5 of the best botanical ingredients for your skin

Find out how the contents of your fruit bowl can answer all your anti-ageing prayers

Take a look inside the typical bathroom cabinet and it’s likely you’ll find more than a few products sporting one of the hottest buzzword in beauty right now: natural.

In fact, many of today’s skin care potions are beginning to resemble a gourmet salad – with scientists developing sophisticated methods to extract active ingredients from nature. But do botanicals really have the power to pack a serious punch against wrinkles, pigmentation and loss of radiance? In a word, yes! According to leading skin doctors, a new breed of power botanicals can help boost collagen production, protect from UV damage and brighten skin texture. “Botanical extracts, derived from flowers, fruits and leaves, contain antioxidants known as polyphenols – in particular flavonoids,” explains skin care product developer for Swisse, Selina Mithen. “Flavonoids from botanicals are powerful UV absorbers and antioxidants with a very protective effect on our skin.” Want the best of both science and nature? We’ve found the products that deliver both.

Barbados cherry

Also known as the acerola extract, this tiny but mighty extract is a potent source of vitamin C. “Vitamin C is known to help form collagen, making skin more radiant and youthful,” explains Megan Larsen, founder of skin care brand Sodashi. “Acerola cherry also contains vitamins A and B, but it’s the high levels of flavonoids which provide nutritive value for the skin.” Flavonoids help strengthen your skin’s capillaries, which in turn supply nutrients to its cells. “This enables cell regeneration and slowing of the ageing process.” 

Best for: Brightening a dull complexion, evening out texture and targeting pigmentation. 

Find it in: Serums and moisturisers 

We recommend: Clarins Mission Perfection Serum, Elemental Herbology Cell Active Facial Moisturiser and Omorovicza Rejuvenating Night Cream.

Mint

A staple in your green smoothies (or cocktails!) this sweet tasting herb is a surprising skin refiner too. “Mint is very high in salicylic acid,” reveals medical scientist and naturopath, Annalies Corse. “It’s a naturally occurring beta hydroxy acid, which has an exfoliant action, without being abrasive.”

Make this herb garden hero a part of your arsenal to sweep away dead cells and reveal more even-textured skin fast. 

Best for: “It’s high in menthol, which is highly antiseptic and cooling,” adds Corse. “You’ll often find it in blemish-fighting formulations to help reduce bacteria on the skin.” Breakouts, be gone! 

Find it in: Targeted treatment formulations like deep cleansers, a range of masks and toners. 

We recommend: Gatineau Paris Clear & Perfect Sebo-Regulating Concentrate, Origins Zero Oil Pore Purifying Toner and Chantecaille Detox Clay Mask.

Berries

Surprising but true: raspberry seed oil is showing promise as a sunscreen, according to Corse. The reason? It absorbs both UVB and UVC photons. “Most skin ageing is due to photo-ageing, so anything with natural sunscreen is appealing for anti-ageing formulations,” she explains. According to dermatologist Emma Hobson, raspberry leaf extract also helps repair sun damage. “It’s an anti-inflammatory and can strengthen capillary walls, which help reduce redness.” Another antioxidant powerhouse: the blueberry. “They contain some of the highest levels of plant chemicals which fight free radical formation on the skin,” explains Corse.

Best for: Sensitive skin, since they’re highly anti-inflammatory. Also great for dry, mature skin.

Find it in: Blueberry in eye creams and facial oils and raspberry in moisturisers and sunscreens. 

We recommend: Chantecaille Rose de Mai Face Oil, Dermalogica Gentle Soothing Booster and Trilogy Age-Proof CoQ10 Eye Recovery.

Aloe vera

Most of us have one growing in a pot or one neglected in the back of the garden. Turns out, aloe vera is a good natural moisturiser and helps maintain the skin’s hydration levels. “It contains antioxidants, vitamins E and C plus beta-carotene, which all help fight free radicals and protect skin against premature ageing,” explains Hobson. 

Best for: “Aloe vera is good for any skin condition that requires healing – like acne marks, dermatitis or scars.” It’s a great choice for oilier skin types as it’s low in natural oil content. 

Find it in: “It’s most commonly used in sensitive skin ranges, eye care and after-sun products,” says Hobson. Look for products using the actual leaf gel in an undiluted form to obtain the best healing benefits. 

We recommend: Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream, Mario Badescu Peptide Renewal Serum and Aesop Geranium Leaf Body Balm.

Kiwi, pomegranate & Kakadu plum

Want to add instant firmness? Then this group of clever power fruits is your complexion’s new best friend. Full of antioxidants, pomegranate provides extra hydration (read: juicy plumpness) while kiwifruit and Kakadu plums are loaded with vitamin C. Native to Australia, the Kakadu plum contains one of the world’s highest concentrations of vitamin C, which according to skin care expert and founder of Stem Organics, Maureen Dillon, helps the collagen synthesis process. “Kakadu plum is richer than the blueberry in antioxidants and has extreme vitamin C potency, measuring up to 100 times that of an orange,” says Dillon. “As the world’s highest fruit source of vitamin C it helps to promote suppleness and correct the appearance of sun-flawed skin,” she explains. 

Best for: Improving the appearance of dark spots, fine lines and sun-damaged skin. 

Find it in: Masks and serums. Vitamin C is fragile, so look for products with quality packaging to block exposure to too much light. 

We recommend: Sodashi Enzyme Polish, Rohr Remedy Kakadu Plum and Vitamin C Face Serum and Antipodes Chia and Kiwi Seed Superfood Serum.

 

Main and inset photography: Edward Urrutia

Melinda is a beauty and travel writer, content creator, podcaster and mama. She has penned prose for the likes of Vogue, Women’s Health, Harper’s Bazaar, Mindfood, nine.com.au and body & soul. Melinda loves trying out pretty things, talking to talented people and travelling to picturesque places then telling everybody all about it with witty words. She keeps a journal, drinks ten cups of tea most days and listens to seventies disco in the car.