Flowers are finally back in full bloom, decorating everything from neighborhood gardens to café window boxes. With all the picture-perfect bouquets tempting us at flower shops, we got thinking how there’s something about fresh flowers that just makes us so… happy. Studies have actually found flowers to be inducers of positive emotions, so the next time you splurge on some peonies just think about how good it is for your mental fitness.
But today we want to talk about another benefit of all of these spring blossoms and how they can play a powerful role in your beauty routine. Flowers contain floral (of course) essential oils, which dish up a myriad of benefits and uses, from aromatherapy to skincare. We’re breaking down the health benefits and uses of some of our favorite floral essential oils—and showing you how you can integrate them into your skincare lineup.
Note: Before we get into the breakdown, we want to mention the importance of safely using essential oils during pregnancy. Not all essential oils are safe to use while pregnant, so please be sure to talk to your doctor before trying anything new. Most experts recommend avoiding essential oils altogether during your first trimester, a very critical and sensitive time for development, although there are certain oils that should be avoided altogether during pregnancy and breastfeeding. You can read more here.
There are safety guidelines for using pure essential oils even when you’re not pregnant: you always want to dilute them in a carrier oil such as almond or jojoba. You can read all about which carrier oil to use and how to dilute your essential oils here.
Now for some flower-based healthy and beauty product inspiration!
7 Flower-Based Health & Beauty Products
Rose for Hydration & Healing
The essential oil found in roses—aptly named rose oil—is frequently used in aromatherapy because of its pleasant fragrance and healing qualities. It can help with stress and anxiety, and it’s even been shown to help treat menstrual cramps; in a study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, women who used rose oil for self-massage experienced significantly less pain and discomfort than those who used other oils.
Rose oil is also great for sensitive skin, and it helps to hydrate dry, flaky skin, and facilitate healing from skin conditions like rosacea. Its incredibly hydrating nature may also reduce the development of stretch marks. Recent trials have even shown that it can help heal post-surgical scars—so it’s some seriously powerful stuff. The healing properties of rose oil come from its high antioxidant activity which makes it great at fighting off free radicals and reducing inflammation.
Recommended Product: Weleda Wild Rose Creamy Body Wash
Chamomile for Soothing & Stress-Relieving
Chamomile is amazing for relaxation–that’s probably why you think of it when you think of bedtime tea. But this plant has multiple benefits and it can be used as an ointment, lotion, hot compress, infusion, or inhalation. We love it for its antibiotic and antiseptic properties which can fight infection, and because it’s a sudorific, it can help remove toxins that cause infection and inflammation.
It can help fight against stress and anxiety, too; a 2013 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that an aromatherapy blend with chamomile and lavender essential oils was effective in reducing anxiety levels in ICU patients–so these two are a pretty powerful pair. To use it at home, try diluting a few drops of Roman chamomile essential oil in your bath. If you struggle to fall asleep at night, rub a drop on the sole of each foot before bed–it really does work.
Chamomile has plenty of healing properties, too–in case of an insect sting, burn, eczema, or other skin irritation, just dilute a few drops in vegetable oil and massage to the affected area. The oil will help to soothe, heal, and relax… and it’s entirely natural.
Recommended Product: Mario Badescu Chamomile Night Cream
Calendula for Dry & Damaged Skin
You may not have heard of calendula, but you’ve probably heard of marigolds. Calendula is a species within the marigold family, and it’s chock-full of health benefits. The plant has been used for thousands of years (since the middle ages!) in a whole host of ways: food, medicine, dying fabrics, beauty, and more.
Today, calendula oil is mainly used in skincare for its softening and healing properties. Calendula has a high concentration of linoleic acid–one of the nine essential fatty acids–which helps repair damaged, inflamed, and dry skin. It can also promote healing by improving blood flow to damaged skin cells, and this helps to minimize the appearance of wrinkles, age spots, and acne scars.
You’ll usually find calendula in moisturizers and body lotions–so if you struggle with dry skin, this is the botanical for you! However, be careful when using calendula-containing products if you are sensitive to ragweed (and other similar plants that cause seasonal allergies). Marigolds are in the same plant family, so they could cause an allergic reaction in those who are sensitive. Also, if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, steer clear for now–not enough research has been done on its effect on pregnant women, so it’s recommended to avoid calendula until after you’ve given birth.
Recommended Product: Korres Greek Yogurt Cleansing Wipes with Chamomile & Calendula
Lavender for Healthy Hair & Better Sleep
Native to North Africa and the Mediterranean, lavender has been one of the most popular medicinal plants in herbal medicine for centuries. Lavender oil is frequently used in home remedies, and for more than just its amazing fragrance–it’s good for headaches, household cleaning, haircare, and skincare.
One of the best ways to utilize the healing properties of lavender oil is by using it in your hair. Because it’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, it can help treat dandruff and dry, itchy scalp (and it’s a great alternative to chemical-laden shampoos). It may help your hair grow faster, too; this study showed that the oil helped hair grow faster and thicker! To try it at home, dilute a few drops of lavender oil in your favorite carrier oil, then massage it gently into your scalp (or affected areas). You can rinse it out after 15-20 minutes or leave it in overnight.
Lavender oil is also using to aid relaxation and improve mental health. This 2016 study found it incredibly effective in preventing stress, anxiety, and postpartum depression. Naturally, it’s a popular choice in aromatherapy, so it’s the perfect essential oil to use to wind down at the end of a long day. It can help you sleep, too, as lavender is often used in the treatment of insomnia.
Recommended Products: Jurlique Lavender Shampoo and This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray
Peony for Acne Treatment & Anti-Aging
If you have sensitive, acne-prone skin, then peony oil is going to be your new best friend. The peony flower was widely used in Chinese pharmacopeia, but now it’s popular in cosmetics and skincare products–and it’s pretty clear why. Peony oil is rich in polyphenols: powerful antioxidants that combat cell damage, decrease inflammation and fight free-radicals. This helps to soothe inflamed skin and prevent further irritations, which is perfect if you have sensitive skin that’s prone to breakouts. It can help treat acne, too–the paenol in peony oil is antibacterial and kills acne-causing bacteria, preventing new breakouts from occurring while treating your current spots! If you have sensitive skin, typical acne-treatment products containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide may irritate your skin, so peony oil is a great alternative to try.
Peony oil can help improve the texture and appearance of your skin, too, thanks to its tannins and flavonoids (and our favorite polyphenols, obviously). It can assist in preventing fine lines and wrinkles and also speed up the cell regeneration process — hello healthy, glowing skin! And tannins (yes, the same as the ones in your bottle of red) are a powerful astringent that can help with hyperpigmentation, sun spots, and acne scarring. This essential oil is doing the most–and we’re obsessed.
However, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you might want to take a pass on peonies for now. Because of the lack of research on the safety of peony oil during pregnancy, it’s best to avoid it until after baby is born.
Recommended Product: Caudalie Concentrated Brightening Essence
Iris for Soft & Smooth Skin
Irises are one of the prettiest flowers to plant in your garden–but they might be even better off on your bathroom counter. Iris oil has long been used in perfumes, but they’ve made their way into skincare as of late. The extract from irises, called iris florentina, is often used as a natural anti-aging compound in skincare products as an alternative to harsh chemicals. Although there hasn’t been a great deal of research done on iris florentina, it’s said that the natural isoflavones in the extract help to slow aging and prevent wrinkles.
Iris extract is super hydrating as well, so it can be used to blur wrinkles, hydrate skin, and improve skin elasticity. If you’re looking for something new to try that can naturally firm and hydrate your skin, then give iris extract a try. But if you have sensitive skin or are allergy-prone, then you might want to skip this one, as it can cause irritation.
Recommended Product: Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence
Jasmine for Stress-Relief & Supple Skin
Jasmine is really popular in teas and aromatherapy, which is likely thanks to its soothing and sedative properties. A cup of jasmine tea can calm you right down and help you chill out after a stressful day–so we’re definitely keeping a box of this tea around to relax when we need a mug of stress-relief.
The oil extract can work wonders for your skin, too. Jasmine is a natural cicatrizant, which means that it promotes healing and can effectively treat wounds and skin irritations. Studies have shown that it can even treat more serious skin conditions like psoriasis, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also a great moisturizer, so if you struggle to hydrate your dry skin, give this oil a try–it can help to balance moisture levels in your skin without clogging pores, so it won’t break you out. As always, if you’re going to try out jasmine oil at home, be sure to dilute it in a carrier oil first–the pure stuff is much too strong to put directly on your skin.