The all-time most popular post I have written is this one from seemingly ages ago on how to make your own essential oil blends for skin care. This one post has spawned tons of questions from readers around the world about which essential oils are best for their particular skin. I never expected to be spending Sundays away from my daughter, but here I am at a local Starbucks, responding to the many questions I get each week about what carrier oil to use and which essential oils I like best for hormone-related breakouts.
As I type out my answers to these many requests, I am always suggesting herbal teas for internal skin support, and it made me realize that in my old post, I only told HALF THE STORY. Yes, you read that right: in order to wear your best skin, you can’t just focus on the things you put externally on your face. After all, your skin is one large elimination organ, designed to help your body get rid of toxins and harmful substances. If your skin is breaking out or getting clogged, then it is a sign that there is something suboptimal going on internally, and that your skin is not able to do its job properly. So the best strategy is to a) take the right herbs internally; and b) use the right essential oils externally.
Luckily, there are many herbs that are great for skin, and by taking these herbs internally, you can help support your skin in performing its job of eliminating toxins. How you take these herbs is up to you, but I would personally suggest drinking them as infusions or decoctions – they can be delicious! I will discuss the categories of herbs that are great for the skin, and then describe my own formula for the skin support tea that I drink (or “tisane,” to be technically correct).
Herbs that Support Great Skin
- Alteratives: These herbs help “cleanse” the blood, which in turn, does wonders for alleviating breakouts (pimples, zits, etc.). For more about alternatives, read my post on herbs and the organ systems they support. Alterative herbs include Burdock, Yellow dock, Plantain, and Red Clover.
- Diaphoretics: These herbs help you sweat. You might think, “Eww,” but you would be wrong. After all, how DO you think your skin DOES its elimination work? By sweating, of course! So supporting your skin in this function will ultimately help your skin look better. For more information on diaphoretic herbs, see my post on special problem-solver herbs here. Diaphoretic herbs include Sage, Chamomile, Thyme, and Yarrow.
- Emmenagogues: These herbs help support and regulate a woman’s menstrual cycles, and as such, are especially useful if you’re experiencing hormonally-related breakouts. Emmenagogue herbs include Motherwort, Rue, and Pennyroyal.
- Cathartics: If your bowels are sluggish, then chances are, your skin might be overloaded with wastes as well. As we all know, when the plumbing backs up in the toilet, it can sometimes affect the shower as well, so there’s no reason to suppose that the body doesn’t work the same way…since everything is “connected.” These herbs can help de-constipate you, and as such, can also be helpful in terms of cleansing your skin. Cathartic herbs include Licorice Root (mild), Senna alexandrina, and Turkey rhubarb.
- Hepatics: Hepatic herbs support the liver, which is the body’s largest detoxification organ. So it stands to reason that by supporting the liver, you’re supporting your body’s elimination capabilities. If ALL of your elimination systems do a better job, then so can your skin. Hepatic herbs include Dandelion and Milk Thistle.
- Lymphatics: Ditto above – the lymph system helps the body remove foreign invaders that might cause illness and disease. A strong lymph system supports a strong immune system, and it is yet another important eliminative organ that if supported, can contribute to glowing, healthy skin. To learn more about the lymphatic system and the herbs that support it, read this post I wrote a while back (when I thought I could distill four years of Herbalist training into a series of posts). Lymphatic herbs include Cleavers, Gentian, Barberry, and Goldenseal (among many others).
Herbal Tea Blends for Problem Skin
Making your own herbal tea blends for skin support is easy. Just pick out an herb from each of the above categories (unless you’re pregnant or nursing, in which case, consult your doctor before using these), where appropriate. My own herbal tea blend is one I built based on a combination of factors, including taste (since Lord knows I hate drinking anything too disgusting). You will notice I do NOT use an emmenagogue – for hormonal balancing I use a Vitex extract and Maca root separately (because I am still trying to get pregnant!). I mix:
- 1 ounce of Burdock Root (my Alterative)
- 1 ounce of Chamomile (my Diaphoretic)
- 1 ounce of Licorice Root (my Cathartic)
- 1 ounce of Dandelion Root (my Hepatic)
- 1 ounce of Cleavers (my Lymphatic)
- .5 ounces of Ginger Root (as a stimulant)
I then take one teaspoon of the resulting mixture and steep it in 8 ounces of water to make an herbal tisane. It’s delicious and not hard to finish at all…you can add honey or lemon to taste, if you want. A note on taste: some of the Tonic herbs (Gentian, as an example) are extremely bitter (Tonic herbs support our overall systems and especially the lymph), so you will want to adjust that quantity down in your overall mixture. Either that, or add additional honey.
Let me know if you have any questions about the best herbal tea blends for you in the comments section below – believe me, they’ve been a great help in keeping my skin zit-free for the last seven years!