At one time shea and cocoa butters from Africa were mysterious ingredients touted to have remarkable softening and healing properties for the skin. So was green tea, which has been used by Japanese women for centuries to soften the skin and target wrinkles. Aloe vera, believed to have originated in the Sudan, is said to be soothing, healing and moisturizing to the skin. All of these ingredients can be found in modern skin care products.
Cosmetic and skin care companies continue to mine the world’s indigenous plants and trees for natural products. Have you heard of these ingredients?
Argan oil comes from the fruit of the argan tree, native to Morocco. It is used to reduce blemishes, reduce scars left by acne, prevent stretch marks, moisturize and relieve chapped and dry skin. It’s also used to protect skin elasticity and promote healthy skin and hair.
Baobab oil is derived from seeds of the baobab tree native to eastern and southern Africa. Baobab oil has been used in African skin care for centuries as a rub to relieve aches and rheumatism. In Zambia, an infusion of the roots was used to bathe babies to promote smooth skin. It is a moisturizing ingredient used in products for skin and hair and is said to improve elasticity and encourage regeneration of skin cells. It doesn’t clog pores, which makes it an excellent ingredient for products for eczema and psoriasis.
Marula oil has a high content of palmitic acid, which creates a protective coating on the skin. It’s great for dry skin since it absorbs quickly and hydrates and heals the skin. It reduces trans-epidermal water loss, a problem that causes moisture loss in black skin. It is also said to reduce redness and improves skin texture.
Moringa oil, also known as behen oil, comes from the moringa tree, or “miracle tree,” and was used in ancient cultures for its healing properties. Those properties must have been a bit of a miracle, because ancient Egyptians placed vases of moringa oil in their tombs. Moringa oil can be found in lotions, balms, and scrubs.
Rooibos (“red bush”) tea has been used for years in South African medicine to treat acne, eczema, sunburns and other skin irritations. It contains alpha hydroxy acids and antioxidants. It can be found in moisturizers and facial toners.
Tamanu oil is made from crushing the dried nuts of the tamanu tree, which is found in Pacific and Asia tropical regions. It soothes the skin, relieves irritations including sunburn, inflammation and rashes. It is hydrating and helps regenerate skin cells. It is used undiluted as a treatment for eczema, psoriasis, cuts and wounds. A small percentage is added to lip balms and lotions.
Wakame kelp is a type of seaweed that grows around the coast of Japan. It is commonly used in the beauty regimens of Japanese women and is said to be the reason why Japanese women have youthful-looking skin into a ripe old age. A compound in wakame acts as a natural sunscreen, protecting the skin against UV rays that can cause premature aging. It is also protects against the loss of hyaluronic acid in the body. Hyaluronic acid is important for elasticity and youthfulness of skin and lower levels can lead to sagging skin and wrinkles. It makes perfect sense that wakame is used in skin creams to rejuvenate the skin and protect it from the visible effects of aging.