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Nature's Best Ingredients

milk thistle
January 23, 2014 Reviewed by Marta 2 Comments

Like a master chef, nature brings its best ingredients to skin care. But we want our natural cosmetic concoctions, however mouthwatering they are, to be potent and effective. Separate the wheat from the chaff with my selection of what I consider to be some of the most effective anti-aging skin care ingredients that nature has to offer.

Apple Stem Cells

Stem cells have been one of the anti-aging skin care breakthroughs of this decade. But why plant stem cells and what can they do for us? What makes plant stem cells so enticing is that they live forever. Plus, if they come across cells with damaged DNA, the stem cells trigger their death before they can cause damage.

Products with apple stem cells include Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer ($60), La Vie Celeste’s Extra Rich Cream ($75 in the shop) and Skinfinite Peptide Repair Serum ($69 in the shop).


Bearberrys are beloved by bears, Dr. Oz and should be on your love list too. Bearberry contains something called arbutin, which is a natural skin brightener. Bearberry, also called uva ursi, has the added bonus of having sun protection properties and may reduce the degree of skin tanning after sun exposure.

Products with bearberry include Medki8 Red Alert for Body ($75), M.A.D Skincare Illuminating Daily Moisturizer and Arcona Instant magic Reversal Serum ($105).

Bee Venom

Bee venom is packed with antioxidants. Bee venom is known as apitoxin and acts as a strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. Bee venom contains at least 18 active substances. These include the peptides melittin and apamin. Melittin is an anti-inflammatory that is being used to treat inflammatory diseases such as rheumatism, and can combat cancers (source). Another component of bee venom is hyaluronidase.

Products with bee venom include Avitalin Bee Venom BioLift Complex ($70), Royal Nectar Face Mask with Bee Venom ($68) and Nature's Beauty Bee Venom Eye Serum ($49.95).

Emu Oil

Emu oil is actually very close to human sebum and, hence, our skins will easily absorb and process its goodness. It contains essential fatty acids: linolenic, linoleic, oleic, and palmitic. Linolenic (omega-3 EFA) and linoleic (omega-6 EFA). Oleic is a known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Specifically, topical applications of emu oil may result in the growth of thicker hair….. both a thickening of existing hair shafts (which shrink in diameter with age) and a “re-awakening” of the dormant (sleeping) hair shafts (which increase as a percentage of total hair shafts with age). And this big bird is backed by science.

Products with emu oil include Truth Vitality Conditioner ($35 in the shop), Truth Vitality Brow Empower Complex ($39 in the shop) and Clearly Emu Ultra Clear ($26-69 in the shop).


Ergothioneine is a powerful antioxidant found in mushrooms and red and black beans. Some folks claim it is a more powerful antioxidant than idebenone. In our own bodies, ergothieneine rallies to the cause to be found in high concentrations around cells that are subjected to free radical damage. However, we cannot synthesize it, so we need to obtain it from our diet or topical creams.

Products with ergothioneine include Osmosis Replenish Antioxidant Repair Serum ($52) and Skinfinite Platinum 30SPF ($32.50).

Milk Thistle

A member of the daisy family, milk thistle is a powerful antioxidant. The powerhouse of milk thistle extract is silymarin, an antioxidant that protects against cell damage. It can strengthen cell walls, stimulate enzymes that make toxins less harmful to the body, as well as block free radicals - responsible for signs of aging - from attacking cells, according to the National Cancer Institute. As well as an anti-aging active, milk thistle is helpful in skin care for acne sufferers.

Products with milk thistle include Stemulation Elevate Eye Cream ($75), Arcona Instant Magic Reversal Serum ($105), and La Vie Céleste Éclairage Restorative Serum ($98.50 in the shop).


Macadamia, my favorite nut, produces a highly stable oil that is off the charts with good fatty acid content (about 80%). Plus it has good amounts of magnesium, manganese, thiamine, copper, and iron. Macadamia nut oils are rich sources of squalene, a naturally occurring antioxidant present in human skin surface lipids that protects us from sun-induced lipid peroxidation. There's a reason why it's one of the most favored bases in facial oil formulas.

Products with macadamia include Your Best Face Antioxidants Concentrate ($65 in the shop), Amarte Natural Finish BB Cream ($57), and Snowberry Soothing Facial Massage Oil ($32)


Moringa is one of the most remarkable plants on the planet. It has more zeatin (the most powerful of all cytokinins, which help cells divide and remain healthy) than any other known plant. Moringa not only contains thousands of times more zeatin than any other known plant, it is also the most nutritious plant discovered to date, with over 90 nutritional compounds including 46 antioxidants and 36 anti-inflammatories. Moringa also leaves other better known botanicals in the shade when it comes to the concentration of vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium. It is also great at protecting the skin from pollutants (in India it is used to purify wells for drinking water).

Products with moringa include My Prime Multi-Purpose Mattifying Moisturizer ($68), M.A.D Skincare Eye Defense Shielding Serum ($60), and Arcona Magic Dry Ice ($52).

  • January 24, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi Kim, emu oil is similar to human sebum and therefore penetrates easily. However, I have not heard of it being able to assist the penetration of retinol or anything else. It is probably a good idea to continue with it as it is helping to counteract the drying action of retinol.

  • January 23, 2014

    by Kim

    Dear Marta, I loved your article. I have long been interested in natural skin-care ingredients that actually have some proven benefits. Your article is very informative. I would like to add that I have been using Emu oil on my face for about 2 years now. I use on it my "retinol nights"; a few drops 1/2 hour after my retinol application. I have had no irritation associated with retinol use when I use the emu oil afterwards. Emu oil is also reportedly able to help the retinol penetrate deeper into the skin's tissues. I would be interested in knowing your thoughts on Emu oil as a night treatment over retinol or other intensive treatment serums. I have also been using it occasionally over my Michael Todd Knu anti-aging serum with the snail secretions, hoping that it may also help this serum penetrate. Thanks in advance for your thoughts! {{hugs}} Kim

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