Sage has many beauty and health benefits. (Photo: Getty Images)
Sage has become my favorite herb to cook with in the fall (using it in a brown butter sauce over butternut squash ravioli is my quick and easy comfort food meal), so I’ve started growing my own. I’d long heard of the benefits of burning sage, but with an abundance of sage-enhanced beauty products, I’ve been investigating the beauty and health benefits.
Burning sage (referred to as smudging) has been used since ancient times to clear a space of negative energy. Kristi Head, founder of the brand Lite+Cycle, says the scent from dried sage actually changes the ionic composition of the air, and can have a direct effect on reducing our stress response. “When you burn the plant it releases negative ions and takes away positive particles in the air that are toxic and bad,” says Head. “It’s a lovely way to prepare your home for guests, because sage creates organization and calmness, and clears the air for people to come in, feel themselves, release tension, and be in a positive mood.” She insists there’s a beauty perspective to that, too. “Beauty is so much from the inside and the happiest person in the room is usually the most beautiful.”
Lite+Cycle’s Sage Candle will cleanse your home and boost your mood.
Head says her Lite+Cycle Sage Candle ($48) is modern take on smudging by burning the essential oil. The sage oil is derived from plants in Spain that are grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, making this a very clean and healthy candle option. For other ways to cleanse your home, try Fig+Yarrow’s Juniper+Sage Atmosphere Mist ($24), which you can use in the air, rugs, curtains, or fabrics for a quick mood booster. Or go old school with Juniper Ridge’s White Sage Smudge ($11), made with sustainably harvested stalks of the dried herb tied with organic cotton string.
Grooming-wise, Dr. Sejal Shah of Smarter Skin Dermatology in Manhattan says sage has antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties as well as many vitamins and minerals that can benefit your health and your skin. “In traditional medicine, different species of sage have been used for a variety of illnesses from digestion and circulation problems to diabetes to heart disease, even mental disease and dementia and a host of other ailments,” says Shah. “Interestingly, sage has been shown to improve mood and cognition in healthy individuals, so even if you don’t suffer from any health conditions there may be a benefit to using sage.”
Christophe Robin Purifying Hair Finish Lotion with Sage Vinegar is a refreshing hair and scalp pick-me-up.
While sage can be used as both an extract or an essential oil, Shah says oils tend to be more potent and concentrated. In terms of skin care products, Shah says one study suggests that sage may have an anti-aging, anti-wrinkle benefit in addition to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. While there is not a lot of data to support benefits for hair, Shah says the herb may be beneficial for the scalp, thanks to an increase in circulation. “If you suffer from scalp dermatitis, such as seborrheic dermatitis, or scalp dryness, the anti-inflammatory and astringent properties may be beneficial. These properties may also impart shine to the hair.” Shah says sage has been touted as a way to darken graying hair and — thought it has not been proven — help with hereditary hair loss.
As with many ingredients, it’s tough to know the percentage of sage used in a product. Shah says she likes Caudalie’s Resveratrol Lift Night Infusion Cream ($76) and Philosophy Purity Made Simple ($11), both of which contain sage. Other goodies to try include Malin + Goetz Sage Body Wash ($20), John Masters Organics Zinc & Sage Shampoo with Conditioner ($20), Dr. Hauschka Sage Purifying Bath Essence ($30), Christophe Robin Hair Finish Lotion with Sage Vinegar ($48), and Belif Milky Hydra Balancing Moisturizer ($38). And last but not least, don’t forget to include some in your Thanksgiving feast!