We’re not surprised that the latest crop of skin rejuvenators comes straight from Mother Nature – many of you prefer products that harness the anti-ageing power of plants and believe they’re better for your skin. Doctors say they’re effective, too.
“Botanicals are the best sources for discovering new ingredients that protect and repair ageing skin,” says Zoe Draelos, MD, a clinical and research dermatologist.
Vitamins, antioxidants, and emollients that spring from leaves, nuts, and fruits can soften wrinkles, fight sagging, and boost radiance. Here, we’ve unearthed five that deliver a major youth boost – just how nature intended.
A flowering shrub that flourishes throughout the United States, bearberry is quickly becoming a popular skin brightener. The leaves contain arbutin, a derivative of the skin lightener hydroquinone, which reduces the formation of pigment-producing melanin.
Unfortunately, HQ can irritate skin. Bearberry is a milder – but effective – HQ alternative when combined with other botanically based pigment faders, says Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, MD, a dermatologist in San Francisco.
In one study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, women with melasma who applied a cocktail that included bearberry extract once a day lightened the dark patches of skin by nearly 70 per cent after three months – without any side effects.
Those using prescription-strength HQ saw a 77 per cent improvement, but a quarter of them reported reactions, such as itchy skin.
Find it in: Exuviance Essential Skin Brightening Gel (exuviance.com), Derma-doctor Immaculate Correction (dermadoctor.com), June Jacobs Redness Diffusing Serum (junejacobs.com), and Juice Beauty Soothing Serum (juicebeauty.com).
It may be little, but this brightly coloured Brazilian berry (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) packs a big anti-ageing punch. Acai berries are rich in emollients such as essential fatty acids and phyto-sterols that help seal in moisture and strengthen the skin’s surface so it’s more resilient against outside irritation, says Howard Sobel, MD, a New York City dermatologist and founder of DDF Skincare.
Acai is a powerful protector against free radicals, too. The pulp contains a significant concentration of anthocyanins, the antioxidant pigments that give red and purple produce their deep hue.
Hence the reason this superfruit boasts one of the highest ORAC scores, thought to measure a food’s ability to combat premature aging – even when applied on skin.
“Acai reduces UV damage that eventually causes wrinkles, brown spots, and sagging,” says Sobel. Proof that good things really do come in small packages.
Find it in: Pangea Organics Japanese Matcha Tea with Acai & Gogi Berry Facial Mask (pangeaorganics.com), DDF Mesojection Healthy Cell Serum (beauty.com), and Tarte Double Dose Berry Boost & Gloss in Acai Boost (sephora.com).
Tea brewed from the leaves of this South African shrub are rich in anti-inflammatories such as quercetin that help relieve itchiness and facial flushing. “Red tea is ideal for reducing irritation associated with rosacea and eczema flare-ups,” says Petko Detchev, PhD, senior chemist at Jason Natural Products. It soothes skin after a peel or microdermabrasion, too.
Red tea also shines at preventing the UV damage that causes fine lines and brown spots. Packed with antioxidants – including aspalathin, found only in red tea – it reduces free radical damage by as much as 90 per cent, according to one study. Red tea decreased skin cancer tumors at least 60 per cent, as well.
Pressed from the nut of the Moroccan argan tree, the oil is touted as “liquid gold” for its ability to moisturise dry, lackluster skin. A high concentration of essential fatty acids and vitamin E, two key parts of skin’s lubricating layer, explains the oil’s power.
“These two components help the skin stay hydrated and prevent further moisture loss,” says Ni’Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist in Fairfield, New Jersey.
The leaves of the tree are loaded with glycerin, a humectant that attracts water, plumping wrinkles, says Pat Peterson, executive director of research and development at Aveda. The leaf extract fends off wrinkle-causing free radicals as well, reducing collagen and elastin damage by 45 per cent in one study.
Find it in: Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare Superskin Concentrate (us.lizearle.com), Kiehl’s Superbly Restorative Dry Oil (kiehls.com), Kaeline Argatherapie Argarôme Jour Day Serum (xandrarenouvelle.com), and Aveda Green Science Line Minimizer (aveda.com).
Dubbed the King of Fruit in Asia, durian may soon rule the world as a top skin rejuvenator.
Don’t let its spiky exterior scare you: The source of durian’s beauty benefits is the creamy pulp, which contains hydrating oils, protective antioxidants, and natural sugars that strengthen cell membranes and prevent moisture from escaping, says Howard Murad, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA Sch’s a buffer to combat inflammation.
So far, durian is only available in one line: Murad Intensive Wrinkle Reducer for Eyes (murad.com).
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