It wasn’t so long ago that skincare specialists sneered at botanical actives and the beauty industry would put in a token extract mostly as an excuse to use a pretty picture of a flower. This largely stemmed (bad pun intended) from the lack of really good research to justify folk medicine claims. This has changed and as spring finally approaches I’m inspired to look at flower extracts – the ones that really do have petal power – and where you can find them.
Calendula officinalis, or marigold, has been used to soothe and heal since the 12th century. Most scientific evidence regarding its effectiveness as a wound-healing agent is based on animal and laboratory study. The petals, pollen and stems are rich in triterpenoid esters (an anti-inflammatory), antioxidants and carotenoids, giving the calendula a wide array of functions. The carotenoid that makes marigolds special is lutein, which may prove to be an indispensible source of skin protection. According to a Harvard research team, it may have the potential to act as a preventative agent against UVB-induced skin cancer and skin damage. Research on topical lutein showed that hydration increased by 60%, elasticity by 20%, superficial skin lipids by 50% and lipid oxidation was seen to decrease by 55%.
Tested and recommended products with marigold include an amazing little oil, Osmosis Immerse ($44), which has emu oil, marigold and blueberry. Another facial oil with marigold is Mukti Antioxidant Facial Oil ($40) as well as the Mukti Botanique Shampoo ($43). And I was delighted to find it in my beloved E’shee KI Serum ($189 in the shop). ReLuma Anti-aging Cleanser ($35) has calendula alongside its high-tech stem cells. For those in need of some heavy guns for dry, unhappy skin, try suki Butter Cream Salve ($27.95)
If you thought rose sometimes turns up in your potions and lotions simply because it has a nice pong, you were wrong. There’s a ton of research validating rose’s anti-aging potency. According to researchers in the UK, rose extract demonstrated anti-collagenase, anti-elastase and antioxidant activities, and those antioxidant activities are nearly as high as those of white tea (source). Rose flower extract actually prolongs life – at least that of flies in an experiment conducted in 2008 and of mice, according to Chinese researchers. Korean scientists found that white rose flower extract had “excellent antioxidant potency and could scavenge free radicals.” Also keep an eye out for rosehips. They are the seed pod of roses and an amazing source of fatty acids.
Sevani Rose Hyaluronic Age Defying Tonique ($39 in the shop) is a mist with a rose smell that is transporting and just one of the reasons why I love this product. La Vie Celeste Restorative Rose Hydrosol Eye Cream ($60 in the shop) is an eye cream with so many good anti-aging ingredients that it is easy to overlook the rose hydrosol, a rose water with humectant as well as antioxidant effects. Snowberry Soothing Facial Massage Oil ($32) has rosehips bolstered by inca imchi, passionflower and pomegranate. Rosehips are also in Royal Nectar Mask with Bee Venom ($65) and Royal Nectar Moisturizer ($55).
The primary component of the essential oil extracted from chamomile is bisabolol. Because of bisabolol’s high panthenol concentration, it can effectively stimulate and promote the skin’s healing process. It also increases the skin penetration of other cosmetic ingredients, which can be particularly useful when feeding the skin antioxidants. Chamomile is so ubiquitous in skincare products that it can be easy to get blasé about it, but it is worth valuing it as these products do:
Your Best Face isn’t big on plant extracts (preferring cutting-edge antioxidants from the lab), so I’m always interested when they show up. Blue chamomile is in its Your Best Face Define lip cream ($70 in the shop). It is also in Stemulation Gentle Gel Cleanser ($35), M.A.D Skincare Redness Rescue ($36) as well as its Youth Transformation Age Corrective Serum ($60) and CV Skinlabs Calming Moisture ($49 in the shop).
Surreally beautiful, passionflower is also really useful. Research strongly suggests that this flavonoid works to reduce inflammation, most likely due to the fact that it inhibits COX-2 expression and PGE-2 formation. It also demonstrates its ability to scavenge free radicals in the body, purporting that it may function as an antioxidant as well. The active compound in passionflower is chrysin, and there’s evidence that this helps eliminate pigmented bilirubin and iron deposits underneath the skin (aka dark circles).
For this reason, you’ll find this ingredient in eye creams such as Osmotics Eye Surgery Under Eye Rejuvenator ($53), La Vie Celeste Restorative Rose Hydrosol Eye Cream ($60 in the shop) and Arcona Peptide Eye Serum ($52).