Starting your own skincare garden is simple, and can be done both indoors and outdoors depending on your living situation. All you need is plants, pots, and lots of pruning.
Here, I’ll walk you through some of the plants I picked for my skincare (and more) garden!
Aloe Vera was an absolute must in my garden! As a former lifeguard and all around sun-sensitive being, aloe has been a staple of my summer routine for years. However, for all those years I used store bought aloe loaded with extra ingredients and preservatives I had no idea how to pronounce (Ugh!). Regardless, aloe saved my skin too many times to count, and I knew I needed to grow my own.
Aloe Vera is incredibly easy to grow and maintain (which was lucky for me because for the longest time I was never someone you could say had a green thumb). I picked up my Aloe Vera plant at Lowe’s, and I would suggest purchasing an adult plant as their leaves are ready to use and they will grow pups sooner than an immature plant.
They’re pretty self-sufficient and don’t need you to be doting on them too much. They only need to be watered about every week and a half, so their soil can maintain a soft, damp state without being drenched (aloe doesn’t like having wet ‘feet’). They also need a pot with a good drainage system which just means you need a pot with holes in the bottom. And if you don’t have that, you can line the bottom of a pot with a few inches of rocks to aid in drainage space. Make sure your aloe plant has plenty of sunlight as well, aloe likes indirect light (6+ hours) or direct light (4-6 hours) per day.
Aloe can be used for so many different things. You can use it simply for its gel to ease burns and rashes, or you can add other ingredients to the pulp to make something more exciting. My personal favorite uses for aloe are shaving gels and dandruff relief scalp masks (I’ll have these recipes posted soon).
Rosemary has far more uses than aloe (or at least I use it for far more). Typically, it’s grown for cooking. You can dry some and use it to make amazing breads and crusts, but you can also grow it to use in hair rinses and face toners. Not to mention- it smells delightful no matter what you do with it!
Growing rosemary is also fairly simple. Rosemary isn’t a big fan of being heavily watered, and in general it prefers to be left alone. I only water my rosemary when I notice the soil has become dry to the touch, and I only give it about a half cup of water at a time. Rosemary’s natural habitat is in the dry parts of California, so if you live out there (yay for you!) your rosemary plant will thrive being planted right in the ground in your backyard. However for myself, here in Virginia, our weather is muggy and it rains too often for rosemary to grow successfully in the ground. Rosemary, like aloe, likes to be in a pot with good drainage and can handle indirect sunlight (6+ hours) or direct sunlight (4-6 hours) per day.
You can use rosemary in a number of ways outside the kitchen including as a hair rinse that promotes healthy growth and as a facial toner that helps balance your skin’s natural pH (I’ll have recipes posted soon).
When I started the garden I really wasn’t sure what to do with lavender, but it was too beautiful and fragrant to pass up. Luckily, it turns out you can use it for a whole lot of homemade goodies (including food which excited me to no end).
Lavender is finicky. It doesn’t like too much water, but it also doesn’t like soil that’s too dry. It doesn’t like too much sunlight, but if you take it out of the sun for too long it starts to look sad. Sadly, when I purchased my first Lavender plant I didn’t know what I was looking for, and I’ll tell you, the first thing you need to look for isn’t it’s size or how many blooms it already has. You need to look at the roots. Healthy lavender roots are a darkish gray-green, and they’re sturdy almost like wood. My first lavender plant had root rot which happens when you over water lavender- the roots were almost purple-gray and soft to the touch (yuck!). It took a while to correct, but after letting the plant dry out and readjusting its watering schedule to about a half a cup whenever the soil got to be too dry, the flowers perked right up and the stems got stronger.
I commonly use the lavender I grow for essential oils and bug spray (because Virginia mosquitos are the worst). I have been a nanny and babysitter for a number of years, and it wows parents every time when you show up with homemade, non-toxic bug spray to use with their kids (I’ll have recipes posted soon).
Chamomile is a delightful little plant that can be used for teas, hair rinses, and skin soothers. These little tangly bushes are cute as can be, and a favorite of mine.
This plant is somewhat easy to grow. They don’t take a lot of water, but they can absolutely handle having wet ‘feet’. The “somewhat” part comes in to play when you account for the time it takes for chamomile plants to mature. For best use, you want to wait until your chamomile plant begins to flower which feels like it takes forever. However, it’s so (SO) worth it, because those little flowers can be used to make delicious, soothing, herbal tea, lightening hair rinses (hello vibrant blondes!), and soothing skin lotions for the face and body (I’ll have recipes posted soon).
My final pick for a beginner garden: Sweet Mint!
Now, sweet mint isn’t a super popular skin care ingredient. But, if you’re looking to make your own mouth washes, tooth pastes, face masks and delicious drinks, you’re gonna want one of these.
Sweet mint (as with most other mint plants) is a fast grower and will quickly take over whatever other plant you put in a pot with it. They are best planted alone and will thrive with regular watering. I read on so many sites that sweet mint is draught tolerant, but I gotta disagree. Usually draught tolerant means you can water it once or twice a week, but I noticed when I did that the leaves at the bottom of the stems were drying up quickly and turning brown. Now I water it about every two days, and when I notice some dead or drying leaves I pluck them and burry them in the dirt around the main stems.
Just about every day, I pluck 3-4 healthy mint leaves and add them to a water bottle with some lime juice. This is what many call a “detox drink” but I don’t know who we’re fooling saying you can get cleansed simply by adding a lime to water (sadly it just doesn’t work that way, it’s not magic). However, it is healthy to be drinking plenty of water, and the added benefits of lime and mint are great (not to mention delicious!). (I’ll have recipes posted soon).
Thanks for taking a walk with me in my garden!
I’d love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite garden grown skincare ingredients?