I was tipped off about ilike Organic Skin Care by my esthetician Ildi Pekar, which is not surprising since they are both Hungarian. For some reason, Hungary has always been a leader in skin care treatments and, in particular, botanical ingredients. I have often wondered if this came about as a result of all those years behind the Iron Curtain, forcing Hungarians to come up with novel solutions while the West was buying Estee Lauder.

Ilike’s explanation is more plausible. Hungary is known for its thermal hot springs along the Carpathian Ridge and they help enrich the soil with trace minerals to produce an abundance of fruit, vegetables and herbs. These are the resources that ilike draws on for its organic skin care range. But even Estee Lauder has its token botanicals, so I wondered if ilike could claim to have the cream of the crop.

When I started to look closely at ilike’s products, I immediately realized that its selection of extracts makes many other natural products look as special as a bouquet bought at a corner deli. For example, ilike’s Organic Wrinkle Eliminator Serum ($88) is full of botanicals that I hadn’t heard of, or even if I had (like pansy) had no idea what they might do in anti-wrinkle cream.

As it happens, pansy extract – the second ingredient in Wrinkle Eliminator after aloe – is used to control acne thanks to antibacterial properties, as well as eczema. It is also an anti-inflammatory. Even more exciting was the discovery that parthenocissus inserta is Virginia creeper. What was this doing here? Since parthenocissus inserta is considered to be an invasive species in Hungary, it is fortunate that ilike has found a good use for it. And useful it certainly seems to be. The creeper contains an unusually high amount of chlorophyll, which is an antioxidant. Research studies in humans have found that damage to DNA by aflatoxin can be decreased as much as 55% through supplementation with chlorophyllin.

Separately, ilike’s serum lists CI 75810 (Chlorophyll). Now, as we all know, chlorophyll is what makes leaves green and CI 75810 is a copper that has been derived from it. The action of chlorophyll in plants is complex. It absorbs light in the chloroplasts of plant cells and drives the reaction of photosynthesis. By using the energy of light to fix carbon dioxide into carbohydrate, it gives the plant fuel to grow. As well as being an antioxidant, it helps to balance the skin’s sebum production.

The sourcing of uncommon and interesting plants continues with sedum acer, (also called stoneplant). According to Polish researchers it has been found to contain quercetin, an antioixdiant that may be more powerful than resveratol. Stoneplant also seems to have a skin brightening effect. Then there is purslane, a herb that has more omega 3 than any other leafy plant. Recent research determined that its particular alkaloids are better radical scavengers than vitamins C or E.

With all of this going on, plus a marine botanical and additional vitamins, I am prepared to forgive ilike for its use of sodium benzoate, a paraben and linalool (the carginogenic component of lavender or clove oil) and ordered (from Skin One) the Wrinkle Eliminator along with a rather weird looking mask called Magnetic Skin Therapy that is supposed to help bring more oxygen to the skin.

Ingredients in Wrinkle Eliminator

Aloe Arborescens, Viola Tricolor, Parthenocissus Inserta, Sedum Acre, Portulaca Oleracea, Glycerine, Hypericum Perforatum, Calendula Officinalis, Glycine Soja, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Xanthan Gum, Methylsilanol Mannuronate, Lecithin, Lavandula Angustifolia, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), CI 75810 (Chlorophyll), Linalool, Benyl Salicylate, Eugenol, Amyl Cinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Benzyl Alcohol, Alcohol Denat.