Since early times human beings have been conscious about their bodies and used plant extracts to enhance their appearance and have included them in products to take care of their skin.
Ancient and primitive tribes used these plants, often combined with different earths, to colour and decorate their faces and bodies.
Cleopatra bathed in asses' milk to keep herself beautiful and Venetian women dyed their hair with saffron and henna for golden or auburn curls.
For many centuries these simple substances and herbs were the only source of cosmetics, and remained so until cheaper-to-produce synthetic substances gradually replaced them.
Some herbs were chosen for their special and unique properties.
An extract of yarrow was used to suppress skin inflammations, aid skin cleansing and remove dead skin cells.
Chamomile was used as a soothing agent, while calendula (marigold) oil was used to clean and soften the skin, and soothe irritation.
One of the most loved and widely used herbs was rosemary.
It was included, because of its astringent qualities, in skin tonics and became a principal ingredient in shampoos and hair rinses.
Folklore also influenced the choice of herbs used. Bay leaf, for example, was thought to ward off evil.
Yet, in spite of such beliefs the remarkable cosmetic potency of herbs was also recognised.
Once again people have begun to realise the importance of the natural benefits obtained from using plants and herbs.
In most cases, the preparation of plants and herbs for skin care purposes is quite easy.
An old beauty treatment for refreshing and revitalising the skin can be made quickly and simply from nothing more than fresh strawberries.
After cleansing the skin, cut up and mash to a pulp enough strawberries to spread all over the face and neck, but being careful to avoid the eye area.
Lie down and relax for 20 minutes while the facial mask does its work.
For extra benefit, soak cotton-wool balls in cold fennel tea and place them over your closed eyelids.
Rinse the mask off with warm water, then splash cold water all over the face and neck and pat dry with a soft towel.
To make a soothing rejuvenating skin lotion, warm a cup of clear honey in a saucepan, then add half-a-cup of milk and two teaspoons of rose water, turning off the heat as you do.
Stir the mixture thoroughly, allow to cool, then pour into a sterilised container and store in the refrigerator. Before using, stir well and then pour a little of the lotion into a saucer.
Soak cotton-wool balls in the lotion and pat onto the face and neck every night.
Do not rinse off until the following morning.