Mother Nature is a constant source of power and delight when it comes to fixing skin problems. Here are seven new beautifying botanicals you need to know about.
Long used in traditional African medicine, baobab – which means “Tree of Life” – contains six and four times more vitamin C than oranges and kiwifruit, respectively. The fruit contains bioflavonoids which are excellent for preserving skin elasticity; however, it is the seed oil’s exceptionally high content of protein, essential fatty acids and vitamins A, D, and E which makes it so valuable in regenerating skin and stimulating new cell production. European studies indicate that the leaf and bark extracts also increase cellular activity and longevity, brightening and toning skin.
Try: Richesse de l’Afrique Pure Baobab Oil (www.remedica.com.au), a delicate, easily absorbed serum that decreases the appearance of lines; it can also be used to heal skin post-laser treatment or surgery.
“Unlike other oils, grapeseed oil is light, easily absorbed, and creates a protective layer to lock in moisture,” says Janice Cox, author of Natural Beauty at Home. Both the oil and extract are high in vitamin E, flavonoids, linoleic acid, and antioxidant polyphenols, which protect cells from the free radicals that are created in the body when we are exposed to toxins, and which cause collagen breakdown, leading to sagging and wrinkles. Grapeseed also has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal andantiviral properties, making it helpful in products for blemished skin; plus, it acts as a preservative, making it an alternative to conventional preservatives like parabens.
Try: Apivita Eye Cream SPF 15 (www.apivita.com), a blend of grapeseed, myrtle and jasmine oils to reduce puffiness, lighten dark circles, and nourish fragile eye tissue.
Scientists call this ‘the master antioxidant’, because it is the leading antioxidant produced naturally in the body and plays a critical role as an immune-booster and detoxifier. Used topically, it protects skin, stimulates cell growth, and possibly reverses signs of ageing. It is well known, especially in Asia, as a skin lightener. The topical form, l-glutathione, is found in soaps, lotions and creams that even skin tone, remove dry, rough patches, and have a brightening effect.
Try: SW+SS L-glutathione Bar (www.theswisscare.com) – use it instead of your usual cleanser to lighten age spots and scarring, and counter hyperpigmentation.
4. Marine collagen
One age-old secret of Japanese women’s porcelain skin is said to be marine collagen, derived from algae. Marine plants are 10 times richer in minerals and trace elements than land plants, making them useful for boosting skin’s moisture content, leading to a more youthful appearance. They contain type III collagen, which is what gives young skin its firmness; over time, type III collagen is depleted and replaced with the more abundant, harder type I collagen. Marine collagen encourages skin renewal, collagen production and cell turnover and longevity, reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
Try: Pevonia Botanica Age-defying Marine Collagen Cream (www.pevonia.com), a concentrated combo of collagen and hyaluronic acid to smooth, hydrate and rejuvenate skin.
5. Hempseed oil
Cold-pressed from the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa, not the illegal C. indica), this light-textured, non-greasy oil is particularly high in the essential fatty acids linoleic and linolenic acid, the antioxidants vitamin E and beta-carotene, and skin-clarifying minerals sulphur, magnesium, and phosphorus. Hempseed oil helps repair and strengthen skin by stimulating collagen growth, reducing redness, healing blemishes and preventing further breakouts, and improving skin’s ability to retain moisture; it should be part of every woman’s skin-care regime.
Try: Lush Brimstone Body Scrub (www.lush.com.au), with hempseed oil to soften skin, sulphur to purify, sea salt to exfoliate, and fragrant jasmine and lemongrass oils for a heavenly scent.
6. Macadamia nut oil
This is expressed from the nuts, which are high in fat as well as the skin-supportive minerals calcium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc, and is highly beneficial for skin. It is extremely nourishing, contains palmitic and oleic acids which give it unusually high skin-penetrative qualities, and just so happens to be the plant oil which is most compatible with human skin. Its rich texture makes it particularly suitable in products for sensitive, dry or easily irritated skin, as well as suncare and deep
hair-conditioning formulas, and treatments for heal blemishes, scars, and skin injuries.
Try: Crabtree & Evelyn Naturals Botanical Body Lotion (http://www.crabtree-evelyn.com.au, a re-texturising blend of macadamia nut and soy oils, milk protein, and sugar cane extract.
7. Noni juice
This comes from the tropical fruit Morinda citrifolia. Already well known as a health tonic, noni creates xeronine in the body, which is effective in repairing damaged skin cells, and is a good source of linoleic, linolenic, and arachidonic essential fatty acids, which all support skin healing and repair. Noni also contains glycerol and butyric acid, which counter excessively dry, leathery skin, and scopoletin, which is an excellent anti-inflammatory. Miranda Kerr, who features noni juice in her organic skincare range KORA, says: “I consider noni one of my best-kept health and beauty secrets. It is a core ingredient in KORA and my inspiration for the brand.”
Try: KORA Organics Cream Cleanser (www.koraorganics.com), a softly whipped blend of noni extract, oat flour and rosehip, avocado and macadamia nut oils that is perfect for dehydrated skin.
Better skin while you sleep
Treat yourself to regular bedtime TLC and you’ll wake up looking and feeling better.
* Quiet your mind: Take a warm, relaxing bath with aromatic oils to unwind. A fragrant candle creates a soothing mood – try Mambino Organics Summer in Tuscany Candle, hand-poured from organic soy wax, with lead-free cotton wicks and scented with wild flowers ($45.95 for 206g/50 hours burn time; www.mambinoorganics.com.au).
* Deepen your relaxation: Massage a scented body lotion or oil into your warm skin, like Beguile’s Delish Body Elixir ($14.95 for 100ml; www.beguile.com.au), which contains certified organic camellia and peach kernel oil, and comforting, sleep-inducing lavender oil.
* Lavish attention on your face: “An antioxidant serum and night cream give your skin the best chance of nixing daily damage from sun, pollution, and stress,” says dermatologist Dr Doris Day. We like La Mav’s OFC Certified Organic Night Repair (www.lamav.com).