With all the recent talk about anti-oxidants and their importance in protecting our health, nearly all of us have learned that we should be eating and drinking more foods and beverages with high anti-oxidant contents. But, what about skincare products that contain herbs and plants that are high in anti-oxidants? Can they help reduce aging when used topically?
Today, drugstore and department store shelves are full of moisturizers and other skin care products made from fruits, vegetables and herbs. The products promise to prevent aging, and in some cases, even reverse skin damage that has already occurred. The theory is that the same anti-oxidants that protect our health when consumed as part of our diet can protect our skin when applied directly to the face.
One study, reported by the UK Tea Council examined many of these products, including those containing green tea, soy, pomegranate, grape seed oil, aloe, horse chestnut, comfrey, chamomile, dates and allantoin. The study reviewed the research behind skin care products with each of these ingredients to determine what scientific evidence exists to suggest that the products are indeed effective on the skin.
After reviewing the research on each of the products, the study showed that the only natural products with any evidence to back up their effectiveness were green and black tea, pomegranates, soy and dates have had any real clinical trials to give evidence that the products are effective.
So, what products do you choose? Well, there are a wide variety of products that contain at least one of the ingredients that do have evidence to suggest that they are good treatments for the skin. Highly recognized cosmetic companies like Murad and Proactiv and Aveeno make products using these ingredients. Which natural product you choose really depends upon the type of skin problems you’re having. Here are the most popular natural skin care ingredients and the problems they can help to solve.
Soy – Soy’s an effective moisturizer and offers anti-oxidants, which can help prevent aging. In addition, certain soy proteins have been shown to help with pigmentation problems, like sun spots and other discolorations.
Pomegranate – Pomegranate is also full of anti-oxidants and has been shown to be a cancer preventative. One study on pomegranates showed that when breast cancer cells were exposed to pomegranate extract they self destructed, leaving healthy cells intact. As a skin treatment, pomegranates are best for healing; making it an effective treatment for acne and any other skin ailments that need to heal.
Green Tea – Green tea has some of the most powerful anti-oxidants available. And, they’re apparently just as effective when applied to the skin as they are when part of a healthy diet.
Green tea has been shown to rejuvenate skin, actually reactivating dying skin cells. Green tea does not penetrate below the first layer of the skin, but even here it can have dramatic results. As skin cells reach the epidermis they prepare to die, and over the next week or so, they become dull as they’re dying off.
Green tea rejuvenates these cells, making them live longer and removing that dull tired look that skin gets. So, a green tea in your moisturizer can help improve the look of your skin almost immediately. It’s still important to exfoliate regularly to help rid your skin of the cells that are already dead.
But, green tea may have cancer preventing effects as well. Other studies have shown that green tea’s anti-oxidants have a scavenging effect on free radicals on the skin, and even on abnormal skin cells. So, green tea may help rid your skin of cells that might otherwise become dangerous skin cancer cells. Doctors recommend using green tea cream under your sunscreen for the optimal effect.
Green tea is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason it is sometimes an effective treatment for skin problems like roseacia. Researchers believe that because of the combination of anti-inflammatory properties along with the anti-oxidant activity of green tea, it likely will have many anti-aging properties once more research has been performed.
One question that arises when using any natural product on your skin is whether or not the active ingredients can remain effective after months on the shelf. It’s a sensible question, since we know that, from a dietary standpoint, fresh is best.
We still need more research on the subject, but it’s certain that you should use fresh products whenever you can. For example, in addition to using a commercially available green tea product as a moisturizer, try freezing freshly brewed green tea into ice cubes to be used as toner. Just be sure to let the ice cube sit out just a little bit to thaw, so that they don’t burn the skin.
Natural skin care products will likely gain more popularity as more research emerges showing their potential. In the meantime, there’s no reason not to get a head start. Many natural skin care products, like those that contain green tea, soy and pomegranate offer excellent skin care and treat many types of skin irritations. And, there may be some significant long term benefits to your skin, too!
Jon M. Stout is the Chairman of the Golden Moon Tea Company. Golden Moon Tea carefully selects the finest rare and orthodox teas, which are processed slowly and handcrafted with extreme care. At their website, you can learn more about their current tea offerings, including their exceptional green tea [http://www.goldenmoontea.com/greentea/], white tea, black tea, oolong tea (also known as wu-long and wu long tea [http://www.goldenmoontea.com/wu-long/]) and chai. Visit goldenmoontea.com for all details concerning the Golden Moon Tea Company’s fine line of teas.