It’s cold outside. The tip of your nose is freezing, the sky is grey, and you could really use something comforting and warming. Well, here comes cinnamon!
What is cinnamon?
Cinnamon is a spice harvested from the Cinnamomum verum, also called the ‘true cinnamon tree’. It is a shrub-like evergreen tree of the Laurel family, considered native to Sri Lanka and India. Its leaves and outer bark are fragrant, but it's the inside of the tree that is most sought after. Indeed, it contains an aromatic inner bark that peels easily and in thin layers. These precious sheets are tied up and left to dry so that they form the brown curls that we know. It can also be sold in small pieces or powder.
The whole cinnamon tree can be used! Traditionally, the shredded outer bark is used to fill the cinnamon curls. The bark, leaves and flower buds can also be distilled to obtain essential oils of different intensities.
What are the benefits of cinnamon in cosmetics?
- Its warm and spicy fragrance comforts and invigorates. For some, it’s emblematic of the winter festivities; for others, it’s an aphrodisiac!
- It has powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties, ideal for skin, body and oral care.
- Depending on the concentration, it can have a warming effect on the skin when applied topically, helping to stimulate blood circulation and energise tired muscles.
Spicing things up
Cinnamon was once one of the rarest and most expensive items in the spice trade. Its powerful antimicrobial properties had been noticed by the ancient Egyptians, who used it for embalming and to preserve their food. It was prized during Antiquity and the Middle Ages to flavour food, in religious rites, as medicine or perfume… and that hasn't changed today! Interestingly, some parts of the world view it more as a spice for savoury dishes, while others will pair it with sweets.