Why Eucalyptus Deserves Even More Than Your Shower's Spotlight
Celebrity esthetician Joanna Czech, who handles the faces of actresses like Jennifer Aniston, Mandy Moore, and Uma Thurman, openly praises the skin-saving prowess of eucalyptus on Instagram. “It is healing, soothing, and decongesting,” she says, as she breaks down her technique for crushing leaves with a hammer or rolling pin to “release the essential oils that bring out the intensity of the eucalyptus” before dressing her shower head in its greenery. Though she appreciates the scent year-round, the colder seasons deserve a second helping of the relaxing extracts. “It is great for when I have a headache or allergies!” she enthuses.
While the purported bathing benefits of eucalyptus have swept up showers, we’re only scratching the surface of what the plant can be used to achieve. Take this: Wanderlusting outdoors introduced us to over a dozen varieties of the fast-growing evergreen that thrive on Hawaiian islands like Lāna‘i. “The State Forestry Division planted over 90 different species across Hawaii in the early 1900s to stabilize soil erosion issues at the time,” explains David Palumbo of The Four Seasons Lāna‘i spa, one of the most exclusive in the country. “A survey was taken in the ’70s to see which species naturalized,” he says, noting that 13 types were found thriving, some which smell like citronella, others that are more floral and akin to lavender, and even one specific beauty called “rainbow eucalyptus.”
And the potential benefits are as wide-ranging as the species. “Aside from smelling great, while we certainly need more research, there is data to suggest that eucalyptus is anti-inflammatory and has antimicrobial activity,” says Bradley Bloom, MD, a dermatologist at Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York.
New studies showing eucalyptus’ anti-aging benefits, which were published last year, also give a bit of insight into why skin and hair brands are injecting the extract into everything from Swisse Natural Skincare Cleansing Clay Mask ($20) and Origins Hit Refresh post-workout moisturizer (spiked with Hawaiian mineral water, no less!) to Ole Henriksen Balance It All Essentials Set ($36), which incorporates eucalyptus to refine pores and absorb excess oil. Plus, it’s likely doing more than we ever anticipated. “An animal model study in 2018 showed that topical application of eucalyptus extract on sun-damaged skin reduced wrinkle formation and dryness by increasing the expression of elastin and collagen while decreasing the expression of proteins that break down collagen,” Dr. Bloom explains. “This is just one study, but it has some promising results for the use of eucalyptus in cosmetic products.” (You’ll find Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm ($64) taking advantage of these collagen-boosting benefits.)
For scalp health, a category that’s on the rise now that research shows that women and men suffer from hair loss with relatively equal frequency, eucalyptus has become a breakout star. “Another study last year used a pseudo-ceramide lotion containing eucalyptus extract on dry scalp skin with significant improvement in skin dryness, scaling, and redness,” notes Dr. Bloom. It helps explain why products like Beardbrand Tree Ranger Shampoo and Conditioner set ($20), Rahua Omega 9 Scalp Mask ($58), and Alder Texture Powder ($27) infuse eucalyptus into their recipes.
In the same way that it can soothe scalps, eucalyptus is gaining respect as an acne-fighting—and preventing—solution. Captain Blankenship Sailor X Marks The Spot Serum ($15) relies on its blemish-reducing ability to fight inflammation, while Meow Meow Tweet Tea Tree Charcoal Facial Soap ($12) utilizes eucalyptus as a natural astringent to counteract breakouts. Plus, a growing list of cleansers, including Versed Day Desolve Cleansing Balm ($18) and Eve Lom Cleansing Oil Capsules ($25), rely on it as a preventative measure against acne.
Below the neck, Kohler Waters Spa in Lincoln Park, even capitalizes on the botanical’s reign in its signature treatment, where full-body eucalyptus and lavender exfoliation serves as an appetizer to a hydrotherapeutic rinse and stone massage (sigh!). For those recreating the moment solo, Frank Body A-Beauty Scrub ($19) uses eucalyptus’s natural antiseptic properties to fight bacteria, inflammation, and acne, while Plant Apothecary offers up its new Super Soak Organic Healing Bath ($32), touting its oil’s body-relaxing benefits as well.
And to take these benefits up another notch, many brands are coupling the chill-out properties of CBD with relaxing eucalyptus for a power duo. Consider Lord Jones’s blend of both in its High CBD Formula Bath Salts ($65) for sore muscles that need a bit of EOD love. Emera Nourishing CBD Conditioner ($25) offers double duty for those sensitive scalps we mentioned, while CBD Daily CBD Intensive Cream ($10) can be applied for its eucalyptus-meets-cannabis soothing powers. Or perhaps you prefer smoky quartz blessed by a shaman and infused with CBD and eucalyptus in Mazz Hanna’s calming Foot Spray ($55)? Wherever, whenever, social media’s favorite evergreen continues to delight, surprise, and maintain a more natural balance.