Take a walk in your garden for flawless skin and hair. That’s right, from elasticity to scar reduction, from premature greying to sebum production control, flowers have all the healing properties required. Whether it’s royalty, nobility or your good ol’ grandma, everyone has had a tryst with floral beauty rituals.
Aromatherapy veteran Dr Blossom Kochar draws further on the history of use of flowers, “Cleopatra used essential oils to attract Caesar and Marc Antony.
Caesar had to walk over a carpet of rose petals and he was in love with her before he even met her. Cleopatra doused the oars of her boat with some essential when she crossed the river Nile to meet Marc Antony.” Those little jars and tubes on your dressing table are as potent with flower power. Beauty products interweave the contemporary with the ancient. They use the latest technology to harness the advantages of flowers.
Cosmetic dermatologist Dr Niketa Sonavane, who also has a Masters in alternative medicine, remarks, “Molecules of natural fragrance can be absorbed through the olfactory nerves. Floral distillates have been around forever. What is new is that skin care research now involves and accepts floral and plant extracts as effective ingredients in the well-being of the skin and body.” Dr Kochar adds, “Extensive research is being conducted in aromatherapy. Each plant has numerous amounts of chemicals, and consequently researchers are trying to find out what these chemicals are, how they work and what impact they have. For example, rose has 300 constituents but only 160-164 have been identified till date.” Apparently, the myriad uses of flowers, including but not restricted to astringents, bath vinegars, anti-inflammatory products and serums is at an all-time high now. “Serums are becoming more popular. Jasmine helps the elasticity and proper blood circulation. With the advent of technology, people are using it for ultrasonic waves in machines as well,” she informs us.
Pharmacognosy (the study of medicinal drugs obtained from plants and natural sources) is a rather old field. Girish Suresh Vaze, director of an ayurvedic skincare company, explains, “New advantages of therapeutic properties are continuously being discovered. The pre-extraction and extraction procedures, are pivotal to preserve the bioactivity of the ingredients. There are multiple methods of extraction/usage ranging from the traditional ones (maceration and Soxhlet extraction) to modern ones such as microwave-assisted extraction (MAE), ultrasound-assisted extraction (UAE) and supercritical fluid extraction (SFE).” He believes the focus should be on ensuring maximum bioactivity of ingredients so that products are able to deliver the promise made to consumers.
Rameshwari Seth, founder of a natural personal care brand, feels that the industry has come a full circle with cold-pressed extractions becoming popular again. She says, “Cold pressing of oils is an age-old method, although the process in the modern age is a lot less labour intensive. Steam distillation was the go-to method for many years (and still is) to extract essential oils, although the cold-pressed method is gaining in popularity over the past few years. Flowers in skincare can be used mainly in three ways – floral waters, floral extracts and flower-based carrier and essential oils. Rosewater might be the most widely known and ubiquitous of all floral waters, but there are countless other hydrosols like jasmine, lavender, etc. Flower or floral water is the condensate water that remains after the extraction of essential oil by distillation.”
The power of flowers is pollinating many a creative mind and consumers are reaping the benefits of this....