Fresh Green Skin Tonic - An Experiment with Cleavers

This is a 'roots-formulating' type of experiment inspired entirely by Medical Herbalist and owner of the Herbal Hub, Vivienne Campbell.

Vivienne sends out a regular newsletter (which is filled with all kinds of inspiring material for the botanically inclined). Her Spring issue got me all excited about getting up close and personal with this seasonal herb.

Today, we're going to take a peek at how I made this super green skin tonic with a plant called Cleavers.


Cleavers is a funny plant that grows almost everywhere on the planet (honest). I say funny because it has a unique built-in velcro-type function that makes it stick to just about anything it comes into contact with.

The INCI is Galium Aparine, but it has a zillion common names (not even exaggerating much). You may know it as stickyweed, robin-run-the-hedge, gripgrass, goosegrass, bedstraw (because it was dried and used as bedstraw in days of yore), and there are many many more.

Cleavers can be purchased dried from suppliers of herbs, but it can also be foraged.

As Viviennes newsletter is always timely for what's in season with tips, tricks, and inspirational how-to's for different uses, foraging for fresh cleavers was immediately slotted into the calendar.

Living close to a park (as I do at the moment), it wasn't long before I had collected more cleavers than I could carry (and accompanying looks from joggers that read 'what the heck is she going to do with all those weeds?' )

Fresh Juice From Cleavers

My first fresh cleavers project was attempting to make an all-natural toning and fine-line removing skin tonic. Admittedly, the toning and fine-line removing part is a claim that – as yet – is purely anecdotal.

Fair enough, but let's test it anyway.

Making this skin tonic was simply a matter of juicing fresh cleavers and adding preservative.

Except: simply, is not anything close to simply – but feel free to read on and learn from my mistakes.

One would think making juice was best done is a juicer.

But not with cleavers.

Here's a before picture. I'm not going to show you the after picture, because I was too busy cleaning up the mess.

The juicer did survive the ordeal, but it wasn't very happy with me and swore if I ever tried putting cleavers into it again it would leave me forever.

Second Attempt: Blender

A blender worked much better, but it was necessary to add (distilled) water to get everything macerated properly.

This resulted in the mixture having to be strained which was an extra step, but the results are visible at the top of the post.

Pretty gosh darn green skin tonic.

Using Fresh Cleavers Juice as Skin Tonic

To use fresh cleavers juice as a skin tonic, wet a cotton round and swipe over face and neck gently after cleansing.

Tip: don't be wearing a white t-shirt at the time.


I loved the fresh green scent of this juice and was surprised to discover it didn't tint my skin at all (although we won't go into the t-shirt part).

Using it as a skin tonic did offer an immediate feel of tightening and toning, but no miracle fine line removing.

Granted, I only used it about 6 days in total.

Here's why: even though this mixture was double strained and properly preserved, it was still a bit 'pulpy' and sediment settled at the bottom of the bottle after a few days.

Although it still functioned and smelled fresh, it looked so unappealing I simply couldn't get myself to continue using it.

I did save the juice and am now monitoring it to see how the added preservative measures up. It has been a few months now and the liquid is still good, but don't ask me about the color. Ok, since you asked, it's a very dark greeny-brown. Not anywhere close to being eye candy, but definitely interesting to monitor.

More About Cleavers


Visit The Herbal Hub to learn about plants you can find and use for skincare.


Alice said…
Hi Lisa, can I use dried cleavers? I'm not sure where to find it fresh. If yes, how to use it to get this face tonic? Thanks!
LisaLise said…
HI Alice - Yes indeed you can use dried cleavers. You wont get the same fresh green color but it's definitely possible to use dried cleavers.
Sarah said…
Hello! What preservative did you use?
LisaLise said…
HI Alice

Yes you can use dried cleavers - the color will be different. To be honest, I can't offhand remember which preservative I added to this batch, (I would have to check my notes) but it was a broad spectrum preservative.