Acne And The Bay Leaf
If you use bay leaves as part of your cooking rituals, then you already know of their marvelous scent and the tasty hint of nature’s flavors that they add to any meal. But as you set the bay leaf onto the side of your plate, do you ever think about all of the other benefits that it can have for your body? Indeed, ancient peoples used this natural product against all kinds of health-related complaints1, from insect bites tto an upset stomach. Additionally, one lesser known benefit of the bay leaf is its ability to soothe acne.
The bay leaf used to symbolize victory and fearlessness. Ancient Romans would place bay leaves in the wreaths of those deemed as victorious or as winners. Several centuries later people started using it in meals, too. Nowadays, we know of the bay leaf’s miraculous health-related properties2 – let’s explore some of them!
What Are Bay Leaves And What Are Their Benefits?
These leaves come from the bay tree and they can be used as they are or they can be dried. It is also possible to extract their benefits in the form of essential oil. Beside adding a tempting hint of a delicious flavor, their high antioxidant content3 makes them potent aides against various ailments. They are often referred to as a natural antibiotic, as they are able to do everything that is necessary for healing – killing the bacteria, soothing the irritation, and rejuvenating the skin. Specifically, bay leaves posses great antiseptic qualities which eradicate germs with ease, and thus minimize infections4. Among other things, this also makes bay leaves excellent for wiping out the germs that can become stuck on your face and in your oil-producing sebaceous glands.
Bay leaf treatment for acne is based on applying the natural product, or its extract, onto the affected area so as to allow it to work its magic and decrease inflammation. Moreover, bay leaves have the potential to diminish the swollen facial puffiness, which can occur as you sleep at night. In the process, this treatment does not suck the water out of your skin, but actually replenishes and hydrates it. While not scientifically proven, this method can turn out to be the well hidden secret to defeating acne.
Creating Bay Leaf Tea From Scratch
First of all, you should know that there are different varieties of bay leaf out there. Our advice is to certainly go for the organic kind, as you will be applying it on irritated, sensitive, unhappy skin. To be sure, you should always be paying close attention to the ingredients5 in any product that you happen to pick out to help you in your fight against recurring breakouts.
Your next task is to boil a little more than a liter of water. Again, if you want to be completely safe, you might want to filter your water beforehand or to boil it a second time. In any case, you should definitely consider going that extra mile to purify your water if it is not of the so-called ‘soft’ variety. This will ensure the purity and safety of the ointment that you will be applying to your presently delicate skin.
After completing this task, you will need to drop some bay leaves in a dry state into the water and let it simmer for a third of an hour. Your mixture will be ready once the water changes its tint and once your kitchen becomes filled with the intense scent of bay leaves.
If all you are making is simple bay leaf tea, then you only need about 6 leaves. You can also add a couple more in the case that you will be adding other components to your concoction. You can also increase the portion for simply wanting the treatment to be stronger and, potentially, more potent.
When you are finished, you can take the leaves out. Ideally, your leaves will have kept their intact form, but more often than not, you will find that they have broken up into tiny particles. If that happens, all you have to do is remove them by straining them or by sifting out the water. And, ta-da! You have now made bay tea. Lock it up in some sort of re-sealable vessel like an old bottle or a large jar.
You can either use your leafy mixture in liquid form or in steam form. Make sure to only apply your newly-brewed ointment when it is at a low temperature so wait a little before lathering it onto your breakout. You can also combine it with whatever toner or cleanser that you already use to purify your face. Alternatively, you can hang your face over the steam created by the still-hot mixture and allow it to cleanse your complexion in that way.
Bay Leaf Tincture Against Acne
In folk culture, bay leaves have been a popular remedy for centuries. Their use has been so widespread both because of their usefulness6, as well as because of the ready availability with which they are available. Indeed, a tincture with something as cheap as bay leaf extract can help you recover after about of acne-related inflammation.
You will need a large bunch of either fresh or dry leaves – either way, you will need to tear them up into small pieces. Stack these up in a 500ml jar or bowl and pour vodka all over them, until the container is filled. You will want to let this mixture rest for about 20 days, so as to ensure the full development of the healing properties. Keep it in a darkened place with a low temperature, if possible. Essentially, the vodka will end up soaking up the advantageous attributes of the leaves, creating a highly potent liquid.
The way to apply this mixture is to simply grab a piece of perfectly clean cotton and dab it into the enhanced vodka. Gently press the cotton into the areas affected by acne. Naturally, if you sense any unpleasant reaction, you should stop the treatment and wash off the concoction! If all goes well, you can use this method two times per day.
You can also make a mini-version of this ointment by placing a single bay leaf in a cup or a small tincture container. Pour hot water over the leaf, which has recently been boiled and taken off the stove. You will need to let this tiny mixture rest for a day, so that the water can manage to soak up the beneficial qualities of the leaf. When you have let it rest for long enough, strain the water out, and store it in a sealed container. You can keep this in the refrigerator, as it does need to remain quite cold for best results. Apply it in the same way as the vodka mixture – by using a clean cotton ball. Repeat this thrice per day.
Making Your Own Bay Leaf Decoction
The special benefit of applying bay leaf via a decoction7 is that it additionally serves to rejuvenate your face and to essentially make it appear more smooth. You will need to place a couple of leaves in a tiny container and to pour previously boiled water onto them. Seal the container and let it sit until the water cools off. Strain the mixture and lather it onto your face twice a day with a cotton ball.
This method works particularly well in combination with steaming your face with boiling bay leaf water for a quarter of an hour. Still, don’t steam your face more than once every few days.
Bay Leaf Lotion And Laurel Tonic
Using antiseptic lotions is another great way to efficiently rid yourself of acne. Pour 100ml of water onto a cup of bay leaves. Boil this mixture and let it simmer for a few moments. Let it cool off and strain it. Use this creamy concoction on the face, as well as on your body.
You can also create a homemade tonic made from laurel. This will additionally hydrate your face and keep it silky. Bring a glass of water to a boil and add 4-5 teaspoons of essential laurel. As usual, rub this in using a cotton ball, ideally before bed.
Bay Leaf Mask
If the condition of your skin is worrying you and you want to go all out, you can also make yourself a bay leaf mask. Get some bay leaf clay of the medicinal variety and make it into a paste using the previously described tincture. Lather this onto the affected area and keep it on for less than a quarter of an hour. You might want to apply some chamomile tea onto the skin in the end, so as to bring its moisture back.
You can also create a mixture of 2-3 teaspoons of the described decoction, a little bit of lemon juice, olive oil, a tiny amount of honey. Cleanse your face and leave the mask on for 30 minutes. Rinse it off with cold water and enjoy a clean, replenished complexion. Leave about a week between uses.
The most potent mask is made of the laurel variety of bay leaf. Combine a dozen or more leaves with 30ml of water which has recently been boiled. Re-boil the resulting mixture for 30 minutes and let it sit for some time. When it has cooled off, mix 2-3 teaspoons of it with twice more olive oil, some burnt alum and a couple of egg whites. Soak a clean cloth into the mixture and place it on your face. Let it sit for about 30 minutes, as well.
While bay leaves are extremely potent skincare aides, you will need to invest some time and effort into your treatment by repeating your chosen method several times – until you notice an effect. Stray away from bay leaves if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as if you happen to be allergic to it8. If you notice an unwanted effect or feel like the methods aren’t working, you may ask your dermatologist about bay leaves.
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- Keri J., Shiman M. An update on the management of acne vulgaris. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. 2009;2:105–110.
- Fidan H., Stefanova G., Kostova I., Stankov S., Damyanova S., Stoyanova A., Zheljazkov V.D. Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of Laurus nobilis L. Essential Oils from Bulgaria. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 2019;24(4):804.
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