There are many ingredients in modern beauty products that were used by Native Americans. The ancient elders discovered the skin care and beauty benefits of plants, like aloe vera and jojoba, hundreds of years ago. Here are some interesting plants used for healthy skin and beauty.
Corn was very important in ancient Native American life and still is today. In addition to being used as food, it was also used for religious ceremonies like the naming ceremonies of babies, and marriage and funeral rituals. Corn was actually considered a deity in some cultures and a clan symbol for certain tribes. For the Hopi, it represented the Eastern rising sun and the beginning of life and wisdom.
Called flour corn, blue corn is coarser than yellow or white corn and is used for flours and cornmeal. Many Native Americans used ground corn to cleanse and purify the skin. It was rubbed onto the skin before ceremonies to rid the body of impurities. Ground corn also acts as an exfoliator, ridding the skin of dead cells thus encouraging cell renewal.
Juniper root for shiny locks. The berries from this evergreen scrub (also called creeping cedar) were made into a tea that was used as a wash for skin problems. Juniper root was also soaked in water to wash the horses, making their coats shiny. It’s now used in hair care products for shiny and healthy hair.
Saw Palmetto was used by Native Americans for hair, scalp and skin care. Due to its ability to balance hormones in the body, it was used by Native American women to get rid of facial hair. It is now believed saw palmetto regulates excessive hair growth in women by suppressing DHT production in the body (a hormone produced by testosterone).
This flat-leafed bladed grass is considered sacred. It is smoked to purify individuals and their surroundings and is used in ceremonies. It is even handled in a special way to respect its spiritual powers. Some Native American women decorated their hair with sweetgrass. As a wash, sweetgrass was used to treat windburn and chapped skin. The tea can also be used as a hair tonic to make the hair shiny and fragrant.
Wild Mint for hair and skin. The Cheyenne Indians in Montana used a decoction of the wild mint plant as hair oil. The Thompson Indians of British Columbia used the whole plant soaked in warm water to make a solution that was used in hair dressing. Mint was also used in bath water to alleviate itchy skin.
Yarrow for fragrant Hair. Native Americans used an infusion of the leaves from this strong-scented perennial plant as a hair wash. The Okanagan Indians of British Columbia mixed the leaves and stems with white clematis (a perennial with bright yellow flowers) and witch’s broom branches to make a shampoo.
Yucca for hair growth. The yucca plant was used by several Native American tribes to encourage hair growth and to prevent baldness. The roots of young yucca plants were used for shampoo. The crushed roots were soaked in water to make a hair wash. Other methods involved peeling the bark of the root, which was rubbed in a pan of shallow water to make suds to rub into the hair and scalp. Yucca was also used as a hair wash for newborns by the Zuni Indians to help their hair grow healthy and strong.