From the Roots

Roots are an essential part of plant growth. They help plants absorb water and nutrients from the soil, and they act as an anchor, keeping them in place. We know them as staple ingredients in the kitchen, with vegetables such as beets, turnips, carrots, and radishes often making an appearance as side dishes, and herbs like burdock, ginger, or turmeric flavoring hearty stews and curries.

And while these roots benefit our bodies, including skin and hair, as a source of food, they also work wonders when applied topically. Turmeric and ginger in the bath provide those same anti-inflammatory properties as they do when consumed, and fresh carrots and radishes help revive and renew dull, dry complexions. The thick mucilage of marshmallow root produces a hydrating, soothing texture to many commercial and homemade cosmetic products.

You may use these useful plant parts in several ways. Fresh and finely grated, they can be added to facial mask recipes or bath soaks. Dried and ground into a powder, roots can give a beauty boost to body powders and skin scrubs. If made into an infusion or tea, these roots help treat a variety of skin issues, from insect bites to dandruff. Finally, a simple application of some plant roots can even help fade scars or soothe sore muscles. Here are a few recipes for you to try at home.

Carrot-Turmeric Mask

We know consuming carrots provides an excellent source of beta-carotene, which is essential for healthy skin from the inside out. Applied topically, freshly grated carrots hydrate the skin and help to clean and clear away dead skin cells. The turmeric in this recipe reduces inflammation and also brightens a dull complexion. All skin types can use this mask weekly.

2 Tbls white kaolin clay

1/4 cup fresh carrot, finely grated

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric root

1/2 Tbls distilled water {as needed}

In a small dish mix together all ingredients until you have a smooth mixture. You may need to adjust the amount of water depending on the moisture content of your carrots.

To Use: Spread onto clean face and neck and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and moisturize with a natural oil or favorite face cream.

Yield: 2 ounces.

Anti-Aging Fresh Ginger Mask

This spicy root rejuvenates dull skin by stimulating your circulation for a radiant effect. It also deep cleans your pores to retain more moisture.

2 Tbls oatmeal or oat flour, finely ground

2 Tbls strong chamomile tea

1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger or 1/8 tsp dried ground ginger

In a small dish mix together all ingredients and stir well, until you have a smooth mixture.

To Use:  Spread onto clean face and neck and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat your skin dry.

Yield: 2 ounces.

Energizing Ginger Root Soak

In the bath, ginger’s circulation-boosting power has a rejuvenating and detoxifying effect on the body, which is especially great for sore muscles. This is a good bath recipe for the morning or after exercising.

1 Tbls finely grated fresh ginger root or 1 tsp dried ginger

1 cup baking soda

1 cup Epsom salts

2-3 drops essential oil of rosemary

In a clean bowl mix together all ingredients.

To Use: Pour into your bath as you fill your tub with warm water. Stir well to distribute and dissolve all the salts. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

Yield: 16 ounces.

Soothing Burdock Root Soak

If you want to promote rest, this bath recipe combines muscle-soothing Epsom salts with the aromatherapy of lavender for the ultimate night-time soak. The creamy roots of burdock target dry skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. {A tea made from the roots offers antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties.} Find dried burdock root at most natural food shops.

2 cups strong burdock tea

1/4 cup baking soda

1 cup Epsom salts

2-3 drops essential oil of lavender {optional}

In a small container mix together all ingredients and stir until the salts dissolve.

To Use: Pour into the bath as you fill your tub with warm water. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

Yield: 16 ounces.

Orris Root Dry Shampoo

The root of white iris {Iris florentina} has been used for centuries as a fixative in perfumes and powders. The dried root has a light, violet scent. In this recipe, it works as a dry shampoo, when washing your hair may not be an option.

1/4 cup orris root powder

1 Tbls rice flour or corn flour

1 tsp baking soda

Mix together all ingredients.

To Use: Sprinkle a teaspoon or two of the powder between your hands and rub directly into your scalp and through your hair. Leave the dry shampoo on for 10 to 15 minutes. Then brush out all of the powder.

Yield: 2.5 ounces.


Beetroot Lip Balm

Most natural food stores sell beetroot powder, which is often used in place of sugar as a natural sweetener. It also has a lovely purple-red color that’s perfect for tinting lip balms for a bit of natural color. You can also use fresh beetroot juice in this recipe; experiment with the amount depending on how deep you’d like your color.

2 Tbls almond oil

1 Tbls grated raw beeswax

1/8 to 1 tsp fresh beetroot juice or beetroot powder

Mix together the oil and wax and heat gently on a stovetop or in the microwave to melt the wax. Add the beet juice or powder slowly and stir well, until you have the shade you desire. Do not worry if the mixture seems to separate; it will stay together when cooled. Place in a small, clean container or lip balm tube.

To Use: Apply to your lips with a clean finger or small lip brush.

Yield: 1 ounce

Fresh Radish Skin Scrub

Rich in vitamins, minerals, and folic acid, radishes also have a high water content, helping to keep your skin moisturized. In this exfoliating scrub, they target flaky, dry skin and reduce inflammation.

2 Tbls fresh radishes, finely grated or chopped

1/4 cup raw sugar

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Mix together all ingredients and spoon into a clean container.

To Use: Massage scrub into damp skin; pat skin dry.

Yield: 2 ounces.