As someone who’s had “problem skin” since middle school, I’ve stumbled across some pretty out-there sounding treatments over the years, either through unending Google searches or unsolicited advice from strangers… things as ridiculous-sounding as cleansing with honey, meditating, or — worst of all — changing my diet.
The last thing I wanted to do as a college student was revamp my diet of Diet Coke, Sour Patch Kids, and cafeteria pizza — and Western medicine made that easy to avoid. For every person who told me that sugar or dairy could lead to acne, there was a doctor assuring me that of course diet didn’t affect the skin! Instead, dermatologists put me on birth control at 15 and Accutane at 18 rather than investigate the root cause of my skin issues, and I was happy to let them. Less work for me, right?
We now know that diet does effect the skin, and what we put in our bodies will show up on our bodies. That's why I love herbal infusions: They're easy to make, give you a mega-dose of nourishing herbs (with way more nutrients than a cup of herbal tea), and have the power to make your skin clearer, plumper, and glowier from the inside out.
So what exactly is an herbal infusion? Herbal infusions are like tea on (totally natural) steroids. You essentially let dried herbs or flowers soak in water for eight hours, so that the water can pull out their healing properties. Then, when you drink the herbal infusion, you absorb those healing properties. The best part? Herbal infusions are so high in vitamins and minerals that they can replace all of your vitamin supplements.
I make herbal infusions a few times a week, and focus on herbs that are good for skin health, which I'll get to a little later. But first...
HOW TO MAKE AN HERBAL INFUSION
Gather your materials. You'll need a mason jar (or something similar), one ounce of dried herbs, 32 ounces of hot or cold water (depending on your herb of choice), and a small strainer.
Add the dried herbs to the mason jar. You can mix-and-match different herbs in the same infusion, as well. You'll need one ounce of total herbs for every 32 ounces of water — so if you make a bigger or smaller batch, make sure you portion the herbs accordingly. You
Pour the hot or cold water into the mason jar, over the herbs. Every herb is different — some require cold water (so as not to damage the healing properties); some require hot water (to really draw out the vitamins and minerals). You can usually Google whatever herb you're infusing with to find out which to use.
Let sit. Cold infusions need to sit for eight hours; hot infusions only need to sit for four.
When your infusion is done, grab a glass and your strainer. Pour the infusion into the glass, straining out the wet herbs.
It's really that simple! I like to make cold infusions overnight, that way I have a healthy coffee alternative ready to go when I wake up. Now, for those skin-nourishing herbs...
HERBS TO USE FOR HEALTHY SKIN
Nettle (Cold Infusion)
Nettle is an herb that nourishes almost every part of the body, including the skin. It’s high in a ton of essential vitamins and minerals (iron, protein, zinc, magnesium, chlorophyll, and Vitamins A, B, C, and K, just to name a few), all of which work together to balance the acids in your stomach, increase nutrient absorption, and aid in digestion. While all of those benefits will boost your skin health, what’s really amazing about nettle is its ability to support adrenal function. It helps the body counteract stress and fatigue — so you can say goodbye to stress breakouts, dull skin, and under-eye circles.
Burdock Root (Cold Infusion)
Burdock Root is a nourishing herb that purifies the body like nothing else. It’s especially good for the blood: Burdock root can help eliminate chemicals, heavy metals, and toxins from the bloodstream so they don’t make themselves known on your skin. It’s considered a cooling herb, making it an amazing ally for treating “hot” conditions (AKA, inflammation) like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rashes. On top of that, burdock root attacks candida — an overgrowth of yeast that can mess with everything from digestion to brain function to skin health — to keep your entire body operating smoothly.
Violet Leaves (Hot Infusion)
Violet is a gentle, soothing plant that purifies the blood and drains the lymphatic glands, eliminating toxins and reducing inflammation over time. You’ll want to ingest violet leaves, rather than the flower, to reap these benefits. This is not an instant cure, but rather a slow build-up of purification and protection that can have long-lasting benefits — so take your time with violet leaves and trust that they’re working their magic.
Oatstraw (Hot Infusion)
Oatstraw is full of calcium, so much so that it’s said to heal broken bones (but I mean, don’t take my word on that). It’s high in silica, which boosts the body’s natural production of collagen while helping your skin cells stay hydrated. It’s also a known nervine, ideal for calming the nervous system and reducing anxiety and even depression. Additionally, you can use oatstraw tea bags topically to soothe dry, irritated skin (try it for sunburn, eczema, or rashes). Is there anything it can’t do? Nope, not really.
Moringa (Cold Infusion)
*Note you only need a half ounce of moringa for 32 ounces of water — it's potent stuff!
There’s a reason moringa is known as the “miracle tree” — it can seriously work skincare miracles. It nourishes and moisturizes skin from the inside out, and is full of ingredients that you may recognize from the ingredient lists of your favorite skincare products, like Vitamin A and sulphur.
Vitamin A has long been used in the skincare industry as an anti-acne and anti-aging agent (it’s the active ingredient in both Accutane and retinol creams). Sulphur also has a reputation for clearing up skin issues, since it naturally occurs in our cells and is essential for producing collagen and keratin. So why start a round of Accutane or slather on a stinky sulfur mask when you can just have moringa?