Plants formed the basis for skin care, hair care, and beautification techniques for First Nations people. As late as the 1950s and 1960s, many indigenous people can recall their elders collecting herbs from nature for free beautification treatments that were more useful than expensive store bought products. Plant dyes were spiritually important for the body paints that were used in important dances and ceremonies.
Listed below are some important native plants and their uses by First Nations people for beauty techniques. Many are not native to California, but have adapted well to their new environment– just like most of us. So I include them for general interest in indigenous grooming.
Used to reduce dark circles under the eyes.
Combined with an oil (almond) and Bergamot for pomade.
Add Sage oil to darken luster; add Chamomile oil to lighten.
Calamus (Sweet Flag):
Generally good for all hair and scalp conditions.
With Nettle and Sage and Rosemary to restore hair, encourage growth.
Same as Soap Lily, smells delicious, used on wedding night by CA Indians.
With Soapwort in shampoo helps keep fair hair light and shiny.
With honey, Goldenseal, and almond oil for a bath scrub.
Excellent astringent for skin.
With honey and oil as a deep conditioner for hair.
Used in most herbal products for the skin; Excellent after-bath oil— with Orange Blossom (moisturizes, heals rashes, diminishes varicose veins); Gentle toner—with Peppermint infusion (keep refrigerated); Facial steam for normal to dry skin— Calendula, Comfrey, lavender, chamomile, rosebuds.
Leaves simmered 15 minutes, cooled, then left in hair as good scalp conditioner.
As a scalp massage and restorative to natural hair color.
To stop hair loss and heal dandruff.
With Oak bark as a foot antiperspirant; promotes fresh healthy skin.
Diminishes blemishes when used with vinegar.
Excellent mouthwash and tooth powder (combine with baking soda and Myrrh); used with Strawberry, Raspberry, Lemon Balm, Lavender, Rosebuds in facial steams for oily skin.
Pine Tree oil:
Used in antibacterial hand soaps, now often combined with Eucalyptus oil.
Infused and combined with Pine Tree oil and soap for acne cleanser.
With olive oil and Chaparral is an excellent sun screen and anti-oxidant.
Fresh juice of the root with lemon juice removes pimples, dark discolorations.
Same as Maple Syrup (and add dried Rosemary).
Used to darken hair (with Rosemary), for hair loss, dandruff, and skin problems.
Flakes of the root used as a gentle and effective soap.
Root extract is used to diminish skin discolorations and freckles.
Leaves useful in facial steams, shampoo; a mild astringent.
Oil is an excellent hair tonic.
Excellent toner and with Calendula (Marigold) helps dry skin; a very effective mouth wash.
Taken internally and also rubbed on skin for deodorant:with lavender oil, coriander seed infusion, and lemongrass oil for foot spray;good hair wash alone or with a scented plant (Ceanothus); for bath oil add Clover blossom and Lavender oil to Yucca extract (it foams). Fun stuff !