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Excellent Extracts

By: Desiree Mattox
Posted: September 24, 2010, from the October 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Flavonoids. Flavonoids are chemical components responsible for giving fruits, vegetables and plants their color. They are also known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Although most cosmetic ingredients merely treat the outermost layer of the skin, studies have shown that some flavonoids exhibit activity in both the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin.2 Such flavonoids are excellent chemical components for anti-aging and after-sun products, providing both short-term and long-term results. This is especially useful in tackling the damage caused by UVA rays, which affect deeper layers of the skin, resulting in damage that isn’t immediately apparent.

Amino acids. Amino acids also play an important role in maintaining healthy, youthful skin. They are the building blocks of protein and because human skin is made of fibrous protein, amino acids are essential. The body can produce the majority of the amino acids it needs; however, essential amino acids cannot be produced by the body and therefore must be introduced via ingestion or applied topically. Because proper skin function and development is reliant on amino acids, they play an important role in the delivery and function of other skin care ingredients.

Botanical and fruit extracts

The secret to providing quality, results-driven services is to use products that contain a good combination of the aforementioned components. Because botanical and fruit extracts contain a multitude of vitamins, amino acids and flavonoids that feed the skin, they can easily ramp up the effectiveness of a product or service without the addition of too many ingredients. Several examples of extracts that are rich in these components include the following.

Calendula extract. This extract has properties that make it an excellent ingredient in cleansers for all skin types, especially dry, sensitive and sunburned skin. The cleansing properties of calendula extract are attributed to saponin, a natural surfactant that foams and lathers when agitated in water. Calendula extract also contains mucilage, a polysaccharide that has humectant and soothing properties making it a moisturizing and anti-inflammatory ingredient. This ingredient also contains flavonoids, thus exhibiting antioxidant properties.

Ginkgo biloba extract. This extract can be a useful ingredient in any number of spa products, especially leave-on products, such as facial moisturizers and massage oil. It has been studied as an anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and sun care ingredient. In fact, the main flavonoids proven to be effective in treating mature and sun-damaged skin are found in ginkgo biloba extract. Because flavonoids have the ability to penetrate the epidermal skin layer, they have some effect on the dermal layer as well. This property alone makes ginkgo biloba extract a noteworthy ingredient for products being retailed to clients following their service.