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Since ancient times, rosemary has been used for a host of health benefits—from improving memory to curing gout and plague. Greek scholars donned rosemary wreaths during examinations; Anne of Cleaves, the fourth wife of Henry the VIII, wore a crown of rosemary to symbolize fidelity on her wedding day.
Rosemary’s role as a beauty ingredient is equally as prominent this spring. Serving as both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, extracts and oil from the herb’s leaves, flowering tops and branches infuse the newest skin and hair care and fragrance.
Clinique’s new Youth Surge Night Age Decelerating Night Moisturizer and Fresh’s Crème Ancienne Eye Cream feature rosemary leaf extract, while Suave, Davines and Sunsilk have all included the herb in their latest formulations.
“We trim the plants to extract the acid,” says Dr. Tom Mammone, executive director of Clinique research and development. “Rosemary calms skin, slowing the aging process and allowing it to repair itself.”
Kiehl’s new Midnight Recovery Concentrate contains rosemary essential oil for skin brightening and muscle relaxation. “Rosemary retains moisture because it repels water, keeping it trapped in the skin,” says Kiehl’s chemist Dr. Angelike Galdi.
The herb is equally as versatile in hair care formulations. Suave’s Professionals Rosemary Mint Invigorating Clean Shampoo taps into its energizing properties, while Davines uses rosemary extract to help absorb UV rays in its Melu Mellow Thermal Protecting Shield.
On the fragrance front, Coty Beauty’s Jovan Satisfaction for Men features a heart of rosemary and cedarwood, complemented by top notes of grapefruit and basil and a drydown of tonka beans and amber.
Native to the Mediterranean region and a member of the mint family, rosemary is a perennial plant, with needlelike evergreen leaves, that grows in abundance in large fields. White, pink, purple or blue flowers bloom during summer in northern areas and year-round in warmer climates.
“This is a hearty plant that can handle arid conditions. It doesn’t need a lot of water,” says Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council and author of The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs. “You can strip the branches and the leaves will grow back. Historically, it was used as a tonic and as a stimulant for energy, and was said to improve digestion and cure nervous headaches.”
Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, $42.
Jovan Satisfaction for Men, $18.
Suave Professionals Rosemary Mint Invigorating Clean Shampoo, $2.49.
Sunsilk Captivating Curls De-frizz Leave-in Creme, $5.
Davines Melu Mellow Thermal Protecting Shield, $30.
Clinique Youth Surge Night Age Decelerating Night Moisturizer, $48.50.
Fresh Crème Ancienne Eye Cream, $95.