18 Amazing Benefits Of Vanilla For Skin, Hair And Health

Drool over by knowing how vanilla can benefit your overall health in a yummy way.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Nisha R, MBBS, MD DVL Dr. Nisha R Dr. Nisha RMBBS, MD DVL facebook_iconinsta_icon
Written by , B.Desgn, ISSA Certified Specialist In Fitness & Nutrition Tanya Choudhary B.Desgn, ISSA Certified Specialist In Fitness & Nutrition twitter_icon Experience: 2 years
Edited by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health linkedin_icon Experience: 8 years
Fact-checked by , BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Himanshi Mahajan BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
 • 

Vanilla is the most preferred flavor by many. Be it perfumes, ice creams, or beauty products, this stands as a favorite flavor for many of us But are you aware of vanilla benefits? It can positively impact your hair, skin, and overall health and wellness. Learn more about vanilla and its benefits here.

protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Vanilla

What Is It?
A bean derived from a sun-dried vanilla pod, obtained from the Vanilla Orchid.

What Are Its Benefits?
Good for culinary uses, and promotes skin, hair, and oral health. Acts as a digestive and menstrual aid and has wound-healing properties.

Who Can Use It?
Generally safe for consumption by everyone.

How Often?As per anecdotal evidence, vanilla extract added to a glass of warm water with a teaspoon of sugar may help reduce fever and fight infections in children.
Can be used in cooking and consumed on a regular basis.

Caution
Some people might suffer an allergic reaction to vanilla. Topical use can cause dermatitis and skin allergies.

What Is Vanilla?

The mere mention of vanilla cake, vanilla custard, or vanilla ice cream makes us drool! These delicacies are rare indulgences and we usually have usually associate them as a great source of enjoyment. This vanilla flavor enjoys familiarity and is relished all over the world.

According to a YouGov survey conducted on 1000 US adults, the majority of Americans (59%) have a preference for vanilla ice cream, with approximately 11% considering it their favorite flavor. When given a choice between vanilla and chocolate, Americans overall lean towards vanilla by a margin of 49% to 43%. The preference for vanilla is strongest in the Midwest (56% to 39%) and the West (53% to 35%).

Due to its easy accessibility, very few of us are aware of its source and origin. Let us know more about this flavor that has been a part of sumptuous desserts for centuries.

The vanilla ice cream and other desserts that we love eating attribute their flavor to the presence of vanilla extract which is derived from vanilla beans. These beans are sun-dried pods obtained from the orchids of the genus Vanilla. It’s sweetness can be found both in flavor and fragrance and has gained popularity in sweet drinks and confectioneries recipes. These beans are obtained through a labor-intensive process.

protip_icon Did You Know?
A vanilla seed pod takes a lot of work to grow. That is why vanilla is the second-most expensive spice after saffron.

Vanilla Essence And Extract

The vanilla plant is an herbaceous climbing vine that requires a supporting tree or pole for optimal growth. It bears trumpet-shaped flowers which are naturally pollinated by bees and hummingbirds and even hand pollinated. Unripe vanilla pods turn yellow when they grow 5 to 8 inches long and are ready to harvest. These are then blanched in boiling water, sweated and sun dried for a few weeks until they turn dark brown and wrinkled. Then the white crystalline essence known as vanillin is extracted from some superior quality beans. This essence is referred to as the vanilla flavor.

The most common form of vanilla is vanilla extract which is prepared by percolating chopped vanilla beans in ethyl alcohol and water for about 48 hours. The mixture is stored for several months and then filtered. Several varieties of vanilla are available in the market of which Madagascar vanilla is the most widely used. This rich sweet variety accounts for 75% of the vanilla production while the remaining comprises of vanilla from Tahiti and Mexico.

Vanilla pods contain several tiny black seeds which are used to flavor many sweet dishes and chocolates. Vanillin is the essence of vanilla bean but artificial vanillin is also produced on a large scale from wood pulp by-products. The vanilla flavoring is often a blend of pure and imitation vanilla. The appearance of tiny black specks in a vanilla flavored dish is an indication of pure vanilla. Is vanilla extract healthy for you skin? Let’s find out in the next section.

protip_icon Trivia
The Totonac (indigenous people of Mexico) have been farming vanilla since 1185. They use it to flavor food and drinks, for perfumery in their temples, and as a lucky charm in amulets.

Skin Benefits Of Vanilla Essence Extract

You might find this surprising. The benefits of vanilla extract or essence extend to your skin as well. It is used as an ingredient in several skincare products like body lotions, lip balms, body butters and creams to impart fragrance.

1. Treatment Of Acne

Woman with acne may benefit from vanilla
Image: Shutterstock

The antibacterial properties of vanilla make it beneficial for the treatment of acne. Vanillin, through its antibacterial effects, helps cleanse your skin, reducing the occurrence of pimples and acne (1).

2. Anti-Aging Benefits

Vanilla is rich in antioxidants which prevent and reverse skin damage caused by free radicals (2). It helps to slow down signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. It is widely used in the cosmetic industry for its fragrance and anti-aging benefits. Applying raw vanilla beans infused with organic oil imparts a great chocolaty fragrance besides making your skin smooth and soft.

3. Soothes Burns

Vanilla has been used as a traditional remedy to heal burns, wounds and cuts. But concentrated vanilla extracts or essential oils should not be applied directly to recent burns. Topical treatments containing vanilla extracts might be helpful. It is advisable to consult your doctor before using any such home remedies for burns. However, more research is warranted in this regard.

4. Promotes Healthy Skin

Vanilla is a good source of B-vitamins like niacin, thiamin, Vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid which play an important role in the maintenance of healthy skin. The antioxidant properties of vanilla protect your skin from damage caused by environmental pollutants and toxins (2). You can prepare a scrub to revive your skin from within. All you need to do is slice open 5 vanilla beans to scrape out its seeds. Add these seeds along with 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 drops of vanilla essential oil to freshly squeezed lemon juice. Mix the ingredients and apply it on your face. Massage for a few minutes and then rinse off with warm water. Then, splash some cold water on your face.

Hair Benefits Of Vanilla

The list of benefits of vanilla is incomplete if we do not talk about its role in hair care. It is a good source of many nutrients which help in the maintenance of hair health.

5. Vanilla For Silky Hair

Vanilla when mixed with other ingredients can make your hair silky, shiny and smooth. You can prepare a hair pack for this purpose. Melt about 4 oz. shea butter in a boiler. After it has fully melted, add 5 drops of vanilla essential oil and 2 tablespoons each of almond, jojoba and castor oils. After cooling, blend this mixture until it achieves a softer consistency. You can apply this mixture on your hair for 10 to 15 minutes and wash off with a mild shampoo. This will make your hair soft and manageable without making it sticky. This mixture can be stored at room temperature or refrigerated for future use.

6. Promotes Hair Growth

Carrier and essential oils like cedarwood, lavender, thyme, and rosemary may help in promoting hair growth (3). These oils can be combined with vanilla essential oil for a hot oil treatment. To begin with, detangle your hair with a wide-toothed comb and rinse it thoroughly with warm water. After this, warm ¼ cup of any carrier oil such as virgin olive, jojoba, almond or coconut oil on high heat for about 30 seconds. Add 10 drops each of lavender and vanilla essential oils to it and mix thoroughly. Applying this on your hair from the roots to the ends, massage your scalp in circular motions for 2 to 3 minutes. Ensure to apply it along the full length of your hair strands, concentrating more on the dry ends. Fasten your hair with a hair clip and wrap a warm towel around your head. Leave for 15 minutes. Then again wrap a warm towel for another 15 minutes. Wash off with a mild shampoo.

The quantity of oil that you use depends upon your hair texture. This will make your hair softer, fuller and shinier besides imparting an amazing scent.

Health Benefits Of Vanilla

Vanilla is much more than just a sweet and fragrant flavor. Pure vanilla extract possesses several medicinal properties and can be beneficial for your health in various ways.

7. Treatment For Anxiety And Depression

Certain neurological studies have proved that vanilla extract can have a positive effect on those suffering from depression and anxiety disorders. In rat studies, the vanillin in vanilla was found to demonstrate antidepressant activity. Sipping water or milk containing vanilla extract helps reduce anxiety in some people (4).

This spice has an amazing aroma and is beneficial for your nervous system. Research conducted by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York indicated that exposure to vanilla aromatherapy has proven to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of claustrophobiai  A form of anxiety disorder triggered by an irrational and intense fear of closed or confined spaces and lacking ways to escape. .

protip_icon Did You Know?
The Spanish word “vainilla,” which means “little pod,” is the root of the English word vanilla.

8. May Aid Weight Loss

Woman holding measuring tape on waist to show inch loss
Image: Shutterstock

Certain studies have shown that vanilla extract can help people lose weight. Though exercise and diet play a primary role in weight loss, these efforts can be supplemented with the intake of vanilla extract for greater benefits. However, further research is needed to substantiate this claim.

9. Relieves Nausea

One of the best benefits of vanilla extract is that it may help calm the stomach in case of a feeling of nausea. All you need to do is add a few drops of vanilla extract to a glass of water and sip it slowly. The amazing vanilla scent will help to relieve the feeling of nausea. However, more research is warranted in this regard.

10. Treatment For Cough

Cough syrups often use vanilla extract as a flavoring to mask their bitter taste. Though further research is needed in this regard, the mild anesthetici  A drug or property that produces a local or general loss of sensation or awareness, used especially for medical procedures. properties of vanilla extract can relieve symptoms such as pain from a sore throat or headache.

Benefits of vanilla
Image: Image:Shutterstock

11. Dental Health

Woman with toothache may benefit from vanilla
Image: Shutterstock

Vanillin in vanilla is similar to capsaicin in chilli peppers and euganols in spices such as cinnamon. This compound has a positive effect on the central nervous system. Capsaicin is an effective pain reliever while euganols act as topical anesthetics. Vanilla is said to possess both these properties and may help fight toothache and infection. However, more research is warranted in this regard.

12. Treatment For Digestive Disorders

Vanilla infused herbal tea can relieve digestive problems. Water boiled with vanilla beans is a remedy for vomiting and an upset stomach and is a part of many countries’ traditions. Its aromatic richness could be effective in easing queasiness.

13. Aphrodisiac Properties

Vanilla has been used as an aphrodisiac since ancient times. Some believe vanilla can increase sexual desire by boosting testosterone levels in men. Usage of vanilla may also help treat impotency. However, limited research is available in this regard.

14. Treatment Of Menstrual Problems

Vanilla extract is beneficial in the regulation of menstruation. It can be used by women with irregular periods to regulate their cycles. Though several medications are available for the treatment of these problems, slight problems can be cured by making vanilla extract a part of your diet.

15. Aids Wound Healing

Woman applying vanilla extract on wound
Image: Shutterstock

The usage of vanilla extract for healing wounds dates back to ancient times. Its anti-inflammatory properties can soothe and calm inflamed areas on the skin. It is considered a great home remedy for wound healing. Note that the direct use of vanilla extract on open wounds and burns should be avoided.

16. Antioxidant Properties

The distinct flavor and health benefits of vanilla essence can be attributed to the presence of about 200 compounds which possess antioxidant properties. The high level of antioxidants reduces free radicals in your body. These free radicals are the waste products resulting from normal as well as harmful metabolic processes. They can cause various diseases including cancer. Vanilla possesses both antioxidant and anti-cancer properties (5).

17. Beneficial For Children

As per anecdotal evidence, vanilla extract added to a glass of warm water with a teaspoon of sugar may help reduce fever and fight infections in children.

18. May Ease Cold Sores

Cold sores, caused by the herpes simplex virus, can be both uncomfortable and unsightly (6). However, vanilla extract may help in treating them. The alcohol in vanilla has natural antiviral properties that may possibly help dry out the sores, creating a less conducive environment for the virus to thrive (7). Anecdotal evidence suggests that topical application of vanilla extract may alleviate discomfort and expedite the healing process. Ensure that you use pure, natural vanilla extract as artificial vanilla products may not yield the same results. While it can provide some relief, it is not a substitute for medical treatments. Also, consult a healthcare professional for severe or recurring cold sores.

Nutritional Value

The nutritional value of vanilla is what makes it beneficial for your skin, hair and health in so many ways. Vanilla extract is the storehouse of essential oils, vitamins and minerals as well as simple and complex sugars. The in-depth details of nutrition provided by this aromatic spice can be understood from the table and explanation given below.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:Vanilla extract (Vanilla planifolia), Nutritional value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
PrincipleNutrient valuePercentage of RDA
Energy288 Kcal14%
Carbohydrates12.65 g10%
Protein0.06 g
Total Fat0.06 g
Cholesterol0 mg0%
Dietary Fiber0.0 g0%
Vitamins
Folates0 mcg0%
Niacin0.425 mg3%
Pantothenic caid0.035 mg0.5%
Pyridoxine0.026 mg2%
Riboflavin0.095 mg7%
Vitamin A0 IU0%
Vitamin C0 mg0%
Electrolytes
Sodium9 mg0.5%
Potassium148 mg3%
Minerals
Calcium11 mg1%
Copper0.072 mg8%
Iron0.12 mg1.5%
Magnesium12 mg3%
Manganese0.230 mg10%
Phosphorus6 mg1%
Selenium0.0 mcg0%
Zinc0.11 mg1%
  • Vanillin: Vanillin is the primary chemical component in vanilla beans. They also contain traces of other constituents like euganol, caproic acid, phenoles, phenole ether, alcohols, aids, aliphatic and aromatic carbohydrates, lactones, esters and carbonyl compounds.
  • Vitamins: Vanilla extract comprises of small amounts of B-complex vitamins like niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, Vitamin B6 and thiamine. These vitamins aid in enzyme synthesis, nervous system function and regulation of body metabolism.
  • Minerals: Vanilla extract also contains traces of minerals like magnesium, calcium, manganese, potassium, iron and zinc.

You may continue to use vanilla extracts for flavoring your desserts. However, topical application may cause dermatitisi  General term used to refer to common skin irritation and inflammation caused by various factors like allergy or skin damage. on certain skin types. Essential oils applied to acne-prone skin may cause acne flare-ups. Also, lemon juice with vanilla, when applied to skin, may cause burns. Hence, vanilla must be used on hair and skin preferably after consulting a dermatologist. Vanilla may be a good treatment option for anxiety disorders nonetheless. It also has potent anti-inflammatory properties and may aid weight loss too.

Infographic: 5 Benefits Of Vanilla For Your Health

Vanilla is more than just a delicious scent. It is an incredible ingredient that speeds up healing, reduces acne and inflammation, and promotes hair growth. We have rounded up the 5 benefits of adding vanilla to your skin and hair care routine in the infographic below. Scroll down to know more!

5 benefits of vanilla for your health (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Vanilla is not only a favorite flavor for many in desserts, cake, and ice cream, but the vanilla pods help boost your skin, hair, and overall health as well. Vanilla beans help soothe acne and burns while providing anti-aging skin benefits. When infused with shea butter and castor, almond or jojoba oil, vanilla beans help make your hair soft, smooth, and silky. Along with vanilla’s benefits for your skin and hair, it helps calm anxiety and signs of depression as well. It is also effective in relieving cough, nausea, and digestive disorders. However, it should be included as a remedy only after professional consultation as it may cause skin allergies and irritations for a few people.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is vanilla unhealthy?

Vanilla is widely regarded as safe to consume and a beloved flavoring. However, some people may be allergic to it, so it’s best to consult a doctor for your satisfaction if you have a history of allergies. Vanilla extract does contain alcohol, so moderation is recommended when using it. Regardless, it is known for its versatility and for adding flavor and fragrance to many tasty recipes.

Does vanilla extract help you sleep?

Vanilla extract has a soothing scent that has been shown to promote relaxation and alleviate sleep disorders (8). This makes it a helpful aid for those seeking a good night’s sleep.

Does vanilla affect hormones?

The smell of vanilla has anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties, boosting the production of mood-enhancing and stress-relieving hormones like dopamine and serotonin (9). That’s why smelling freshly baked cookies with vanilla always lifts your mood and provides comfort in a way.

Key Takeaways

  • Vanilla extract is produced from vanilla beans acquired from the orchids of the genus Vanilla.
  • Vanilla extract is high in essential oils, vitamins, and minerals, along with simple and complex sugars.
  • The vanilla pods can help maintain your skin, hair, and general health.
  • Use vanilla after seeking professional advice as it might trigger skin allergies and irritations in certain individuals.
vanilla benefits

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team


Discover the amazing benefits of vanilla. Click on this video to learn how this sweet and fragrant spice can help improve your overall health and well-being.

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Herbal Treatment for Dermatologic Disorders
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92761/
  2. Vanillin: a review on the therapeutic prospects of a popular flavouring molecule
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC7790484/
  3. Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Alopecia: A Comprehensive Review
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388561/
  4. Evaluation of antidepressant activity of vanillin in mice
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3660925/
  5. Overview of the Role of Vanillin on Redox Status and Cancer Development
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5204113/
  6. Cold sores: Overview
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525782/
  7. Efficacy of ethanol against viruses in hand disinfection
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7132458/
  8. Vanilla scent reduces frequency of urination in urethane-anesthetized rats
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/luts.12346
  9. Vanilla
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342896253_Vanilla_Potential_Health_Benefits
Was this article helpful?
thumbsupthumbsdown
Dr. Nisha R

Dr. Nisha RMBBS, MD DVL

Dr. Nisha is a clinical dermatologist and aesthetic physician with 7 years of experience. She completed her MBBS at Chettinad Hospital & Research Institute and earned her master's degree from Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education & Research.

Read full bio of Dr. Nisha R