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Five Best botanical ingredients to help get younger skin

Reviewed by Marta March 4, 2009 6 Comments

Here at Nerd's Corner, we continue our stupendously popular series on the Five Best anti-aging ingredients (so far we've done cutting-edge peptides straight from the lab and high performing botanical oils). Now we are rounding up berry and leaf extracts. We'll keep updating this series as we get more knowledgeable, but for now here is a fistful of nature's bounty to scrutinize the ingredients list for.

Pomegranate

As Claire put it in her (typically thorough) post on all things pomegranate, if anything deserves to be called a super fruit, this does. Pomegranate is a rich source of conjugated fatty acids (of which punicic acid is the most common) and polyphenol compounds (such as anthocynidins and the powerful, miraculous ellagic acid) that lend the fruit potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and free radical scavenging abilities - higher than that of green tea and red wine.

According to a 2005 study, pomegranate extract is capable of protecting against oxidative damage, while also increasing/maintaining the levels of antioxidant molecules in vivo (within the living body). Apparently, ellagic acid helps to increase the body's own built-in antioxidant glutathione, which also helps protect cells from free radical damage. Products majoring on pomegranate include RejuveneX and Juice Beauty (always great value) Oil Free Moisturizer.

Epigallocatechin gallate

Green tea is a bit passe, I'm afraid. If you really want to sharpen your antioxidant weapons, then seek out epigallocatechin gallate. OK, so it is green tea. But it is at the heart of what makes green tea effective and some cosmetic makers are isolating it before including it in their formulations. Epigallocatechin gallate is one of the four major catechins in green tea and has a much higher level of polyphenolic substances than those found in black tea. Researchers have found that it is a sunscreen, inhibits cancer cells (in a study on breast cancer) and alleviated diabetes in rats.

And for another tea that's rumored to contain higher levels of antioxidants than both green tea and red wine, check out What is it? Ilex paraguariensis, or Yerba Maté.

Goji berry (lycium barbarum)

You will get all the iron, selenium and potassium you need, plus most of the calcium, zinc, vitamin B and vitamin C. I swig a couple of ounces of juice every morning. They outdo oranges in the vitamin C dept, leave steaks in the shade when it comes to delivering iron and have more beta carotene than carrots. The measure of antioxidanr potency called ORAC, rates the goji as having 25,000 units per 100 grams. Blueberries have a pathetically pindling, by comparison, 2,500. Having said that, any trials establishing goj berries as an effective antioxidant have taken place in China and have not been verified in the west.

Goji is just starting to appear in cosmetics, such as Murad's body lotions and his Lip Duo has pomegranate as well.

Cranberry

More than Thanksgiving sauce, the cranberry is oozing with anti-aging goodness. Cranberries are a source of vitamin C, but they really come into their own as an antioxidant due to the high presence of polyphenols. The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of 100g of cranberries is 9,584. Not quite in goji's league, but better than grapes. There are several flavonoids in cranberries, including quercetin. According to Cornell University, quercetin has the highest antioxidant capacity of all the flavonoids. You'll find it in Derma e Complete E Cranberry Creme at an extremely reasonable $18.93 (we have good reviews to other Derma e products, so this should be worth checking out).

Cacoa beans

You can be a chocaholic. Nay, you should be a chocoholic. The cacoa bean's ORAC rating is right up there with our new best friend, goji berry, at 26,000. Its all to do with flavenoids. According to German researchers, women drinking high-flavonoid cocoa had 15% less skin reddening from UV light after 6 weeks of cocoa consumption and 25% less after 12 weeks of the trial. After 12 weeks of consuming the flavanol-rich cocoa, the women’s skin was 16% denser, 11% moisture, 30% less rough, and 42% less scaly than it was at the beginning of the experiment. Researchers suspect that improved blood flow was a contributor.

There are an increasing number of chocolate-laden cosmetic products. I particularly like SkinBotanica's body creams and for the past few weeks I've been using Giovanni's chocolate body scrub.

  • March 15, 2009

    by Dead Sea Mud Lady

    I have bought the Goji berry juice at Henry's (a health foods grocery store). I am almost sure that Albertson or any grocery store can order it for you if you know the brand name.
    Yes, a wonderful antioxidant for internal use.

  • March 8, 2009

    by marta

    I buy goji juice from Dynamic Health via Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Dynamic-Health-Organic-Certified-32-Ounce/dp/B000X9D8ZM/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=hpc&qid=1236524143&sr=8-1

  • March 7, 2009

    by Michelle

    Hi Marta,

    Do you know where I can find a good source of Goji berry? I tried looking for the juice at Albertsons, but they didn't have it. Is it only a health food store kind of thing? Any additional recommendations?

  • March 6, 2009

    by marta

    You know, when I wrote this headline I did strike me that it might be ambiguous and it turns out it was. Hopefully it is now clearer. Thanks for your usual bracing honesty.

  • March 5, 2009

    by Julie Kay

    It wasn't until just now I realized I was reading the title of this post wrong... I had it my head it was for those with "younger skin"- the top botanicals to help skin not quite as aged as, well, mine. LOL

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