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    ALMOND OIL

    DESCRIPTION 

    We all know almonds are a healthy food option and it turns out the same is true for our skin as this is one ingredient packed with a lot of nutrition

    WHAT IT CONTAINS 

    Lots of replenishing ingredients like monosaturated oleic acid (omega 9-fatty acid), linoleic acid (an omega-6 essential fatty acid), myristic acid and vitamin E

    USES

    This non-fragrant oil has some impressive qualities, it’s a natural emollient and sclerosant (used in the treatment of varicose veins), it’s been used to treat dry skin conditions like psorises and eczema as well as improve complexion and skin tone. It’s also effective in reducing progression and itching of striae (i.e. stretch marks from pregnancy)
     
     

    ALOE VERA

     DESCRIPTION 

    You can find this little succulent in tropical climates all over the world. It’s a versatile plant that’s used in many consumer products from beverages to cosmetics to lotions

     WHAT IT CONTAINS 

    A host of biologically active substances, including vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, choline, niacin amide, glycoprotein, enzymes, phenolic compounds, a variety of amino acids, phytochemicals and salicylic acids

     USES 

    Besides the benefits of ingesting it (which is a whole other post), it’s most well-known for its anti-inflammation, healing and epidermal development properties for sunburn and wounds. Thanks to its bioactive make-up it’s also been used as an antifungal, antiviral, anti-parasitic and regenerative treatment. Like almond oil it’s also effective in reducing progression and itching of striae (i.e. stretch marks from pregnancy). From skin diseases to infections to insect bites this is an all-purpose super ingredient to look out for in skin and body care products.  Just bear in mind though that moderation is key for this one as it can be pretty potent (depending on the formulation and % of aloe in the product)
     

    APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

     DESCRIPTION 

    This ingredient is basically fermented liquid distilled from apple cider. It’s cheap and has a variety of uses. You can consume it or apply it to your skin, either way there are handy benefits

     WHAT IT CONTAINS 

    One of its main (and active) constituents is acetic acid

     USES 

    As for its topical advantages, it’s really effective as a cleanser and for treating acne thanks to its natural exfoliating properties that assist in balancing sebum and removing hyperkeratosis (i.e. where the outer skin cells are replaced with keratin) and also provides anti-fungal properties.  Bear in mind that because it is an acid it can be sensitizing
     

    ARGON OIL 

    DESCRIPTION 

    From the fruit of the Moroccan Argon tree, this non-fragrant oil is used in both food (think of the oil used for dipping bread) and cosmetics. It’s packed with nutrients. Overall a real powerhouse ingredient for maintaining strong, supple and elastic skin 

    WHAT IT CONTAINS 

    A very high % of lipids and fatty acids (linoleic, oleic acid and palmitic acid), vitamins A and E (tocopherol) and other minor components (polyphenols, tocopherols, sterols, squalene, and triterpene alcohols)

     USES 

    Its natural emollient nature assists with hydration, its also be shown to repair the skins barrier function and also balance and regulate the production of sebum. As with all plant oils, a diluted solution works best
     

    AVOCADO OIL

     DESCRIPTION 

    This is a super fatty (but nourishing) ingredient. It’s one of the few plant oils that’s not derived from seeds but rather pressed from the pulp that surrounds the avocado pip

     WHAT IT CONTAINS 

    A heap of essential nutrients and phytochemicals, such as vitamins A, B1, B2, B12, D, E, lipids, polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols and beta carotene

     USES 

    A natural non-fragrant skin replenishing and emollient plant oil that also shown to be an effective ingredient in the long term treatment for psoriasis, an anti-inflammatory for skins diseases like vulvar lichen sclerosus and also as a protective agent against UV-induced skin damage
     

    CEDARWOOD OIL

     DESCRIPTION 

    This essential oil is derived from the foliage, wood, roots and stumps of a variety of conifers (i.e. species of plants, from trees to shrubs). It’s claimed that, for therapeutic purposes, it’s best to look out for the cedar oil that’s been steam distilled from the evergreen coniferous found near the Atlantic and Morocco. It’s best known as a natural fragrance but is also used in medicine, art and cosmetics

     WHAT IT CONTAINS 

    its principal constituents are terpenic hydrocarbons, sesquitepenes and cadinene

     USES 

    Besides its use as a woody like fragrance, it’s shown to have limited benefits as a treatment for acne, eczema and skin eruptions. Do use carefully though as cedarwood oil, like many other natural fragrances, has been shown to aggravate the skin
     

    CHAMOMILE

     DESCRIPTION

    There are two common varieties of chamomile, the German chamomile and the Roman Chamomile. In Greek, chamomile means “earth apple” and this ingredient is a skin care chameleon

     WHAT IT CONTAINS

    The major bio-active ingredients are various flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin, patuletin, and quercetin), bisabolol oxides A and B and chamazulene, farnesene, lactones, glycosides, hydroxycoumarins, flavonoids, coumarins, terpenoids, and mucilage

    USES

    It’s most famous for its effective anti-inflammatory properties with its ability to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin. It’s also effective for treating moderate cases of eczema (in one study chamomile was 60% more active than 0.25% hydrocortisone cream – used for swelling and inflammation), skin irritations, sunburns, rashes and sores. It’s shown to increase and strengthen wound healing too.  It’s also been used in the treatment of hemorrhoids
     

    CHARCOAL

     DESCRIPTION

    Charcoal or activated charcoal (when oxygen is added to charcoal) is just a simple form of carbon that’s typically used in the medical community for treating poison and nausea

     WHAT IT CONTAINS

    Carbon

     USES 

    Charcoal has really low volume pores which significantly increase its surface area (a gram of charcoal can cover 3000m2) and in turn it’s absorption properties. In fact, it can adsorb between 100 and 200 times its weight in impurities. Thanks to these unique qualities, anecdotal evidence shows that it’s effective as a topical treatment in drawing excess oil, dirt, bacteria, poisons and chemicals from the skin. Its also widely used by doctors in eliminating pungent odors from chronic wounds
     

    COCOA 

     DESCRIPTION

    The use of cocoa in food and medicine goes back some 3000 years to the times of the Mayans and Aztecs. Apart from consuming the most popular ingredient in the world, cocoa (as an extract or butter) also has some great benefits when applied to the skin

     WHAT IT CONTAINS

    A rich source of bio-active phytocompounds, phenolic antioxidants (flavonoids, but the most notable and active ones are catechin, epicatechin, and procyanidins), essential minerals, vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids and theobromine

     USES

    This super-effective natural skin emollient protects the skin by neutralizing oxidative stress. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties enhance the skin’s photoprotection against the sun’s UV rays which is crucial to skin health. Its also shown to inhibit the production of collagenase and elastase (i.e. enzymes that degrade skin cells) which slows the skin’s aging process and reduces the risk of wrinkles.  It’s an effective nourishing moisturizer.  If you’re prone to acne, be cautious when applying cocoa butter as it can clog up your pores
     

    COCONUT 

     DESCRIPTION 

    This is one of the most versatile ingredients (for skin and food) around. Originally from the palm family, coconut trees are now found in tropical areas the world over

    WHAT IT CONTAINS

    Depending on the part of the coconut, heaps of beneficial and bio-active compounds, including triglycerides (medium chain fatty acids – mostly lauric acid, alpha tocopheral myristoleic acid and palmitoleic acid), phenols, tannins, flavonoids, steroids, alkaloids and triterpenes. It also contains vitamin E and it’s one of the few oils that’s hypoallergenic

     USES

     Treatment of chronic skin diseases like eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and cuts and wounds thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal properties. It’s also perfect for dry skin as it’s emollient nature and high concentration of lipids improves barrier function which provides (and maintains) the skin’s hydration and moisture. Be aware though that some information on the interwebs claims that coconut oil is good for acne and sun protection but there has been no scientific evidence to back this up
     

    GLYCERIN / GLYCEROL

     DESCRIPTION

    Glycerin, a non-toxic, odorless and colorless liquid, may sound like a synthetic but this ingredient is in fact naturally occurring in all lipids (i.e. fats), including skin. It’s usually derived from animals and plants but it can also be synthetically manufactured – look out for propylene glycol and PEG silicone. While these are considered humectants, and may make your skin feel smooth and supple they contain no nutrients, can cause skin irritation, rashes and increase risk of dermatitis

     WHAT IT CONTAINS

    it’s a simple polyol compound, which is an alcohol made of various chemical (e.g. oxygen, hydrogen) bonds

     USES

    Because of its humectant nature, this ingredient is a body care staple as it attracts (mostly from the deeper layers, like the dermis), binds and holds moisture to the epidermis or upper layer of the skin. By doing so, it prevents dryness and maintains the skin’s suppleness . However, the lower layers of skin if not replenished properly will be sapped of their own moisture. That’s why glycerin is usually combined with oils or other occlusive emollients to provide a layer of protection on the skin to reduce moisture loss
     

    GREEN TEA

     DESCRIPTION

    Originating from China, green tea has been around since the early twelfth century and quickly spread to many other countries in Asia. Now, it’s a favorite beverage the world over

     WHAT IT CONTAINS

    Heaps of antioxidants known as flavonoid phytochemicals or polyphenols (mainly epigallocatechin-3-gallate)

     USES

    Its strong antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties are likely to slow down the process of ageing, repair or improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin, reduce topical oxidative stress and have also been known to inhibit matrix metalloproteinases (i.e. enzymes that contribute to skin degradation)
     

    HEMP SEED OIL

     DESCRIPTION

    Not to be confused with hash oil which comes from the cannabis flower, hemp seed oil is obtained by pressing hemp seeds. It has a nutty aroma and is dark to light green in color

     WHAT IT CONTAINS

    Vitamins A, B, B1, C and E, iron, proteins, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, calcium, iodine, beta carotene, phlorotannins and essential amino acids

     USES

    Thanks to its trace elements and minerals it helps to maintain the skin’s natural functions. Algae also has antioxidant and anti-photoaging properties which have shown to effectively inhibit skin oxidation stress and matrix metalloproteinases (i.e. enzymes that contribute to skin degradation). It’s a natural humectant preserving the upper layer of the skin’s moisture.
     

    SEA SALT (Sodium Chloride)

     DESCRIPTION

    Himalayan salt is found in the Punjab region of Pakistan whereas sea salt is, obviously, found in the sea!

     WHAT IT CONTAINS

    Trace minerals and nutrients, including iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc, potassium and selenium

     USES

    As a topical scrub to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells. Bear in mind this can be sensitizing if left on the skin for too long
     

    JOJOBA OIL 

     DESCRIPTION

    Jojoba has a variety of names like goat nut, deer nut, quinine nut and coffee berry. The non-fragrant oil is produced from the seed of the jojoba shrub which is native to the west coast of the USA and northwestern Mexico

     WHAT IT CONTAINS

    A variety of different fatty acids (mostly eicosenoic, erucic and oleic acid) and alcohols

     USES

    Its chemical structure closely resembles human sebum (i.e. the oil or lubrication that our skin produces) so it’s easily absorbed into the skin and is effective as a moisturizing and balancing agent for the skin’s natural oils, without clogging pores. It also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It’s not only a great moisturizer for dry and chapped skin but it’s also great for healing burns, sores, scars, dermatitis, acne, psoriasis and sunburn. Definitely keep an eye out for this one if you want to rejuvenate and enhance your skins natural suppleness
     

    LIQUORICE ROOT EXTRACT 

     DESCRIPTION

    The benefits of Liquorice root have been well known since the days of ancient China…

     WHAT IT CONTAINS

    it’s main constituents are the bio-active compounds known as glycyrrhizin / glycyrrhizic acid and licochalcone. It also contains the phytoestorogen known as glabridin

     USES

    it increases the production and migration of skin cells.  It’s also been shown to have antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and skin soothing effects and is used in the treatment for several skin disorders like rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis. It has a natural skin lightening agent for the treatment of hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, melasma and other pigmentation disorders of the skin. If that’s not enough it’s also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, making it useful in the treatment of acne
     

    Vitamin C

     DESCRIPTION

    It’s probably the most famous (and popular) vitamin for consumption but, as it turns out, it’s also really good for your skin too. There’s a variety of vitamin C derivatives and it’s naturally found in a heap of ingredients already mentioned in this list (rosehip, sea buckthorn and aloe vera) but L-ascorbic acid is the most well studied

     WHAT IT CONTAINS

    This essential nutrient is a weak acid that’s structurally related to glucose

     USES

    It’s a strong antioxidant that’s shown to be effective as an anti-aging supplement when formulated properly (i.e. a pH level of 3.5 or less is required for the skin to absorb it). It assists in the repair of sun-damaged skin, stimulates collagen production and has also been shown to inhibit the production of melanin and skin cancer. When L-ascorbic is applied to the skin regularly it’s also been shown to even out skin tone and improve hydration. Note that like all anti-oxidants, L-ascorbic acid can break down fairly easily when exposed to air and light, so best to make sure the product you buy is contained in an air tight bottle, tube or pump, clear jars are susceptible to light so avoid these
     

    LAVENDER OIL 

     DESCRIPTION

    There are about 47 species of the lavender plant and they’re found in many parts of the world, including the Canary Islands, Europe and north and east Africa. Distilled from the flower spikes of the Lavender plant, this essential oil is colorless and insoluble in water

     WHAT IT CONTAINS

    The exact composition of Lavender oil can differ from species to species but its primary constituents are a complex of phytochemicals, including linalool and linalyl acetate

     USES

    Besides its delightful fragrance, under in-vitro studies this ingredient has shown to promote collagen synthesis and differentiation in the skin’s fibroblasts (i.e. the most common connective tissue in our skin). It’s also shown to be an effective therapeutic agent in repairing skin injuries and wounds.  It’s been used to sooth sunburn and insect bites and relieve eczema and psoriasis. Studies have also shown that it may also have anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce irritation and pain. A word of caution though, as lavender is a fragrance it can naturally aggravate the skin
     

    OLIVE OIL

    DESCRIPTION

    Olive oil is essentially the liquid fat obtained from olives. According to archaeological evidence it’s been cultivated between 6000-4500 BC in Palestine and (not surprisingly) it’s been used as a skincare remedy since the time of the Egyptians and ancient Greeks

     WHAT IT CONTAINS

    Essential fatty acid content together with the emollient squalene (i.e. one of the most common fats produced by human skin cells), phenolic compounds, and specifically polyphenols

     USES

    Very effective as a moisturizer yet super sensitive (appropriate in the right formulations with newborns). In virto tests have shown the bio-active derivatives of olive oil support the production of adult fibroblasts which not only aid in the repair of the skin’s connective tissue but also in the appearance of aged skin. It’s also been used to treat minor skin problems like acne and is also effective in healing wounds and burns. There is a very low potential for this ingredient to be sensitizing or harmful, however, it’s usually combined with other beneficial ingredients
     

    ROSE HIP OIL

     DESCRIPTION 

    This exotic ingredient is native to Africa, Europe and West Asia

    WHAT IT CONTAINS

    Its phytochemical composition, includes ascorbic acid, phenolic compounds, a high concentration of essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6), bio-flavonoid molecules and it also contains a heap of vitamins from A to E, with lots of C in between

     USES

    Thanks to its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties this ingredient is widely used for treating and strengthening dry, irritated and weathered skin, burns, scars and reducing the signs of ageing. Note that this ingredient is different to Rose Oil which is distilled from the Damask rose, which is a more volatile oil and has been known to aggravate skin
     

    ROSEMARY EXTRACT

     DESCRIPTION

    This woody herb is another one of those ingredients that’s best known for its fragrance. However, there’s a lot more to this one than just the scent…

     WHAT IT CONTAINS

    The extract contains a number of bio-active phytochemicals but most importantly rosmarinic and caffeic acid

     USES

    It’s been used as a photo-therapeutic agent for healing wounds.  It’s been shown to inhibit the harmful effects of UV skin induced damage and prevent DNA damage in certain cells. It also has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties so can be used as a natural preservative to prevent other ingredients in cosmetic and skincare products from oxidizing and also in the treatment of infections caused by bacteria. Note that while Rosemary oil has many of the same properties because of its high concentration of its fragrance compounds it’s been known to aggravate the skin
     

    SHEA BUTTER

     DESCRIPTION

    Shea butter comes from the nut of the African shea tree. Since the days of Cleopatra’s Egypt, this ingredient has been used as a cosmetic and traded as a precious commodity

     WHAT IT CONTAINS

    A heap of beneficial components like fatty acids (mainly oleic, stearic and linoleic acid) and antioxidants (quercetin, epicatechin gallate, gallocatechin, epigallocatechin, allantoin)

     USES

    It has valuable antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and emollient properties. It’s used to treat all types of skin disorders from rashes to sunburn, chapping, ulcers, blemishes, eczema, and dermatitis. It’s effective for moisturizing dry skin and protecting against the environment.  Some of its bio-active compounds have also shown to inhibit growth of certain types of radical and cancer cells
     

    TEA TREE OIL

    DESCRIPTION

    Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, was first extracted from the narrow-leaved paperbark or narrow-leaved tea-tree, which is native to north eastern Australia. This camphor-like smelling essential oil has been used as a skin care remedy by the Aborigines for hundreds of years

      

    WHAT IT CONTAINS

    A lot of different compounds but its main constituents are terpinen-4-ol, terpinene, and α-pinene

    USES

    Tea tree oil has excellent anti-bacterial, antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties and is the reason this ingredient has been used to treat acne, lice, fungal infection, scabies, athletes foot, cuts, burns, toothache and insect bites. Note that, as with all fragrant plant oils, tea tree oil can be sensitizing (especially if it is an old product), so do use it in the appropriate volumes and store away from light and air to avoid oxidation
     

    TURMERIC

    DESCRIPTION

    Native to Southeast Asia, the Turmeric plant is a herbaceous species that comes from the ginger family. While it’s most well known as a yellowy / orange spice in Asian cuisine it’s also used in traditional medicines, ceremonies, clothing, as a dye and as an indicator for acidity

      

    WHAT IT CONTAINS 

    The main constituents are the bright yellowy chemical compounds produced by the turmeric plant called curcuminoids

     USES

    Not only is turmeric a potent antioxidant it’s been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-neoplastic (i.e. inhibits tumor growth in melanoma) properties. It’s also been used to treat a variety of skin problems like acne, wounds, burns, eczema and psoriasis and  treat sun damage and skin photoaging (i.e. loss of the skin’s youthful appearance)

    Onion Oil

    Onion pure essential oil has a distinct onion aroma but also is known for its anti-bacterial, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, and hypnotic assets. Onion essential oil has a sulfurous type odor and a strong, unpleasant, odor.