From The September 2003 Issue of Natural Foods Merchandiser
Eyeing the Fountain of Youth
lines and sagging jowls may be natural, but they're not the American
beauty ideal. Many natural skin care manufacturers lament this vanity;
one says, only half jokingly, "I wanted to do a line called Face It,
where people just accept the aging process. But no one would let me do
Aging baby boomers and even 30-something Gen Xers want dewy,
youthful skin, and naturals skin care companies are just as quick as
their mainstream counterparts to try to accommodate these customers by
making facial moisturizers that help reverse, or at least retard, the
aging process. Naturals customers are increasingly demanding effective,
chemical-free anti-aging facial moisturizers, and retailers who
mistakenly believe their customers are more likely than department
store shoppers to accept the natural signs of aging may develop a few
frown lines of their own when they see skin care sales decrease.
But in the age of Botox, can an anti-aging facial moisturizer made
from natural or organic ingredients erase those forehead wrinkles and
crow's feet? Can an herbal remedy minimize age spots? Can anything
other than plastic surgery combat neck wattles?
Sure, say natural skin care manufacturers. Recent scientific
advances provide substances that help the skin naturally retain its
elasticity, wrinkle less, avoid discoloration and maintain a smooth
texture, they say. Here's a look at some of the ingredients they're
using to lure modern-day Ponce de Leons to the naturals retailer's
health and beauty aisle.
Antioxidants occur naturally in the body and inhibit the absorption of
free radicals. Free radicals attach to cells and injure their
membranes. If collagen and elastin cells are damaged, the skin loses
elasticity and wrinkles more easily. As people age, the body creates
more free radicals, necessitating more antioxidants. Adding
antioxidants to skin creams is a relatively new idea, and they're the
boost that gives moisturizers their anti-aging properties.
"You can have all the hydration in the world to help make your skin
look plumper and smoother, but you need to do something to help repair
the skin from within," says Patrick McRae, product developer for San
Francisco-based Zia Natural Skin Care.
Vitamins C, E and A are common antioxidants, as are the carotenoids
beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein. Antioxidant minerals include
selenium, zinc, copper and iron. Enzymes, including coenzyme Q10 and
alpha lipoic acid, also work as antioxidants.
Alpha lipoic acid is not only an antioxidant enzyme, "it's a booster
that heals or re-energizes other antioxidants to keep them active for a
longer period of time and prevent them from breaking down so quickly,"
McRae says. Alpha lipoic acid is an unusual antioxidant because it's
water- and fat-soluble. "You need both, because the inside of the cell
is mostly water and the outside cell membrane is fat," says Steve
Strassler, president of Reviva Labs in Haddonfield, N.J.
Flavonoids, the compounds that give plants their color, are also
antioxidants. The flavonoids in green tea are powerful antioxidants,
but Susan Griffin-Black, chief executive of Corte Madera, Calif.-based
Essential Oils, says her company has found a tea that's an even more
effective antioxidant—rooibos red tea. Originally grown in South
Africa, rooibos contains iron, potassium, copper, zinc and calcium,
along with natural alpha-hydroxy acids, she says. EO will feature red
tea in its EO Skin Care line, scheduled to debut in February.
"Studies conducted at the Institute for Science of Aging in Japan
revealed that red tea contains super oxide dismutase, a powerhouse
antioxidant that attacks free radicals and limits their damaging
effects," Griffin-Black says.
EO Skin Care also will contain gentian, linden, sage and coconut oil
antioxidants. Boscia, a Japan-based skin care company, also uses
little-known antioxidants, including jojoba leaf and wine yeast.
At Better Botanicals in Herndon, Va., co-founder Shafi Saxena swears
by the dandelion antioxidants in the company's Dandelion Moisturizer.
"This powerful herb is an antioxidant, detoxifier, estrogen mimic and
rich source of essential fatty acids," she says. Dandelion contains
vitamins A, B, C and D, as well as potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium,
phosphorous, zinc, copper, cobalt and boron, she says. "The [U.S.
Department of Agriculture] ranks dandelion as a top-ranking vegetable
in overall nutritional value: nature's richest source of beta carotene
and the third richest source of vitamin A of all foods, after cod liver
oil and beef liver."
"If you don't have sunscreen, you undermine the work of an anti-aging
product," says Zia's McRae. Many daytime anti-aging moisturizers
contain sunscreen. Look for the more natural ingredients that fight
both UVA and UVB rays, including octyl methoxycinnamate, which is made
from cinnamon; and octyl salicylcate, which includes salicylic acid.
Sunscreens can prevent skin discoloration from too much sun
exposure. Lycopene and artichoke also strengthen the skin's defense to
sun. "Artichoke makes skin more resilient to sun damage, neutralizes
free radicals and prevents damage from spreading to neighboring cells,"
Peony root and licorice help erase sun damage and marks left by acne
breakouts, says Summer Lalande, Boscia's marketing and retail
Antioxidants and sunscreen help prevent aging, while moisturizers help
disguise it. "There's not too much you can do to change your skin once
it's damaged, but you can change its appearance—plump up wrinkles, add
collagen," says Angela Campbell, an esthetician with Pharmaca
Integrative Pharmacy in Portland, Ore.
There are two types of facial moisturizers: daytime and nighttime.
Reviva's Strassler says daytime moisturizers are designed to stay on
the skin's surface to form or reinforce the natural protective film,
preventing moisture loss. They also protect against outside pollutants
and bacteria and give skin a fresher, dewier appearance. Night creams
are formulated to absorb into the skin, providing more nourishment.
Water and oils are natural moisturizers and are frequently the chief
ingredients in anti-aging products. For customers with oily or
blemish-prone skin, McRae recommends moisturizers with water or gel
bases, including aloe vera. Avoid heavy oils such as safflower and
sunflower. Vitamin C does double duty as an antioxidant and blemish
fighter, Lalande says. Peppermint, lemon, licorice, hops, rosemary,
horse chestnut, rose chamomile and lemon sage are oil- or
blemish-reducing ingredients that also have moisturizing properties.
The buzz words in natural moisturizing ingredients include sodium
PCA, also known as NAPCA, which helps retain water in cells; and
hyaluronic acid, which is made from the substance that surrounds plant
and animal cells. Hyaluronic acid is a natural hydrator, says Karen
Gotto, director of operations for Earth Science skin care. "It works
like a lubricant and makes skin feel nice and smooth. It retains a lot
of water and keeps it there, hydrating your skin."
Firming Ingredients And Circulation Enhancers
Pharmaca's Campbell notes that skin care follows fads, and today's hot anti-aging trend is outlined in The Perricone Prescription
(HarperResource, 2002), written by Nicholas V. Perricone, M.D. The
"prescription" involves a combination of the antioxidant alpha lipoic
acid and dimethylaminoethanol, or DMAE.
DMAE, which is found in seafood, is a "face-lift in a jar," says
Reviva's Strassler. "Research by Johnson & Johnson shows it helps
with skin firmness and muscle tone." DMAE strengthens and stabilizes
cells' plasma membranes for a more defined skin tone and youthful
appearance, he says.
Reviva's anti-aging moisturizers also contain an extract of soy
extracellular matrix. "European clinical research shows that soy
extracellular matrix has potent cell-stimulating effects that result in
skin-firming action and improved elasticity," Strassler says. Soy ECM
has isoflavones, glycoproteins, proteoglycans, carbohydrate polymers
and mucopolysaccharides. "They are [similar to the nutrients that get
lost] from sun damage, natural skin aging or, in women, loss of
estrogen," he says.
Estrogen is essential for normal skin thickness, texture and tone.
"With decreased estrogen and the resulting loss of normal circulation
function, the capillaries do not deliver the proper nutrients, water
and oxygen [to the bottom layer of the skin]. So instead of being
round, puffy and full of water, the new cells become irregular. This
leads to the appearance we associate with aging skin," Strassler says.
Boscia's ingredient entry into the youthful complexion sweepstakes
is palmitoyl pentapeptide, found in the company's Restorative Amino-3P
Firming Treatment. Lalande calls the peptide "the latest superstar in
anti-aging technology. It is a combined amino acid that improves the
skin's elasticity and accelerates cell renewal."
Better Botanicals opts for tried-and-true circulation-enhancing oils
and herbs to help keep the skin young. "Our skin starts to dry out as
we age; our circulation starts to slow, reducing adequate levels of
nourishment to our skin cells," Saxena says. Rosemary, thyme and
cinnamon help counterbalance that and boost circulation, she says.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 9/p. 78, 84