Chrysanthemums are old and valued Chinese herbs. Chrysanthemum was used as a tea and healing herb already a thousand years ago. During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), chrysanthemums were highly valued. Chrysanthemum leaves and shoots were used in salads and steamed as an addition to gourmet meals.

Chrysanthemums are known as long lasting autumn flowers. We are not used to using chrysanthemums for nutrition. Please remember that no decoration plants can be used for food or skin care. Chrysanthemums bought from florist cannot be used in cosmetics. If you want to try chrysanthemums in cosmetics, get dried chrysanthemum flowers for tea. Chrysanthemum tea is very delicious and healthy. You can also use the same tea versatilely in skin care. Let’s see what a wonderful herb chrysanthemum really is.

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Photo by Rens D on Unsplash

The chrysanthemum family is extensive

Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum) belong to the family of aster plants. Asters are a very large family of plants, which includes more than 1,600 plant genera. The same tribe includes different types of daisies and the familiar chamomile. The name chrysanthemum comes from the Greek language and means golden flower.

Chrysanthemum flowers come in many colours. White, yellow and lilac flowers are the most common of them. The world’s finest chrysanthemums, snow chrysanthemums grow wild high in the mountains of China, in Xinjiang. Snow chrysanthemums are extremely rare. They produce few flowers that bloom for a very short time. That is why snow chrysanthemums are the most valuable of all chrysanthemums. Snow chrysanthemum flowers are used to make tea.

Some chrysanthemum varieties are used to make the insecticide pyrethrin. Insects avoid chrysanthemum scent.

How does chrysanthemum infusion affect your health?

Chrysanthemum infusion is drunk in China and other parts of Asia not only because of its wonderful taste, but also because of its healthiness. Chrysanthemum infusion is even healthier than green tea. It has a lot of different minerals, antioxidants and amino acids. Helenatur is not really a health blog, but I still want to tell you about the health effects of chrysanthemum infusion. This way you will better understand the wonderful properties of this plant.

Chrysanthemum infusion is particularly relaxing

According to Chinese medicine, chrysanthemum is a cooling plant. Cold chrysanthemum tea with ice cubes is a drink on a hot day. The cooling feature is also relaxing. Chrysanthemum infusion contains a lot of potassium. Potassium dilates the blood vessels and makes the blood flow more gently also along the small blood vessels under the skin.

Chrysanthemum infusion boosts immunity

Chrysanthemum decoction contains plenty of vitamin A and C, which improve immunity. The high mineral content of the infusion also boosts the immune system. Potassium, calcium and magnesium work in their own way to support the immune system. Every cell in the human body needs potassium to function the way the cell is supposed to function. Magnesium helps regulate blood pressure. It is an important part of many body processes.

Chrysanthemum tea contains plenty of vitamin B

The group of vitamin B is big. Chrysanthemum decoction contains many of them such as folic acid, riboflavin, choline and niacin.

The benefits of chrysanthemum infusion in skin care

Chrysanthemum is a real treasure for your skin. As I already mentioned above, chrysanthemum is a cool type of herb. The cool herb is soothing. Excessive heat correlates with inflammation. You should take advantage of this characteristic of chrysanthemum if you want to use it in cosmetics.

Chrysanthemum contains a lot of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A, which is very safe and beneficial for your skin. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that helps you keep your skin looking youthful.

Chrysanthemum infusion in hair care

Chrysanthemum zawadskii is a chrysanthemum species that has been found in some studies to have properties that affect hair growth. An extract made from this particular chrysanthemum has successfully treated hair loss and stimulated hair growth.

Chrysanthemum extract has been found to have a revitalizing effect on hair follicles. Sleeping hair follicles also come to life with the chrysanthemum treatment. This is how thin hair starts to thicken.

Even ordinary chrysanthemum can help with hair and scalp care. In hair care, use chrysanthemum decoction as a hair conditioner. After washing, rinse your hair with chrysanthemum water and leave it on for 5-10 minutes. Rinse your hair lightly with just water and let it dry on its own. Chrysanthemum water soothes the scalp and makes the hair soft and bending. The chrysanthemum rinse also soothes a flaky scalp.

You can also use herbal oil made from chrysanthemum to treat the scalp. Wash the scalp and hair carefully. Use your fingertips to apply about a tablespoon of chrysanthemum herbal oil to the scalp and leave it on for about 30 minutes. Wash your hair and scalp as usual with shampoo.

This is how you prepare chrysanthemum infusion

Chrysanthemum flowers can also be extracted into water. A herbal infusion made of chrysanthemum is suitable for facial lotions, steaming the skin or as a hair rinse. You can also use herbal infusion in the water phase of emulsion creams. As a base for washing products, an astringent and skin-soothing chrysanthemum infusion is ideal.

You can make chrysanthemum infusion from dried chrysanthemum flowers. All you need is 5 dried chrysanthemum flowers and 3.5 decilitres of boiling water. Pour boiling water over the flowers and let them brew for about 3-5 minutes. Strain the flowers from the tea and your perfect infusion is ready.

Herbal oil made from chrysanthemum soothes your skin

In addition to herbal infusion, you can extract chrysanthemum flowers into the vegetable oil of your choice. A suitable oil for extracting chrysanthemum flowers could be, for example, filtered grape seed oil or safflower oil. These two oils are light and support the effect of chrysanthemum on the skin.

When I talk about chrysanthemum oil, I don’t mean chrysanthemum essential oil, but vegetable oil-based herbal oil. These two things should not be confused. Herbal oil made by extracting chrysanthemum flowers and base oil is a really effective cosmetic product just as it is.

Oil extract made from chrysanthemum has traditionally been used for oily skin. It is an astringent oil that shrinks pores and brightens and evens skin tone. Chrysanthemum oil removes irritation and helps reduce inflammation and acne.

Chrysanthemum oil is full of polyphenols such as quercetin, luteolin, apigenin. These antioxidants help your skin fight the signs of aging. You can also use chrysanthemum oil on its own for the sensitive skin around the eyes. The beta-carotene in the oil helps regenerate cells and remove waste products from the skin.

The anti-inflammatory properties of chrysanthemum oil soothe the skin and remove swelling. The oil can also be used for burns and after sunbathing to soothe the skin.

This is how to make herbal oil from chrysanthemum flowers

Using Chrysanthemum oil is one popular way to use this herb in cosmetics. Prepare herbal oil from dried chrysanthemum flowers according to my basic instructions. Chrysanthemum oil is well suited for the preparation of creams and serums. You can also use chrysanthemum oil as it is, either in skin care or on the scalp.

Chrysanthemum is a phototoxic plant

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Photo by Anna Evans on Unsplash

The chrysanthemum also has its unpleasant side effects. If you are exposed to UV light at the same time as using chrysanthemum cosmetics, your skin may develop a rash or even blisters. This is called a phototoxic reaction. Some plants have a tendency to react with sunlight. So, use chrysanthemum only in night creams and serums used only during night time.

You can be allergic to chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemums belong to mycorrhizal plants, which are known to cause allergies. However, you should not worry about this unless you are really sensitized to composite plants. Chrysanthemums are such effective and useful plants in skin care that you really should pay attention to them. If you are concerned about allergies, you can easily do an exposure test yourself with chrysanthemums.

I have written about many ingredients used in cosmetics. They all do help you to take care of your skin and hair in their own way. While oils, herbs, antioxidants and minerals are really effective in fighting for your skin, there is one factor that is most important. It is the rest your skin needs. Your skin suffers the most from stress. An exhausted, stressed person is easy to identify by lifeless skin. So, learn how to relax. You will see the results on your skin right away. How does stress affect the skin and how can stress be best prevented?

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Nature, the sea and a peaceful environment help to relax
Photo: James Scott on Unsplash

How does stress arise?

We’ve all been stressed out sometimes. Small, short-term stress is only good for us. Short-term stress improves our performance and makes us more alert. Stress is a natural human reaction. It is the result of evolution to protect us from the dangers that threaten us. Nowadays, you rarely have to run away from any visible danger. Yet that primitive trait still affects us and our bodies.

Today, stress arises from excessive mental strain. Overload at work, unemployment or its threat, problems in human relations, the turbulent situation in the world, and the heavy financial burden are things that stress people today. You don’t necessarily have to have any particular reason for stress. Stress can arise from many very small things that bother you simultaneously.

How does stress relate to your skin and hair?

A chronic stress is a very harmful condition. Unfortunately, stress usually first appears on the skin. Almost all skin problems and skin conditions are partly associated with stress. Stress worsens already existing skin conditions such as acne, atopic eczema, rosacea, psoriasis and urticaria. For some reason, everyone does not  get skin problems, no matter how stressful the conditions are. The consequences of stress are also very individual and depend, for example, on genetic inheritance.

Stress causes a reaction on the skin that makes the skin very sensitive. This is because stress causes your body to produce hormones such as cortisol. Stress also causes the skin to produce more fat. Excessively oily skin becomes easily clogged. Oily skin is more susceptible to acne and scalp seborrhoea.

Studies (Cornell University, researchers at Weill Medical College) have found that skin repair mechanisms are disrupted by stress. Small cuts were done on the skin of tested persons. Some of them were exposed to mild stress and some were allowed to spend their time in a relaxing environment. The skin of stressed individuals healed remarkably slower.

When stressed, you may not have enough energy to take care of yourself. You may miss the daily skin care routines. When stressed, you maybe do not follow your healthy diet as well. It is too easy to eat comfort food on daily basis. Exercise and outdoor activities also default. Your skin instantly becomes dry and lifeless in the absence of care.

Improper treatment of stress often makes it worst. Many of us do treat the excessive exhaustion with excessive consumption of coffee or alcohol. Many people either start smoking or increase smoking when facing difficulties in life. All of these stimulants seem to alleviate at first but eventually only make the situation worse. Tobacco, alcohol and excessive coffee drinking are very harmful to the peripheral bloodstream, specifically to the skin.

Stress affects the quality of sleep. Sleep is the time when cells regenerate most efficiently. That is why sweet dreams is the secret for beautiful skin. The skin of a person suffering sleeplessness easily begins to look grey and aged.

How can I avoid stress?

Stress should be prevented even before there is any noticeable stress. It is much easier to consider things and solve problems before the accumulation of them. When chaos is already on, there is not enough spirit and strength left to sort things out. When stressed, it is also harder to notice the way out of the situation. Often it is only outside help that gets us back on the track.

Unnecessary stress should be avoided in advance

How can you relax and relieve stress?

Mild stress symptoms can actually be relieved in many ways. If you’ve had a busy week at work and want to get yourself back to a normal, restful state of mind, you can do that easily at home.

Stress management and relaxation are very important factors in skin care

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The Sun is always shining above the clouds
Photo Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

The skin is a sensitive organ that is affected by so many factors. Stress is the most important of them. Stress management is something that you cannot fix just like that. I wish you a stress-free spring!

Epsom salt is a familiar ingredient to many of us. It is a commonly used bath salt ingredient. Epsom salt can be used for many other purposes as well. What is Epsom Salt and how can it be utilized in homemade cosmetics?

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Epsom College in Surrey
Photo David Mark Pixabaystä

History of Epsom salt

Epsom salt has its own, interesting history. It is originally a natural product. When its popularity and demand grew started the industrial production as well. The name Epsom comes from the city of Epsom in Surrey, UK. The city of Epsom is the place where Epsom salt was eventually discovered. Magnesium sulphate has since been found in many different locations on Earth.

Epsom salt is not a compound similar to table salt

Epsom salt consists of magnesium, sulphur and oxygen unlike table salt which is almost pure sodium.

Magnesium sulphate is an easily water-soluble substance. It even attracts moisture from the air. Therefore, Epsom salt should be stored in a very dry place.

 Epsom salt is a very safe substance that can be used, for example, as a bath salt. It is also beneficial for plants if the soil happens to be low in magnesium. In addition to magnesium sulphate, Epsom salt is rich in sulphur.

Benefits of Epsom Salt

Epsom salt is mostly magnesium. Magnesium is a trace element that plays a particularly important role in the body. It is involved in more than 300 different biochemical reactions. Magnesium has an effect on the functioning of the heart, musculature and nervous system, just to name few. Magnesium is one of our most important minerals.

Enzymes that regulate DNA repair absolutely do need vital magnesium to function properly

Our DNA repair system also takes care of the youthfulness of the skin and fights wrinkles.

Magnesium baths relax the legs and the whole body

After a magnesium bath, you’ll feel quite sleepy and enjoy a long, sweet sleep.

Magnesium has an effect on the nervous system and at the same time it does relieve stress

Magnesium baths reduce stress and relax the mind.

Magnesium promotes melatonin production

Melatonin is a sleep hormone that regulates when we sleep and for how long.

Magnesium baths may relieve muscle pain

This is purely empirical information for which there is no scientific evidence to back it up. however, it is worth trying to Epsom salt to relieve muscle pain. It works for me so my guess is that the effect is very individual.

The Epsom salt bath improves blood circulation and thus reduces swelling.

Epsom salt naturally contains sulphur

Sulphur has a special anti-inflammatory effect. Sulphur treatments are used in connection with acne and rosacea. That’s why I recommend trying Epsom salt on face masks. In the treatment of rosacea, the skin should never be rubbed. The same rule goes with all inflammatory skin diseases. So just gently rinse Epsom Salt off the skin and pat the skin dry.

Epsom salt has a moisturizing effect on the skin

The salt is easily absorbed into the skin and at the same time it collects moisture around it. Salt baths, especially Epsom salt baths, are a good way to take care of moisturizing the skin.

Absorption of magnesium through the skin

There is very controversial information available about the absorption of magnesium through the skin. It is officially stated that there is no scientific evidence to support this process. However, magnesium-containing creams are used to treat tense muscles consistently with good results.

The absorption of magnesium is very difficult to study

Magnesium levels are measured from the blood. If you eat magnesium as a supplement, the level of magnesium in your blood will increase. That doesn’t mean magnesium is in your muscle yet. When a cream containing magnesium is applied to your skin, magnesium will be absorbed through the skin directly into the muscle and is not visible in the bloodstream. Some people find that magnesium is absorbed even better through the skin. However, the magnesium level in the muscle cannot be studied very reliably. Therefore, we just have to trust our own feelings.

Even if you are unsure about the absorption of magnesium, you can still safely use Epsom salt. It is not harmful at all. If you get help from Epsom salt baths, why don’t you just enjoy them? Perhaps science will sometimes find a way to measure magnesium levels reliably.

Epsom salt baths

Epsom salt is a traditional bath salt. Use about 500 grams of Epsom salt in a normal sized bath tub. Add warm, not hot water in the tub and dissolve the salt. Too hot water dries the skin. Enjoy a relaxing bath for about 15-30 minutes.

You can also make a foot bath from Epsom salt. Measure 1 decilitre of Epsom salt into a bowl of warm water. enjoy a foot bath for about 30 minutes. I actually use a bucket. This allows me to sink my feet deeper in the water.

You can add any dry or fresh herbs, essential oils (5 drops) or even real vanilla to the bath.

Bath salt recipes coming in next update

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Photo Photoholgic on Unsplash

Gloomy autumn and dark winter are good times to pamper yourself. What’s more wonderful than enjoying warm foot baths in the evenings. For those who have a bath tub, I also recommend full body baths.

There will be few good Epsom salt recipes in my next blog post.

Now I want to introduce you to one of the safest and most useful ingredients in cosmetics. Lecithin is rarely talked about in connection with home cosmetics. However, it is an ingredient used in many commercial cosmetic products. Lecithin is a very useful ingredient as it is very natural and suitable for almost everyone’s skin. Perhaps you are familiar with the health benefits of lecithin?  In skin care, lecithin is usually not mentioned. Now we are focusing on the properties of lecithin in skin and hair care. How can you use nourishing, protective and moisturizing lecithin in your cosmetics?

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Lecithin creme

What is Lecithin?

Lecithin consists mainly of fatty substances called phospholipids. Phospholipids are building material of cell membranes that are particularly rich in choline for humans.

Lecithin is found naturally from many sources like eggs, soy and sunflower seeds. Lecithin is a thick, waxy substance that is soluble in water but also in fat. Lecithin contains, in addition to choline, linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, glycerol and small amounts of biotin. Lecithin is used as a food supplement as it is believed to lower cholesterol level in blood. That’s why it is very easy to find soy lecithin on the shelves of supermarkets.

Lecithin is a very common ingredient in many industrial products

You can easily find lecithin as an ingredient in both cosmetics and foods. Sometimes lecithin may also be called as phosphatidylcholine. Lecithin acts as a thickener and emulsifier in foods. Not so many people are aware that for instance chocolate, is an emulsion in which lecithin is the emulsifier. In mayonnaise, lecithin is an essential ingredient. Humans are not generally allergic to lecithin. Naturally some may be. That is why it is so commonly used by food industry.

Lecithin is used in many cosmetic products precisely because of its emulsifying ability. However, lecithin is also rich in skin care properties. However, the utility of lecithin is rarely highlighted. Lecithin is at its best in creams with high percentage of oils. It is widely used in combination with other emulsifiers and thickeners.  More steady emulsion is obtained by combining other emulsifiers and thickeners with lecithin.

How is Lecithin Made?

Lecithin granules available in shops are usually are made from soy. There is also lecithin made from sunflower seeds, which is sold in liquid and powder forms. Sunflower lecithin is significantly less common than soybean lecithin. Many people prefer liquid sunflower lecithin in cosmetics because it is easy to use. Also, sunflower lecithin is not GMO modified as soy products often are. The soy lecithin I use is GMO free. Sunflower lecithin is extracted much gentler than soybean lecithin. Its production does not require any toxic chemicals.

Use of lecithin as an emulsifier in cosmetics

Lecithin is not a very easy emulsifier. The problems are its slow dissolution in both water and oil. Grinding of lecithin granules helps a little the dissolution. Liquid lecithin is ready for use immediately. If you find some, just buy it.

Dissolve lecithin, preferably in oil

Although lecithin is soluble in both oil and water, I personally prefer dissolving it in oil. I have tested different methods of preparing lecithin creams. It is much easier to get the result you want by dissolving lecithin in oil first and then add the liquid to it. The emulsion requires particularly strong whipping. I recommend the use of an (electric) mixer.

Pure water is the safest liquid in lecithin emulsion

Boiled water is the safe choice for Lecithin emulsified creams. Lecithin is a delicate emulsifier that does not like all ingredients. I managed to dissolve the emulsion simply by adding a few drops of preservative to it.  I will study making of lecithin creams more carefully in the future. I want to find suitable liquids and preservatives for the lecithin emulsion.

Lecithin cream is challenging but worth the effort

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One weakness of lecithin is its slow absorption. The skin remains sticky for a long time. That’s why I recommend making lecithin cream as night cream. Allow it to absorb slowly. I do understand well why lecithin as an emulsifier has not been very popular in commercial creams. It is also quite a challenging ingredient in home cosmetics. Despite all of these problems, I am fond of lecithin cream. It makes the skin feel very comfortable, soft and moisturized. There is no any other type of ointment that can deeply moisturize dry winter skin in the same way.

Lecithin is a skin nurturant ingredient

In this article, I’d like to emphasize the skin care properties of lecithin. Because lecithin is generally used as emulsifier, its effects on the skin has not been notified. By using lecithin, you can make a simple lotion and many other products with all the nurturant ingredients.

Lecithin also takes care of the hair

Lecithin is really good for hair care. Big haircare product manufacturers use commonly lecithin in their products. As a moisturizing ingredient, lecithin-containing products can be used to treat dry ends. The scalp also benefits from lecithin. Add lecithin to your hair masks.

How can lecithin be used in home cosmetics?

In home cosmetics, lecithin suits well to nourishing creams. Lecithin as an emulsifier is at its best in formulas with equal amounts of oil and water. A very light cream with lecithin cannot be made unless you use other emulsifiers. You can also combine beeswax or vegetable butter with lecithin. This naturally gives you more product stability without using any potentially toxic chemicals.

You can add small amounts of lecithin to the facial lotions. It helps the facial lotions to soften the skin and create a matte, non-shiny finish on the skin. Please bear in mind that lecithin colours the facial water grey.

Learn how to use lecithin in your products

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Soy Lecithin

Once you learn how to use lecithin, you will no longer want to give it up. I’ve used lecithin in my own products for a while now and I’m really excited. I always come up with new uses for lecithin.

I also find it great that I can easily purchase all the cosmetics ingredients I need from local store. Lecithin is a safe ingredient. It is a food that is intended as a supplement. Such cosmetic ingredients are the best. Cosmetics should not contain any toxic chemicals. Everything we apply to our skin is also absorbed by our body. Therefore, we should choose only really safe ingredients for our cosmetic products.

Have you used lecithin before?

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