From mint to basil, why the humble herb is set to take over our bathroom cabinets

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The Stylist web team
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With the power to improve skin elasticity and banish dark circles the humble herb is hot right now

Words: Daniela Morosini
Photography: David Marquez

Calming rosemary

As we age, our skin struggles to deal with inflammation. “Inflamed skin can’t function properly, cell renewal is slowed down and oxygen levels – essential for radiance – are limited, casting a dullness across the complexion,” explains Fiona Brackenbury, skincare specialist at Decléor. Rosemary is rich in both calcium and vitamin B6, which supports collagen levels, helping to rebuild skin’s plumpness. Seek it out in Caudalie’s cult classic Beauty Elixir, a toning and refreshing facial spritz that works over or under make-up to impart a healthy glow, while UMA’s Absolute Anti Ageing Eye Oil harnesses the collagen-boosting power of rosemary to target pesky under-eye bags, and is completely organic.

Mattifying basil

Not just for garnishing your caprese, basil has an antibacterial effect that’s not to be sniffed at. Like many herbs, basil comes from the same family as mint, and can be effective at keeping shine at bay. Zelens Z-22 Absolute Face Oil is infused with basil oil alongside grape seed and rice bran oil to effectively balance oil production. Or add Murad’s Essential-C Toner into your regime, which employs basil as well as witch hazel extract to help mop up excess oil and mattify the skin. If you’ve got the trifecta of redness, sensitivity and breakouts, look to Dr Andrew Weil for Origins’ Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Soothing Treatment Lotion, which harnesses a blend of fungi and holy basil extract to help slow down over-zealous oil production.

Antioxidant sage

Cast aside all hippy-dippy notions of burning sage to cleanse your aura. When formulated into skincare, sage is an antioxidant force to be reckoned with. Rich in flavonoids and protective enzymes, reap the benefits with Origins’ Original Skin Essence Lotion: applied pre-moisturiser, it uses sage’s antioxidant powers to brighten pollution-induced dull skin. Decléor’s Aromessence Neroli Amara Oil Serum contains 1.2kg of clary sage per 15ml bottle which, Brackenbury says, “is three times more effective than salicylic acids in terms of exfoliation, unblocking and tightening pores”. If your skin is oily, try Tata Harper’s Clarifying Moisturiser. Sage is the third ingredient on the list (quite a herbal hit) and it also contains sea buckthorn oil for a matte finish.

Astringent mint

Pores are something of a beauty bête noire. They’re hereditary and it’s impossible to permanently shrink them. The good news? “Mint is a real astringent, so perfect for helping to temporarily tighten open pores,” explains Brackenbury. This is thanks to mint’s natural stores of pore-zapping salicylic acid. Add Amanda Lacey’s Miracle Tonic into your routine – the exfoliating, brightening effect on skin is remarkable. Skyn Iceland’s The Antidote Daily Cooling Lotion uses arctic berry extract alongside mint to calm the skin while tackling shine – perfect for sensitive oily types. For a travel-friendly option, try Nugg’s single-use Revitalising Face Mask pods, which contain peppermint to ensure you touch down with picture-perfect skin.

Brightening parsley

Often used in Middle Eastern dishes, parsley is rich in folic acid and a good source of vitamins K and A. But aside from jazzing up freekeh, it’s a great way to bust dark spots. “Whereas some lightening ingredients work on the enzymes responsible for pigmentation, parsley works directly on the surface of the skin by breaking down the dark spots and gradually fading the pigmentation,” says Brackenbury. Aesop’s Parsley Seed Antioxidant Eye Cream is a cult classic for a reason: vitamin K improves micro-circulation under the eyes, banishing puffiness, while one drop of the parsley-based Madara Radiant Energy Superseed Oil applied in the evening after Sukin’s clau mask gives you that of-course-I-do-Bikram glow.

Antibacterial thyme

A study by Leeds Metropolitan University found that thyme could have a bigger antibacterial effect on acne than benzoyl peroxide – a spot-fighting active ingredient usually only available on prescription. Want in? Try Mario Badescu’s Facial Spray instead of your usual toner to fight pimples. With aloe and rosewater, it helps to calm inflamed red skin. Or, swap your regular cleanser for Alpha H’s Triple Action Cleanser. Many antibacterial cleansers can leave skin feeling taut but the creamy formula stops your face feeling uncomfortably tight after washing. Afterwards, apply SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Masque. The thyme-infused formula calms redness associated with acne-prone skin.