German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is a plant whose flowers have traditionally been used for a variety of health conditions including calming anxiety to supporting digestive function when used internally. When applied topically, it has commonly been used to heal skin lesions, ulcerations and wounds, being a potent anti-inflammatory. The flowers are quite high in antioxidants in the form of polyphenols and flavonoids, which have been researched to protect from anti-aging as a result of free radical damage to the skin cells . This damage often comes in the form of UV radiation from the sun, which is why polyphenols specifically are indicated in sun-care products and why chamomile is often used to treat sunburns.
With all of these wonderful properties, chamomile’s main claim to fame is how good it is at providing gentle healing to the skin through its anti-inflammatory properties . It is gentle enough to use on babies and children as well! For this reason, calendula lotions and oils have been used to treat severely inflammatory skin conditions like eczema comparatively to hydrocortisone creams. Chamomile is slightly antimicrobial and antiseptic, being used to treat acne-prone skin and reduce the likelihood of scarring .
Turkey Tail Mushroom
Yes, another powerhouse mushroom! This one is different than our feature mushroom Tremella because it is mainly known for its immune-boosting effects. Turkey tail, or Trametes/Coriolus versicolor is a mushroom that grows on decaying logs in temperate forests (including those in North America, so take a look at fallen trees during your next hike). It grows outwards in a thin body that is striped with different colours resembling the tail of a turkey. It has been extensively studied in cancer research, and is showing quite a lot of promise in combination with conventional treatments such as chemotherapy .
For use in skin care, we can break down the components of this mushroom that allow it to have such wonderful immune modulating capabilities. Turkey tail contains a compound called polysaccharopeptides (PSPs) which are mainly responsible for its anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory effects . These PSPs have also been shown to protect skin cells from oxidative and inflammatory damage . This means that Turkey tail has the ability to reduce the signs of aging as well as increase the recovery process after the skin incurs any damage (ie. Inflammatory skin disease). Turkey tail is also beginning to show some antibacterial promise, which could be relevant for conditions such as acne, although more research on this use needs to be conducted .
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a tree or shrub that grows in North America and was traditionally used by First Nations as a tea or topical ointment to heal irritated skin and mucous membranes. We mainly see its modern use topically because internal usage (ie. for sore throats) can be too aggravating for the stomach lining and liver because of its high tannin content. Tannins are plant properties which are astringent, meaning they tighten the skin and close pores. This is why witch hazel skin toners are not uncommon to come across! In fact, witch hazel has been used to treat bleeding from hemorrhoids as well, because it tightens that mucous membrane.
Another important piece about witch hazel is that it is both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, containing gallic acid and other powerful antioxidants. Witch hazel’s use has shown promise in treating skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, insect bites and other skin irritations (ie. Ingrown nails) . Recently, more information about witch hazel’s antioxidant properties are coming to light . Similar to the active properties in seaweed, witch hazel’s antioxidant components prevent the activity of certain enzymes in the skin that break down collagen and elastin which are important to give skin its plump, moisturized quality .
We all may know that aloe gel is infamous for its use on sunburns, soothing the skin and
allowing quicker recovery time after a burn. Aloe vera is a succulent plant which grows in tropical climates, although you can even grow potted versions in your home for quick, natural first aid care. Traditionally, aloe vera gel (which is found if you split open the leaves) is used for various skin irritations, wounds, and insect bites . A lot of research has shown that in cases of post-injury or trauma to the skin, aloe can have stimulating effects on cell growth and movement of skin cells to heal faster . Some studies have even shown that aloe is beneficial in cases where skin grafts are done to increase the recovery rate and thickness of the skin in those areas !
What is even more interesting is that aloe vera has also shown to prevent death of skin cells by external damage, which is likely due to its antioxidant content. Additionally, the gel inside the plant is filled with numerous vitamins and minerals (including vitamin A, folate, C and E) that provide nourishment to the skin as well as providing a protective barrier of moisture . This can be quite beneficial for individuals with dry and/or aging skin to prevent the appearance of fine lines. Again, there is still more research to be done to fully understand all the therapeutic benefits that the aloe plant has to offer.
Essential oils are oils that are extracted from plants. It is important to note that similar to the other specifically chosen ingredients in our formulas, these essential oils were chosen not only for scent, but for their therapeutic benefits!
Orange peel essential oil is produced by cold-pressing an orange rind to extract its oils.
In general, the orange scent produced from this potent oil is used in aromatherapy to promote an increased mood and reduce symptoms of nervousness and stress . This essential oil also shows promise in the treatment of acne or any other bacterial-related skin conditions. It has even showed anti-bacterial capabilities in bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics .
Limonene, which is a component of orange peel essential oil, has been studied in breast and colon cancer cell cultures, and has showed promise in decreasing cancer cell growth and promoting their cell death . Additionally, one preliminary study looked at limonene and how it would act on skin cancer cells if orange peels were to be eaten. The results of this study showed that it could have a protective effect on the skin ! That being said, the important information to extrapolate is that orange peel essential oil is high in antioxidants and cell-protective properties. Essential oil should never be ingested without the assistance of a natural healthcare provider because an amount over a certain limit can be toxic to the liver.
Lavender essential oil is one of the most versatile and well-used essential oils, having
several indications and uses. It is made by distilling the flower buds of the plant and condensing the steam released into a liquid form. Again, similar to orange peel essential oil, lavender is renowned throughout the aromatherapy world to decrease feels of anxiety, depression and restlessness. In fact, it has shown to be as effective as paroxetine (an SSRI used to treat anxiety and depression) with lower side effects . As for its benefits to the skin, lavender has traditionally been used as an anti-septic and to heal wounds such as minor burns, bug bites, eczema and acne. To compound this, lavender oil is anti-inflammatory and can be used as a gentle alternative to tea tree oil.
Similar to tea tree oil, lavender is antimicrobial, meaning that it is anti-viral, anti-bacterial as well anti-fungal, covering a broad and varied spectrum of microorganisms. It has also been tested with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and showed similar promise as orange peel oil . Finally, lavender oil is now starting to be used in cosmetic products to decrease hyperpigmentation and reduce fine lines because it is filled with antioxidants. Although, further research has to be done to validate if these implications are true. Regardless, lavender oil has numerous other benefits which show us that it definitely has a place in skincare!
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