Anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid, are the pigments that you see in plants; they’re what make leaves red, stems green and what give many fruits their color. While most fruits contain at least some quantity of anthocyanins, the ones that are richest in this flavonoid include blueberries, cranberries, bilberries, blackberries, raspberries, and certain grapes. In some plants, anthocyanins act as a kind of sunscreen, protecting cells from UV rays. They also act as potent antioxidants, hunting down free radicals in plants.

The hope is that anthocyanins can do for us what they do for plants. Scientists believe that our ancestors consumed anthocyanins in high quantities (as hunters and gatherers) in the form of berries. And during World War II, anthocyanins were known to improve pilots’ night vision. They have been shown to protect against neurological disease, protect the walls of blood vessels and control diabetes.  According to one study, anthocyanins have more antioxidants than vitamin E, ascorbic acid, and beta carotene.

So, can anthocyanins help us in terms of beauty? Maybe. One of the most prominent things that anthocyanins have been shown to do is suppress inflammation and stabilize collagen.  They do so by preventing free radical damage, which inhibits enzymes from clinging to the collagen.  And, when applied to animals’ skin with other antioxidants, they act “photo-protectively” when exposed to UV radiation.

One study, in particular, was quite interesting; it determined that anthocyanins from bog blueberries alleviated photoaging and UV toxicity, as well as suppressed collagen degradation on human skin that had been exposed to UVB radiation. Because the blueberries’ anthocyanins diminished the UVB radiation’s collagen destruction and inflammation, the study concluded, “anthocyanins from edible bog blueberry may be protective against UV-induced skin photoaging.”

As wonderful as all of this sounds, it seems as though the beauty industry is taking awhile to catch up to the science world. Still, after some digging, I was able to find a few products that include the wonder flavonoid as an ingredient; they are listed below. Do bear in mind, though, that both the Neutrogena product and the DERMAdoctor product use the word “anthocyanins” in their descriptions, though their ingredients name Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit (bilberry) extract and sweet cherry extract, respectively. However, the DDF product actually contains “anthocyanins” as an ingredient.

Neutrogena Nourishing Cream Cleanser

Water, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Lauryl Glucoside, Glycol Distearate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Cetyl Alcohol, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Linoleamidopropyl PG Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Magnesium Aspartate, Zinc Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit Extract (/Leaf), Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract (Sugar Maple), Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Fruit Extract (Orange), Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Extract (Lemon), Tocopheryl Acetate, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Flower Extract, Propylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Disodium EDTA, PEG 150 Distearate, PPG 2 Hydroxyethyl Cocamide, Propylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Fragrance

DERMAdoctor Little Red Dress Rejuvinating Chic Tint

Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Sodium Carboxymethyl, Starch, Prunus Avium (Sweet Cherry) Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Tetrasodium EDTA, Red 33 (CI 17200), Red 40 (CI 16035)

DDF Daily Protective Moisturizer SPF 15

Active Ingredients: Avobenzone (0.5%, sunscreen), octinoxate (7.5%, sunscreen), octisalate (2%, sunscreen), octocrylene (4%, sunscreen)

Inactive Ingredients: Water, glycerin, ethylhexyl palmitate, dimethicone, propylene, glycol, polysorbate 80, triethanolamine, hydroxyethylcellulose, titanium dioxide, carbomer, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, butyrospermum parkII (shea butter) extract, squalane, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, DMDM hydantoin, polyacrylamide, disodium EDTA, C13-14 isoparaffin, panthenol, propylparaben, laureth-7, zinc oxide, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, tocopherol, sodium hyaluronate, centella asiatica extract, camellia oleifera leaf extract, vitis vinifera (grape) seed extract, retinyl palmitate, zinc gluconate, pinus pinaster bark/bud extract, genistein, acetyl cysteine, anthocyanins, ubiquinone, xanthophyll. Contains Redox II™, a proprietary antioxidant formulation of DDF®