The Power of Plants in Skincare



I love plants. They play a huge role in keeping us alive, from detoxifying our air to nourishing our bodies, but the power of plants goes a lot deeper than that. Archeologists believe that humans have been using plants for medicinal purposes for approximately 60,000 years. 

The history of plants as medicine goes back centuries, and more recently has been integrated into mainstream wellness with ayurvedic favorites such as turmeric, moringa, and ashwagandha. 

But those powerhouse ingredients are only the tip of the iceberg.

There are roughly 320,000 species of plants across the globe, and some of them boast phenomenal benefits for our minds, body’s, and, of course, our skin.

Today, I’m going to share four badass, phyto-active plants that will change your skin, and possibly, your life.

To kick things off, let’s discuss what the term phyto-active means. The first part of the term, phyto, simply means plant, or ‘of plant’. Phyto-active refers to the potent nutrients, or active components within a plant extract or medicinal plant. When applied topically, these active nutrients penetrate your dermis and are delivered to your skin cells to support the extracellular matrix.

In other words, these active nutrients are absorbed into your skin to heal, nourish, and regenerate on the cellular level. 

Now, just because something comes from a plant doesn’t automatically mean it is safe or effective. Not all plants are made equal, and it is very important to do your due diligence when seeking out products that contain phyto-active ingredients. 

For example, the flowering plant tansy is actually toxic, where its similarly named relative blue tansy, has the ability to heal acne, while moisturizing skin. 

The extraction method also plays a vital role in the efficacy and potency of phyto-active ingredients. Two ingredients with the same name, can have been extracted or harvested differently leaving one ingredient far more active than the other. 

Another part of the extraction process to look at is whether the ingredient has been refined or not. Unrefined and cold-pressed ingredients contain more nutrients than oils that have been expeller pressed or heat extracted from the plant. 

Now, I know this is only just scratching the surface, but it’s a great place to start. The more you know, am I right?

Let’s get to the good part, here are four phyto-active ingredients to seek out in your skincare, based on function.

1) Hibiscus

Function: Collagen boosting

Hibiscus is one of the most sought after ingredients and has been touted as ‘nature’s botox’ due to its unique antioxidant composition that effectively stimulates collagen production, while preventing the degradation of both collagen and elastin.

“Hibiscus has great anti-aging benefits because it maintains elastin in the skin by decreasing the activity of elastase, an enzyme that breaks down our skin’s natural elastin,” Dr. Devika Icecreamwala, a dermatologist with Icecreamwala Dermatology in San Francisco, said for an article in The Zoe Report.

Hibiscus is also known for its super high vitamin C and linoleic acid (omega-6) content which also promotes collagen production and supports your skin’s moisture barrier. Additionally, hibiscus offers natural alpha hydroxy acids that help promote cell turnover and renewal.

Where to find it: Fountain Phyto Retinol Serum

2) Licorice Root 

Function: Fading hyperpigmentation

Licorice root extract is a potent ingredient that has long been used as a natural hydroquinone alternative due to its ability to visibly reduce hyperpigmentation. The extract contains several powerful compounds that work to fade dark spots and prevent new dark spots from forming. 

"It contains liquiritin, an active compound that helps to disperse and remove existing melanin in the skin," said board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Jennifer Chwalek, for Byrdie.

Licorice root extract is also abundant in antioxidants that help keep inflammation at bay, and is incredible for improving overall skin tone and clarity. 

Where to find it: Gloss Clarifying Serum

3) Cacay nut

Function: Minimizing wrinkles and fine lines

This highly sought after superstar ingredient is considered a natural retinol due to its ultra high vitamin A and retinoic acid content.The naturally occurring retinol goes to work to regenerate your skin cells, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and stimulating new collagen production.

A clinical study of cacay oil from 2013 in Germany showed that daily application of cacay oil within a 4 week period reduced the appearance of wrinkles by 45%. According to that study, cacay oil effectively boosts skin's hydration and elasticity, and visibly firms the appearance of the skin.

Cacay nut oil is also extremely high in vitamin E which is fantastic for protecting your skin’s moisture barrier and maintaining balanced oil production. 

Where to find it: Fountain Phyto Retinol Serum

4 - Willow bark extract

Function: Clarifying and natural exfoliating 

Willow bark extract is a super phyto-active ingredient that contains a natural concentration of salicylic acid. Due to this natural concentration of salicylic acid, it is a powerful ingredient in healing acne and promoting natural exfoliation, without the downsides of the synthetic variations.

"Willow bark extract has been shown to produce similar results to synthetic salicylic acid, except without some of the drawbacks," Dave Petrillo, a cosmetic chemist said in an interview with Byrdie. "Studies have found that even at a level of 100 percent, which is equivalent to 10 percent formulation of salicylic acid, salicin is non-irritating." 

The gentle nature of this superstar ingredient offers anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce redness. It is also rich in tannins, which help reduce the appearance of pores and antioxidants that support the skin barrier and lock in moisture, while controlling oil production.

Where to find it: Gloss Clarifying Serum

These four dynamo ingredients are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to transformational, high-performance ingredients to elevate your skin. Rosehip, seabuckthorn, white lupin, and blue tansy are other vitamin and antioxidant-rich ingredients that will make a huge impact on the health and vitality of your skin - and as luck would have it, you will find all of these in Gloss and Fountain, our new oil serums.

And remember, just because a product claims to be all natural and plant-based, doesn’t necessarily mean it is. Read your labels and watch out for potentially harmful synthetic ingredients and chemical compounds like dimethicone, sodium lauryl sulfate, and sodium benzoate hiding amongst your ‘clean’ self-care products.

Do your own due diligence, double check those labels, and your skin and microbiome will thank you!

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