Herbs have been used for centuries to cleanse, moisturize, heal, and beautify the skin and hair. Early Egyptians protected themselves against the ravages of the sun and aging by anointing their bodies with oils infused with rose petals and myrrh. In ancient Rome, the renowned physician Galen blended olive oil, beeswax, herbal extracts, and water to create the first skin cream. His recipe still forms the basis for moisturizers made today. Herbs have traditionally been combined with other natural ingredients such as honey, oats, almond oil and fragrant essential oils to soften and soothe dry or irritated skin, stimulate circulation and cell regeneration, and eliminate toxins and the blemishes they cause.
For optimal skin and hair health, as well as your overall wellbeing-avoid body-care products that contain synthetic chemicals. In this century, mass-market-oriented cosmetics manufacturers have replaced natural substances with less expensive synthetic ingredients. Instead of delicate almond oil, for example, a conventional moisturizer is likely to contain mineral oil, a petroleum by-product that clogs pores. Soothing skin toners such as rosewater and witch hazel have been replaced with harsh chemicals such as acetone the active ingredient in nail-polish remover. In fact, a wide range of well-known cancer-causing chemicals such as formaldehyde and talc are routinely used in commercial cosmetics. Not only can these chemicals cause dryness, irritation, and allergic reactions, but your skin (including your scalp) is more than just a covering for your body-it is, in fact, your largest organ and readily absorbs about 60 percent of any substance that is applied to it. The most healthful and prudent approach is to choose your body-care products as carefully as you choose the foods you eat.