): This herb is a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-allergen and is nourishing to itchy skin; improve skin’s texture and elasticity, as well as reduce signs of photo damage. It’s also so gentle that it’s used in many baby products.
Elderflower (Sambucus nigra): Elderflower is the oldest herb cultivated by man. It contains powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals that help prevent free radical damage.
Bay (Laurus nobilis): Bay is able to increase the blood supply to skin, restoring the skin’s healthy appearance.
Rose (Rosa Centifolia): Rose is great for all skin types, but it is especially valuable for dry, sensitive or aging skins. It has a tonic and astringent effect on the capillaries just below the skin surface, which makes it useful in diminishing the redness caused by enlarged capillaries and shaving.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita): Peppermint has cooling properties that reduce skin inflammation, skin burn and rashes In addition to soothing and calming skin, mint may also help out in another way. It contains a nutrient called perillyl alcohol, and studies have shown that it may prevent the formation of skin cancer cells.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia ): Lavender numbs pain and heals wounds. Lavender is one of the most active essential oils against MRSA. Lavender is also moderately active against Propionibacterium acnes, one of the principal bacteria involved in acne. A Japanese study suggests that the regular use of lavender in skin preparations could suppress the aging effects of sunlight on the skin.
Lemon (Citrus limon): Lemon has Vitamin C which is responsible for building up collagen in our skin. Collagen is necessary to keep the skin firm and young. It’s a powerful antioxidant that can speed cell turnover and can improve skin’s ability to slough off dead cells and heal. Lemons are also highly acidic, making them effective antiseptics that can kill off bacteria on the surface of the skin.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): A native North American shrub this plant was widely used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans, mainly to stop minor bleeding and reduce skin irritation.
Aloe (aloe barbadensis leaf juice): The ancient Egyptians were using aloe as early as 4,000 BC where it was known as the “plant of immortality”. It contains glycoproteins which are known to help in healing by reducing inflammation and stopping pain. Also polysaccahrides which help with skin growth and repair. It’s also believed that these two substances together help stimulate the immune system.
It took me a long time to come up with this formula using herbs growing in my garden, and there was much trial and error. But I still remember that “a-HA” moment nearly 20 years ago when I knew I had gotten it right. I love this stuff. Such a great ‘it does it all’ product.