Skip to main content

Herbs for Healthy Skin

Oct 30, 2020 06:45AM ● By Kathleen Gould and Madalyn Johnson HONGQI ZHANG

Beauty Comes From the Inside Out

Our skin is the largest organ of assimilation and elimination and is a window into the health of our entire body. If our body is healthy, our skin will be, too. A joyful attitude and bright smile can light up the room, sending healthy, healing chemicals throughout our entire body. In other words, beauty comes from the inside out. Healthy skin begins with eating well, staying hydrated, and a healthy attitude.

The liver is our body’s master filter and so plays a huge part in keeping our skin healthy. Everything we eat, breathe, drink and think (thoughts create hormones that the liver must deactivate and eliminate) eventually ends up in the bloodstream and that blood is filtered by our liver. The liver often gets congested by the many toxins in our environment, which enter our body via food, water, the environment and thoughts. When the liver is overburdened with these toxins and hormones, its fail-safe is to send them out through our largest organ of elimination— the skin. Of course, Mother Nature understands this and provides delicious herbs to nourish, strengthen and clear the liver of these toxins and hormones, which is why these herbs can also help alleviate common skin problems like eczema and acne. And the best part is, many of these healing plants may grow right in your own backyard!

Let’s explore some fun herbs and recipes that you can make right in your own kitchen.

Drinking an herbal tea is always a great way to “cleanse” our body of unwanted toxins. Dandelion root, burdock root and red clover are blood cleansers that help with this. Simply put 1 heaping tsp in a cup of hot water, cover (always important to retain those volatile oils) and let steep for 20-30 minutes. Add a little honey or stevia to cut the bitter flavor of these herbs and enjoy 2-3 cups a day.

Topical herbal applications, which are widely used, offer relief for itchy and irritated skin. Calendula, chamomile, chickweed, yarrow and horsetail are all good herbs to make into a salve. They can be made with one herb or in a combination with each other. Sometimes herbs ramp up their healing action in combinations. Pick a jar of your choosing and fill it ⅔ with your dried plant material. Then cover it, liberally, with your oil of choice. Extra-virgin olive oil is widely used by herbalists, as it has many skin-healing constituents, but feel free to use whatever oil you prefer. Label your jar (name of plant(s), oil used and date) and let sit in a warm part of your kitchen for 3-4 weeks. Strain the herb(s) out of your oil when ready and use as a topical to nourish your skin, or add a bit of beeswax to it and make it into a salve.

Witch hazel has also been used for centuries to cleanse and heal irritated skin. It is a natural astringent used for bleeding and varicose veins, and helps reduce redness. Try using witch hazel as your liquid (menstruum) in your topical herbal treatments. Witch hazel is good for all skin types or skin issues. It is a perfect skin-cleansing agent, so try this recipe for cleansing pads, and use to keep your skin free of acne-causing bacteria. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, add cleansing pads (found at dollar stores). Then combine in a bowl 2 cups distilled water, 1 Tbsp mild shampoo or body wash, 2 Tbsp witch hazel, and 1 Tbsp white distilled vinegar. Swish to combine, then pour over pads and seal tightly. Use these cleansing pads day and night.

If you have issues with breakouts or acne on your face, check out a Chinese face map to see which area of the body needs some support. For example, if you breakout between the eyebrows, your liver might need some detoxing. Below your nose? Maybe your blood pressure is high. How about your chin area? Look to your reproductive system/organs. These maps are widely available on the internet, so do a little research. It might help you get to the source quickly.

Soaking in a bath (or foot bath) is a good way to relieve skin irritations all over your body. The choices are endless, and with a little research you can find an herb or blend that suits your body issues. Here are a few examples: For normal skin, try oats, chamomile or lavender; for oily skin, try sage, peppermint or rosemary; and for dry skin, try roses, plantain, chamomile or oatmeal. Adding a bit of powdered milk and Epsom salt takes it to the next level.

Herbs offer endless ways to healthy skin: drinking, topically or soaking. What is your pleasure?

Madalyn Johnson and Kathleen Gould

Kathleen Gould, registered herbalist, and Madalyn Johnson are proprietors of SW Herb Shop and Gathering Place. Gould has been an herbalist for 30-plus years and has extensive experience in herbal medicine. For more information, call 480-694-9931, or visit or