Herbal skin care is the practice of using compounds produced from natural plant materials to protect and heal the skin. Some herbal skin care products are designed to be used to relieve or prevent specific skin conditions. Other herbal products are intended for more general use to improve the overall health of the skin. Many products of this sort are available commercially, but recipes to make this type of skin care product at home are also popular, and many formulations require a modest investment of time and equipment.
The composition of products marketed as herbal skin care aids varies widely. The most rigorous definition of this type of product would exclude any heavily-processed materials and would also rule out most non-plant materials. A slightly more relaxed definition of the term also allows substances such as clay or other unprocessed natural materials to be included in herbal products. Most jurisdictions do not rigorously enforce a specific definition of the term, although terms such as "organic," which may be associated with herbal skin care products, often have specific legal definitions.
Many general-purpose herbal skin care products combine a mixture of natural plant-based oils with a selection of herbs chosen for a combination of their medicinal properties and pleasing scents. Oil bases, such as almond oil or apricot kernel oil are often used in herbal preparations. Other ingredients are then added to the mixture for their specific effects. Oats, for instance, are thought to aid in moisturizing skin, and citrus extracts may have beneficial medicinal effects as well as pleasant aromas when added to herbal cleansers.
Aloe vera and cocoa butter are among the most commonly-encountered herbal skin care products. Preparations containing aloe vera are held to soothe damaged or stressed skin and to provide soothing relief for minor burns. Cocoa butter is known to serve as an effective moisturizer. Many feel that one of the key benefits of such herbal skincare products is a reduced risk of adverse reactions to chemical agents or mineral oils, which may be used as bases in other types of skincare product.
Some firms market specific herbal skin care recipes for individual skin conditions. The efficacy of such preparations is not generally evaluated by governmental ratings agencies, and consumers should rely on their own experience and that of trusted reviewers when making product decisions. A trustworthy dermatologist may also be able to provide helpful advice in choosing the most effective herbal skin care products.