Ingredient Showcase: Horsetail, the Anti-Aging, Skin-Strenghtening Fern
Also called bottlebrush, mare’s tail, scouring rush, and shave grass, horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is a perennial herb that naturally contains “silicon,” a trace mineral required by the body for flexible joints, glowing skin and stronger bones. The ability of this herb to help strengthen connective tissues and fade the appearance of lines and wrinkles made it the perfect choice for my Anti-Aging Eye Cream, as well as three of my other products.
A Little Bit About the Plant Itself
Horsetail likes moist and sandy soil found in temperate climates in much of North America, as well as in similar climates in Europe and Asia. It’s been around a long time—living for more than one hundred million years, once dominating the late Paleozoic forests. In spring, the stem resembles asparagus, which then withers and turns brown in early summer, giving way to green stems that are thin and look like the tail of a horse.
This herb has long been used to cure a variety of ailments, once recommended by a Roman physician and mentioned in scriptures of Chinese traditional medicine. The Greek physician Claudius Galenus first recorded its use, and the seventeenth century English herbalist, Nicholas Culpepper, used it in a variety of treatments, including those for ulcers, wounds, ruptures, and inflammations in the skin.
Historically, horsetail was used as a diuretic, to increase blood circulation, and to treat polyps, infections, arthritis, respiratory disorders, and even cancer. Native Americans and even today’s campers have been known to use it to scrub cooking utensils.
Benefits to the Skin
What makes horsetail stand out in the cosmetic world is that it’s reported to contain more silicon in the form of silica and silica acids than any other herb, in a form that’s highly absorbable by the body. Silicon is a trace mineral essential to human health that’s also the second most abundant element (after oxygen) in the earth’s crust. (Don’t confuse this with “silicone,” which is a man-made substance derived from silicon and other chemicals, and used in industrial applications.)
In the human body, silicon is important to the strength of the blood vessels, organs, skin, hair, and bones, contributing to the form, resilience, and flexibility of all connective tissues.
Now if you know your skin care, you know that it’s the breakdown of connecting tissues that causes the skin to sag, drop, and develop wrinkles. When we strengthen those connective tissues, we help the skin retain more of its youthful shape. Studies have already indicated that silicon can improve skin texture and resilience, while reducing the depth of wrinkles.
Here’s just a quick look at some of the other benefits of horsetail:
- Promotes collagen formation, strengthening skin—collagen is largely made from silicon
- Astringent properties help shrink pores and tone skin
- Improves skin texture with a moisturizing effect
- Helps restore skin elasticity, bringing back that youthful snap
- Healing properties are known to soothe cuts and wounds, and to improve conditions like eczema
- Natural source of nutrients like calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C
- Antioxidant activity protects from free radical damage; contains a variety of bioflavonoids
Horsetail has so many benefits for skin, I also included it in my Ayurvedic Facial Scrub, and my Herbal Facial Oil for Normal and Combination Skin, and for Oily and Acne Prone Skin. If you haven’t already, give these products a try and let me know if you notice the horsetail working!
Have you tried horsetail for skin problems? Please share your experience.