For centuries, humans have ingested fruit and vegetables and reaped the nutritional rewards, but natural extracts from these botanicals also work wonders when directly applied to your skin.
Mom and Dad were right about the importance of eating fresh fruit and veggies. There’s an ocean of scientific evidence to back them up. As kids, we thought they were part of a conspiracy to ruin our lives. Slipping apple slices into our lunch boxes. Heaping steamed broccoli on our dinner plates. Telling us to snack on something that once sprouted from the soil.
Intent on one-upping herself, Mother Nature wasn’t satisfied with giving us this endless supply of incredible edibles. So she made sure that in addition to eating them, we could extract their essence and use it to create an entire universe of skin care products. These oils and extracts have some amazing benefits. Some moisturize. Some reduce inflammation. And some keep your skin smooth and taut.
Here’s a closer look at some common—and not so common—fruit and plant extracts known for their skin-enhancing properties. They’re also ingredients in our exfoliating foot peel, which contains 16 natural extracts that miraculously slough away dead skin and leave your feet feeling baby soft.
1. Lemon extract
Like its citrus relatives, lemons are loaded with antioxidants, especially Vitamin C—a celebrated superstar in the nutrient world. Our bodies love to absorb Vitamin C, because they can’t produce it on their own.
Eating foods rich in Vitamin C like citrus fruit, broccoli and peppers help boost your immune system. And creams, lotions and sunscreens with Vitamin C have been shown to better protect skin from ultraviolet radiation and reverse discoloration from sun spots or scars.
Lemons also contain citric acid, an alpha hydroxy acid that happens to be an excellent exfoliant, and have mild astringent properties. AHAs dissolve dead skin cells and stimulate new skin growth, while astringents cause pores to contract and make skin firmer.
Lemons are for so much more than garnishing cocktails or spritzing on salmon. Here are some fun lemon-based beauty recipes to try at home. Unleash the power of sour!
2. Chamomile extract
Skin care mavens need no introduction to chamomile. This flowering plant’s skin-calming characteristics make it a popular ingredient in everything from eye cream to toner to moisturizing balm.
For many, chamomile conjures up the craving for a hot cup of herbal tea that settles the digestive tract and prepares the body for bedtime. But chamomile extract is dermatologically divine. This anti-inflammatory agent is a real over-achiever, helping to heal acne, soothe angry skin conditions like eczema and chase away wrinkles.
There’s almost no way to go wrong with chamomile. Well, maybe one. It’s a member of the daisy family, so steer clear of skin contact if you’re allergic to daisies or ragweed.
3. Seaweed extract
You may grimace when you think about this slimy, smelly sea plant touching your skin. It may not be as pretty as a chamomile bloom, but seaweed redeems itself with a host of skin care benefits.
If you thought seaweed was just useless gunk that litters beaches, you might be surprised to learn that it checks all of these boxes: antioxidant, exfoliator, hydrator and brightener. Seaweed is jam-packed with anti-inflammatory compounds and fatty acids that can curb swelling and lessen irritation for skin conditions like rosacea.
Don’t be modest, seaweed. We know you have more to offer. Alas, this ocean-dwelling dynamo also boasts anti-aging abilities. More vitamin C to promote collagen production and turn back the clock on those telltale craters and crevices.
4. Green tea extract
The health benefits of green tea are nothing new—actually, they’re ancient. According to legend, tea’s origins in Chinese herbal medicine may date as far back as 2700 BCE. What’s for sure is that tea drinking in China was a daily occurrence by the 5th century during the Tang Dynasty.
Like the other natural extracts on this list, though, green tea’s properties translate well to topical ointments, oils, cleansers and serums. Green tea extract is … you guessed it … full of antioxidants—specifically polyphenols. These cosmetic crusaders lay waste to free radicals, those unstable molecules that break down collagen, cause blemishes and speed aging.
In addition to keeping your skin looking younger and more pristine, green tea extract has a mega-moisturizing component. It’s also known for reducing puffiness and possessing aggressive antibacterial qualities. Good news for unclogging those pores and reducing acne breakouts. Takeaway: Go all out with green tea!
5. Burdock root extract
Our fifth and final natural extract comes from a member of the dandelion family. Native to Northern Asia and Europe, burdock root has been a mainstay of herbal medicine for centuries, earning its stripes as a potent digestive aid.
This vegetable’s spindly, knotty roots resemble a brown or beige carrot. And while they may not be much to look at, their nutritional profile is off the charts. Loaded with antioxidants and minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium, burdock root has a lot to offer the human body.
There’s a good chance your skin or hair care products may contain burdock root—usually listed as an ingredient under its scientific moniker, Arctium lappa. Not only is burdock helpful for treating acne, eczema and psoriasis, it absorbs oils and even removes toxins in your blood. Just wow.
Imagine what happens when you soak your cracked, callused feet in our special exfoliating peel combining all of these amazing natural extracts and several more. Or even better, find out for yourself! For maximum after-peel hydration, don’t forget to pick up one of our Moisturizing Foot Masks.