BAY LEAF (bey leef) / n. / 1. Also known as Laurus nobilis, the aromatic foliage of the bay laurel tree, which is native to the Mediterranean region and commonly grown in Turkey for export; n. / 2. / Flora used as a symbol of honor in Greek mythology and to make wreaths for ancient Greek Olympians; n. / 3. / An insecticide popular in the Middle Ages that is rich in lauric acid; n. / 4. / An herb frequently used to flavor stocks, sauces, and roasted meats with a rich, savory flavor; n. / 5. / A detoxifying oil rich in eugenol, a compound commonly found in cloves, which inspires healthier hair growth by clearing out build-up from the scalp and follicles. E.g., “Bay leaf keeps bugs at bay, soups savory, and hair long.”
Try it: Ouidad Mediterranean Bay Leaf Exfoliating Hair & Scalp Treatment, $36, www.sephora.com.
BLACK SNAKEROOT / blak snayk-root / n / 1. Also known as Actaea racemosa, a tall woodland perennial with long plumes of white, fuzzy flowers that is native to eastern North America; / n / 2. Dried medicinal rhizomes historically used by Native Americans to treat gynecological disorders, sore throats, kidney problems, depression, and rattlesnake bites; / n / 3. A natural estrogen receptor used by early American settlers in the mid-nineteenth century to treat nervous disorders; / n / 4. An herb that helps to support the skin’s natural defense mechanisms when applied topically, resulting in a calming sensation after sun exposure, e.g., “Black snakeroot soothes your skin and calms your nerves.”
Try it: Somerville360 Tan Maximizer Tan Enhancing Moisturizer with black snakeroot extracts, $48, www.katesomerville.com.
MAIZE / (mayz) / n. / 1. Known in some English-speaking countries as “corn,” a plant with large stalks that produces a kerneled grain domesticated by indigenous people in Mesoamerica dating back to prehistoric times; / n. / 2. A sugar-rich, edible starch that is readily distilled into a grain alcohol known as ethanol, a popular automative fuel alternative; / n. / 3. Golden-yellow orbs, known as ears, that are the most widely grown grain crop in the United States; / n. / 4. A popular accompaniment to grilled and slow-cooked meat; / n. / 5. An oil extracted from the germ, or embryo, of the maize plant’s seeds that is a valuable frying fluid as well as an antioxidant-rich active that can increase hair suppleness when applied topically, e.g., “Maize will boost the quality of your Memorial Day barbecue, and your shine-depleted strands as well.”
Try it: Phyto Subtil Elixir with Maize Oil, $38, www.sephora.com.
PALO SANTO / (pal-oh san-toh) / n. / 1. Also known as Bursera graveolens, a spidery, fragrant tree that flourishes in South America’s coastal regions; / n. / 2. Translated in Spanish as “holy wood,” a mystical shrub that is frequently used as a spiritual healer and energy cleanser by shamans in ayahuasca ceremonies; / n. / 3. A “smudge stick” that acts to remove bad energy, improve meditation, and repel insects when burned; / n. / 4. A tea that reduces inflammation and relieves cold and flu symptoms, asthma, and headaches when consumed; / n. / 5. A woodsy-scented essential oil with uplifting properties frequently used in natural-minded beauty products, e.g., “Ward off bad energy and add an aromatic element to any hairstyle with Palo Santo.”
Try it: Rahua Hair Wax with essences of Palo Santo, $32, www.rahua.com.
MILK THISTLE / (milk this-uhl) / n. / 1. Latin name Silybum marianum, the sturdy thistle with the spiny stems, native to the Mediterranean region, is so named because of its milky-white-streaked leaves; / 2. The plant is characterized by the presence of the flavonoid silymarin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and is thought to help protect and repair the liver; / 3. Because of its liver-reinforcing abilities, milk thistle has been used in the treatment of viral hepatitis and cirrhosis; / 4. There is anecdotal evidence of its performance as an emergency antidote when ingested immediately after eating a poisonous mushroom; / 5. Thanks to its ability to flourish in hot, dry climates, the plant has remarkable emollient qualities when incorporated into haircare. E.g., “Boost liver function and condition lackluster hair with milk thistle.”
Try it: Phyto Secret de Nuit overnight beauty treatment, $38, www.phyto-usa.com/.