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The Blossoming of Naturals

By: Rachel Chapman
Posted: June 11, 2008, from the November 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Algae extract. Algae extracts are potent cosmetic active ingredients that make it possible to create biologically active polysaccharides that demonstrate effectiveness in protecting microcapillary integrity. These extracts mainly target biochemical mediators that are upregulated in the skin during aging, as well as through exposure to UV light and environmental insults. They also are associated with the phenomenon of microcapillary dilation and hyperpermeability.

Emu oil. Reported as useful in transdermal delivery applications, data suggests that the delivery of nutrients by emu oil might be greater than other delivery systems. In addition, cosmetic companies are using it in cosmetic bases as a natural ingredient for moisturizers, lotions and lip balms.

Hematite extract. Stone extract derived from hematite reportedly is rich in iron. Tests conducted on human fibroblasts claim to indicate that the ingredient has a dose-dependent action that is four to 16 times more powerful than TGF ß—a benchmark growth factor that promotes synthesis of collagen. Its stimulating action on collagen synthesis is useful in filling in wrinkles for a plumping effect on the skin.

Marula oil. Also known as “the wonder oil,” marula oil is extracted from the seed kernels of the golden fruit of the marula tree. A rich source of oleic acid—which helps in preserving the health of the skin and in minimizing moisture loss—this oil is excellent in applications geared for dry skin and may be used in aromatherapy products, as well as in massage lotions and oils. It is a perfect example of an ingredient that can make consumers feel as good about their purchase as it does about its results. The harvesting and extraction process of this botanical provides both social and economical benefits to impoverished rural women in the Western Cape of South Africa.

Monk’s pepper. Berries from the monk’s pepper shrub—also known as the chaste tree from the Mediterranean region—are said to contain an endorphin-based ingredient that returns natural ingredients to the happy toiletry concept. In natural medicine practice, this berry has been used for centuries to regulate women’s menstrual cycles and to relieve PMS, which supports the endorphin statements. It also is suggested that the berry stimulates cell growth. In fact, Mibelle AG Biochemistry of Switzerland has formulated a compound that includes monk’s pepper and has termed it Happybelle.