Soap Diaries: Using Asian Herbs and Plants in Soap

Living in Asia for a year exposed me to so many types of beauty ingredients and products. Some ingredients were a bit adventurous – snail secretions anyone? While others were more down-to-earth and rooted in traditional Asian folk medicine. Some of these ingredients are lesser known in the West, but have been used in the East for centuries for their amazing healing and beautifying properties. While you may have heard of a few of these you may have never thought to try them in soap! Here are five Asian ingredients that you can try adding to your soap for a new twist:


  1. Wild Mugwort

Whenever I hear the word Mugwort, I always think of Harry Potter. Obviously, it’s because it sounds so similar to those non-magical “muggles” of the Harry Potter universe. However, mugwort is definitely no “muggle” as it has many magical properties for skin. As part of its magical arsenal, mugwort is an excellent source of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and keeps skin smooth and supple. Mugwort also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which are great for fighting acne and clearing up skin infections.

jobs tears

2. Job’s Tears

Aside from its interesting name, Job’s Tears is a power-house that has been used in Asian folk medicine to treat everything from arthritis to smallpox. The seeds from Jobs Tears have even been used to make jewelry. What a multi-tasker! As part of its multi-tasking super powers Job’s Tears also has skin nourishing properties. Job’s Tears is used for clearing blemishes and brightening the skin. Asian women have even crushed the seeds and mixed with honey to make a nice clarifying mask for the skin.


3. Hinoki

Hinoki, also known as Japanese Cypress, is a highly revered tree in Japan that has been used for centuries to build shrines and spiritual buildings. Hinoki essential oil has an uplifting and rich citrus aroma that is known for grounding the mind and spirit. Hinoki EO is also gentle on skin and is an effective insect repellent. Hinoki EO is also good for stimulating hair growth as it increases blood flow to the scalp and has anti-fungal properties.


4. Osmanthus

Osmanthus is a type of flower shrub native to East Asia. Osmanthus flowers are prized for their lovely scent, which smell like honeyed peaches. Although Osmanthus is primarily used in soap for its delightful fragrance, it also has plenty of skin benefits. Osmanthus flowers are rich in vitamin B-3 and antioxidants which can help reduce signs of aging and wrinkles. Osmanthus EO is also known for its ability to reduce food cravings – so it can also be a diet aid! You can even drink it as a tea to get more health and beauty benefits. It’s a true beauty aid all around.

purple gromwell

5. Purple Gromwell

While gromwell is not the most appealing name (it sounds like the name of a grumpy Englishman), it is anything but irritable to your skin. Purple gromwell is known for its healing, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Purple gromwell has been used in Asia to heal scars and improve skin tone. Purple gromwell root can also be used as a natural dye in soap and produces a lovely mauve color.

So there you have it – five adventurous Asian ingredients to add to your soaping arsenal.


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