Effective Acne Solutions From Gentle Plant Based Sources
Acne solutions that are plant based have been making a name for themselves in the beauty world, with many brands becoming fast favorites for a variety of reasons. This may be due to growing consumer interest in efforts towards sustainability, the demand for safe and “clean” personal care products, or a simple attraction to the alluring scents and sensations experienced when using formulas reminiscent of nature. Whatever the motivation, these products aren’t just a fad, as plant-derived ingredients have more than proven their ability to address some of our most prevalent skincare concerns – including acne.
We know that acne is a very complex condition, and that taking a one-size-fits-all approach offers only temporary satisfaction at best, leaving undesirable long-term outcomes. Often when we think about “clarifying,” we give the most credit to our daily cleansers and toners, but why not be intentional within your entire regimen? Moisturizers, treatments, masks, and exfoliators all have opportunities to create a fresh and nurturing environment for your skin to glow rather than be bested by blemishes, but it all comes down to what these products can do with their ingredients. This is where botanical extracts really get to show what they’re made of.
Contribution by Amy Simmons Of KM Herbals
Amy T. Simmons is the Research and Education Coordinator for KM Herbals, manufacturer of aromatherapy and botanical personal care products. She is a licensed esthetician who specializes in holistic wellness and plant-based skincare. Amy studied herbalism and aromatherapy at the California School of Herbal Studies as well as cosmetic chemistry with Rebecca Gadberry at UCLA.
Plants In Action
Plants themselves are just as beautifully complex as we are, giving them the key to addressing the many diverse challenges that we face with our skin. They are full of vitamins, minerals, and chemical constituents that act both individually and in harmony with one another, giving them many different “actions” or abilities that allow them to behave in multiple ways within a skincare formula. Think of them as the characteristics or personality of the plant, and plants can have very colorful personalities! For example, we all tend to be familiar with Lavender and its ability to calm the nerves and soothe the skin. However, Lavender also has cleansing and astringent properties, making it no wonder that its scientific name is derived from the Latin “Lavare”, which means “to wash.”
But Lavender is not unique in this. If you break any plant down to its many constituent parts, they will each have a set of ways in which they will interact with the skin. This is also true of how they behave within a skincare formula. While we tend to place skincare ingredients in separate categories according to their function (the base, the “active” ingredients, the preservatives, etc.), plant extracts can play more than just one of these roles. For example, since essential oils are so concentrated and fight bacteria, they often help to preserve the formula in addition to targeting specific skincare concerns like clogged pores and they add a beautiful natural fragrance to the product. But more about essential oils later.
While we often obsess over “active” ingredients in skincare, what’s usually called the “base” of the formula is just as important. We tend to think of the stronger ingredients as being the key to clearing up skin, but even a gentler ingredient has a job to do. As we just discussed, all plant extracts naturally do multiple things when interacting with the skin, so if the ingredients of the product’s base can help protect the skin’s barrier, balance oil production, or simply cleanse without over-stripping the skin, then they are also a major part in what makes your product clarifying.
Consider a client who experiences dryness and irritation with their breakouts. A nice cooling cream cleanser made from a rich and nourishing base with the addition of more concentrated essential oils might be a great start. Take a base of Jojoba Oil and Comfrey to soothe and protect skin with compromised barrier function, along with essential oils of Lavender or Tea Tree to help cleanse, calm, and further correct the condition. Acne is often a simple sign that something is out of balance, so the conjunction of these protective and defensive actions can address such imbalances directly and effectively.
Get To Know Your Ingredients
Plant ingredients are extracted into many different forms, which is generally determined by what allows us to get the most out of the plant with the least amount of waste. As of late, essential oils have become some of the most popular, primarily for their use in aromatherapy. But even with the many topical therapeutic uses for essential oils, they are not the only way to enjoy the abundant benefits of plants, even when it comes to a clarifying skincare regimen.
Consider “hydrosols”, AKA “floral waters” for example. These have similar therapeutic qualities as essential oils (and are in fact, gathered during the same steam distillation process) but result in gentler concentrations and can be applied to the skin without dilution. Most essential oils, however, require a carrier oil to be safely applied to the skin, which is just another example of how base and active ingredients work together to be most effective.
Carrier oils come from another kind of plant extract known as cold-pressed fixed oils, like Jojoba, Coconut, or Almond oil and account for the smooth and nourishing texture you’d find in any massage or facial oil. Fixed oils not only offer the therapeutics of its plant constituents, but with the added benefit of helping to lock moisture into the skin via their rich and luxurious nature.
Other plant constituents may be extracted via infusion, which are traditionally done with oil (ex: Arnica oil) or water (ex: Herbal tea). There are additional methods of solvent extraction, supercritical “CO2” extracts, and other technologies that offer even more options for working with plant extracts, but you certainly don’t need to know them all to use or enjoy them. The most important thing to remember is that no matter what botanical ingredient you have in front of you, it contains an entire toolkit of skin and self-care potential.
Find Your Clarifying Companions
While you may be looking to create your own plant-based concoctions for clients to enjoy, you can also turn to an established brand to help supplement your services within the treatment room. Either way, when approaching botanical skincare options for yourself and your customers, take into account the unique circumstances of their condition, and match them with the many remedies available within the plant kingdom. Use the outline below to get started:
KM Herbals Companion Guide
Clarifying and Soothing = For skin that’s prone to blemishes, irritation, and redness. The Chamomile Facial Gel Cleanser is a great example.
Clarifying and Brightening = For skin with scarring or discoloration from past breakouts. The Licorice Lemon Nighttime Serum is a great example.
- Lemon (tip: may be photosensitizing, use only as a nighttime treatment)
- Carrot Seed
Clarifying and Corrective = For skin that is prone to deeply congested pores. The Anti-Acne Facial Serum is a great example.
- Tea Tree
- Lavender (tip: the essential oil makes a powerful spot treatment!)
- Rose and Rosehips
Clarifying and Balancing = Oily or combination skin prone to clogged pores. The Rose Geranium Hydrosol & Toner is a great example.
- Rose Geranium (tip: also effective for hormonal imbalances/fluctuations)
- Sweet Orange
- Strawberry Leaf
At KM Herbals, we intentionally craft our products with these clarifying plant-extracts to address the many imbalances that our skin can have using gentle yet powerful ingredients. If you would like to explore our approach to clarifying skincare products and other self-care collections, visit KM Herbals.