Exotic Cosmeceutical Ingredients

Exotic Cosmeceutical Ingredients

7/21/2009 3:00:00 AM

Jeanette Jacknin, M.D.


Exotic ingredients are hot in the cosmeceutical industry. From Asia into the Amazon, researchers are learning more about superfruits and other botanicals with application in the personal care industry.

Acerola fruit grows on a bush native to Brazil. Acerola has remarkably high vitamin C content and also contains carotenoids and bioflavonoids, other powerful antioxidants. Acerola has been documented to have significant skin lightening effects that have already been put to good use in several skin care products.

The demand for camu camu in cosmeceuticals is skyrocketing, as it’s the highest source of natural vitamin C currently known and it is very stable and effective when used topically. This Peruvian rainforest shrub grows along the Amazon River, and contains approximately 30 times more vitamin C than is found in an orange. Camu camu applied topically is a powerful anti-aging ingredient, promoting skin elasticity, boosting collagen and aiding in neutralizing environmental pollutants that cause wrinkles.

Yerba maté is the next “green tea” nutrient-rich ingredient to excite the body care industry, with more antioxidants than the famed original green tea. It comes from the leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis tree in the rainforests in South America and contains 196 active compounds, many of which are antioxidant polyphenols and flavonoids and anti-inflammatory saponins. Two U.S. skin care companies have already discovered the great anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-aging properties of yerba maté.

Cupuacu is another Amazonian rainforest tree, this one a member of the chocolate family. It provides a well rounded source of antioxidants and is rich in a new category of phytonutrients, polyphenols named theograndins with potent antioxidant activity. It is also an exceptional moisturizer and has been shown to have greater water absorption than lanolin. In addition, it has a high content of phytosterols, which increase the skin’s elasticity and its overall appearance. Skin care companies are thus discovering that cupuacu is another natural exotic which is very effective in improving the appearance of aging, dry skin.

Star fruit, also known as carambola, is grown extensively in Southeast Asia, Australia, South America, Hawaii and Southern Florida. It is another inexpensive source of antioxidants, thus of interest for incorporation into skin care products. Interestingly, epicatechin, more commonly associated with green tea and red wine, is the major antioxidant proanthocyanidin in carambola.

Maracuja seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the passion fruit and it is traditionally used to protect, calm, relax and moisturize the skin. This rich, emollient oil is approximately 70 percent linoleic acid, which supports skin barrier function by helping to control transepidermal water loss. Its high content of flavonoids acts as free radical scavengers and antioxidants, helping reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles and lines.

Buriti oil is a red-orange colored oil that is extracted from the fruit of the Moriche palm tree in the Brazilian Amazon. It is one of the richest sources of beta-carotene, protecting the skin against the damaging effects of sunlight by neutralizing free radicals. Because of its red-orange color, buriti oil also possesses a naturally occurring SPF factor that has the ability to filter and absorb ultraviolet rays, helping to prevent ultraviolet (UV)-induced skin damage. With its incorporation into one popular national chain’s product line, we’re seeing buriti oil make its way into the mainstream cosmetic market.

Urucum seed oil, another Rainforest oil, is also reddish in color and functions as an auxiliary in sunscreens due to the high content of natural carotenoids. It promotes a topical calming action on the skin and is an effective natural colorant.

Finally, tamanu oil, indigenous to tropical Southeast Asia, is a remarkable topical agent, with skin healing, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibiotic and antioxidant properties.

Perhaps one or more of these fascinating, effective new natural ingredients can be used to make your cosmeceutical formulations even better!

Jeanette Jacknin, M.D., (JJMDSkinCare.com) is a board-certified dermatologist. She has distinguished herself as a well-respected physician, entrepreneur and author whose passion is nutricosmeceuticals and holistic dermatology. Dr. Jacknin’s education and vast experience have led her to become a published author of the classic book, Smart Medicine for Your Skin, published by Penguin Putnam.

Dr. Jacknin will be speaking at SupplySide West on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009 from 2 to 2:50 p.m.; learn more about her talk, “This Year’s Best New Natural Ingredients for Anti-Aging Cosmeceuticals,” and get registered for SupplySide West at



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