THE HERBS

These are our star ingredients; the handpicked wild Icelandic herbs we use in all our skin- and haircare products.

Every summer, when they are at their best, we harvest them from a certified organic patch of wilderness in Southern Iceland.

To Sóley's ancestors, these plants were precious and powerful medicine. For us, they still are.

Yarrow - Achillea Millefolium - Vallhumall

History

Yarrow is one of the OLDEST known medicinal plants. Traces of yarrow pollen were found in a 65,000 year old grave and the use of yarrow as medicine has been attested in Ancient Greece, Rome, China, and among several Native American cultures. It has been used to speed wound healing, reduce blood loss, correct menstrual problems, reduce pain, and calm gastrointestinal upset.

Studies

Modern clinical analysis has justified its reputation as a PANACEA. One study shows that yarrow essential oil has a higher level of AZULENE, a calming phytochemical and ANTIOXIDANT, than any other essential oil, including chamomile. Numerous other studies have been done which demonstrate yarrow’s efficiency in healing damaged skin quickly and cleanly.

effects

Yarrow's efficacy and chemical composition varies considerably across the world. The kind we have in Iceland is quite potent and has seen centuries of use. The VIKINGS took a salve of yarrow with them when going into battle in case of injury. They also used it to flavour tea and BEER.

We use yarrow in our recipes because of its powerful CALMING and HEALING effects. We believe it will help reduce the appearance of PORES and first signs of AGEING and will contribute to healthier skin in the long run. In our hair products, it contributes to SHINY and HEALTHY growth.

Birch - Betula Pubescens - Birki

History

Downy Birch is Iceland’s only native tree. For the Icelanders, it had many uses as carving material, paper, and fire-starter. They also used it as a powerful and versatile medicine, as a survey of folk medicine from 1830 tells us.

Studies

Birch’s benefits are mostly the result of BETULIN, a compound in its bark which shows great promise in fighting cancer. On your skin, betulin is very effective in CALMING inflammation, TONING pores, and helping wounds heal.

Birch bark also contains ursolic acid, the same compound that gives bearberry its LIGHTENING effects, tannins, and a small amount of salicylic acid. Its leaves contain several antioxidants including QUERCETIN and ANTHOCYANIN.

effects

All these things together help to protect skin and give it a lovely, clear LUMINOSITY. Beyond cosmetic and preventative care for skin, birch is also effective in reducing the symptoms of ECZEMA, actinic keratosis, and PSORIASIS.

Birch is also reputed to make HAIR thick, shiny and healthy, which is why we’ve made one of our shampoos, BirkiR, with an extra dose of birch! Birkir is the masculine form of the word “birch” in Icelandic and is a popular name for men. Perhaps you are already familiar with the feminine form, BJÖRK?

Bearberry - Arctostaphylos Uva-ursi - Sortulyng

History

Bearberry extract has a well documented ability to BRIGHTEN skin, heal UV damage, and banish sunspots and melanomas.

Bearberry also has a long history of use as a medicinal herb: the leaves were used by European and Native American traditional medicines as tea to cleanse and heal the urinary tract. Of course, the plant has an even longer history as a popular food for bears.

Studies

Studies shows that the reason for bearberry’s brightening effect is its unique combination of antioxidants and other phytochemicals which includes HYDROQUINONE, one of nature’s most effective skin lighteners, and URSOLIC ACID, which has demonstrated powerful anti-carcinogenic effects.

effects

We include a bit of bearberry in our signature blend of wild Icelandic herbs because we think it’s a safe and effective way to SUPPORT and NOURISH your skin over the long term and help it (and you) stay happy, healthy, and extra GLOW-y!

Willow - Salix Phylicifolia - Gulvíðir

History

Bearberry extract has a well documented ability to BRIGHTEN skin, heal UV damage, and banish sunspots and melanomas.

Willow bark has been used as medicine for almost as long as yarrow. Its use is attested by Ancient Egyptian texts and Hippocrates, the “father of modern medicine,” is said to have recommended it for relieving pain and reducing fever. Everyone knows that willow contains the natural form of aspirin, but what does it do for your skin?

Studies

Willow bark contains high concentrations of salicin, which our bodies metabolize into SALICYLIC ACID. Willow is so well known as a source of salicin and salicylic acid that it has given its Latin name, salix, to both substances. When applied to skin, willow extract CALMS inflammation, REDUCES harmful bacteria, and CLEANS out and tightens pores. These properties make it an excellent substance for gently but effectively dealing with breakouts or skin disorders like psoriasis or seborrhoeic dermatitis.

effects

Salicylic acid even helps SPEED UP your skin’s natural process of getting rid of dead cells and growing new ones leading to healthier skin now, and over the long term.

Besides its star component and namesake, willow bark extract also contains helpful ANTIOXIDANTS in the form of various phenols and bioflavanoids.

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  • Wendy L. Applequist and Daniel E. Moerman.  “Yarrow (Achillea millefolium L.): A Neglected Panacea? A Review of Ethnobotany, Bioactivity, and Biomedical Research”.  Economic Botany. June 2011
  • N. V. Sizova. “Composition and antioxidant activity of essential oils containing azulene derivatives”. Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal. September 2012, Volume 46, Issue 6, pp 369-371
  • Farnood Shokouhi Sabet Jalali , Hossein Tajik, Mojtaba Hadian.  “Efficacy of topical application of alcoholic extract of yarrow in the healing process of experimental burn wounds in rabbit”. Comparative Clinical Pathology.  April 2012, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 177-181
  • Kathleen Stokker. Remedies and Rituals: Folk Medicine in Norway and the New Land.  St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2007.  p. 43
  • Anna Rósa Robertsdóttir. Icelandic Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses. trans. Shelagh Smith. (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2016)
  • Andrew McDougall. “Scientists explain skin regeneration properties of birch bark”. cosmeticsdesign-europe.com.  Jan. 28, 2014.  http://www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com/Formulation-Science/Scientists-explain-skin-regeneration-properties-of-birch-bark
  • Sarah E. Edwards, Ines da Costa Rocha, Elizabeth M. Williamson and Michael Heinrich’s Phytopharmacy: An Evidence-Based Guide to Herbal Medicinal Products for a summary of clinical trials and analysis. (Wiley Blackwell, 2015)
  • trans. James Breasted. “Edwin Smith Papyrus.”  Accessed on 11-03-2016.
  • W. Hale White.  “Materia Media Pharmacy, Pharmacology, and Therapeutics.”  Accessed on 11-03-2016.
  • Madan RK, Levitt J (April 2014). "A review of toxicity from topical salicylic acid preparations". J Am Acad Dermatol 70 (4): 788–92.  Accessed on 11-03-2016
  • Willow bark”.  University of Maryland Medical Center.  Accessed on 11-03-2016.
Photo credits:"Yarrow" by M (diamondflame), "Vaglaskógur." by Axel Kristinsson, "Kinnikinnik" by Ed Ogle, "Willow bark" by Tony Hisgett. All photos from Flickr.com.