Role of Herbs In Cosmetics

Herbs play a significant role in cosmetics due to their various beneficial properties, including moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial effects. Incorporating herbs into cosmetic formulations can enhance the product’s efficacy and appeal to consumers looking for natural and sustainable alternatives. Here are several roles herbs play in cosmetics:

  1. Moisturizing: Herbs like aloe vera are renowned for their exceptional moisturizing properties. Aloe vera gel contains polysaccharides that form a protective layer on the skin, locking in moisture and preventing dehydration. It also contains vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that nourish and hydrate the skin, making it a popular ingredient in moisturizers, lotions, and face masks.
  2. Anti-inflammatory: Chamomile is a herb widely known for its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. It contains compounds like chamazulene and alpha-bisabolol that help reduce redness, irritation, and swelling in the skin. Chamomile extracts are commonly used in skincare products targeting sensitive and reactive skin, such as calming creams, serums, and masks.
  3. Antioxidant: Herbs rich in antioxidants, such as green tea, play a crucial role in protecting the skin from oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals. Green tea extract contains polyphenols like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that scavenge free radicals, preventing premature aging and maintaining skin health. Cosmetic formulations often include green tea extracts in serums, moisturizers, and eye creams to combat signs of aging and environmental damage.
  4. Antimicrobial: Tea tree oil is a potent antimicrobial herb with natural antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. It is particularly effective against acne-causing bacteria, making it a popular ingredient in acne treatments, cleansers, and spot treatments. Tea tree oil helps to purify the skin, unclog pores, and reduce blemishes without causing dryness or irritation.
  5. Astringent: Witch hazel is a natural astringent herb derived from the Hamamelis virginiana plant. It contains tannins that have a tightening effect on the skin, helping to shrink pores and control excess oil production. Witch hazel is commonly used in toners and facial cleansers for oily and combination skin types to help balance sebum production and refine the skin’s texture.
  6. Exfoliating: Enzymatic exfoliation using herbs such as papaya and pineapple is a gentle yet effective way to slough off dead skin cells and reveal smoother, brighter skin. These herbs contain enzymes like papain and bromelain, which break down protein bonds in dead skin cells, promoting cell turnover and rejuvenation. Papaya and pineapple extracts are often found in exfoliating masks, peels, and cleansers suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
  7. Fragrance: Herbs like lavender, rose, and jasmine not only offer natural fragrances but also possess aromatherapeutic properties that promote relaxation and stress relief. Lavender, in particular, has calming and soothing effects on the mind and body, making it a popular choice for aromatherapy skincare products like bath oils, body scrubs, and massage oils.
  8. Coloring: Natural pigments derived from herbs like beetroot, turmeric, and hibiscus provide vibrant colors to cosmetic products without the use of synthetic dyes. These herbs contain anthocyanins, curcumin, and other pigments that impart rich hues ranging from deep reds to bright yellows. Formulators often use these natural colorants in lipsticks, lip balms, blushes, and tinted moisturizers to create beautiful shades while avoiding potentially harmful synthetic additives.
  9. Calming and Relaxing: Herbs such as chamomile, lavender, and calendula have been traditionally used for their calming and relaxing properties. Incorporating these herbs into skincare products helps to soothe the skin and alleviate stress, promoting a sense of well-being during skincare routines. Chamomile and lavender extracts are commonly found in facial mists, serums, and sleep masks designed to calm and comfort the skin while promoting relaxation.
  10. Natural and Sustainable Appeal: Using herbs in cosmetics aligns with the growing demand for natural, sustainable, and environmentally friendly skincare options. Herbs are often cultivated using organic farming practices, minimizing exposure to pesticides and synthetic chemicals. Additionally, sourcing herbs locally supports small-scale farmers and reduces the carbon footprint associated with transportation and distribution. By incorporating herbs into cosmetic formulations, brands can appeal to eco-conscious consumers seeking products that are both effective and environmentally responsible.

Herbs offer a multitude of benefits in cosmetics, ranging from moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties to antioxidant protection and natural fragrance. Formulators can leverage the diverse properties of herbs to create innovative skincare products that promote skin health, address specific concerns, and provide a sensory experience that resonates with consumers seeking natural, sustainable beauty solutions.

Herbs as cosmetic and cosmeceutical excipients

  • Vehicles/base/carrier: Castor oil is obtained from the castor bean, Ricinus communis (Euphorbiaceae), and the seeds contain 50% of the fixed oil.
  • Binders: Carnauba wax derived from the leaves of the Brazilian palm tree known as Copernicia cerifera is used as the natural binding agent.

Gum Arabica is a natural gum produced from acacia trees Acacia Senegal.

  • Viscosity modifier
  • Thickening agents
  • Emollients
  • Humectants
  • Perfumes
  • Colouring agents
  • Flavoring agents
  • Penetration enhancers
  • Surfactants
  • Antioxidants

Herbs in skin care management


Source: The common synonyms for Aloe vera species are Aloe barbadensis Var, Aloe barbadensis, and Aloe indica belonging to the family Asphodelaceae or Lililiaceae.

Description: Aloe vera is a succulent plant species of the genus Aloe. An evergreen perennial, it originates from the Arabian Peninsula but grows wild in tropical, semi-tropical, and arid climates around the world. Aloe vera is a stemless or very short-stemmed plant growing to 60-100 cm (24-39 in) tall, spreading by offsets.

Active constituents

  • The Aloe Vera leaf gel contains about 98% water.
  • The total solid content of Aloe vera gel is 0.66% and soluble solids are 0.56% with some seasonal fluctuation.
  • On a dry matter basis, aloe gel consists of polysaccharides (53%), sugars (17%), minerals (16%), proteins (7%), lipids (5%) and phenolic compounds (2%).
  • Aloe vera contains 200 potentially active constituents such as vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids, and amino acids, which are responsible for the multifunctional activity of Aloe.
  • Vitamins: Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E, Vitamin B12, folic acid, choline, B1, B2, B6, C, β-carotene, and α-tocopherol.
  • Enzymes: Aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, amylase, bradykinase, carboxy-peptidase, catalase etc.
  • Minerals: Chlorine, iron, phosphorous, calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium.
  • Carbohydrates: Acetylated glucomannan, gluco galactomannan, galactan, pectic substance, xylan, cellulose, pure mannan, and acetylated mannan.
  • Saccharides: Mannose, L-rhamnose, and aldopentose, monosaccharides (glucose, fructose), polysaccharides (glucomannans, polymannose), etc.,
  • Proteins: Lectins, lectin-like substance
  • Anthraquinones: Twelve anthraquinones, Aloe-emodin, aloetic-acid, ethanol, aloin A and B (or collectively known as barbaloin), isobarbaloin, emodin, ester of cinnamic acid, etc.,
  • Chromones: 8-C-glucosyl-(2’-O-cinnamoyl)-7-O-methylaloediol A, 8-C-glucosyl-(S)-aloesol, 8-C-glucosyl-7-O-methyl-(S)-aloesol, isoaloeresin D, isorabaichromone, neoaloesin A, 8-C-glucosyl-7-O-methyl-aloediol, and 8-C-glucosyl-noreugenin.
  • Fatty acids:  Four plant steroids such as cholesterol, campesterol, β-sisosterol and lupeol. All these have anti-inflammatory action and lupeol possesses antiseptic and analgesic properties.
  • Hormones: Auxins and gibberellins that help in wound healing and have anti-inflammatory action.
  • Others: Arachidonic acid, γ-linolenic acid, steroids (campesterol, cholesterol, β-sitosterol), triglycerides, triterpenoid, potassium sorbate, uric acid, etc.,
  • Uses: It is cultivated for agricultural and medicinal uses.
  • The species is also used for decorative purposes and grows successfully indoors as a potted plant.
  • It is found in many consumer products including beverages, skin lotion, cosmetics, and ointments, or in the form of gel for minor burns and sunburns.
  • There is little clinical evidence for the effectiveness or safety of Aloe vera extract as a cosmetic or medicine.

Cosmetic uses of Aloe vera

  • Beauty care properties: Aloin and its gel are used as skin tonic against pimples and also used for soothing the skin and keeping the skin moist to help avoid flaky scalp and skin in harsh and dry weather.
  • Aloe vera is currently one of the most important ingredients in the cosmetics industry, utilized in over 95 percent of the dermatologically valuable extracts manufactured worldwide.
  • Skin and body anti-aging properties: The invaluable oligo-elements present in aloe juice, manganese, and selenium, constitute the enzymes superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase, recognized as powerful antioxidants and cellular anti-aging agents.
  • Antimicrobial activity: The antiseptic properties of Aloe vera in cosmeceuticalsare due to the presence of six antiseptic agents namely lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamonic acid, phenols, and sulfur.
  • The antibacterial activity of Aloe vera gel in cosmeceuticals is mainly due to the presence of terpenoids, flavonoids, and tannins.


  • Source: Turmeric is a perennial, rhizomatous, herbaceous flowering plant Curcuma longa of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae.
  • Active constituents
  • Turmeric powder is about 60-70% carbohydrates, 6-13% water, 6-8% protein, 5-10% fat, 3-7% dietary minerals, 3-7% essential oils, 2-7% dietary fiber, and 1-6% curcuminoids.
  • Terpenoids: Monoterpenoids, sesquiterpenoids, diterpenoids, triterpenoids, β-Atlantone, Curlone, Curculonone A, B, C, Bisabolone-9-one, Bisacurone, Bisacurone A-C, Intermedin B, Turmeronol A, B.
  • Curcuminoids: Curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin, curcumalongin A, B, cyclocurcumin, terpecurcumin A-D.
  • Flavonoids: The aglycones of them include luteolin, apigenin, quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin. Quercetin-3-O-α-l-rhap-(1→2)-[α-l-rhap-(1→6)]-β-d-galactopyranoside, Kaempferol-3-O-α-l-rhap-(1→2)-β-d-galactopyranoside, and Myricetin 3-O-β-d-rutinoside.
  • Others: A series of other compounds, including phenols and organic acids, alkaloids, steroids, and polysaccharides were also isolated from turmeric.
  • 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde, 4-hydroxy-benzoic acid, vanillin, p-hydroxycinnamic acid, coniferyl aldehyde, zingerone, calebin-A, β-sitosterol, daucosterol, and stigmasterol.
  • The rhizome and tuberous root are sources of curcumene, turmerone, α-turmerone, and β-turmerone.
  • The α-phellandrene (24.35%), terpinolene (13.10%), p-cymene (11.07%), and 1, 8-cineole (7.04%) as the major components in turmeric leaf oil.


  • Turmeric is one of the key ingredients in many Asian dishes, imparting a mustard-like, earthy aroma and pungent, slightly bitter flavor to foods.
  • Used mostly in savory dishes, and sweet dishes, in India, turmeric leaf is used to prepare special sweet dishes.
  • Turmeric is used as an herbal medicine for rheumatoid arthritis, chronic anterior uveitis, conjunctivitis, skin cancer, smallpox, chicken pox, wound healing, urinary tract infections, and liver ailments.
  • It is used for digestive disorders, to reduce flatus, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, and colic; for abdominal pain and distension and for dyspeptic conditions including loss of appetite and liver and gallbladder complaints.
  • It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and carminative actions.
  • In Ayurvedic practices, turmeric is thought to have many medicinal properties including strengthening the overall energy of the body, relieving gas, dispelling worms, improving digestion, regulating menstruation, dissolving gallstones, and relieving arthritis.
  • Indians use turmeric, in addition to its Ayurvedic applications, to purify blood and remedy skin conditions. Turmeric paste is used by women in some parts of India to remove superfluous hair.
  • Turmeric is currently used in the formulation of several sunscreens.
  • In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is a well-documented treatment for various respiratory conditions (e.g., asthma, bronchial hyperactivity, and allergy), as well as for liver disorders, anorexia, rheumatism, diabetic wounds, runny nose, cough, and sinusitis.

Cosmetic uses

  • Curcuminoids are phytonutrients that give turmeric its yellow-orange pigment used in skin care products. Tetrahydro curcumin is an off-white hydrogenated form of curcumin that is used topically as a cutaneous antioxidant.
  • It may prevent rancidity of lipids when added to moisturizers. Curcuminoids have potential in cosmeceuticals as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and skin-lightening agent.
  • Curcumin gel reported to improve the appearance of photo-damaged skin conditions such as pigmentary changes, solar elastoses, actinic poikiloderma, solar lentigines, and actinic keratosis when applied for prolonged periods such as six months.
  • It is an environmentally friendly hair coloring agent. The essential oils may have potential in the perfume, cosmetic, and soap industries.
  • Turmeric facemasks help reduce acne and resulting scars, their anti-inflammatory qualities can target your pores calm the skin, and brighten dark circles combination of uses may help your face clear up from acne breakouts.
  • A combination of turmeric and neem was effective in treating scabies, and formulated to heal and prevent dry skin, stretch marks, etc.,
  • Turmeric also possesses components such as Vitamin A, minerals, and starch that can induce a skin-soothing effect.
  • Turmeric is a great natural exfoliator and helps in removing dead skin cells. In addition to skin treatment used for hair care such as treatment of dandruff.

Henna Powder (Mehandi)

  • Source: Henna powder obtained from the finely ground dried leaves of the henna plant Lawsonia Inermis L belongs to the family Lythraceae.
  • Description: Henna is a tall shrub or small tree, standing 1.8 to 7.6 m tall (6 to 25 ft). It is glabrous and multi-branched, with spine-tipped branchlets.
  • Active constituents of Henna
  • The naturally occurring chemical constituents of henna powder are referred to as biochemicals or phytochemicals.
  • Leaves: Lawsone (2-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone), 1,2-dihydroxy-glucoyloxynaphthalene, coumarins, phenolic glycosides, 1,4-dihydroxy naphthalene,  1,4-naphthoquinone, luteolin, apigenin, esculetin, fat, resin, and mucilage etc
  • Barks: Triterpenoids,  (hennadiol). naphthoquinone, isoplumbagin, 
  • Flowers: Essential oil (0.02 %) rich in ionones (90 %), β-ionones
  • Roots: 24β-ethylcholest-4-en-3β-ol.
  • Seeds: Linoleic acid, arachidic acid, stearic acid, palmitic acid.
  • Whole plant: Laxanthone I, laxanthone II, laxanthone III, n-triacontanol.
  • Uses: Henna is used for the treatment of epilepsy, jaundice, and malignant ulcers.
  • The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India indicated the use of henna leaves in dysuria, bleeding disorders, prurigo, and other obstinate skin diseases.
  • The leaf is used in vulnerary, diuretic, headache, hemicranias, lumbago, bronchitis, boils, ophthalmia, syphilitis, sores, amenorrhoea, scabies, and spleen diseases.
  • The bark is given in jaundice and enlargement of the spleen, calculous affections, and as an alternative in leprosy and obstinate skin diseases.

Cosmetic uses:

  • The henna powder used for repairing damaged hair by acting as a natural conditioner makes a protective layer to each strand of hair and hence prevents damage.
  • In addition, it assists locks from getting too frizzy and dry and leaves them smooth and hassle-free.
  • The natural properties of henna powder promote hair regrowth, and henna powder oil is used to nourish and develop hair growth.
  • Using henna regularly on hair cures and prevents dandruff because it has antifungal and antimicrobial properties.


  • Source: Amla or Indian gooseberry fruits obtained from the plant Phyllanthus emblica belong to thefamily Phyllanthaceae/ Euphorbiaceae.
  • Description: The Phyllanthus emblica tree is small to medium in size, reaching 1-8 m in height, branchlets are finely pubescent, 10-20 cm long, and leaves are simple, subsessile, and closely set along branchlets, light green, resembling pinnate leaves.
  • Chemical constituents: The fruits contain high amounts of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and have a bitter taste that may derive from a high density of ellagitannins, such as emblicanin A (37%), emblicanin B (33%), punigluconin (12%), and pedunculagin (14%). Amla also contains punicafolin and phyllanemblinin A, phyllanemblin other polyphenols such as flavonoids (kaempferol, ellagic acid, and gallic acid).
  • Cosmetic uses: Indian gooseberry possesses various plant compounds, vitamins, and minerals that aid in the growth of healthy hair.
  • The vitamins and minerals along with the phytonutrients present in amla increase the blood circulation in the scalp and stimulate hair growth, vitamin C in amla increases the collagen that adds length and volume to the hair.
  • Vitamin C is the key ingredient for the synthesis of collagen, which serves as the building block for the hair.
  • It also replaces dead hair cells on the scalp and regenerates the new ones.
  • Regular application of amla hydrates the scalp and prevents dandruff, being strong in anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it also prevents scaling and itching.
  • It contains essential fatty acids, which strengthen hair follicles, giving your hair strength and Lustre.
  • Amla hair oil serves as a conditioner, it helps in strengthening, and nurturing the hair, absorbs excessive oil, and conditions the hair.
Make sure you also check our other amazing Article on: Differences Between Cosmetics And Cosmeceuticals
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