Seven Natural Ingredients To Add To Your Grooming Regime
We dive into the cosmetic benefits of botanical ingredients, and the products that make the most of them
Just as the world adopts a greener, cleaner approach to eating, so, too, have men reconsidered their once chemical-laden grooming regimens. The prevailing logic is this: if a plant-based diet is good for your body, then the same approach should be just as beneficial for the skin. So, the kinds of things you once expected to find only in an upscale salad bar or an artisanal tea bag have now found their way into your moisturiser.
An all-natural approach to skincare might be dismissed by the icy-faced Botox brigade, but clinical evidence in support of botanical-based skincare isn’t so much emerging from its chrysalis as beating its new butterfly wings. Below, we have highlighted seven natural ingredients that should make their way on to your bathroom shelf and, indeed, your face this year.
Oils have become a viable substitute for conventional cream-based moisturisers, and few are more nourishing than argan oil, the “liquid gold” from the kernels of the argan tree in the UNESCO-protected Moroccan woodlands. The oil is rich in fatty acids (oleic, palmitic and linoleic) and vitamin E, making it a brilliant all-rounder for dehydrated hair, skin and nails.
Peppermint extract is an analgesic and antiseptic, instantly recognisable on account of the ice-cold slap in the face you get the moment it comes into contact with your skin. Its ability to relieve minor skin irritations makes it a popular ingredient, though this is largely due to the numbing effect from its main component, menthol.
This is a relatively new “superfood” sourced from the enormous trees that bloom once a year in the inhospitably arid African savannah. When ingested, baobab helps boost immune function, digestive health and energy levels. Used topically, its high levels of antioxidants, especially vitamin C and fatty acids, make it ideal for improving elasticity, healing damaged skin and correcting the complexion, so this is something of a natural anti-ageing wonder.
When the dried flower heads of the camomile plant are brewed into a tea and ingested, they reduce cramps, discomfort and stress. As a skincare ingredient, camomile boasts similar soothing properties. Its antioxidants and flavonoids (protective molecules) make it ideal for freshly shorn jawlines, cranky complexions and skin that is routinely exposed to environmental stressors.
In perfumery, cedarwood provides the austere, warm base associated with so many classic men’s fragrances, such as Byredo Mister Marvelous, especially those of an amber or woody nature. But as an essential oil, cedarwood functions as an antiseptic, anti-fungal and antibacterial agent, making it a staple in Ayurvedic medicine and new-fangled cleansing products.
Korea has always been decades ahead of Western skincare markets. Sheet masks, essences and food-based skincare are all Far Eastern imports. And while many Korean creations are lost in translation (snail-discharge serum, anyone?), the country’s reputation as a pioneer in research and development remains unsurpassed. Bamboo is one of the ingredients that has made it into numerous Korean (and now Western) products, thanks to its moisture-binding properties and high silica content. Most of all, it is a natural source of methanol, which helps skin to heal quickly.
A perennial evergreen that belongs to the mint family, sage is a highly effective conditioning agent and anti-ager. Its natural stores of calcium and vitamin A assist in cell regeneration which, in turn, helps prevent the passage of time from showing up quite as quickly on your face. In some formulations, sage oil functions as a natural astringent, relieving problematic conditions such as eczema and acne.