We all know that South Africa is filled with loads of beautiful plants, but did you know that a lot of those plants can be used for natural skin care? We’ve rounded up 6 of these special plants so you can try the home-grown beauty trend.
1. ALOE FEROX
Similar to Aloe vera, ‘bitter aloe’ is said to contain more amino acids than Aloe vera and it produces almost 20 times more sap. Probably the most famous of our natural skin care exports, many beauty products on our shelves already incorporate Aloe ferox because of its healing and restoring properties, so if you don’t like the idea of swiping a plant over your face, look out for products rich in the plant, like Alcare Aloe.
- The gel from a fresh leaf can be massaged into your skin for a few minutes and even left on while you sleep to release toxins and tone your skin.
The incredible plant that supplies our beloved national beverage also has a range of beauty uses to keep you looking gorgeous. Its scientific name is Aspalathus linearis and the leaves of the plant are packed full of antioxidants for younger-looking, supple skin. The team at African Extracts has harnessed the power of this plant, so if you’re not keen on brewing your own, check out their huge range of products made from Rooibos.
- Wash your face with cold or lukewarm Rooibos tea. Its anti-inflammatory properties will leave your face feeling soothed.
- Strong Rooibos tea used as a rinse for dark hair will give it a beautiful shine, and if your hair is light it will add a reddish hue.
- Sore and tired eyes benefit from having cold Rooibos tea bags placed over them for some relief.
- If you’ve got problem skin, try mixing ½ cup strong Rooibos tea (warm), ½ tsp apple cider vinegar and 2 tsp oatmeal and applying to inflamed areas. Sit back and relax for 15 minutes, then rinse off and pat dry.
A real South African icon, the oil from baobab seeds is found in beauty products because of its moisturising properties, and powder made from the dried fruits is an excellent skin and hair conditioner.
- If you’re suffering from a dry, irritated scalp a blend of baobab oil and essential oils will help provide relief. Just mix together 2 tsp baobab oil with 3 drops of your favourite essentials oil and massage into your scalp. Leave it on overnight, or wash your hair as normal.
You can find baobab oil and powder from specialist health shops, but if you’d like to reap the benefits without having to mix your own potions, try the Africa Organics range of baobab products.
4. ROSE GERANIUM
You’re probably familiar with the heady scent of rose geranium (or Pelargonium odoratissimum) essential oil, as it is a very common ingredient in all sorts of beauty buys, from face cream and bath oil to perfume and body wash, because of its rose-like fragrance and cleansing properties. It’s definitely worth growing in the garden, because you can even use the leaves to flavour baked goods!
- Sunburned skin? Mix lavender and rose geranium oils, then gently rub them onto inflamed areas to help reduce the burn and relieve skin that’s dry, itching and peeling.
- If you suffer from eczema, a few drops of rose geranium essential oil in your bath will soothe skin, or add some to your favourite body lotion.
5. WILD ROSEMARY
This woody shrub, native to the Cape, has thin, spiky leaves that smell fragrant when crushed. Because of its scent, Eriocephalus africanus is often used in aromatherapy, and the oil extracted from its leaves has potent anti-inflammatory properties, making it a good choice for soothing skin disorders.
- Boil a bunch of wild rosemary sprigs and flowers with a litre of water for about 15 minutes and then leave to cool. Use this fragrant water to rinse your hair after washing to stimulate hair growth.
6. BULBINE FRUTESCENS
Not only is this hardy, low-maintenance plant a great choice for a sunny spot in the garden, it’s also a fabulous natural skin care resource. The liquid from the leaf can be applied directly to all sorts of skin complaints, like acne, cracked heels, chapped lips and cold sores. Amazingly it will even slow down bleeding from a cut if applied directly!
- The clear liquid from the leaf provides relief from itching and burning, so pick a leaf and dab it on any mosquito bites for an instantly cooling sensation.