As we become more aware of the dangers of ingredients such as parabens and sulfates, consumers are asking in-depth questions about what their skincare products contain.
According to a recent Statista report, the global market value for natural and organic cosmetics and personal care is expected to be worth around £40billion by 2027.
A Coresight Research Beauty Briefing from November 2018 also noted that demand for transparency in product ingredients has spurred many companies to create ‘clean’ formulations, free of potentially toxic ingredients.
Skincare is self-care – it’s vital to our mental and physical wellbeing. Thanks to lockdown, we now want products with added wellbeing boosters, too.
Since March 2020, online beauty retailer FeelUnique.com reports a 133 per cent increase in searches for lavender products and rosemary oil.
Searches for mint increased by 300 per cent. Lavender helps with pigmentation, wrinkles and inflammation and is commonly used for aromatherapy to reduce anxiety, while rosemary oil is often used thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and is also said to help boost memory.
Mint is an astringent and toner for the skin and known to be a mood elevator and great for reducing frustration and fatigue. ‘Essential oils work in two ways,’ says Ada Ooi, a skincare guru, Traditional Chinese Medicine and aromatherapy expert.
‘When we inhale an essential oil, it travels through the nose and straight to the olfactory nervous system. This connects to the limbic system where memories and emotions are stored, creating an emotional response.
‘The limbic system also controls our autonomic nervous system which regulates involuntary functions like breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure and our digestive system. So a sniff of aroma can also stimulate or decrease adrenaline, leading to physical responses like your breathing slowing down and stopping you feel the urge to vomit.
‘Essential oil is also a lipid that binds well with the epidermis – the outer layer of our skin – and thanks to its naturally small molecular size it’s also easily absorbed. This effect is further enhanced by locations where the epidermal layers are thin and rich in sebaceous glands, sweat glands, and hair follicles like the face and neck.’
Ada is also the founder of 001 Skincare, a specialist in multi-function products which improve your skin and aid relaxation or uplift your mood. ‘Lavender, chamomile and geranium are the top wellbeing ingredients in skincare,’ she adds.
‘Lavender is one of the top essential oils – it is anti-bacterial, aids healing and can also reduce anxiety and improve your quality of sleep.’
James Wong is an Ethnobotanist for Liz Earle. He travels the world studying each region’s plants and their practical uses.
‘Research increasingly shows that sustainability is rising up consumers’ list of priorities and people are much more aware of the amazing properties in plants and seeking them out,’ says James.
‘There are an estimated 400,000 plant species on Earth, each with their own properties. Plants can’t run away from threats, so they have evolved with all sorts of ingenious defence compounds to protect their cells from environmental damage.
‘By harnessing these compounds in skin formulations, their protection becomes our protection. Something I have become excited about recently are ingredients which are reclaimed from the food industry. When making things like bilberry juice, food manufacturers create large amounts of seeds as a by-product.
‘Yet it’s precisely in things like skins and seeds that plants pack most of their therapeutic compounds. By reclaiming these seeds, we have managed to source some of the richest sources of natural omega-3 fatty acids to make effective skincare while not taking up any extra land, water or agricultural inputs.’
There are lots of other skincare ingredients that have topical and olfactory benefits. Here, Ada picks out her top four…
Skin benefits: ‘Lemon myrtle works to minimise oily skin and assist the treatment of acne. It’s also good at reudcing and treating cold sores.’
Wellbeing benefits: ‘It is effective at relieving stress and uplifting your mood, in turn easing depression. It also helps to minimise headaches.’
Skin benefits: ‘Great for anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and wound healing. Neroli is good for aiding the recovery of breakouts, eczema, spot marks, stretch marks and preventing more wrinkles from appearing. It’s also a strong antioxidant.’
Wellbeing benefits: ‘Effective at reducing stress and improving the endocrine system [hormones and nerves], it can relieve menopausal symptoms, increase sexual desire and recude blood pressure in post-menopausal women. It can also aid concentraion.’
Skin benefits: ‘It’s packed with antioxidants which help to combat free radicals which are damaging to the skin.’
Wellbeing benefits: ‘It clarifies the mind, releases stress and helps to boost the immune system. Research shows it can help activate sympathetic nerve activity.’
Skin benefits: ‘When added to creams or serums, carrot seed has an anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal effect. It’s also an antioxidant for the skin and scalp so can improve skin’s health and appearance.’
Wellbeing benefits: ‘Carrot seed has a very warming and earthy scent which can stimulate feelings of calm, reducing stress and anxiety.’
Skincare picks including Ada’s top wellbeing ingredients
001 Skincare Alpha-Paradise Cleansing Dew
Loaded with antioxidants, omega-3s and plant oils of neroli, ylang-ylang and sweet almond.
Buy it for £42 from 001 London.
Trilogy Vital Moisturising Cream
Contains carrot seed oil to give antioxidant protection against free radicals.
Buy it for £25.50 from Trilogy.
Age Well Intensive Moisturising Balm
Contains neroli and other ingredients to nourish both the skin and the soul.
Buy it for £58 from Made For Life Organics.
Pat Maguire Chamomile & Orange Face Oil
Great for combination skin. It calms, balances and reduces the redness of spots.
Buy it for £32 from Pat Maguire.
Oio Lab’s Harmony First Organic Facial Treatment Oil
Contains neroli distilled from the flowers of a bitter orange tree. It’s nurturing and has aromatherapeutic properties.
Buy it for £52 from Wolf and Badger.
Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser With Rose & Lavender
Designed to remove make-up and balance the skin, Liz Earle’s classic cleanser is also comforting and calming.
Buy it for £17 from Liz Earle.
Simply Beautiful Collection’s Lemon Myrtle & Thyme Skincare Moisturising Gel
Reap the benefits of this gel-based moisturiser which can be used on the face and body.
From £6.50 at SBC Skincare.
Q+A Grapefruit Cleansing Balm
Packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, this balm targets acne breakouts and increases circulation. New online stock coming soon.
Buy it for £9 from Holland and Barrett.
Alteya Organics Organic Facial Cleanser With Grapefruit & Zdravetz
An ace at removing impurities, this cleanser from Love Lula will help detoxify the skin.
Buy it for £7.20 from Love Lula.
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