Now this may say a lot more about me than about Lily Herbceuticals, an antiaging beauty brand that recently debuted on ShopNBC, but I couldn’t shake off a mental image of the Swedish chef in the Muppets randomly hurling stuff into a mixing bowl. This is ironic – and probably completely unfair – since Lily Herbceuticals makes a big deal out of doing just the opposite.

The herbs of Lily Herbceuticals herbs are “organized in tier” and each formula contains: “The Chief; The Deputy; The Assistant; The Convoy”. I don’t really understand what this means, but it sounds like a military campaign and there isn’t a chaotic chef in sight. Even knowing this, my feeling persists slightly. I have before me a bottle of Lily Herbceuticals Safflower Instant Wrinkle Repair ($38.24) and although there are many interesting botanicals in it, some of them seem a little random.

Nor am I sure as to why they would be in a face cream at all (but then perhaps that’s because I know next to little about Chinese medicine). For example, there is an extract here called pinellia ternate that is mostly researched for its anti-obesity potential. According to WebMD it has been banned in the US since 2004 for weight-loss regimens because it contains chemicals called ephedrine alkaloids that might cause side effects such as seizures. It may also stimulate asthma attacks for those that work in its manufacturing. I can’t find any information on what it might do for the skin. Similarly, bletilla striata, a hardy orchid, might be able to help blood to clot, but even a book called Cosmetology that has an exhaustive list of botanical cosmetic ingredients says that there is “extremely limited information” on its role regarding skin.

But perhaps these are mere “assistants” or “convoys”. The “chief”, surely, is safflower (from Tibet, no less). Safflower seed oil is high in linoleic acid (78%). The flowers, though, are used here and, traditionally, they are used to treat post-menopausal disorders. Research has also established that the flower extract is an antioxidant, although the potency seems to depend on the maturity of the flowers (source).

Also convincing are the common reed, phragmites communis, which has antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase, fenugreek (trigonella foenum-graecum seed) and the anti-inflammatory Phyllanthus Emblica (Indian gooseberry).

Although it plays a minor role in Safflower Instant Wrinkle Repair, snow lotus seems to be a “chief” in other Lily Herbceutical products. It is another enigmatic ingredient about which little is known regarding its role in skincare. Snow lotus (saussurea involucrata extract) may prevent certain cancers, but it seems to do it by inhibiting growth factor receptors. I imagine it is here because it is an anti-inflammatory. Snow lotus is apparently endangered so I hope that this cream isn’t responsible for further depletion.

Meanwhile, there is also Kombucha (saccharomyces/ xylinum/black tea ferment), which although has its devotees claiming it has miraculous medicinal powers is largely dissed by the Mayo Clinic.

There’s an eye-burning list of ingredients, rather incongruously, has the expression line inhibiting peptide, acetyl hexapeptide-8, and sodium hyaluronate. Also notable is the high concentration of silicones. Perhaps these are how Safflower Instant Wrinkle Repair achieves the "instant" effect. Even so, this product doesn't look bad for the price and all those botanicals may be the foot soldiers that win the antiaging battle over time. Has anyone tried Lily Herbceuticals products?


Water, dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, vinyl dimethicone/methicone silsesquioxane crosspolymer, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), butylene glycol, dimethicone, saccharomyces/ xylinum/black tea ferment, c12-14 pareth-12, sodium hyaluronate, acetyl hexapeptide-8, silica, sucrose, chrysanthemum sinense flower extract, saussurea involucrata extract, glycyrrhiza uralensis (licorice) root extract, phyllanthus emblica extract, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) flower extract, pearl extract, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower extract, phragmites communis extract, bletilla striata extract, pinellia ternata tuber extract, paeonia lactiflora root extract, trigonella foenum graecum seed extract, morus alba leaf extract, paeonia lactiflora root extract, acetyl glucosamine, hydroxyproline, astrocaryum murumuru seed butter, persea gratissima (avocado) oil, linoleic acid, phytosteryl canola glycerides, glycyrrhetinic acid, tocopheryl acetate, linum usitatissimum (linseed) seed oil, triolein, oleic acid, tocopherol, caffeine, beeswax, glycerin, copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax, caprylic/capric triglyceride, lecithin, palmitic acid, stearic acid, propylene glycol dicaprylate/dicaprate, cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, sodium isostearoyl lactylate, isostearyl lactate, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, hydroxyethylcellulose, acrylamide/sodium acryloyldimethyltaurate copolymer, isohexadecane, polysorbate 80, titanium dioxide, mica, caprylyl glycol, potassium sorbate, sorbic acid, phenoxyethanol, violet 2, red 33.