As of late, I've noticed bilberry steadily making its way into high-end skin care products. When I saw a toning bilberry serum for $100, I resisted the temptation to splurge and spent some relentless hours experimenting with making toning skin and hair products with bilberry instead. During my beauty playtime, I found that this blueberry relative is no joke: Bilberries have skin and hair benefits like you wouldn't believe.
Bilberry is probably most famous for being a natural supplement some doctors recommend for eye health. The flavonoids in this berry appear to help boost blood circulation and help maintain healthy eyesight, especially when it comes to night vision. These same flavonoids, anthocyanosides, are also why bilberry has become a key ingredient in beauty products aimed at anti-aging.
Bilberry's astringent properties are cleansing, tightening, and nourishing, plus they're packed with plenty of antioxidants to help strengthen our skin and protect it against free radicals. Bilberry is hydrating and antiseptic while having the ability to heal wounds. Since acne is my most common skin issue, I was even more stoked to get my own bilberries to make my own beauty medicine.
You can purchase dried bilberries online from Frontier Co-Op, grow your own, or buy a bilberry tincture. Once you've acquired some bilberries, give these five recipes meant to give you glowing skin and healthy hair a try.
1. Bilberry Oil
There are a few ways to make your own infused oil. I love using solar infusions in my skin recipes because it doesn't require me to heat my ingredients. However, when I'm looking to make a concentration that will be used in much smaller doses, I'll use the Magical Butter machine on low-heat to get my berries cooking. The solar infusion can be used at the same rate of any fixed oil and the extract can be used as a tincture or added to your favorite DIY recipes.
2. Bilberry Toning Cream
For a toning cream you can use all over your body, add bilberry extract to your favorite homemade lotion recipe. You can purchase bilberry extract online or make your own using this recipe. I love using a light fluffy base of butters, oils, and distilled water. For six ounces of lotion, I recommend adding just a teaspoon of bilberry extract so that the lotion doesn't get too sticky and won't have a staining effect. This cream has been an amazing treat at the end of my day after cleansing what feels like all of Brooklyn off my face; a small dime-sized amount nourishes my skin while I catch up on my zzz's.
3. Bilberry Facial
Whipping up this facial came just as my skin was beginning to get seriously stressed and fortunately, my face was relieved of a possible outbreak just in time. For face masks, I like to use dried bilberries, grinding them down into a powder form to make a paste of honey, apple cider vinegar, and oats. Dried bilberries can be used in any DIY mask once ground finely.
4. Bilberry Hair Butter
The combination of flavonoids, vitamins, and anti-inflammatory properties make bilberries excellent for hair growth. According to sources at Naturally Curly, bilberries are especially excellent for irritated scalps. I added bilberry extract to a combination of shea butter and coconut oil for a lovely scalp and hair steam treatment. Now, my tresses are feeling soft and gracious. Finally.
5. Bilberry & Avocado Deep Conditioner
Since bilberry extract is so great for scalps, I had to test it out in my favorite deep conditioning recipe. To make about eight ounces of the stuff, I used one part butter, two parts oil, half an avocado, one teaspoon of bilberry extract, and an ounce of aloe vera. Blend your conditioner until it's nice and creamy and then transfer to a sealable container. Apply your deep conditioner on clean hair for about 20 minutes and rinse well with lukewarm water before applying a hair sealant — might I recommend bilberry butter?
Image: Kristin Collins Jackson (5)