Our next guest for Meet the Skinpreneurs is Natalie Wilson of Nature's Comfort Soap Company in the US.
Natalie is a Herbalist who formulates herbal skincare, body care and also offer consultations on holistic health care. Herbalism ("herbology" or "herbal medicine") is the use of plants for medicinal purposes, and the study of such use. Plants have been the basis for medical treatments through much of human history, and such traditional medicine is still widely practiced today. (source: wikipedia) Herbalist may be a new term in our society as we are more familiar with the Asian counterparts, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Aryuveda and Jamu.
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Herbalism is very new to us in Singapore. Could you give us an introduction to Herbalism and what does a Herbalist do?
Herbalism is the study and practice of using herbs for their medicinal or beautifying values. All plants contain certain unique properties, or chemicals, that offer a huge variety of benefits to our health, our beauty, and to our overall well being. A herbalist utilises the plants, according to their needs and extracts and uses these properties in medicines, supplements, beauty products, and more. Herbalism is a great field to explore for anyone interested in learning about skin care. So many herbs offer amazing benefits to our skin, hair, nails, and of course, internal health. Without good health, beauty fades, so a herbalist values these connections, and uses the full body and all of its systems when choosing which herbs to always use.
Is Herbalism similar to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Aryuveda and Indonesian Jamu?
Yes, it is very similar. Many ideas and medicines cross and are shared between many different cultures and heritages. From American Indians, to the Chinese, herbs have been shared and passed down across the entire world and sometimes you’ll see them intertwined. I believe different cultures all had the same concept of using healing plants, the differences in use and variety existed mostly out of which plants were available according to where people lived, their own customs, and also their religious beliefs. Ayurveda believes that all things in life are connected and that there is a certain knowledge about life that is shared between all living things. …If we focus on that thought, we realise traditional herbalism does the same. We know that the earth holds all living things within it, and therefore provides everything for the life it holds. Plants are incredibly important to life on earth, they provide everything from food, to shelter, to energy, to medicines. All we need is the knowledge on how to use it. All of these practices have stemmed from early healers, prophets and writers.
Natalie explaining about herbs to the little ones and their mummies during her workshop.
What kind of herbal remedies do you prepare regularly for example, for oral and topical skincare products?
I prepare several types of remedies, beauty products, and even perfumes from herbs. For instance, I love the beauty power of roses. They have the amazing ability to balance oils in our skin, among an array of other qualities. I prepare them by making extractions, distilling them, or infusing them into oils and other menstruums. I take these preparations and make everything from soaps, to skin creams, perfumes, shampoos, and salves.
For internal health, I have a large collection of herbal infusions called tinctures. These are alcohol extracted herbs that are taken internally as a remedy or as a health supplement. One example would be a tincture of valerian root, used to help someone sleep better at night, or to calm stressed nerves. Another would be Licorice Root to help soothe bad digestion or used on the scalp to treat dandruff.
As you spend more time learning about the herbs, what they are, and what they do, you’ll gain more and more experience learning about what they do, and how they can help improve your life and the lives of those you love.
What are your favourite ingredients and why do you like working with them?
As I mentioned already, my favorite is the rose, because it can be used for so many things, both internally and externally. Roses have been adored in herbalism for thousands of years. Queen Cleopatra was known for her continued use of rose water for her beauty, and its use in perfumery can’t be beat. It is by far, my favorite herb. I enjoy working with aromatic flowers, like lavender, jasmine, and tuberose. I also love rosemary, as it is another wonderful aromatic with a large variety of benefits, such as bringing shine to hair. Calendula, patchouli, comfrey, stinging nettles, arnica, witch hazel, slippery elm, just to name a few, are some of my favorite herbs. They offer a variety of uses that I never seem to run out of ideas for. Even delicate baby skin can benefit from a light oil that has been infused with lavender or calendula, and old skin will love the uplifting feel of roses or jasmine. There is truly something for everyone.
What is the one oral herbal remedy that you recommend to everyone for boosting of immunity and also one topical herbal remedy for daily maintenance of good skincare?
The one oral herbal remedy I recommend to everyone for boosting immunity is elderberry, because it is safe for just about anyone to use without the worry of a contraindication (a reaction to a medication or a disease) and also it is not hot or spicy and even children love the taste of it. It is often made into a very good tasting syrup and can also be added to tea.
A good topical remedy for daily skincare maintenance, I usually say that this determines on one’s skin type. But if there is something that just about anyone could use for a good daily skincare routine, I would say it would be rosewater. Rosewater is made from distilled roses. It smells wonderful and has a low PH, helping to protect the skin’s acid mantle. Roses, as mentioned before, help to balance the skin’s oils and can be used by both young and old. Rosewater can also be used to create a huge variety of products from skin cream, to shampoo and conditioner, to perfume. Rosewater also offers a great deal of medicinal value and the combination of rosewater and glycerin used to be a staple in most physician’s bags as well as first aid kits.
Stay tuned for our next guest post on Meet the Skinpreneurs – Cosmetic Chemist.