Marshmallow plant, scientific name althaea officinalis, is a plant of the Malvaceae family, much appreciated in herbal medicine and cosmetics for its emollient, soothing and calming properties. Internally, the althea is used in case of respiratory problems, while externally it is useful for treating irritations and other skin disorders such as pimples, eczema, dermatitis or sunburn. In this post we will deal with the use of althea in cosmetics.
Althea, beauty properties
The roots of the althea are rich in mucilage and antioxidant substances, which give to the plant emollient properties by forming a protective layer on the skin that results softened and protected (Davi Pac et al, Postepy Dermatol Alergol, 2013 - Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, CRC Press, 2011). In fact, extracts of althea root have been shown to be able to protect the skin from damages caused by UVA rays, a type of rays belonging to solar radiation, able to penetrate deep into the skin thus causing wrinkles, photoaging and cell damages ( Curnow et al, Oxid Med Cell Longev, 2016). Not only that, marshmallow root is regenerating, anti-inflammatory and soothing, it reduces irritation and is beneficial in case of pimples, eczema and dermatitis (Deters et al, J Ethnopharmacol., 2010). Therefore, thanks to these properties, the althea is included in the formulations of creams and products for the face, body and eye contour.
Marshmallow root, uses and recommendations
You can find creams and lotions on the market that already contain extracts of althea roots. Alternatively, you can use the decoction of roots. Marshmallow roots are found in herbalist's shop, also online. Bring a liter of water to the boil together with a handful of roots, simmer for a few minutes, then remove from heat, filter and let cool down. You can use it for wraps in case of sensitive skin, insect bites, sunburns and burns, dry skin, itching, pimples, acne. However, before proceeding with compresses on large areas of the skin it is better to do a test on a small part and observe if there are allergic reactions. Then, if you love DIY it is possible to find the althea root in fluid extract that can be added to the formulations of homemade creams in the liquid phase.