Plants are nature’s medicine. Leaves, roots, fruits peels, flowers, seeds and bark can all be used to help bring balance and wellness. They can also be very beneficial for the skin. Here’s a brief introduction to three commonly used botanical ingredient families: flower essences, hydrosols and essential oils.
Flower Essences are made by soaking specific flowers (which have been collected at special times of the day and year) in water and allowing the sun to heat the water for a measured amount of time. Some flower essences are also made by boiling the water at lower temperatures for shorter periods of time. It is not advised to make your own flower essences as the flowers used need to be precise. Two flowers with the same exact botanical name, grown in different areas or conditions can have different effects in flower essences.
For this reason, people usually seek products from the “father” of flower essences: Dr. Bach
Dr. Edward Bach was a British Physician, who began to see disease as an end product; a final stage; a physical manifestation of unhappiness, fear and worry. He therefore, began to look to nature to find healing flowers. Over a period of years Dr. Bach found 38 healing flowers and plants that with the right preparation became the 38 Bach Flower Remedies. These Remedies are enough to remove all negative emotional problems. – bach centre
Unlike hydrosols and essential oils, flower essences have no scent, they can never do any harm to anyone at any time, they are made by infusion of wild plants & flowers. *Although there are many different flower remedy brands, Bach flower essences are only collected from a certain area in England.
For more information on Bach Flower Remedies, visit this website.
These delicate floral waters capture every element of the plant and all its benefits at the molecular level. Hydrosols, also known as floral waters, are products from steam distilling plant materials. They are similar to essential oils, and made in a similar way as some essential oils, but they are not as concentrated and therefore do not need to be diluted in products.
When a distiller brews plant material with water in a large cooker the steam fills the pot and, as it rises, it causes the glands of the plants to burst and release the oils and essence of the plant into the steam. The oil rises through a condenser and collects in a separate vessel, becoming an essential oil. The fragrant water that was steamed with the original plant material is the hydrosol. Mountain Rose Herbs provides a great explanation of this distillation process.
Malie Organics uses Hawaiian hydrosols in every one of their products. They believe that hydrosols hold therapeutic properties from the true essence of each plant:
Each hydrosol is a hologram of the entire plant – from root to leaf, flower to fruit – intensifying and focusing the therapeutic power of its aroma and fluids. These subtle, aromatic waters are a safe alternative to essential oils because they can be applied directly to the skin. The hydrosol embodies the true essence of the flower, its very soul, in every drop.
Most of us are already fairly familiar with essential oils in skin care products. They differ from nut or base plant oils in that they are highly concentrated molecular components of plants, fruits and flowers.
Essential oils are naturally extracted from their floral counterparts through steam distillation (of which the remaining water is turned into a hydrosol), expression (most common for fruit peels), and solvent extraction.
They have a very low molecular weight which allows them to be easily absorbed into the skin. This is why they need to be diluted in a base oil or other botanical medium when used topically. Most of the natural botanical extracts you find on a label will be in essential oil form. The exceptions to this rule are hydrosols or fruit / herbal pulps (in each case the product will be labeled accordingly.) You can find essential oils in many botanical skin and body care products. They are usually listed in their INCI names and also in their common names. For example, Lavender will show up as Lavandula angustifolia and also as Lavender or Lavender oil.
For more information on essential oils and how they are made, read Essential Oils and Skincare and Essential Oils are a Powerful Beauty and Wellness Tool