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Can natural skincare products be anti-ageing? Naturopath Bridget Carmady takes a look at the research behind several well-known natural anti-ageing ingredients.

My mum (pictured here with me) is a baby boomer: mid-60s, gorgeously young at heart and defiant about getting old. I grew up glossing over her books of organic gardening, macrobiotics, and yoga. She was always smothering us in natural creams, and childhood ailments were seen to by our local naturopath. The funny thing is: now I look in her medicine cabinet and it’s packed full of commercial anti-ageing products. When I ask her about this, she believes the commercial anti-ageing products are the only ones that will really work. Speaking to clients about this, it turns out this is not an uncommon point of view. Is mum right or is there sufficient evidence behind natural anti-ageing claims?

Rosehip oil

Native Chileans have long used this nutty-scented oil for healing all kinds of skin disorders, and now the rest of the world has caught on. Extracted from the hip of several species of rose flower, this vitamin-packed oil is a skin saviour on many levels. Studies have shown rosehip oil to be beneficial for reducing signs of ageing, in particular wrinkles and lost skin colour and tone. This has been attributed to the combination of vitamins A, C and E contained in this oil, as well as omega-3, -6 and -9 fatty acids. Rosehip oil has also been shown to be beneficial for repairing scarring, burns, and sun-damaged skin, in particular, pigmentation caused by excessive sun exposure.

Vitamin C

This vitamin is found abundantly in nature and can be taken as a supplement or applied externally to help combat the signs of ageing. Today, we’re just talking ‘outside’. Vitamin C’s most important role is the one it plays in collagen synthesis. Collagen is the one of the most abundant proteins in our skin and the one which we all relate to ageing and keeping our skin looking ‘plump’. Studies have shown topical vitamin C can assist in increasing collagen synthesis, as well as having anti-inflammatory and photo-protective benefits. Caution must be shown, however, with citrus-related ingredients (e.g. grapefruit essential oil) as they can have the reverse effect and sensitise the skin to the sun.

Calendula

This beautiful golden flower, also known as marigold, has been used for centuries to heal and repair skin, and is widely used in baby products for its anti-inflammatory action. Its anti-ageing benefits, however, are often forgotten. Rich in carotenoids, extracts of this flower have been shown to protect skin from oxidative stress and help restore and prevent further sun damage. It has also been shown to boost collagen synthesis and stimulate skin repair and wound healing, making it a highly effective, all-round skin superstar.

Camellia oil

Extracted from the seed of the tea plant, camellia oil provides many of the benefits we have come to expect from green tea. Packed full of antioxidant polyphenols, camellia oil has been shown in studies to have a strong anti-inflammatory action and protect skin against premature ageing, in particular damage caused by UV exposure. It has also been shown to increase collagen production in the skin, leading to less fine lines and wrinkles. A word of warning: for camellia oil to have its full effect it must not be used in products containing parabens or propylene glycols, as these can deactivate the beneficial polyphenols.

Bridget Carmady is a naturopath (BNat, BHSci (Hons)) with an interest in skincare, particularly ageing, acne and dermatitis. Bridget is also founder of organic skincare brand Clémence Organics www.clemenceorganics.com Clémence Organics’ purpose is to empower consumers to make smart skincare choices, based on the relationship between beauty, health and the environment. Furthermore, we create luxurious organic skincare without compromise.