Somewhere in the world a person stands, wondering how to persuade their skin to stay in place and how to erase the first signs of ageing. Maybe the word botox pops up, but what if they’re averse to needles or seeking something – let’s say – less invasive?

Finding the right cream ointment, serum, face mask, or peeling is not without hazards and risks. Some of them work and some don’t. To top it off, it takes time to find something that works for you. Here the superhero in skin care comes to the rescue: Hibiscus.

When I hear hibiscus, my mind wanders to a tropical, lush garden filled with beautiful colourful flowers. Perhaps you think of sipping a refreshing tea. But this stunning flower is one of the oldest and most effective remedies for anti-ageing.

A little background about hibiscus

Hibiscus, photo by C Perret

The hibiscus plant has gorgeous flowers blooming in a variety of colours. It’s mostly found in warm temperate, tropical regions around the world. Its flowers are large and shaped like a trumpet. The leaves are glossy and strong.

In many cultures, hibiscus is a culinary treat. There’s warm and cold tea made from the flowers, served in Egypt, West Africa, Mexico, India, Brazil, and some Caribbean islands.

Other edible parts of the plant are its leaves and the fruit (called calyx). In China, the young leaves are cooked and eaten like spinach in other places. The tender young leaves can also be used raw in salads. The flowers are eaten cooked, raw, and pickled in many regions. The fruit is made into sauces, jams, as well as tea.

The plant has been used in traditional Asian medicine for a long time. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s grouped in the cooling category and so helps to keep your body cool. It’s popular in Ayurveda and used to treat or keep many kinds of diseases away and is connected to skin health.

Drinking hibiscus tea is not only refreshing but has direct health and beauty benefits. The plant has been used for centuries as a staple for skin and hair care. It strengthens your hair roots, stimulates hair growth, prevents premature greying, and makes it smooth and shiny.

Why has hibiscus earned the moniker “botox plant”?

Hibiscus is often touted as the botox plant. Derms use botox, aka botulinum toxin to “erase” wrinkles. Botox relaxes the muscles by blocking the nerve signals. This way, your muscles can’t contract and the wrinkles soften.

Hibiscus fights the signs of ageing differently and a lot less invasively.

It revs up collagen production

When people talk about ageing skin, it’s only a matter of time before you hear collagen. Even if you’re not a skin care buff, you most likely still know that it’s important for your complexion. If you want to know more, click here to find out why’s important for your skin.

There are many ways to increase your collagen intake, from collagen supplements to eating bone broth. But if you consume enough vitamin C, you can aid your body produce collagen. Vitamin C is necessary for your body to make collagen.

Hibiscus is rich in vitamin C. This means you can drink or eat it as well as apply it to your skin and encourage your body to produce collagen.

It may slow down collagen breakdown

It’s one thing to make collagen, but then, your body also needs to slow down its breakdown. Since the plant also contains an antioxidant called myricetin it may help to keep your skin firm. The antioxidant myricetin inhibits the enzyme collagenase. As its name suggests, this enzyme specifically degrades collagen.

It may also slow down elastin degradation

The other essential element of youthful skin is that it’s tight and taut. That’s the responsibility of elastin. This protein works in tandem with collagen to keep skin youthful. It helps your skin bounce back to where it was after stretching or moving.

Just like with collagen, there’s an enzyme that breaks down elastin. It’s called elastase. As we age, the enzyme increases, breaking down our skin breaking down our skin’s precious elastin. This leads to saggy skin and nobody looks forward to that.

You’ll be happy to know that’s where hibiscus got its reputation from. And you may already have guessed it: it’s the same antioxidant, myricetin that suppresses the enzyme elastase.

Aside from its famed anti-ageing fame, it has 3 other reasons it deserves a spot in your bathroom cabinet.

It brightens and exfoliates

Hibiscus is a natural source for the alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) citric and malic acid. These gently remove dead skin cells and other debris from your skin. A gentle exfoliation reveals a fresh layer of smooth and radiant skin and as an added boon, it helps other products absorb better.

It moisturises intensely

Both the leaves and the flowers boast a high mucilage content. When you crush the leaves, they feel slippery and slimy. Snail mucin isn’t the only gooey, water retaining ingredient out there.

Mucilage is a sticky substance produced by plants to help them retain water. This is the reason why you find hibiscus in skin care but also in hair products. Particularly in those that are formulated to provide slip and hold while sealing in moisture in your hair.

Source of antioxidants

Not only does is the hibiscus a rich source of vitamin C, but it also contains antioxidants like vitamin B and beta carotene. On the one hand, these antioxidants help fight skin-damaging free radicals caused by UV radiation, or pollution.

On the other hand, they lend hibiscus its anti-inflammatory properties so that it can lessen inflammation and calm irritated skin.


Who would have that hibiscus is so much more than a purely ornamental plant. Or that it has so many hidden health and beauty benefits. Next time you visit a supermarket, don’t forget to buy a hibiscus tea or get some leaves for a fresh salad.

Let us know in the comments if you want DIY recipes with hibiscus.

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