Herbs in Cosmetics: An Overview


Anshika Garg

Sanskar College of Pharmacy and Research, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, 201302

*Corresponding Author E-mail: anshikacreations03@gmail.com



Cosmetics are widely used by both men and women for beauty enhancement for ages. Herbal plants have been used in cosmetics manufacturing for centuries because they constitute natural ingredients that are harmless. Cosmetics alone are not capable to manage both beauty enhancement and skin care. Hence, herbs are used because they are able to check skin damage and aging due to the presence of natural constituents. Herbal cosmetics have gained immense popularity among the population because they do not show side effects as shown by synthetic cosmetics. The inclusion of herbal extracts in cosmetics can minimize skin damage due to oxidative stress and thus aging process gets delayed. Herbal products improve various functions of skin by boosting collagen growth and thus eradicating harmful effects of free radicals, maintaining the structure of keratin, and keeping skin healthy. A number of herbal plants are naturally accessible and are used in the preparation of herbal cosmetics. These include gingko, neem, coconut, and many more. Herbal cosmetics for daily purposes include lotion, creams, oils, cleansers, etc. Herbal skin cosmetics have multi functionalities like anti-oxidant, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. The herbal cosmetic industry is rapidly growing with a vast scope of multifold expansion in the future. In this article, we have reviewed various herbal plants used in cosmetics along with the regulatory status and evaluation parameters of herbal cosmetics.


KEYWORDS: Herbal cosmetics, Herbs, Antioxidants, Anti-aging, Beautification.




The word cosmetics is derived from the Greek word “kosmtikos” which means skills in decorating. Egypt, one of the ancient cultures pioneered natural perfumes and skin preparations. Roman baths have water scented with lavender and other aromatic herbal oils. In Asian culture, people used henna for dyeing their hair1. In 3000 BC, colors were used for body decoration and also to attract animals for hunting, and also to provoke fear in the mind of the enemy. The origin of cosmetics was first associated with hunting, religion, superstition, and later with medicine. In ancient times, the use of herbs for getting a glowing complexion was mentioned in ancient literature like Charaka Samhita and Varnaya Kashaya2.


The history of herbal cosmetics includes chapters in European and western countries from about six centuries back. In earlier times mixtures and pastes were used to whiten the face, some mixtures were so potent that they could even lead to paralysis or stroke. During the 1940s the trend of dark color lipsticks came and also eyebrow shaping also became popular3. Herbal cosmetics are referred to as products that are formulated using permissible cosmetic ingredients along with herbal ingredients to provide cosmetic benefits4. The Drugs and cosmetics act 1940 rules 1945 defines cosmetics as any article intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled or sprayed on or introduced into or applied to any part of the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance and including any article intended for use as a component of cosmetic5. The natural ingredients present in herbal plants do not produce any side effects on the human body and additionally provide nutrients to the skin6.


Advantages of herbal cosmetics over synthetic:

Herbal cosmetics are preferred over synthetic cosmetics by the population because they are harmless and also provide nutrition to the skin7,8. Here are several advantages of herbal cosmetics over synthetic ones:


Natural Products:

As the name suggests herbal cosmetics are naturally derived and free from all toxic chemicals that may be hazardous to the skin. Different parts of the plants are used to prepare herbal cosmetics such as coconut oil and aloe vera gel9.


Safe to use:

Since they are naturally derived, they are safer to use over synthetic cosmetics because they do not cause skin rashes. Herbal cosmetics contain natural antioxidants like Vit C10.


Wide range to choose from:

There is a wide range of herbal cosmetics which includes creams, lotions, face scrubs, face wash, lipsticks, and many more to choose from11.


Compatible with all skin types:

Herbal cosmetics are compatible with all skin types irrespective of the nature of the skin12.



Herbal cosmetics are more budget-friendly than synthetic ones because they are derived from nature. According to WHO, approximately 80% of the world’s population relies on natural products for healthcare13.


No side effects:

Synthetic cosmetic products might cause skin pore blockage, skin irritation and many more. With natural cosmetics, one do not need to worry about all these side effects14.


Categorization of Herbal Cosmetics15:

Herbal cosmetics can be majorly grouped into the following categories:

·       Cosmetics for enhancing the appearance of skin

·       Cosmetics for hair care and growth

·       Cosmetics for skin care

·       Shampoos, soaps, and powders

·       Miscellaneous products


Regulatory status of herbal cosmetics:

There is a tiny margin that separates a drug from a cosmetic. The boundary at which a cosmetic product becomes a drug is not well defined and there are several laws and regulations which apply to each type of product16.

For claims made about drugs, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviews and approves the process but in the case of cosmetics, it does not need to be FDA-reviewed. Some countries have a class of products that fall between the categories of drugs and cosmetics: For example, Japan has ‘Quasi-drugs’, Hong Kong has ‘cosmetic-type drugs’ and Thailand has ‘controlled cosmetics’18-19.


Herbal Plants Used in Herbal Cosmetics:


Coconut oil:

Coconut oil is obtained from the kernel of harvested mature coconuts of the coconut palm. Coconut is obtained from the coconut tree Cocos nucifera belonging to the family Aracaceae20. It is an effective moisturizer for all skin types and delays the appearance of wrinkles and sagging of the skin. It also helps in preventing premature aging and various degenerative diseases due to its antioxidant properties21. It contains high amount of lower chain unsaturated fatty acid glycerides22.


Olive oil:

Olive oil is a fixed oil obtained from the fruits of Olea europaea belonging to the family Oleaceae. Major constituents of it include triolein, tripalmitin, squalene, and tocopherol. It is mainly used in lotions for skin care23.


Aloe vera:

Aloe vera belongs to the family Liliaceae. The constituents of aloe vera help in healing, moisturizing, and softening the skin. It mainly consists of leucine, isoleucine that provides cleansing action, and several vitamins which provides antioxidant activity24.




It is obtained from the plant Daucus carota belonging to the family Apiaceae. It is rich in vitamin A and other essential nutrients which act as anti-aging and rejuvenating agent25.



Gingko is obtained from the tree Gingko biloba belonging to the family Gingkoaceae26. It is a fine circulatory tonic used to strengthen the tiny capillaries. It makes the capillaries more flexible and hence more oxygen gets delivered to the brain and eyes27.



It is also known as golden root, arctic root, orpin rose. It is obtained from rhodiola rosea belonging to the family Crassulaceae. It is mainly used as a tonic and adaptogen. It contains polyphenols such as flavonoids, cinnamyl alcohol, rosavin, and salidrosides28,29.

Dandruff treatment:


Henna is obtained from the plant Lawsonia inermis which belongs to the family Lythraceae. This plant contains a dye molecule called Lawsone, which on processing produces Henna powder30,31.



Neem is obtained from the leaves of Azadirachta indica which belongs to family Meliaceae32. it is also known as the wonder tree. Neem extract shows antibacterial properties and is hence used in dandruff treatment33.




Amla is a fruit obtained from the tree Emblica officinalis belonging to the familyEuphorbiaceae. It is also known as Indian gooseberry. It is rich in Vitamin C and used for hair and scalp problems by reducing and alleviating hair loss34,35.


Skin protection:


Turmeric is obtained from the rhizome of Curcuma longa belonging to the family Zingiberaceae. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The active component of turmeric is curcumin which helps in fighting against several skin diseases and infections36,37.


Herbal plants used in herbal cosmetics are summarized in (Table 1)


Table 1: Plants used in herbal cosmetics

S. No.

Herbal plants

Botanical Source




Cocos nucifera




Olea europaea



Aloe vera

Aloe vera




Daucus carota




Gingko biloba




Rhodiola rosea




Lawsonia inermis




Azadirachta indica




Emblica officinalis




Curcuma longa



Marketed products:

The marketed preparation of herbal cosmetic products are as follows (Table 2)


Table 2: Marketed products of herbal cosmetics


Brand Name


Hair Oil

Amla Brahmi Hair Oil





Ayur Herbals


Amla Shikakai with reetha shampoo

Face gel

Cucumber face gel

Face wash

Lemon and honey face wash

Face wash

Neem and tulsi face wash


Almond nourishing cream


Vatika anti-dandruff shampoo






Hair oil

Vatika enriched coconut hair oil

Hair oil

Almond hair oil

Hair oil

Amla hair oil

Anti-Aging cream

Dabur Uveda Age Renew 5 cream

Face wash

Deep cleansing apricot face wash

Himalaya herbals


Haldi chandan kanti body cleanser




Dant kanti natural toothpaste

Face wash

Ubtan face wash with turmeric and saffron


Mama earth     

Hair oil

Onion hair oil

Face wash

Neemwash neem and clove ultra-purifying facewash


Lotus herbals

Body lotion

Almond nourish daily nourishing body lotion

Face scrub

Papaya and apricot face scrub




Almond under eye cream


Evaluation of herbal cosmetics38,39,40

1.     Physical evaluation: It includes color, odor, form, pH, and net content.

2.     Grittiness: A portion of skin preparation is rubbed on the skin, and then checked with a magnifying glass. If no rash is found on the skin, the formulation is considered to be grittiness free.

3.     Rheology: It deals with the study of liquid and semisolid cosmetic formulations. Spreadability and pourability are also measured with rheology studies.

4.     Bleeding test: This test is generally done for the preparationstending to bleed i.e. liquid oozing from preparation. If the formulation does not bleed, it means that the formulation is stable in climatic conditions.

5.     Stability studies: Stability studies are performed at a temperature like 45,90,120oC with some specific relative humidity. Studies are conducted for 6 months to check the stability of the product under varying conditions.

6.     Sensitivity test: It is done for those formulations which have the chance of causing skin rash. thistest is also known as a patch test. In this test, the product is applied on the skin and then the skin is observed, if no rashes are found on the skin, then the formulation is considered to be free from sensitivity.

7.     Toxicity test: it is executed on animals to calculate LD50 (lethal dose) and acute chronic toxicity in mice.

8.     Chromatography studies: The content of cosmetic preparation is determined through various chromatographic techniques like HPLC, TLC, and gas chromatography.

9.     Infrared spectroscopy studies: It is used to determine the compatibility of excipients with one another.

10. Microbial test: microbial tests are carried out using the agar well diffusion method or turbidimetric method as herbal cosmetics are sensitive to microbial growth.

11. In-vitro drug release: the concentration of the drug in the formulation can be estimated by HPLC or UV spectrophotometer.

12. In-vitro skin permeation studies: These can be done by using human cadaver skin or Franz diffusion cells.

13. Irritation test: product is applied on the skin and observed for erythema and edema at 24 and 72 hours and then the primary irritation index is calculated.


Patents of herbal cosmetics:

Below mentioned are the patented products of herbal cosmetics (Table 3)


Table 3: Patented Herbal cosmetic products


Patent number


Herbal formulation (beeswax, stearic acid, sandalwood oil and rose water)



Herbal cream (aloe vera, garlic, and gymnea)



Herbal cream and lotion comprising extracts of organically certified herbs organic essential oils


World Intellectual Property Organisation WIPO)

Herbal preparation (Withania somnifera, Curcuma longa, Bacopa monnieri)



Herbal cosmetic compositions containing herbs




Future of herbal cosmetics:

The public is embracing herbal cosmetics41. Herbal cosmetics guarantee acceptability, efficacy and lack of side effects. More than 70% of the Indian population has now started to use herbal cosmetics for daily health care42. Various herbal cosmetics used in daily care include hair oil, face wash, cream, shampoo etc. The growing preference of chemical free products is driving the demand for herbal cosmetics in the world. Asia Pacific is the fastest-growing market of herbal products as per the study. In the coming years, the herbal cosmetic industry will be targeting a larger segment of the population with the opportunity for great manifold expansion43,44. The market of personal care products has the potential to grow at rate of 15-16% per annum45.



Herbal cosmetics are formulated using permissible cosmetic ingredients along with herbal components. These are used for various purposes ranging from beautification to treatment of ailments. Herbal cosmetics are the best options for reducing skin pigmentation, wrinkles, skin aging, and many more. Herbal cosmetics have several advantages such as no side effects, compatibility with skin types, eco-friendly, low budget, and safe to use. In India, approximately 70% of the population uses herbal products for skin care. The demand for herbal cosmetics is increasing day by day. In this study, we have reviewed various herbal plants having applications in the formulation of herbal cosmetic products.



The author is highly thankful to the management of Sanskar Educational Group for their constant support.



The authors declare no conflict of interest



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Received on 30.12.2022         Accepted on 19.04.2023        

Accepted on 27.04.2023        ©A&V Publications all right reserved

Research J. Topical and Cosmetic Sci. 2023; 14(1):45-49.

DOI: 10.52711/2321-5844.2023.00007