Nature's bounty is the buzz at the cosmetics counter
Many of us make repeated vows to simplify our lives and one place to
start is with beauty routines. Instead of dozens of creams and lotions
with names too difficult to pronounce, how about using the calm,
peaceful-sounding chamomile and tea tree oils?
Yet, while going the "natural" route sounds easy enough, one spin
down the beauty aisle of a department or drugstore and you'll see the
choices are bountiful.
Just like their cosmeceutical cousins, specific natural ingredients
spur different results. According to herbalist Barbara Close's book
"Pure Skin: Organic Beauty Basics" (Chronicle), dandelion root is a
skin clarifier, vitamin C is an antioxidant, rose oil has a calming
effect on skin and tea tree oil is for blemishes.
Origins' entire product line is based on botanical essential oils.
Last year, the company partnered with Dr. Andrew Weil, who specializes
in integrative medicine, on a collection of beauty products that make
the most of mushrooms.
"I have always recommended natural beauty products. I'm concerned
about the artificial ingredients in many beauty products. I thought
about more novel approaches and I looked at ancient species of
mushrooms for their anti-inflammatory powers," Weil says.
While "anti-aging" is the buzzword, Weil believes that containing
inflammation will improve both the health and appearance of skin.
"Chronic low-level inflammation in skin is correlated with aging and
damaged tissue," he explains.
The mushrooms reduce redness and calm the skin, and those things
slow and even help prevent common deteriorative changes, according to
Plants use their essential oils as protective agents, so it makes
sense to use them to protect skin, too, says Daria Myers, president of
Origins, especially since essential oils have proven to have an
affinity with human skin. "They have the ability to change your mood,
the way you feel and they are considered a strong therapeutic resource
in many countries. In France, the science of essential oils is covered
under national health plan and in England, hospitals use them."
She adds, "We're actually substantiating the effects of the oils,
not relying on folkloric claims. We're using industrywide accepted
tests for efficacy." For example, cites Myers, a rice-starch rub is
comparable to a clinical dermabrasion. Many prescription drugs and
high-tech treatments have roots in the plant world, she adds.
Close, also an aromatherapist and founder of the holistic spa
Naturopathica in East Hampton, N.Y., says that the acne treatment
Retin-A is based on vitamin A, and fruit enzymes and glycolic acid, a
derivative of sugar cane or fruits, break protein bonds that adhere to
skin so they both exfoliate and encourage new skin growth. "They're
natural ingredients with very active ingredients," she says.