The wonderful world of skin-saving plants!

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How plants help our skin

It's called phytotherapy and it's the science of using plants or their active ingredients to give us back our youthful, peachy glow.... Miracles at work? Not quite - this is Mother Nature doing what she does best!

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# Algae: Used for centuries as a skincare treatment, algae are a favourite with Chinese medicine practitioners. Bursting with amino acids, mineral salts, trace elements and vitamins, they revitalise and tone up our bodies, boost cell renewal and protect our skin from the elements. Cosmetics that contain marine algae (masks, scrubs and soaps) include red algae to hydrate and remineralise our skin, brown algae to soothe or soften and magnesium-rich green algae to nourish the epidermis.

# Aloe plants: These fleshy plants grow around the Mediterranean and have large, thick, juicy leaves that help skin to heal and regenerate. Their softening, hydrating and nourishing properties make them excellent first-aiders when it comes to healing superficial wounds and minor skin problems. How to use aloe vera? Nowadays, you can easily find aloe supplements or topical gels.

# Arnica: A bump and bruise-busting superhero, arnica has healing and regenerating properties. For external use only - compresses and lotions work a treat.

# Birch: These stunning, silvery trees are detoxifying gold medal-winners. A purifying plant, birch trees are diuretic, which means their extract can flush toxins out of our bodies and leave us with gorgeous, glowing skin. They also contain a sugar called 'rhamnose', which has anti-ageing properties that boost cell renewal in all of our skin's layers. Its extract can be taken in a glass of water or be applied to skin.

# Borage: Known for its pretty, blue, star-shaped flowers and perspirant properties, borage is often added to salads or soups. The oil extracted from its seeds improve skin's elasticity, prevents dryness and combats the appearance of wrinkles. To be taken by mouth.

# Calendula: This delicate orange flower (translated from Latin as 'worry') loves our skin as much a sunny weather! Its flowers provide a natural SPF, as it's able to filter out UV rays. They also contain flavanoids, meaning they have a turbo-charged antioxidant and inflammatory action, whilst boosting cell regeneration at a speed of knots. Drink as a tea.

# Greater burdock: Used in Chinese and Indian medicine for donkey's years, burdock root is great for oily skin. It's also recommended to treat benign acne. But, most of all, it's THE perfect plant to treat skin problems including eczema, hives and dermatitis. Can be brewed or applied as a compress.

# St. John's wort: This plant is used in cosmetics to soften and repair skin, particularly in the case of first degree burns and sunburn. Apply the oil topically or take as an oral supplement.

# Evening primrose: A favourite ingredient in organic treatments, evening primrose combats ageing skin thanks to its high concentration of essential fatty acids. It revitalises skin, soothes acne and also hydrates tired-looking skin by making it soft and supple. Apply externally as an oil.

# Nettle: Nettle leaves may sting when we touch them, but their ability to regulate sebum production works wonders. Nettle detoxifies oily skin and soothes scalps. Drink as a tea or apply topically as a compress.

# Linden tree: Also known as 'lime tree', this medicinal, multi-tasker is usually found as a herbal tea. Linden blossom can brighten the complexion, combat wrinkles, fade red patches and soften skin. Drink as a tea.

# Verbena: A medicinal, ornamental and aromatic plant, verbena is often found in creams and lotions. It tones, refreshes, softens and heals skin. It's also used in soap. Combination and problem skins love verbena, but its soothing properties also make it suited to fragile, sensitive skin. Its firming action means it's often added to body lotions and anti-cellulite treatments. For topical use only.