A Beauty Herbal
Photography by: Nadia Pandolfo
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Benefit: Cools and refreshes
Peppermint's essential oil is a source of cooling menthol--which makes it a natural remedy for aches, pains, and itches. "Menthol is accepted by the Food and Drug Administration as an effective topical treatment for pain and stiffness of joints and muscles," says Aveda's Angerhofer. "Peppermint oil cools the itch because it increases blood flow to the skin to temporarily reduce pain and discomfort." The invigorating aroma also helps awaken the senses. In fact, researchers at Coventry University in England found that peppermint successfully reduced daytime sleepiness, according to a 2005 study in the International Journal of Psychophysiology.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Benefit: Soothes sensitive skin
If you're the type that's easily irritated, chamomile can be a source of serenity for your complexion. The plant--which has small, daisy-like white flowers with yellow centers--has been used throughout history to calm itchy, reactive skin and ease rashes. Herbalists have dubbed it nature's own cortisone for good reason: Chamomile cream worked better than .5 percent hydrocortisone in treating the inflammation and irritation associated with eczema, according to a German study published in the European Journal of Medical Research. Its calming, anti-inflammatory powers also make it highly effective at evening skin tone. "Chamomile is vasoconstrictive," explains Lupo, "which means it helps shrink blood vessels temporarily, decreasing facial redness and blotchiness."