The Unsung Heroes Of Natural Skin Care
Coconut oil, lavender, witch hazel, jojoba oil, and other popular plant-based extracts are constantly in the spotlight, touted for their ability to handle any number of ailments, problems, and conditions naturally. Everyone knows their benefits, and many use them on a regular basis. While they may be the stars of the show, there is a whole chorus line of strong, able-bodied underdogs backing them up.
We'll put a few of these unsung heroes in the well-deserved spotlight and give them the props they deserve.
Azadirachta indica (Neem Seed) Oil
Neem oil is derived from the seeds of the neem tree, or Indian lilac. Alone, it has a sulfur-garlicky scent thing going on, but there's no need to be turned off. It's incredibly useful in skin care products because of the high levels of antioxidants it contains. Antioxidants help to reverse the damage done by toxic, free radicals which are partially responsible for signs of aging.
Neem oil is potently stocked with nutrients, essential fatty acids (EFAs) and vitamin E, and can quickly penetrate through the outer skin layers without leaving it greasy, making it effective in healing dry and damaged skin. It can be very soothing, particularly for eczema symptoms, by helping to alleviate dry, red, itchy skin.
It can also help to reduce old scars. It helps to smooth wrinkles and fine lines by stimulating collagen production.
Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract
Rosemary is an aromatic, woody plant with a scent favoring evergreens, long-used to flavor potatoes, soups, meats, and other dishes. It's recently gaining favor as an ingredient in many skin and hair care products.
Its antimicrobial properties help to kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses. When used topically, it's useful on problem skin prone to dermatitis, acne, eczema, or psoriasis. That, coupled with the fact that it stimulates cell renewal, helps to promote healing for minor burns or wounds. It's been shown to have strong antioxidant activity and is a valid treatment in anti-aging skin management.
Helianthus annus (Sunflower) Seed Extract
Sunflower seed oil is rich in linoleic acid (an EFA), which can help to maintain the skin barrier function, decreasing transepidermal water loss. That makes it useful in treating atopic dermatitis. It's been shown to actually improve hydration, and it contains compounds that protect collagen and elastin (the skin's connective tissues), helping to promote a more youthful appearance.
There have been several studies suggesting that this oil carries anti-inflammatory properties, which can be useful in treating dermatoses (inflammation of the skin). Sunflower has the superpower antioxidant, Vitamin E, and contains EFAs, which can work to help in cellular regeneration.
Olive Fruit Oil
Olive oil was once called "liquid gold" by the ancient Greek poet, Homer. It was used centuries ago by the Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans as a common skin care ingredient. It's well-known for its unique ability to mix with water, penetrating skin and helping it to stay moisturized. It's great for all skin types, as it doesn't clog pores.
It contains several different antioxidants, high in vitamins A and E, and the flavonoids quercetin, rutin, and kaempferol. Olive oil has natural cleansing properties, as it's both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.
A Word About Salix alba (White Willow Bark) Extract
Willow bark extract has been used for centuries to soothe irritated skin. It's a source of salicin, which, when ingested, converts into salicylic acid. Salicin can also be chemically oxidized in a laboratory setting to yield salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is an effective staple ingredient in countless acne treatments, working to penetrate pores to decrease sebum secretion. It also exfoliates dead skin cells and has anti-inflammatory properties. Salicylic acid, a precursor to aspirin, is considered a "drug" by the FDA, and therefore regulated as such.
That means that white willow bark isn't a straight-up source of salicylic acid and therefore, is not an outright true substitute for salicylic acid. But it does contain a host of incredibly beneficial attributes on its own thanks to the salicin, and deserves to take credit.
Salix alba contains flavonoids and tannins which are powerful antioxidants, helping to protect the skin from environmental stressors like sun damage.
One study shows that the salicin in white willow bark extract can help to reduce visible signs of aging when applied topically. The appearance of wrinkles, pore size, radiance, and overall appearance were improved after only one week.
Where To Find ThemIf you're searching for gentle, chemical-free skin care products but don't want to sacrifice effectiveness, you can find these ingredients in more and more over-the-counter skin care products. Search for a company that balances pure plant-based oils and extracts with modern science to ensure efficacy. Calysta Labs uses no dyes, preservatives, or fragrances and their products are designed to prevent the signs of aging, sun damage, and acne.