Confession time: I think dandelions are pretty. My husband does not share my obsession with these little yellow flowers, but he humored me and let me keep a few in the lawn…
Which have now exploded into a veritable field of dandelions throughout the backyard.
He’s kinda annoyed with them, so I’ve been picking the flowers before they reach the puffball stage. I feed them to the chickens and the rabbits, but I’ve also been learning about the skin care benefits of dandelion to give me a few more uses for the flowers.
Who knew these weeds were hiding such good stuff!
Dandelions have amazing skin care benefits: They’re rich in antioxidants, have anti-aging qualities, and can help protect the skin against UV damage.
Dandelions may get overlooked for more trendy or exotic herbs, but this humble weed has incredible therapeutic benefits and, best of all, they’re completely free. You most definitely have a few growing in your yard or around your property.
Skin Care Benefits of Dandelion
I’m telling you, dandelion is now in my top 5 skin care herbs hands down. Once you try it, you’ll fall in love with dandelion too.
Note: If you are allergic to ragweed, daisies, chrysanthemums, or marigolds, you should avoid using dandelion or use with caution, as they are in the same family as the aforementioned flowers.
Dandelions Are Anti-Aging
This simple herb contains the trifecta of beneficial skin care vitamins: A, C, and E. These vitamins are extremely beneficial when used topically and are proven to help prevent and reverse signs of aging (1).
Vitamins A, C, and E are powerful antioxidants. They help protect the skin from free radical damage, keeping the skin healthier and looking younger.
These vitamins have the combined benefits of:
- Encouraging healthy skin cell production
- Promoting collagen and elastin formation
- Evening out skin tone
- Reducing and preventing fine lines and wrinkles
- Stimulating circulation
Just take a look at store-bought anti-aging skin care products and they’ll contain at least one of these vitamins. Dandelion contains all three, and dandelions are FREE, my friend.
Dandelions Protect the Skin from Photoaging and UVB Damage
While a little bit of sun is good for you (vitamin D boosts your immune system, so make sure you’re getting out in the sun!), too much sun leads to painful burns and damage to the skin.
Research has shown that both dandelion leaves and flowers have a significant skin protective effect against UVB radiation.
Dandelion inhibits oxidation of skin cells when those cells are exposed to UV rays. Dandelion also stimulates antioxidant regeneration within the skin, further acting as a protection against UV damage (2). Simply put, dandelion protects your skin from the aging factors of sun exposure.
Dandelions Are Anti-Inflammatory
Dandelions help reduce inflammation and skin irritation (3), so it’s perfect for sensitive or problem skin types. It has a long history in folk medicine as a soothing treatment for eczema, psoriasis, acne, and skin rashes.
Also, in traditional medicine the latex sap that exudes from the flower stem has been used to treat warts, age spots, and other small skin inflammations like bug bites and pimples. Simply dab a bit of sap on the affected area.
Do take care, though as some people are sensitive to this sap and it can cause contact dermatitis. Always monitor your skin for signs of irritation and stop using if it occurs. Don’t use at all if you are allergic to latex.
Dandelions Promote Collagen Production
Here’s another awesome skin care benefit of dandelion: It promotes production of collagen.
Collagen is the protein that gives the skin its strength and elasticity. Collagen production naturally wanes as you age, which is why the skin starts to sag and loses its ability to bounce back.
When used topically, dandelion increases collagen production, at least according to in vitro and animal studies (4). Increased collagen means fewer wrinkles and a fuller look to the skin with less sagging.
Dandelion Improves Skin Hydration
The aforementioned study also shows that dandelion improves skin hydration, leaving the skin plumper and well-moisturized (4). The exact mechanism as to how this occurs isn’t known.
Dandelions Are Anti-Viral
Not a skin care benefit but I thought this was helpful info all the same. Several studies have shown that dandelion has potent antiviral effects, and significantly blocks the ability of viruses to replicate (5,6). So, eat those dandelion leaves or make some dandelion tea!
How To Identify Dandelion
If you’re new to wildcrafting or foraging, dandelions are the best medicinal weeds to start out with because they are so easily identifiable.
Dandelions send up bright yellow chrysanthemum-like flowers that turn into round white puffball seed heads. Its leaves are green and toothed.
There is a common misconception, even among herbalists, that “true” dandelion only sends up one flower per plant. Not true! Dandelion can send up several flower shoots all at once, especially if they’re happy where they are growing.
The confusion comes from this: Dandelion sends up one flower per stem. There will never be multiple flowers on one dandelion stem; if there are, you aren’t looking at a true dandelion.
But, while there is only one flower on each stem, there can be multiple flowers per plant.
How To Harvest Dandelion
The entire dandelion plant is edible: leaves, roots, and flowers. OK, so you probably wouldn’t want to eat the puffballs, but they wouldn’t hurt you if you did!
For skin care, it’s the flowers and leaves that we’re most interested in, because the flowers and leaves contain the most beneficial skin care properties.
I know you know this but I’ll say it anyway… make sure you’re harvesting from an area you are absolutely sure hasn’t been sprayed with weed killer. Also, gathering from busy roadsides isn’t ideal because of pollution, and I don’t want you to be hit by a passing car.
Tips for Harvesting Dandelion Flowers
Darling dandelions open their flower buds once the sun rises in the morning and the flowers close again as the sun sets. So, plan to get out to harvest your flowers long before the sun starts to fade.
Collect the flower heads (they pop off easily with your fingers). Pick flowers that are brightly colored and just starting to open to fully bloomed. Flowers that are already wilting or turning brown are spent and won’t contain as many therapeutic benefits.
If you don’t have enough dandelions blooming in your yard, and you don’t mind being known as the “crazy herb lady” throughout the neighborhood, ask your neighbors if they’d allow you to come harvest from their yards too. Yeah, they’ll probably think you’re a bit wacky, but you can change their minds with a few bars of handmade dandelion soap! (Here’s a great soap making primer for the uninitiated.)
After harvesting, lay your blossoms in a single layer on a baking sheet or thin cloth, outside in the shade. Leave this for several hours to allow all of the little critters that have taken up residence in your dandelion blossoms to skeedaddle out of there.
While you can dehydrate dandelion flowers, they’re a bit tricky. Because the blossoms are so meaty, they often mold before they are fully dry. They also tend to turn into puffy seed heads rather than keep their lovely petals.
For best results, pop them into a dehydrator on medium (or your oven on the lowest setting). Drying them quickly is the best way to avoid mold and retain the lovely yellow petals.
My favorite way to use dandelion flowers is when they are just slightly wilted. Let your dandelions set for 24 hours after picking, to allow for excess moisture to evaporate away.
Infuse wilted dandelion flowers into oil or glycerin. The resulting herbal oil or glycerite can then be used in making soap, salves, balms, body lotion, and facial creams.
Keep reading, as I have instructions on making your own dandelion-infused oil in a section below.
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Tips for Harvesting Dandelion Leaves
Dandelion leaves are even simpler to harvest. Pluck as many as you wish. While the small, young leaves are most desirable for eating and tea-making because they’re more tender and less bitter, for DIY skin care products you can use any size leaves. Rinse the leaves well to remove dust and dirt, and pat dry.
Unlike flowers, dandelion leaves dry very well. You can lay your leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the oven on the lowest temperature for several hours, or until fully dry. If you have a food dehydrator, even better.
Once leaves are dry, I like to crush them with a mortar and pestle or in a small food processor. Store in a jar with a lid until ready to use. They’ll last at least a year.
These dry leaves can be added to soap (both cold process and melt and pour soap), and to DIY facial masks.
If you’re not interested in harvesting dandelion yourself, you can purchase dried dandelion leaf to add to your handmade skin care products.
How To Make Dandelion Infused Oil
Dandelion infused oil is simple to make, and helps preserve the goodness of your dandelion harvest all year long. This oil can be incorporated into cold or hot process soap, lotions, creams, salves, and lip balms.
- Freshly picked dandelion heads
- Sunflower oil
After harvesting, rinse your flower heads well to remove dust and, yes, bugs (ahhh, wildcrafting isn’t for the faint of heart, friend.) Lay the flower heads on a dish towel and pat dry.
Transfer to a dry dish towel, and arrange in a single layer. Let set overnight to allow excess moisture to evaporate away.
Fill a mason jar about two-thirds of the way full with dandelion flower heads.
Pour sunflower oil over the dandelion heads until jar is nearly full. Flowers will float a bit; that’s OK. Affix a lid.
Set the jar in a pot partially filled with water. The water should only come about halfway up the side of the jar. Place on the stove on low heat. Gently warm the dandelion oil-filled jar for several hours. Keep an eye on the water level, adding more water as needed to keep about halfway up the side of the jar.
You could also place your jar in a crockpot partially filled with water. Heat on low.
The longer you heat the jar the better, but do take care not to overheat your jar. Your water should be nicely warm but not simmering, and definitely not boiling.
I will typically heat my jar for 6 to 8 hours or so. I’ll heat it throughout the day, checking on it occasionally, and remove from heat just before I go to bed.
Turn the heat off and allow the jar to set and cool before removing from the pot. Set the jar in an out of the way spot for 2 to 3 days. I keep mine on top of the fridge so it is always out of reach of little hands, but a sunny windowsill would be even better. Shake twice daily to redistribute the flower heads. This helps prevent molding.
After 2 to 3 days, it’s time to strain your dandelion-infused oil! Place a fine mesh sieve or a thin muslin dishtowel into a funnel, and pour dandelion oil through this into a clean jar. This can take several hours so be patient!
The spend flower heads can be added to the compost pile. The resulting oil is skin care gold!
Make sure you label your dandelion-infused oil, including the date made.
Add dandelion-infused oil to DIY salves, balms (including lip balm), lotions, creams, and soap.
For facial products, exchange the sunflower oil for grapeseed oil or evening primrose oil. Follow the same procedure above.
SHELF LIFE: Infused oils generally have a shelf life approximately 12 months
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2. Yang Y, Li S. Dandelion extracts protect human skin fibroblasts from UVB damage and cellular senescence. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2015; 2015: 619560. doi: 10.1155/2015/619560
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