A member of team Costhetics surprised us the other day when she said she wished she had been born a plant.

Unlike humans, she explained, plants can sunbathe all day long without worrying about it causing premature skin ageing. “If I were a plant,” she said, “I would have developed sophisticated mechanisms to protect me from photodamage.”

We were able to cheer our team member on when we told her she can use plants’ natural protective powers to keep herself safe in the sun. You can, too, if you know the secret…

Botanicals, Baby

The secret to plants’ ability to thrive in an ultraviolet-rich environment comes down to one thing: antioxidants. Antioxidants function in human skin to protect proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids from sunlight, the universe’s largest manufacturer of free radicals. Free radicals create a condition known as ‘oxidative stress’ within the body which damages healthy skin cells.

The antioxidants in plant botanicals help to combat free radical activity by:

  • Blunting the skin’s natural inflammatory response, protecting against sunburn
  • Triggering natural skin rejuvenation by stimulating collagen production
  • Preventing pigmentation problems by inhibiting the production of melanin
  • Promoting skin health with anti-carcinogenic properties

Botanical extracts that support the health, texture, and integrity of the skin, hair, and nails are transforming the beauty market. Cosmeceuticals is, in fact, the fastest growing sector of the cosmetics industry. Today’s consumers are especially interested in nature-based products which they consider a ‘safer’ alternative to traditional cosmetic ingredients. We warn against this mindset however as nature is filled with toxins and poisons. Speak to your skin therapist about the safety of any skin care ingredient with which you are unfamiliar.

Origin Story: Botanical Plant Extracts

Botanicals are sourced from:

  • Herbs
  • Flowers
  • Fruits
  • Leaves
  • Seeds
  • Roots

We raise a warning flag when it comes to plant extracts in cosmeceuticals. The manufacture of plant based cosmeceuticals is not fully standardised or regulated. We recommend consumers:

  • Purchase products from a reputable source
  • Consult a skin care professional before making your decision
  • Read the label

How Do You Know if You Have Sun Damaged Skin?

Sun damage can occur anywhere on your body that has been exposed to UV rays from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Delicate facial skin is the most vulnerable to things such as:

  • Deep wrinkles
  • Redness
  • Visible blood vessels
  • Loss of tone
  • Pebbling (bumpy)
  • Leathery texture
  • Spotty discolouration

Skin that bruises easily is another sign of photodamage. Exposure to UV rays makes even strong leg and arm skin fragile. Botanicals can be used to help prevent and treat issues related to photodamage.

Tea Extracts: Making Other Botanicals Green with Envy

The rise of green tea as a choice for healthy living has now expanded to cosmeceutical formulations. The same antioxidant-rich complex polyphenolic compounds responsible for safeguarding your internal organs protect skin by influencing biochemical pathways. Researchers report epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the main active ingredient in green tea, works well as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and sunscreen. It influences:

  • Cell proliferation
  • Inflammatory responses
  • Responses to cancer promoters

When added to topical sunscreen products, green tea polyphenols:

  • Provide enhanced photoprotection
  • Reduce sunburn cells
  • Protect epidermal Langerhans cells
  • Reduce DNA damage

Green tea is getting all the attention, but white tea is actually a more potent antioxidant. Black tea extracts applied before and after sun exposure helps decrease:

  • Inflammation
  • Visible signs of cutaneous photodamage
  • Carcinogenesis

Other popular ingredients with antioxidant science on their side include:

  • Black cumin seed (originally used by Cleopatra)
  • Caffeine (not just for breakfast anymore!)
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Evening primrose
  • Liquorice
  • Soy

Top to Bottom: How Sun Damages 3 Layers of Skin

Photodamage is a term used to describe a specific type of injury to the skin. Its sole cause is long term exposure to UV rays. Photodamage affects everyone, even people who don’t tan or burn, though a sunburn does increase the speed at which we age.  Unless you’re extremely conscientious about sun protection, It’s likely that your skill will fall victim to the ravages of sun exposure.

Photodamage takes one of three forms depending on how deep the damage goes:

  • Colour Photodamage – pigmentation changes on the surface of the skin resulting in patches of discolouration which can be large or small
  • Dermal Photodamage – injury to collagen fibres in the skin resulting in skin elasticity and the development of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Epidermal Photodamage – injury to the inner layers of skin which, if untreated, may develop in cancerous lesions

If you have signs of colour and dermal sun damage, contact a doctor. Epidermal photodamage is not visible to the eye and only a trained professional can evaluate your condition and make certain you do not have any invisible lesions. As always, Costhetics wants you to be as healthy as you are beautiful.

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