Mallow, Mucilage, and Magic

Here's one of my favorite cleansing gels. I've been making and using it for years. It's gloriously simple to make, works beautifully, and leaves my sensitive skin perfectly clean without a trace of dryness.

The gel features that plant you see lying next to the bottle up there.

The plant: mallow
Alternative names: high mallow, tall mallow
Latin/INCI name: Malva Sylvestris

Mallow happens to grow wild in my garden. It pops up all by itself in places of its own choosing and produces glorious purple flowers one would think had nothing more to offer the world than a bit of eye candy.

Ahhh, but there is much more to this plant than pretty purple flowers.

Today we're going to look at some of the magic mallow contains.

Multifunctional Mallow 

The history of uses of this plant goes back so far no one is quite sure when it began. Mallow is an edible plant that can be used a plethora of ways.

It is believed the earliest consumption of mallow goes back as far as 3000 BC (ref).

And although the young leaves were boiled and consumed as vegetables (ref.), mallow has mostly been prized for medicinal purposes.

There have been many ailments this plant has been prescribed for throughout history: gastrointestinal problems, dermatological ailments, oral diseases, pain, menstrual problems, the list goes on.

If you want to do a little reading, scroll down the page on this article for an overview of mallows medicinal uses throughout history. It's a pretty impressive list.

This humble plant has an impressive list of chemical constituents:
  • amino acids
  • flavinoids
  • terpinoids
  • enzymes
  • phenol derivatives
  • vitamins
  • fatty acids
  • pigments
  • and mucilages (ref)

The Mucilage is Magic

Mallow contains up to 7.4% mucilage which is present in the leaves, flowers, and even the roots (ref).
I used to think mucilage was one thing, but it is a whole collection of things. Some of the mucilages in mallow are:
  • glucuronic acid
  • galacturinic acid
  • galactose
  • fructose
  • glucose
  • and more
Why is this important?

Because the mucilage is an important part of mallow's magic. It is the mucilage that is mainly responsible for mallow's therapeutic effects (ref.)

The mucilage is what makes my cleanser so ideal for sensitive skin.

A Little Confession

Although you might have gotten the impression I pluck the plants from my garden to make infusions, glycerites, tinctures, and powders for my cosmetics, I don't. The organic mallow I use is purchased dried from a supplier of herbs.

The plants that decide to appear in my garden are all allowed to function as eye candy – whether they are outside, sitting in a small vase on my windowsill or participating as part of a photo for this blog.

Do Tell

Do you use mallow in your skincare? What kinds of products do you include it in?

More about Mallow and Mucilage

Mallow, Naturegate
Malva Sylvestris, wikipedia
Blue Mallow,
Malva Sylvestris, Plants for a Future
Ethnobotanical and Scientific Aspects of Malva Sylvestris: a millenial herb medicine, Wiley online library
Mucilage, wikipedia
Mallow - the Natural Skin and Hair softener (this blog)
Mallow Face Cleanser Kit: 1 (this blog)
Mallow face Cleanser Kit: 2 (this blog)
Mallow Hair Gel (this blog)
Mallow as a Colorant (this blog)
Mallow - all natural chemicals (shop blog)
The Magic of Mallow (LisaLise on Youtube)


Jade Forest Co. said…
Hi Lise! Is ot the mallow that gives the cleanser its color?
LisaLise said…
Hi Jade Violet! Yes indeed it is
Unknown said…
Hi Lise, I had no idea mallow has so many beneficial qualities! It grows wild (and crazy) around my house too. Thanks for enlightening me.
LisaLise said…
Hi Kelly - mallow is a staple in my stockroom — it’s quite an amazing plant! I’d love to hear what you use it in if you get busy with it :)
ER0911 said…
Very infomative, thanks Lise, do you think you could use this as both a serum of sorts and a cleanser?
LisaLise said…
HI ER0911 - Yes indeed. Mallow would definitely fit into a serum - go for it!