The Melissa officinalis , or lemon balm , is a herbaceous plant native to the Mediterranean and the western part of Asia. In cosmetics, its hydrosol is recognised for its purifying and soothing properties; it gently rebalances the skin and reduces signs of ageing. Let's focus on this floral water with multiple virtues.
What is "Melissa Officinalis Flower/Leaf/Stem Water" and what is its purpose?
Lemon Balm, its origin and ancestral use.
Lemon balm is a plant that can grow up to 70 cm in height and belongs to the Lamiaceae family. It is also nicknamed "lemongrass" due to its lemony scent, as well as the "bee plant". Indeed, it is described as "melliferous": bees use the nectar of lemon balm to produce their honey. Thus, the name "lemon balm" comes from the Greek word "melissa" which means bee.
The medicinal virtues of lemon balm have been known for over 2,000 years. Hippocrates himself recommended this plant in cases of digestive discomfort. Charlemagne cultivated it in his gardens for its benefits on mood swings and the nervous system, while Charles V consumed it daily in the form of tea.
An overview of Melissa hydrosol.
"Melissa Officinalis Flower/Leaf/Stem Water" is the name I.N.C.I. used to refer to the floral water or hydrosol of lemon balm. This substance is obtained by steam distillation of the aerial parts of the plant, namely the stems, leaves and flowers. Distillation results in two distinct fractions: the essential oil and the hydrosol. To achieve this, the plant is heated in a still filled with water for several hours. The steam is then cooled in a condenser and collected in liquid form. The essential oil, less dense than the water used for extraction, floats on the surface, which is none other than the hydrosol. Derived from the same plant, the two fractions have similar properties, but the hydrosol is less concentrated in active species, as the aromatic essences are present in smaller quantities. Therefore, it can be used without contraindications by children and pregnant women, unlike the essential oil.
In terms of its chemical composition, Melissa hydrosol is rich in neral, geranial, geraniol, nerol and geranic acid.It is a clear, mobile liquid, colourless to light yellow, with a distinctive scent.
The cosmetic benefits of lemon balm hydrosol.
When applied topically, the hydrosol of lemon balm has soothing, regenerative and purifying properties.
Firstly, it is recommended for oily skin with blemishes. Thanks to its astringent action, it tightens the pores and regulates sebum production. Moreover, studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing blemishes and acne flare-ups. This hydrosol accelerates the healing process and thus reduces the appearance of marks caused by post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Next, the lemon balm floral water is an excellent skin tonic. It prevents skin sagging, which helps to reduce wrinkles. In this regard, it is recommended for revitalising the eye contour area, which can be prone to signs of fatigue and overwork.
Finally, its softening and soothing properties make it an excellent ally for sensitive skin prone to discomfort and/or itching.
In which skincare products can one find lemon balm hydrosol?
Melissa hydrosol is typically recommended for sensitive and/or oily skin with blemishes. It is thus included in the composition of many facial care products, such as purifying mists, cleansing gels, micellar waters, face masks, etc... In body care, it sometimes features in certain after-sun lotions due to its soothing properties, as well as in deodorants.
This substance is gentle and well tolerated by all skin types. It does not have any contraindications and can be used by pregnant and/or breastfeeding women as well as young children.
Typology has developed a purifying botanical mist based on lemon balm hydrosol, zinc PCA, black willow bark and tea tree essential oil. This is a portable treatment that can be applied at any time of the day. It regulates sebum production and treats imperfections. Lemon balm hydrosol is also found in the peeling mask with red fruit acids and gluconolactone (PHA). It provides a gentle chemical exfoliation to renew the skin's surface and helps to achieve radiant and smooth skin.
MEFTAHIZADE H. & al. Melissa officinalis L., a valuable medicine plant: A review. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research (2010).
TEIMOURI M. S. & al. The comparative effect of hydro alcoholic and hydro distillation extracts of Melissa officinalis on acne and pimple. International Journal of Pharmacology, Phytochemistry and Ethnomedicine (2019).