In this article I'll cover
Here’s a list of natural ingredients for hair and skin with anti-ageing benefits. Use it when you’re researching new products.
It’s written for women who want to know more about what they are putting on their skin without having to become chemistry boffs. skincare geeks or haircare nerds.
To me, it’s easy now (or easier!) but it wasn’t always, so here’s a little help. My definitions are gleaned from personal experience, not textbook rehash. Enjoy.
Ingredients to Rejuvenate
Leaves and seeds were used by Romans and Egyptians. Called the wonder tree, both leaves and seed pods were used for healthy skin and care. Moringa is rich in antioxidant polyphenols, vitamins A, C and E so perfect to support healthy collagen and radiance. Moringa oleifera leaves, rich in iron and Vitamin C, have been proposed as a vegan food source to combat iron deficiency. You can use the leaves to clean your scalp and hair, and to prevent dandruff and hair damage. MOring protects your skin against the environment. It can be used to soften skin or clear blackheads, pimples and blemishes. One of the anti-pollution ingredients s it protects skin against particulate matter, cigarette smoke and smog particles adhering to its surface!
African Baobab oil (Adansonia digitata) is called the Upside Down Tree. It’s rich in antioxidants- vitamins A, D, E and F , Sitosterol, Campesterol and Stigmasterol.
β-Sitosterol anti-oxidant fights against skin-damaging free radicals.
Baobab softens and re-moisturises dry skin as well as improving elasticity and skin tone, so is ideal for dry, sensitive or mature skin.
Use it for rejuventaion and renewal of healthy skin during menopause.
African Marula (Sclerocarya birrea) has been used for thousands of years by tribes in Southern Africa to protect their skin and hair against the harsh elements of sun, wind and drought.
Marula helps skin and hair that is dry, fragile or cracking. The oil has a lovely silky touch and can improve skin hydration and smoothness so consider it for massage blends, facial and body oils, face creams and hair conditioning products.
And if you are visiting South Africa, try the Amarula cream liquer made from Marula fruits – it’s creamy and delicious. (And potent)
Cupuaçu is a rainforest butter in the same family as cocoa. It’s called ‘vegan lanolin’ for its excellent moisturising properties.
It’s anti-inflammatory and suitable fro hair and skin care.
Called Mimimosa tenuiflora, tepezcohuite is am ancient Mayan remedy for healing burns and wounds. It completely regenerates the skin and can be used ina serum or face cream.
Popular in Korean skincare, this dark red resin has traditional uses as a dye, natural incense and in traditional Chinese medicine.
Dracena draco comes from Socotra Island in Yemen. It’s part of the asparagas family and has a peculiar habit of oozing red sap when the tree is attacked by insects or pathogens.
This red sap is used as a dye, incense and as traditional medicine for wounds, fractures, piles, leucorrhoea, diarrhoea, stomach and intestinal ulcers. It improves blood circulation and reduces pain. It’s popular in Korean skincare for its wound healing, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Dragon’s blood contains numerous flavonoids, chalcones, chalconepolymers, anthocyanidin,stilbenes, terpenes and sterol saponins which give it skin-beneficial properties, including antibacterial, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antitumor, and cytotoxic activities.
The vibrant colour comes from trihydroxychalcone, dihydroxymethoxychalcone, dracoflavylium, 4,6-dihydroxy-2-methoxy-3-methyldihydrochalcone, dracooxepine, dracoflavan A, B1 and B2.
Rich in fatty acids and Vitamin E, Wendy uses it in Heart of Eternity face cream for its replensihing, smoothing and spofteneing effects on skin that’s older, drier and sensitive. Really good for those with rosacea, hyper pigmentation or lacklustre skin.
Cacay Kahai Oil
Used in Empress Elixir, this is a natural retionol alternative without the side effects of industrial retinol. Precious and rare, it comes from the Amazonian rainforest. Trendy superfood for your skin.
Cactus -Prickly Pear
Opuntia ficus is an oil packed with vitamins and minerals that are good for brightening and hydrating skin. Vitamins K and E, help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and restore elasticity in the skin. Prickly pear contaisn phytosterols that keep skin feelign soft and suport collagen production. The anti-inflammatory polyphenols help fight free radicals.
It’s ideal for skin over 30 if you’re trying to slow down the onset of fine lines.
Prickly pear cactus contains betalains (natural antioxidants) that protect from the sun and free-radical exposure that breaks down collagen and causes wrinkles.
Organic Apricot kernel oil
Prunus armeniaca is Cold Pressed, for optimum skin nourishment. High in oleic and linoleic acids, light, and readily absorbed into the skin.
Although similar to Sweet Almond, it’s better suited to sensitive, dry, inflamed and itchy skin so consider using it for your gua sha facials, anti ageing facials, facial marma massage, and face oils.
(Aromatherapists, consider using apricot when you massage the facial area!)
- C16:0 Palmitic: 4.8%
- C16:1 Palmitoleic acid: 2%
- C18.0 Stearic: 3%
- C18:1 Oleic: 76%
- C18:2 Linoleic: 33%
Strawberry seed oil
Strawberry seed oil – Fragaria ananassa is cold pressed from the tiny seeds. It’s beautifully fragrant and is extremely rich in Omega 3 essential fatty acid which makes it both fragile (to oxidisation), and useful in all skin types.
It’s used for moisturizing, regenerating, and regulating sebum so suits mature and acne skins.
- Palmitic (C16:0) 4.58%
- Stearic (C18:0) 1.61%
- Oleic (C18:1) 15.75%
- Linoleic (C18:2) 47.43%
- Linolenic (C18:3) 29.53%
Blackberry Seed Oil
Blackberry seed oil (Rubus fruticosus) is rich in antioxidants, tocopherols, and tocotrienols, and immediately softens skin’s texture making it a must for skin plagued with dryness or inflammation.
Contains omega-3 and omega-6 to combat free radicals and soothe eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis.
It’s ideal for mature skin and menopause. Add it to a skin-replenishing formula or organic facial.
It also evens out blotches and pigmentation.
Supremely soothing on even the most sensitive skin, it promotes collagen production and helps to firm and tighten and to boost moisture content by restoring the skin’s barrier.
Can also be used in a hair care blend for itchy scalp or when hair needs improved shine and lustre.
- C16:0 (Palmitic) 3.78%
- C18:0 (Stearic) 3.32%
- C18:1 (Oleic) 21.06%
- 2 (Linoleic) 59.81%
- C18:3 Alpha- Linolenic acid 11.83%
- C20:0 Arachidic acid 0.1%
Guava Seed oil
Psidium guajava has a fruity aroma like eating fresh peeled guavas. Yum! It’ used to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, scars, stretch marks.
Guava seeds contain free radical fighting antioxidants, that help maintain skin elasticity. When massaged onto the scalp, guava oil improves hair strength, fights dandruff and enhances lustre.
What’s inside? Mostly Oleic acid, with significant linoleic and palmitic acids.
- Palmitic (C16:0) 12.81%
- Oleic (C18:1) 50.55%
- Linoleic (C18:2) 27.29%
Papaya seed oil
Papaya seed oil (Carica papaya) is packed with topcopherol and carotenoid anti-oxidants as well as exfoliating enzyme Papain. It’s useful when exfoliating dead skin cells and unclogging pores or when you want to brighten and even out skin tone.
It’s helps improve skin elasticity, reduce wrinkles, moisturize and promote regeneration of skin cells. (Great in a gua sha balm to even out blemishes)
Papaya is ideal for making DIY hot hair oil treatment along with argan oil and sesame.
It mends split ends, adds shine and makes hair feel soft and silky again.
- Myristic (C14:0) 0.20%
- Palmitic (C16:0) 16.56%
- Palmitoleic (C16:1) 0.27%
- Margaric (C17:0) 0.13%
- Stearic (C18:0) 4.73%
- Oleic (C18:1) 74.30%
- Linoleic (C18:2) 6.06%
- Linolenic (C18:3) 0.22%
- Arachidic (C20:0) 0.38%
- Eicosenoic (C20:1) 0.32%
- Behenic (C22:0) 0.23%
Tocopherols and Carotenoids:
- a-tocopherol 51.85 mg.kg
- ß-tocopherol 2.11 mg.kg
- gamma-tocopherol 1.85 mg.kg
- delta-tocopherol 18.89 mg.kg
- Total carotenoids 7.05 mg.kg
- ß-cryptoxanthin 4.29 mg.kg
- ß-carotene 2.76 mg.kg
Sacha inchi oil
Sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis) comes from Peru and has a strong nutty scent. Termed the Inca Peanut, it contains a unique balance of Omega fatty acids 3, 6, 9 and rich in vitamins A & E that suit human skin.
It helps dry, cracked, scaling and itchy skin so is ideal during menopause when our skin thins and dries out. It can be used on dry, brittle hair and as part of an anti-ageing routine.
- C16:0 (Palmitic) 4.05%
- C18:0 (Stearic) 2.81%
- C18:1 (Oleic) 9.48%
- 2 (Linoleic) 34.34%
- 3 (Linolenic) 48.62%
Ximenia americana is also called wild or sour plum, sea lemon or wild olive. It grows in Southern Africa where its seeds are cold pressed for hair and skin care. The oil has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and an uber rare Xymenynic acid that improves blood flow and micro circulation. Ximenia improves moisture levels in hair and skin. It nourishes the most delicate skin and hair, be it dry, dehydrated, chapped or frail.
Any aroma? Yes, mild and fruity.
What’s inside Ximenia? Mostly Oleic acid (whopping 60%), hence the name Wild Olive. Also 10% Xymenynic Acid , Nervonic acid, Hexacosanoic acid and Octacosanoic acid.
- C14:0 Myristic Acid <1%
- C16:0 Palmitic Acid 1-3.5%
- C18:0 Stearic Acid 4-15.5%
- C18:1 (w9) Oleic Acid (omega 9) 55-82%
- C18:1 Xymenynic Acid 5-15%
- C18:2 (w6) Linoleic Acid (omega 6) 1-10%
- C18:3 (w3) Linolenic acid (omega 3) 8-10%
- C20:0 Arachidic Acid 1%
- C22:0 Docosapentaenoic Acid 5-7%
- C22:1 (w9) Erucic Acid 3-4%
- C24:0 Lignoceric Acid 1.5-3%
- C24:1 Nervonic Acid 7-12%
- C26:1 Hexacosenoic Acid 6.5-9.5%
- 0 Cerotic Acid 1.5-3%
- 1 Octocosenoic Acid 8-12%
Kalahari melon seed oil
Kalahari melon (Citrullus lanatus) grows in Namibia’s arid Kalahari Desert. It’s a delicay sought out by elephants and is rich in antioxidants and Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids.
Becasue it’s non-greasy and able to dissolve excess sebum, its perfect for acne and blemish prone skin types. It helps mature skin too in the fight against dryness and wrinkles, by keeping skin soft and supple. You can use Kalahari Melon as a safe natural baby oil replacement.
It’s also great for therapist offering Indian Head Massage as it’s non greasy and combats itchy scalp and dandruff.
- Free Fatty Acids (as Oleic): < 5.0
- C16:0 Palmitic: 8.0-13.0
- C16:1 Palmitoleic: < 1.0
- C18.0 Stearic: 1.5-5.5
- C18:1 Oleic: 21.0-29.0
- C18:2 Linoleic: 55.0–65.0
- C18.3 Alpha Linolenic: < 2.0
It’s a a natural compound that helps our skin hold onto moisture to provide plump cushioning. It is also involved in recovery of wounds or injuries to the skin. With age, our supplies of hyaluronic acid dwindle, leading to fine lines and slower repair time. Hyaluronic acid helps with collagen and elastin production. When used in a face cream like Heart of Eternity, it helps your skin breathe.
Rose hydrosol – rosewater
Rosewater is produced by steam distillation. There are varying grades/qualities and plenty of fakes. Often rose flavour (a synthetic, from a factory) is added to water. Sometimes essential oils are dispersed into spring water – these can be termed ‘Essential Waters’ .
The most expensive grades are hydrosols which are produced as the main product of distillation.
Most commercial rosewaters are the dregs or leftovers from the extraction of rose essential oil. Glow Skincare uses only single estate rose hydrosol in Heart of Eternity, It’s ridicously expensive but I insist on the very best. If you want cheap, go elsewhere.
Geranium bourbon essential oil
The best Geranium bourbon (Pelargonium graveolens) grows on La Réunion Island. Other varieties come from Cape Town and Egypt.
Geranium is used as a middle note in natural perfumery and in clinical aromatherapy for women’s hormonal issues such as PMT, menopause, cellulite, and haemorrhoids during pregnancy.
It’s anti-inflammatory properties make it useful in skincare, body oils, and massage blends where it works on our emotions, restoring harmony to the Fire Element in cases of depression, stress, or insomnia. (which explains its benefits during menopause!).
Use it in the morning to perk up your mood
The anti-bacterial and antiviral properties make it useful for skin conditions such as ringworm and shingles. It’s one of the most pleasant insect repellents too.
Rosmarinus officinalis ct verbenone is steam distilled from flowers and elaves. It has as fresh herbaceous scent. It’s lovely for skin and hair care.
Another speciality skin care oil for cell regeneration, wrinkles, scars, dermatitis, eczema, and acne. It’s said to promote healthy scalp, hair and combat dandruff.
Yarrow Essential Oil
Yarrow essential oil (Achillea millefolium) is steam distilled and turns a deep blue hue in the process.
It’s a prized anti-inflammatory so used where there is skin damage and dryness. It rebalances oily skin and calms down red or itchy skin. One of the cicatrisant oils for skin repair. Contraindicated for babies, pregnancy and epilepsy.
Other healing blue oils include Blue Tansy and German Chamomile. All are expensive!
Helichrysum is a large family of plants with the best skin specific variety/type being helichrysum italicum, the best is grown in Corsica.
Other varieties (not mentioned in most articles) are used in traditional folk medicine for respiratory infections such as asthma,, colds and flu, muscles aches etc.
Delicate yellow flowers and velvety grey leaves from Helichrysum Italicum make for a transformative essential oil and hydrosol.
The key chemical compounds inside the oil are
- Neryl Acetate
- Terpinen- 4- ol
- B- diketones
Italidione has been shown to produce the most beneficial skin boosting effects.
Costly, and powerful, the essential oil has scent that some find too herby, however I find it’s skin benefits outweigh this factor.
When used in an anti ageing blend, eg for wrinkles, scar tissue, helichrysum can overpower the blend as easily as if you’d added peppermint. Go slow!
I love helichrysum italicum and distil healing helichrysum hydrosol from plants in my garden. They like sun and drained feet. Work well alongside other Mediterranean plants like lavender, thyme, rosemary and Olive trees.
The hydrosol can be used as an emergency spray for bruises, gum issues, swelling, insect bites as well as part of a graceful ageing routine.
Blue Tansy Essential Oil
An oil of transformation – both in the still and on your face. Awesome in face care
Blue Tansy’s deep blue color comes chamazulene, that was created from matracin during steam distillation.
Real Blue Tansy (Tanacetum annum) comes from Morocco, where flowers and leaves are steam distilled.
Apart from chamazulene, there’s also a high content of sabinine, camphor, beta-myrcene, and beta-pinene.
Palo Santo Essential Oil
Palo Santo (bursera graveolens) is named Holy Wood and used by Shamans in South American rainforests to clear away negative emotions. It’s part of the same family as Frankincese and Myrhh which should clue you in on it’s skin-healing properties. Palo Santo has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so could be included in anti ageing skincare.
I’ve used Palo Santo in aromatherapy massage for clients who are so stressed out, they find it hard to switch off and relax. An expensive and rare oil for your collection of oils, but well worth experiencing it at least once! I’ve just bought a hydrosol – to use on my face and neck during these hot and humid days of late summer.
Called the plant of immortality by the ancient Egyptians. Alexander the Great used aloe to heal his soldiers wounds. It’s used in Indian ayurvedic medicine for its unusual combination of 4 flavours: sweet, sour, bitter and astringent. (There are only three plants known to have all four flavours – aloe, rose petals and guggal).
Today we still use aloe gel or liquid for razor burns, cuts etc. If aloe grows in your climate, you can slice off a leaf and apply the inner gel directly to your skin.
Aloe is magnificent for dry or sensitive skin. It pairs well with rose water and hyaluronic acid.
Industry Trends 2020
Increased acne breakouts caused by wearing a face mask. Spots and whiteheads occur where the face covering touches the face.
The result of mechanical friction against the skin (Acne Machanica) as well as increased humidity inside the mask.
Red light therapy
Red light therapy is used to treat a variety of skin conditions, from wrinkles to psoriasis to scars. Since lockdown Red Light therapy is part of the “At-Home Spa Day”trend.
Your body and skin have a natural cycle. During the day, defence against environmental issues, while doing the heavy-duty repair at night. This is why it’s essential to get a good night’s beauty sleep.
A Japanese therapeutic practice of Shinrin-yoku to heal inner and outer body. Can be mimicked with blends of Japanese essential oils in a diffuser or inhaler . Use Yuzu, Fir, Spruce and Hinoki.
A clean beauty trend during the pandemic of a multi functional product that can be applied without your finger making contact with your skin.
An example being a solid balm formula in a giant-sized lipbalm tube dispenser so that you can apply it without using your fingertips to touch your skin.
Everything from solar exposure, air pollution, lack of sleep, hormones, malnutrition and psychological factors can over the course of a lifetime impact your skin condition.
The Indian practice of applying henna tattoos.
A type of tea that is designed to improve gut health and aid with fasting.
App and wristband for helping users buy food that meets their nutritional needs, based on their DNA makeup.
Removal of puffiness and dark circles from under the eyes, either through specialist products or natural remedies.
Facial fitness product designed to improve jaw strenth and definition. It is placed in the mouth and offers variable resistance levels.
Skin care and makeup practices, products and techniques that originally gained popularity in South Korea.
Fragrance – free products
These do not contain sythetic aka artifically produced fragrance oils, nor parfum, nor essential oils. They will still ‘smell’ of whatever components were used in the formula. No such thing as a scent-free product. I wrote a short article/rant about this here
Korean skincare for whitening
There most popular anti-aging and whitening ingredients are licorice, niacinamide, beta-glucan, snail mucus, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, green tea, pomegranate, and soy
Aromatherapy is the art and science of using essential oils to relax the mind, heal the body and restore the senses. In France, essential oils are prescribed by medical doctors. In the UK, Canada and US we associate aromatherapy with massage, candles and beauty products. I hold an Aromatherapy Diploma (2003 – London). Read my story here.
are products made without water or watery components. They’re made from waxes, butters and plant oils. They can be soft, to use on the face or delicate skin, or stiff for a tube eg to use on the lips. Balms are often mis-advertised as ‘face creams’
CO2 extracts are plant extracts created with low pressure, low heat and CO2 gas. They’re expensive but extract more of the plant’s active goodness.
a certification body for natural and organic cosmetics. (I prefer to buy Ecocert ingredients or harvest from my garden)
Essential Oils are fragrant /pungent oils extracted using steam distillation. Huge quantities of herb are used to extract a few drops. They are always diluted except for lavender used by the drops for emergencies. The French use essential oils medicinally and they’re part of the tools used by qualified medical doctors. In the USA and UK aromatherapy is used mainly for body massage and providing a pleasant scent to household and beauty products.
Hydrolat is the fragrant water from distillation. They may be termed floral waters or hydrosols. Most hydrolats are the waste water from distillation and often discarded due to the cost to transport and the short shelf life.
The best quality hydrosol is produced for its own sake, at lower temperatures with a higher concentration of actives.
Hydrosols are mild enough to use undiluted on skin and for children. They have a short lifespan and are often preserved with citric acid or potassium sorbate to extend shelf life. Distillation in copper adds a natural protection against moulds and can affect the chemistry bringing out new hues eg the blue within yarrow hydrosol.
Would you like to make your own hydrosol? I wrote you a brand new article on just how to do that. (My pleasure!)
Fake Hydrolat Hydrosol
There are fakes aplenty where fragrances or essential oils are solubolised/dispersed into tap water.
If you shake a fake hydrosol, made with a dispersing agent, to make the fragrance/oils belnd in with the water, you’ll see a foamy/bubbly layer.
‘Oil free’ moisturiser etc
is a concept targeted for teens or those with oily skin. It sounds a great idea except even teens need oils to rebalance their skin. It was created to maximise on the fat/oil fear so many women have. Our skin needs ‘good fats or oils’. Think omega threes… I too experimented with ‘oil free’ when my skin was oily, so I’ve been there and done the stupid things!
A moisturiser is a product made with oil and water designed to reduce water loss and improve skin hydration. It will have some system of preservation to keep it safe to use. There are natural methods to keep a moisturiser safe to use and these include controlling the pH, water activity, exposure to air and light, single use sachets and modern extracts that have skin beneficial properties as well as preservative-like actions. In the ‘olden days’ face creams were held together with beeswax or boraz – and their texture and skin feel were often cloying, heavy and um… well, cloying and heavy.
food or ingredients produced by natural farming methods. No chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals. The way food was made thousands of years ago- fertlized by naturally rottign animal pewp, pollinated by healthy bees, growing in an area without irrigation…when air and water were clean and soil wasn’t being eroded into the sea.
Serum can be water, oil or water and oil based. A serum is more concentrated than a moisturiser which means that you use it in smaller doses, typically by the drop. Whether it is used before or after your moisturiser depends on the type of serum, your skin type, how many products you are using.
Sebum is our body’s natural moisturiser and consists of a mix of squalane, cholesterol and fatty acids. Sadly sebum has a bad name from our years as pimply tenagers when it was blamed as The Cause of our issues. Sebum actually protects our skin from attack. It provides a home for our skin’s micro flora, the biome, without which our skin is open to invasion by pathogens. A skin stripped of sebum or oil is vulnerable and your body will compensate by making more! What you eat affects the sebum produced so be cautious about fried foods and fake fats. If you have food allergies you need to cut those items out of your life.
This is an Eastern technique that stimulates blood flow and drains puffiness. It releases muscle tension and activate the lymphatic system so gives your face a healthy glow from all the extra oxygen and nutrients that become available to it.
A massage technique from the East using jade or rose quartz crystal tools. Gua Sha reduces facial tension (headaches, jaw pain), brightens skin (through improved blood circulation) and improves lymphatic drainage (which gives your skin a chance to eliminate toxins and excess water).
Gua sha is done these days with a rose quartz or jade scraping tool that’s shaped to suit the contours of your face. been ben shaped to suit the contours of your face. It is said to break up fascia that cause energy blockages in the smooth flow of Qi.
Use a specific gua sha balm that’s got blue tansy, to maximise the relaxation response.
Ask Wendy Gardner
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