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Hibiscus Petal Power

 I’ve been meaning to write a bit about this amazing plant and beautiful flower, and to treat you with the creations of some of my lovely fellow formulators. We can make the most incredible products with hibiscus powder, (red and pink skincare is just toooo cool !! )using the dried flower, or even with fresh petals, if you are lucky enough to have access to some!!

 Hibiscus is a real diva to formulate with, but with many powerful actives it is a real bonus in any skincare product. By being difficult, I mean it’s extremely sensitive to PH levels , which will control the final color of the product, so that you don’t always get what you expect. I will share my formulation experiences here, and tell you, in my opinion, the best way to include this magic in your skincare routines to benefit your skin.

A few benefits of this miraculous flower, aka the “Botox flower”

The flower petals are used in skincare, while the leaves are more used for hair care. There is even oil made from hibiscus seeds!!

 Hibiscus has a magical reputation for increasing skin elasticity to give a stunning natural youth-boost.  

With the incredible ability to inhibit the activity of the enzyme elastase, which is responsible for breaking down our skin’s precious elastin, its’ actives help fight the aging process by firming and lifting your skin.

It evens skin tone and can help with hyper pigmentation due to the milder citric and malic acid found in the plant. The AHA and anti-oxidant contents of Hibiscus act as pore-reducing agents and exfoliants, that help scrub off dead skin cells and speed up cell turnover.

Quick masque formula:

Mash up a few hibiscus flowers using a mortar and pestle, add some floral water, then apply them onto your face, avoiding the eyes. Rinse off after 15 minutes to experience a natural face lift! Don’t forget that it’s filled with Vitamin C that also boosts collagen production!

Hibiscus contains natural surfactants that can cleanse the skin in a mild, soothing way. They act as magnets for excess oil, dirt, and bacteria, and gently wash them away without drying out the skin. So I make a lot of gentle cleansing gels by infusing the powder because of this.

Lastly, Hibiscus has a naturally high mucilage content meaning its moisture rich!!  A sticky substance produced by plants to help with the storage of water and food, mucilage makes a fantastic natural gentle skin moisturizer, & helps skin stay hydrated, soft and supple .

With all these amazing elements combined, you have an incredible anti-aging ingredient that with constant use, gives skin a younger, suppler appearance.

A quick toner:

To help with greasy skin, hibiscus tea as a facial toner is a quick remedy! You can make hibiscus tea then pour it into ice cube tray and freeze for 2 hours. Use an ice cube all over your face after cleansing it to tone your skin naturally, tighten large pores and regulate the amount of sebum secreted on your face, bringing skin back into balance for a glowing complexion. I make other toners and adding a natural preservative of course, use the infusion along with some powerful botanical extracts for an overall lift.

Hibiscus leaves (petals too!) have many benefits for hair care as well, helping growth and strengthening existing hairs with their high amino acid content. It also can help delay premature graying. Their high mucilage content means when crushed, they are slippery and slimy, so incredibly moisturizing! That’s why you can find hibiscus in curly hair products especially those that are designed to provide slip & hold while sealing in moisture.

A quick DIY hair oil:

 If you are lucky enough to find some fresh ones, dip 10 to 15 leaves of Hibiscus in coconut oil completely then leave the mixture for 3- 6 weeks in cool dark place. Strain the coconut oil to remove leaves. This oil can be used for massaging the hair.

Hibiscus Hair Rinse for Silky Strands:

 In a large glass beaker, pour 4 cups of hot water then steep 1 tbsp of dried hibiscus for 20 minutes. Use this infusion as your final hair rinse after showering and conditioning.

Formulating with Hibiscus

Hibiscus is rich in antioxidants, called anthocyanocides, which are famous for fighting free radicals caused by sun & pollution.  These anthocyanocides also have astringent properties, so they help reduce pore size. Virtually any flower that is red, blue, or purple contains a class of organic pigments known as anthocyanin that change color with pH levels, causing  change in color at a particular stage of chemical reaction. This makes hibiscus powder , such a beautiful natural colorant, so difficult to work with if we want to keep that beautiful red. A little powder goes a long way, so dose with a very light hand!! You can get a range of colors from pink, blood red, deep burgundy according to the percentage of plant/water ratio. A cold water extract will produce a blood red infusion. Many chemicals, such as your surfactants or preservatives, can cause extreme color variations. The lower the PH, the nicer the color is, I have had beautiful hot pinks, and some beautiful red as roses too, but as we need to keep it at the appropriate ph to accommodate our preservation system, the color changes and it becomes challenging to keep it pretty. You will need a good PH meter and lots of experimenting to get it the way you like.

A word of caution, hibiscus can be an irritant and I would not recommend it for sensitive skin types. It can cause redness or even burning if not used properly. I highly recommend using this plant in small doses in a formula. Great news is, the cosmetic industry is investing heavily on preparing liposomal preparations of Hibiscus that can be absorbed by your skin without irritation, a testimonial for its’ skin benefits.

 I have made cleansing gels, toners, masques, and gels with homemade glycerites, dried flowers whole and in powder form.

Color sensitivity means that this product won’t stay pink or red for long though, so I make products to last about a month, in smaller 30ml bottles and kept in the fridge. Light and oxygen will make the product change color faster, usually to a brownish version of your original.

Anti oxidants and chelaters will help improve the photo stability of products made with these difficult natural colorings, but PH adjustment, keeping your product away from light and an airless packaging will definitely make the color last longer.

Now I will introduce you to my fellow formulator Nellie Bahchevanova , who has created a stunning pink hibiscus gel, and she has been kind enough to share her experience here with us.

Interview with Nellie:

Q: Please tell us a bit about you, where you are from, how and why you started creating natural skincare?

A: Hi, Caroline! First of all I would like to thank you for having me as a guest in your lovely blog. My name is Nellie – a 24 years old Green Beauty Artisan from Bulgaria.

My journey into organic skincare started with a few DIY tutorials and I immediately fell in love with the process. My desire for clean beauty grew bigger and bigger and I started trying to make emulsions and explore new organic ingredients. Half a year after my first body lotion I was invited to a Handmade Summer Bazar and this motivated me to create a wider range of serums, creams and moisturizers. At this point I enrolled into a few organic skincare classes and turned my hobby into a lifetime journey of learning and creating.

Now as a Green Beauty Artisan my main goal is to create beautiful and efficient skincare, incorporating the magic of nature into my formulations. I am also a proud owner of my own Etsy store  https://www.etsy.com/shop/AetherCosmetics where I am able to share my creations with the world.

Q: Please share how you created your gel and why, what procedure you used to get the pink dye from the herb, and how you incorporated it into your formula?  Did you use any other natural colorants in addition to the hibiscus to get such a bright pink?

A: I’ve been thinking for a long time to create a product with hibiscus – I simply love this flower! It’s not only beautiful, but also has such amazing properties for the skin. After reading an article on natural colorants I got inspired to create a hibiscus glycerite. The process of making glycerites is very simple, yet it requires some patience. I let my glycerine sit for 7 days to extract all the goodness form the dried hibiscus petals. The glycerite turned into a beautiful plum color and no scent. I incorporated it into an oil-free face mask because I wanted to avoid using emulsifier. Skipping the emulsifier I managed to keep my gel clear and hence give it a bright color when adding the Hibiscus glycerite. To maintain the lovely tint I had to first adjust the pH and then add the glycerite, as some natural colorants are very sensitive to the pH of the formula.

In my formula I have also incorporated Allantoin powder which has some amazing benefits for the skin and also added a slight shiny feel to it. Besides the Hibiscus glycerite no other additional colorants have been added to the product. The secret to achieving bright color is in the process of adding the ingredients.

Q: It is rare to see a hot pink beauty product that is 100% natural, what a great thing!!  Do you use glycerites often to color your products?

A: The above mentioned anti-age gel mask was the first time I tried to use glycerites in my formulations. But definitely won’t be the last. The vivid color that I managed to achieve gave me an inspiration and I am now in the process of experimenting with different glycerites. I have filled a few jars with different herbs, powders and plants to infuse and can’t wait to start formulating new goodies.

I’m happy to share with you my face mask for acne prone skin that I successfully colored with this natural colorant. 

Feel free to check out my creations on my Facebook page  https://facebook.com/AetherCosmetics/ or follow Aether Cosmetics on Instagram  https://instagram.com/AetherCosmetics/ for new updates and step-by-step posts how I create my green beauty.

The coloring agents in Hibiscus flowers are anthocyanins and are widely used in organic coloring. Anthocyanosides provide the red tint of the berries, red cabbage, plums, etc. The hue of the pigment is pH dependent and may appear red, blue or purple. This pigment is hydrophilic (water-soluble) and therefore plants containing it cannot be used in oil macerations.

Q: Have you tried making other colorful products with hibiscus, water or oil based, with powder or other extracted forms of this plant?

A: No, this is the first time I’ve included Hibiscus in my formulas. Powdered Hibiscus would work great as an as it will enhance the exfoliation thanks to the alpha-hydroxy acids in the plant.  Unfortunately hibiscus cannot be used in anhydrous formulations, as the coloring agent is water-soluble, however it can be incorporated successfully in an emulsion.

I hope you enjoyed this blog. I would really love to see some of your hibiscus creations if you would like to share them with us! Until my next blog…keep on glowing!!

4 thoughts on “Hibiscus Petal Power”

    1. Hi!
      Glycerine is quite sticky and might not feel nice if you use only that alone as a skincare ingredient. Also glycerine can be drying in high quantities as it is a humectant and will absorb all moisture in certain conditions like very dry atmosphere, leaving skin dry & irritated. Sensitive skin might not like it neither. Dilute with floral waters or hyaloronic acid or use in smaller % in skincare formulations.
      Otherwise hibiscus if fantastic for skin!!
      La Formulatrice

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