All You Need To Know: Superfood Skincare
In case you haven’t noticed, we’re big fans of superfoods. It’s probably not an over exaggeration to say we put them in every meal - sometimes in powder form, but mostly just natural oils/fruits/veggies. But what about putting them on your face? (or your whole body for that matter). Some are well known in the world of skincare - we’ve all found ourselves in a bit of a predicament where we're running between the kitchen and the bathroom with our coconut oil, but does it extend further than that? We talk to Supernatural Cosmetics, an online one stop shop for all natural skincare products, to find out more. Over to you guys:
"The popularity of superfoods is no longer confined to the kitchen table. Beauty products are now supercharged with foodie ingredients, from kale and quinoa to chia seeds and spirulina, there seems to be no stopping this obsession with the good stuff. But what’s the deal with superfoods in skincare and beauty products - do they actually work?
Firstly, what are superfoods? According to Andrea Mitarotonda, Chief Scientific Officer at Neal's Yard Remedies, “Superfoods are a range of vibrant, nutritionally-dense foods that offer so much potential, both when used internally, and topically in skincare”. “For us, these ingredients deliver benefits when used at a topical level, be it moisturisation, anti-oxidation or a source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids”.
Co-founder of The Organic Pharmacy, Margo Marrone, is also passionate about using superfoods - specifically "pharmaceutical grade organic herbs, superfoods and naturally sourced vitamins such as C and E in high percentages" which she claims make a product stand out in terms of results. So Neal’s Yard & The Organic Pharmacy are on board - surely reason enough to believe the benefits, but is their science behind it too?
THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT
So how does it work? According to Neal’s Yard, ”When using a botanical or vegetable extract, the extraction process plays a major role in determining which components are extracted and how – a bit like cooking vegetables. For example, broccoli gently steamed retains much more of its nutrients than if it is deep-fried. So not all extracts are created equal”.
They also point out the importance of researching papers on the latest clinical tests on ingredients. "The efficacy is then assessed based on historical and medicinal levels as well as the clinical trials," they say.
Cosmetic science consultant Colin Sanders is more sceptical about the promises of hero ingredients however, arguing that only a handful of natural ingredients can get across the skin because you need just the right sized molecule for an ingredient to do anything when it gets there. According to Sanders, superfoods do offer potential through their antioxidant properties however, though supporting the body's own production of antioxidants. He explains:
"The body is continually working to prevent oxidation and does this in a number of ways, one of which is producing its own antioxidants. The best known of these is vitamin E, and a third of the vitamin E in the body is found in the skin. So adding antioxidants to the skin in theory should help the body. It's even likely natural vitamin E is a bit more efficient than synthetic vitamin E."
WHAT PRODUCTS WORKS BEST?
Aside from the actual superfoods, the type of product also affects how well it works. Skincare products come in all manner of forms – gels, creams, oil-in-water emulsions, water-in-oil emulsions, etc – and this chosen delivery system (as beauty formulators call it) will also dictate which active ingredient to use and how it will perform on skin.
According to Pedro Catala, a pharmacist and founder of Twelve Beauty, ”A well-formulated facial oil is a good way to incorporate superfoods into your skincare regime, especially if your skincare goal is delivery of nutrients and extra comfort. However, remember our skin is protected with a mixture of water and oils so there is real benefit from using a cream-moisturiser too”.
Catala recommends using facial oils during the colder months but if you're looking to get skin benefits from proteins such as peptides, then a lighter texture with less oil is better. "Richer, oily products can actually stop the action of most peptides and proteins," he adds.
Sanders agrees with the use of oils: you need products that have a long contact time and spread over a wide area if they are going to do anything at all. So facial oils and masks are likely to be the best option”.
Polynesian women have been reaping the benefits of coconut oil for centuries, applied to nourish and protect skin and hair from the elements. Now this culinary and beauty multi-tasker with its unique medium chain fatty acid component, is having a moment in the spotlight as a body oil, to remove makeup or as a hair treatment. Studies have also shown virgin coconut oil to have antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
Thought to contain more vitamin E than olive oil, this plant oil is sourced from the kernels of the argan tree native to Morocco. Extracting the oil is labor-intensive which explains its higher price point but its richness in omega 6 and 9 make it a time trusted skin protector.
Hailed as a wonder food in the kitchen, molecules from chia seeds can also be extracted for skincare. "The efficacy of an ingredient depends on what part of the food or botanical is extracted. If you extract the oil from a chia seed, you get an ingredient rich in omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids making it very regenerating for the epidermis of skin. If you extract the aqueous-gel from the chia seeds you get hydration which is great as a moisturiser," explains Catala. We caught up with our naturopath about this too and she also mentioned the great anti-inflammatory properties they provide for your skin - and as with most things, if she recommends it, we all buy it!
Rich in vitamin E, this helps to protect skin from environmental and oxidative damage alongside the benefits of essential fatty acids thought to help regulate the skin's natural functions. Avocado has always been a staple in DIY face masks but now brands are bottling up its goodness. "Avocado is a very stable oil which means it doesn't go rancid easily. It has an incredible composition suitable even for sensitive skin and is highly compatible with skin's composition," says Catala.
We also asked our naturopath Anastasia for her top recommendations on how to use natural ingredients within your skincare regime, and she shared her favourite four step facial cleansing regime which can be done from pantry/fridge staples, as well as a quick and easy face mask recipe:
- A cleanser to start: raw coconut oil, massaged into your skin to help provide moisture
- Followed by an acid toner made from 50% raw apple cider vinegar mixed with 50% filtered water. This creates a mild peel which helps to balance the pH of your skin and remove dead skin cells
- Followed by a clarifying yoghurt + lemon face mask - great for helping with spots and uneven skin tone
- Finished with rosehip, or extra virgin olive oil to protect the skin and seal in the other benefits, as well as hydrate and cleanse the skin.
HONEY + CINNAMON FACE MASK
1. Mix the honey and
2. Apply to your face
3. Leave for 15-20mins
4. Wash off with water
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp cinnamon
Supernatural Cosmetics are an online one stop shop for natural beauty products; selecting the best organic, natural, vegan skincare, make-up, perfume and haircare products in the industry.