My first introduction to natural healing was during a horrible bout of the flu when my father pumped me full of elderberry extract and supplements. It was my first elderflower memory, but certainly not my last. Those antioxidants that helped me kick that nasty cough also come with skin benefits you can use in homemade skin care — and believe me, I do.
My father has been an unofficial herbalist for as long as I can remember, and he claims that elderberry has had a big hand in the fact that he never gets sick and has stayed wrinkle-free well into his late 60s. Maybe it's the Jackson family bias, but I happen to believe this flower is significantly underrated. According to studies at the Maryland Medical Center, the specific antioxidants of elderflower counteract toxins before cellular damage occurs.
Additionally, natural health advocacy website Natural News cited a 2000 study published by Free Radical Biology and Medicine that showed elderflower promotes blood circulation and is packed with vitamins A, B, C, and E — all of which is excellent for skin care. If you want to try adding some elderflower to your beauty routine, give these five DIY recipes a go.
1. Elderflower Restorative Face Mask
One of the most versatile ingredients for a face mask is honey and I love how elderflower's ability to heal and increase blood flow compliments the pH balancing benefits of Manuka honey. For this mask, I combined about two ounces of Manuka honey and half a tablespoon of elder flowers in a sealable container. Then, I added a teaspoon of turmeric (you can sub in cardamom if you prefer), mixed well, and applied on damp, makeup-free skin.
2. Elderflower Body Butter
This body butter is deliciously moisturizing, but light enough to use year-round. You can make your own elder oil or purchase elderflower oil online before turning it into a buttery fountain of youth. In a blender, add equal parts kokum butter and elder oil. Once the consistency is smooth, transfer to a sealable container and use it daily.
3. Elderflower & Lavender Steam
Fifteen minutes of uninterrupted steaming can help draw out impurities and give you the spa-like feeling we all deserve. Take advantage of the elderflower's natural antioxidants and antiviral properties by using it in a lavender and elderflower steam. You'll take in the over-mentioned skin benefits as well as the elder's respiratory benefits known for preventing mild viral infections.
4. Elderflower Oil Hair Serum
Elderflower and its oil can be a little pricy, but I couldn't deprive my tresses of the nutrients my scalp needs to promote growth and circulation. For this recipe, I used an ounce of my precious elder oil and then added some of my other favorite hair oils for the problem areas on my scalp. This serum can be used on damaged ends, stubborn hairlines, or for a stimulating scalp massage to encourage hair growth.
5. Elderflower Tea Toner
For a delightfully refreshing facial toner, place two tablespoons of dried elderflowers in a disposable tea bag. Steep it in three quarters of a cup of filtered hot water and let cool. Once the tea has reached room temperature, you can add essential oils for your skin type (this can help preserve your new toner for longer too). If I'm going through some breakouts, I like to add a teaspoon of whiskey from the Hillhaven Lodge to restore order on my acne-prone skin.
The elderflower benefits are more than skin deep and as with any edible herb, you can make your inside as beautiful as the outside with elderberries and flowers. There are plenty of reputable brands to purchase the dried flowers online. If you'd like to put your green thumb to work follow safety guidelines. As the published article from the University of Maryland points out that "[unripe fruit and flowers], leaves, seeds, and bark contain a chemical related to cyanide" and are poisonous — so pick carefully!
Image: Kristin Collins Jackson (7)