When you think of peaches, you typically think of a juicy summer fruit as well as a delectable addition to pies and traditional American cobblers.
These days, peach is finding its way onto the ingredient list of cosmetics. Why, you may ask, would I want to lather up with a peach? In this article, we explore the wholesome qualities of peaches. By showing how to use peach tree parts as herbs, it will help explain why peaches are not only tasty but also an herb useful in healing, hair conditioning and skin treatments.
Peach Habit and Distribution
Peach is known as (Prunus persica) in botanical Latin. Peaches grow in many different temperate and warm regions around the world. In the United States, the dominant peach producer is California, although Georgia peaches are famous. Personally, my memories of peaches come from the numerous orchards in South Jersey where I grew up. Where ever they hail from, peaches are a delightful seasonal fruits, brimming with vitamins, minerals as well as fiber.
Parts Used and Purpose
While we focus on the fruit, other parts are useful in cosmetics. The leaves are quite medicinal, possessing diuretic, expectorant, laxative and sedative qualities. Peach leaf tea is used for chronic bronchitis and chest congestion. This tea has such a strong laxative action that is not recommended during pregnancy. The powdered leaf is made into a poultice and used to heal wounds.
Peaches contain a lot of boron, which boosts steroids in the blood. The boron in peaches increases estradiol 17B, the most active form of estrogen, making the fruit useful during menopause or after a hysterectomy. I can attest to peaches efficacy in relieving menstrual cramps and PMS.
Peaches are also believed to decrease the occurrence of osteoporosis and increase testosterone because of the boron they contain. A collaborative study between U.S. government scientists at the Agricultural Research Service and their South African and Israel/Palestine colleagues found natural oil in peaches kills fungi and other pests in the soil. This peach oil is being investigated as a pesticide that would be safer for animals, people, insects and the environment than other options.
Many handmade soap makers and cosmetic formulators, both large and small, use nature identical oil (NIO) or synthetic peach scent (fragrance oils) for scenting candles, soaps, creams, lotions, conditioners, shampoos and pomades. Aromatherapeutically, peach scent lends thoughts of peacefulness, gaiety and romance, hence its use in aphrodisiacs. The juice, oil, pit and fruit are used in magical love brews.
What’s the Big Deal About Peach Kernel Oil?
One of the most important parts of the peach when it comes to the hair and skin is the kernel oil. Peach kernels are pressed, yielding precious, sun kissed, non-greasy oil that is added to many cosmetic products. Peach kernel oil contains minerals including boron (previously discussed).
I have always had very sensitive skin, and unfortunately I didn’t really start to have acne until my childbearing years. Peach kernel oil is a delicate oil suitable for those with skin like mine that is very allergic to artificial ingredients and fragrances. The oil’s regenerative and tonic abilities are attributed to its content of antioxidants vitamins A and E. Recommended for its ability to battle dehydration, peach kernel oil is also respected for smoothing wrinkles and lending suppleness to all skin types. Peach kernel oil is recommended for inflamed skin and is recommended for serious conditions such as eczema or psoriasis or overexposure to sun and wind. Peach kernel oil is also high in essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (EPFAs).
Peaches in Hair Care
It seems that modern-day hair care product formulators have revisited the annals of herbal hair care. Traditional American Folklore espouses the use of peach leaf for hair conditioning and as a hair-growth aid used as a water-based infusion (tisane). I bought a pound of cut and sifted peach leaves and created a tea from some of it. I then used the peach-leaf infusion as a conditioning rinse on my kinky, curly, thick hair with good results. I like how it makes lackluster hair shine, and how it created more volume and body.
Peach kernel oil’s use in haircare formulations is similar to skin care. It acts as an emollient and is a light oil (easy to wash out and it doesn't weigh down thin hair). By coating the hair shaft, it retains natural color and chemically applied color, making color treatments last longer. By gently coating the hair shaft, peach kernel oil protects hair from environmental conditions such as sun, wind, rain and pollution. Coating the hair shaft with light oil also deters frizz and helps define curl patterns. The nutrients in peach kernel oil, like peach leaf infusion, condition hair, aiding hair growth by preventing breakage and tangles.
Using Peach Kernel Oil
Peach kernel oil can be used neat (applied to scalp, hair or skin straight from the bottle). But that approach may prove expensive. Most formulators, aromatherapists and soap makers, including this one, dilute it.
Remarkably, it is equally effective in dilutions of 10 - 50% in carrier oils such as grape seed or sweet almond or jojoba oil, as it is used alone. Peach kernel oil can be used as a carrier oil in aromatherapy or as an emollient hair or skin treatment.
To use as a scented carrier oil to massage the head, scalp or body, stir 10 to 12 drops of pure essential oil to 6 to 7 teaspoons of peach kernel oil. Recommended essential oils for kinky, curly or wavy hair include sage, rosemary, lemongrass, lavender, Roman chamomile, sandalwood, palmarosa, patchouli, ylang/ylang and neroli. You can pick a few and mix them if desired.
Do-it yourselfers will enjoy the superior emollient qualities of peach kernel oil when added to handmade creams, lotions, massage oils and lip balms. Luckily, these formulas now are pre-prepared and sold as ready-to-use bases by certain companies.
For best results, peach kernel oil needs to be kept out of the sun. Stored in a cool dry place it lasts an incredible two to three years. The oil should also be derived from cold-pressed kernels, as over-refining reduces antioxidants.
Warning: Anyone with nut allergies in their home should avoid peach kernel oil and products containing it.
Products Containing Peach
- Elucence Moisture Benefits Shampoo
- Elucence Moisture Balancing Conditioner
- Back to Basics Pomegranate Peach Shampoo and Back to Basics Pomegrante Peach Conditioner
- Garnier Frizz Ultra Doux Walnut Peach Leaf Shampoo and Frizz Ultra Doux Walnut Peach Leaf Conditioner
Frederic Fekkai Technician Shampoo for Dry, Damaged, Color-Treated Hair
- Pure, cold-pressed peach kernal oil is available from many vendors, including Garden of Wisdom. It ranges from $6 16 ounces to $21 per gallon. This light, yellow, faintly scented oil can be applied directly to the skin, scalp and hair.
- Brambleberry sells base (pre-prepared, ready-to-use) lotion, lip balm, soap, cream, shampoo, to which peach kernal oil and favorite essential oils can be added. They also sell peach fragrance oil -- one simply called "Peach" and the other called "Peachy Keen." Added sparingly to your base, you can have a semi-homemade totally peach experience. Contact them at www.brambleberry.com or 360-734-8278.
- Aromatic creates a base cream for mature, sensitive, dry skin featuring peach kernal oil to which you can add your own natural fragrances and color.