There’s been a major shift in our behaviour over the past year. Plant-based diets are on the rise, clean beauty trends are rapidly gaining momentum and we’ve (rightly) placed importance on the use of recyclable or reusable packaging. In the midst of all this change, we’ve seen a new interest in botanicals, be it in gin, household items, tea and most importantly, skincare.
The use of botanicals in skincare is nothing new. Cleopatra famously used black cumin seed oil as a beauty treatment and calendula has been used for its skin-healing abilities for centuries. It’s prompted the launch of various local skincare brands that harness SA’s finest home-grown botanicals. But it’s not just the smaller brands that are utilising nature’s finest –major international skincare brands have adapted their formulations and launched new products infused with the power of plant-based ingredients.
Botanicals are classified as plant extracts or oils derived from plants, flowers, herbs, berries, seeds and roots. The quality of the oil is usually determined by the way it as harnessed. When harnessed correctly, the oils may present major skincare benefits. Botanicals are most effective in treating skincare concerns when they are combined with modern scientific research, meaning nature and science come together to bring you a product that offers the best of both worlds.
Let’s take a look at some of the botanical categories:
Nuts and seeds
Seeds are considered botanical powerhouses, because they contain everything that a plant needs to grow. This means they’re packed with nutrients at a high concentration. Some of the most common nuts and seeds used in skincare are baobab, black cumin, argan, macadamia and jojoba.
Baobab oil is best known for its regenerating properties. It has the ability to repair damaged skin and intensely moisturise even the driest of skins, including sensitive skin. Try Skin Creamery’s Facial Hydrating Oil (R325.00). Filled with baobab, jojoba and Kalahari melon seed oil, it’s an antioxidant powerhouse.
Evening primrose oil is known for its ability to ease the symptoms of menstruation and menopause, but did you know that it has a soothing effect on the skin and scalp? It is also known to help heal acne thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. We love Lush’s Mask of Magnaminty Face and Body Mask (R175.00). Filled with evening primrose seeds, peppermint oil and kaolin, it is antibacterial, it stimulates blood cells under the skin to increase blood flow and is great for deep cleansing oily skin.
Argan oil has been deemed a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to skincare. This multipurpose oil is moisturising, fights acne, is protecting, improves wound healing, has anti-ageing benefits and soothes atopic dermatitis. Try NUXE Huile Prodigieuse Florale Multi-Purpose Dry Oil (R495.00). Combining the best in floral and seed / nut botanical oils, it contains argan oil, camellia oil (known for its outstanding moisture-retaining abilities), macadamia oil and almond oil. Suitable for use all over the body, it is intensely moisturising and restores and nourishes dry skin.
Most noticeably used in fragrance and body care products, floral extracts are very popular thanks to their beautiful scents. The most popular flower used for its skincare benefits is the rose. Roses have anti-inflammatory properties and have also shown an ability to help reduce the appearance of scars. Rose oil or extract is often included in skincare aimed at sensitive skin as it is very gentle and known to soothe and calm sensitivity. Rose extracts are also high in vitamins C and E.
We recommend Dr Hauschka’s Rose Day Cream (R629.00). A cult classic, this day cream captures the strength and softness of the rose. It is calming and minimises redness and sensitivity while deeply nourishing and moisturising the skin. It comprises extracts of rose petals, wild rose hips, shea butter and St John’s wort and is suitable for normal, dry and sensitive skin.
Another great rose buy is SVR’s Densitium Rose Eclat (R400.00), an anti-ageing moisturiser aimed at normal-to-dry mature skin. This moisturiser helps counteract the signs commonly associated with ageing: dryness, sagging, wrinkles and a dull complexion. It also contains hyaluronic acid to reinforce the skin’s barrier function.
Hundreds of different plant extracts are used in skincare and body care items. One of the most popular ones is green tea. Green tea is a powerful antioxidant and has great detoxifying properties. It also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties which makes it a popular ingredient for treating oily and acne-prone skin. For an effective facial treatment, try Skin Republic’s Wild Purifying Charcoal + Green Tea Panda Face Mask Sheet (R55.00). It’s great for fighting breakouts and reducing oiliness, yet it’s ultra-gentle on the skin.
Ever heard of edelweiss extract? Edelweiss contains a compound known as leontopodic acid, which has shown to help strengthen the skin’s barrier and make it more resistant to environmental aggressors. We recommend giving Filorga’s Lift Restructuring Day Cream (R1110.00) a try. Rich in edelweiss extract, it also contains algae extract. Together, these extracts strengthens the skin’s elastic tissue, resulting in firmer, more toned skin.
Another popular choice is moringa. Naturally filled with vitamin C, moringa oil boosts collagen and helps reduce the signs of ageing. This is also an edible plant, and is regularly consumed and even taken in the form of supplements. The oil is nutrient-dense, offering deep moisturising properties. Try Zero’s Moringa Hair & Body Bar (R75.00). This convenient little bar can be used all over to cleanse and nourish the hair and body.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruit and veggies are not just for eating – many of them are also used in skin and body care products. Almost every fruit and vegetable, from carrots, to cucumbers, to bananas and strawberries have lent themselves to a skincare range. We’ve also come across some more unusual ingredients. Ximenia oil, for example, is rich in unsaturated fatty acids and is stable to oxidation. It has shown to moisturise, soften and revitalise dry skin. Try Esse’s Protect Oil (R635.00). It shields sensitive skin while protecting it from environmental aggressors.
Peas have also proven to be very versatile when it comes to cosmetic and health care products. Local skincare brand Beaucience discovered Proteasyl, a type of pea extract with various skincare benefits. Proteasyl restores the skin’s equilibrium, stimulates cell metabolism and repairs dermal proteins. We recommend trying the Beaucience Botanicals Cleansing Gel (R99.99).
A powerful blend
Some skincare products include a combination of various botanicals to offer the very best results. This is mostly the case for serums and moisturisers, as they’re designed to deliver powerful ingredients into the skin. Our current favourites include:
Dermalogica Phyto-Nature Firming Serum (R2599.00) – a dual-phase serum that restores and preserves the nature of younger-looking skin by reducing the appearance of premature skin ageing. In the firming phase, Sapphire-bound biomimetic peptides help firm skin and reinforce skin defenses to counter visible signs of skin ageing accelerated by your exposomes (environment and lifestyle). In the lifting phase, Phyto-Nature technology uses potent, plant-derived bio-extracts to visibly tighten skin. Amazonian Camu Camu helps prolong radiance while next-generation Hyaluronic Acid delivers a filler effect. Antioxidant Moroccan Rockrose Extract and Madagascar Green Coffee Bean visibly revitalise skin and help decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Clarins Plant Gold Nutri-Revitalizing Oil-Emulsion (R785.00) – a one-of-a-kind dual formula featuring legendary Clarins Blue Orchid Oil and a melting emulsion that blend together into a lightweight non-greasy texture on application to give your skin comfort, vitality and radiance. Boasting a formulation of 100% natural origin, this emulsion has a high content of fatty acids, including hazelnut, macadamia and grape seed plant oils to help nourish and soften the skin. Patchouli essential oil helps revitalise and tone the skin.
Keen on incorporating some botanical skincare into your regime? Which of these products tickle your fancy?