Blended into a moisturiser, infused in steam or strewn into a bath, plants have been used to treat the skin and enhance wellbeing for centuries. They scent the air, shape spa gardens and, of course, create products to be used in treatments. Botanical products are ideal for those of us who prefer to put something natural on our skin and enjoy scents that evoke the outdoors. Most of these products are used in spas, so could help you decide which treatments to book. Meanwhile, if you are looking for ways to get out more while staying in, here are a few of our favourite botanical things.
Rosa Damascene: Rose
In Asia Minor, the area now around Turkey, roses have been used for their healing properties from around the 14th Century. Hospitals would have a ‘rose house’ next door where rose water was used extensively as a cleansing agent. Sadly, we have lost the art of using roses for healing, but they are happily still widely used in skin products.
Ila’s Rose Damascene is sourced from the foothills of the Himalayas, were Ankur and his family grow and distil the same Rose Damascene as their family have for generations. Their work supports a community of Vedic farmers, living in harmony with Mother Earth. This lovely oil also includes White Lily and Rose stem cells to increase cell renewal, reduce dark spots and fine lines and smooth the skin.
Anthemis Noblis: Camomile
Camomile is versatile little yellow plant which is naturally soothing for the skin as well your emotional wellbeing. Both calming Roman and soothing German camomile varieties are effective at lifting the spirit.
Mauli is fashionable among welless-istas, inspired by Ayurvedic medicinal properties of herbs and botanicals. This beautiful oil was created for a treatment at Bulgari Spa: Vata is a dosha or physical type that may tend towards depression or sluggishness. Although famously calming, Camomile is used here to banish sadness and disappointment and induce a happy feeling.
Salvia Rosmarinus: Rosemary
One of the most stimulating oils, rosemary is great for invigorating dull skin and is good for the scalp. Astringent and toning, it alleviates oily or congested skin. In the middle ages, it was used to smoke out devils during exorcism!
This gorgeously soothing (but not too rich) moisturiser uses not only rosemary but also tea, camomile, liquorice and arnica. As you rub it in, a bloom of floral notes is released – it is like inhaling a fresh bouquet. The cream has an instant smoothing and soothing effect, leaving your skin apricot soft.
One of the most popular oils, lavender has a wide range of healing properties from balancing strong emotions such as panic, to treating pain, wounds and bites. Used on the skin, lavender oil promotes the growth of new cells and is helpful in treating acne, eczema and psoriasis.
This shampoo is perfect for dry scalps and has soothing and subtle scent too, making a pleasant change from Head and Shoulders. The conditioner nourishes lifeless and dull hair. Best of all, the duo is vegan-friendly and free of any parabens, this a firm favourite of our Eco Millennial Spa Spy.
Ocimum basilicum: Basil
High in antioxidants, basil is also an effective cleanser, with soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies have found that basil works as an insect repellent and is toxic to mosquitos, too. Holy basil is used in Hinduism and several orthodox religions as a cleansing and medicinal herb.
Comfort Zone’s Aromasoul range uses basil as well as lemon, mandarin and lavender to whisk you away to warmer Mediterranean climes. We love this shower gel as the scent becomes intensified in the steam. The gel is gentle and creamy, letting the ingredients do the work. A great way to wake up in the morning, or for a post-work out wash.
Cannabis Sativa: CBD Oil
Cannabis is more than just a drug. The oil extract used in spa products does not contain the THC that produces a cannabis high. It is often used as an anti-inflammatory in skincare by targeting the healing CB1 and CB2 receptors in the skin. Everyone is talking about it, and it is widely available: just be aware that over-the-counter CBD oil is unregulated and may not be compatible with other medication.
Curious about CBD oil? Dip your toes in with this luxurious soothing body balm with CBD oil, menthol and geranium. It comes in a small jar and a tiny amount warmed in your hands will go a long way: the menthol is cooling and fragrant. La Rue Verte is about to launch at Blythswood Square and is a stylish spa brand that derives its cannabinoid extracts from the cannabis sativa plant. They also have a virtual retreat online.
More than just a gorgeous splash of red and pinks in an Italianate patio garden, geranium is said to balance scattered emotions when used as an aromatherapy oil. In skincare, it is used to eliminate dead skin cells, regenerate new cells and tighten the skin, diminishing signs of ageing.
AA call this the “coping mechanism” in a bottle: a hand-blended fusion of Clary Sage to reduce anxiety, calming Sandalwood and Geranium. This is a rich, earthy and slightly spicy fragrance designed to ground you: when things get too much, we lather it over our skin, then jump in the shower and inhale the infused steam. If your safe space is a woodland glade, you’ll love it.
Fucus Serratus: Seaweed
Seaweed contains powerful antioxidants which protect against the environment, is rich with minerals, vitamins and amino acids, and used in a lot of beauty products for its hydrating and anti-ageing chutzpa.
You’ve heard of Crème de La Mer? This is the Scottish version. The key magic ingredient is hand harvested Hebridean Seaweed Extract. Other essential oils – thistle, aloe, apricot and Hebridean mineral water combine to make a rather special moisturiser, great for dry or eczema-prone skin, producing instant plumping and smoothness.
Echinacea: Coneflowers or Daisies
Echinacea is commonly used in teas or herbal remedies to protect us against colds, along with vitamin C, as it is said to be good for the immune system. It is also used to treat acne, reduce wrinkles and fight inflammation.
This botanical beauty contains echinacea, as well as St John’s Wort (good for sunburn), Rosemary, Palmarosa and Lemon. If your skin feels like it need some nourishing care, this luxurious yet wholesomely healing elixir will do the trick. Our skin felt like velvet. Yum.
Cymbopogon Martini: Palmarosa
Palmarosa is an ornamental grass native to India and Indochina (aka rosha grass, nothing to do with roses, but it smells a little like geranium). As a medicinal herb, it’s used to treat a range of skin conditions, from eczema to acne, boils to scars and fungal infections. In skincare, it’s used to treat both dry and oily skin.
Voya use Palmarosa and Vanilla in their soothing eye cream, which we have been using regularly in lockdown to combat our screen-wary eyes. It de-ages the skin by hydrating and plumping, and feels soothingly cool. A tiny amount goes an awful long way, so apply sparingly and gently to pep up your peepers.