My current fascination in skin care formulation is with using plant extracts for specific needs. My first experiment was in creating a hair oil infused with hibiscus flowers, amla (gooseberry) and rosemary leaves. I love how it turned out - I will post details on this in a subsequent post. I'm now a huge huge fan of hibiscus - it does wonders for hair. The next inspiration for a plant extract came after I unseeded a pomegranate fruit (from a local farm) and was left staring at the peels. My husband has clearly noticed that I hate to throw away any plant material and he did a quick Google search on pomegranates and told me that I should probably do some research on their peels before throwing them away. So I decided to dry the peels anyways and spent the next few weeks researching pomegranate peels and now have educated myself on a wealth of information. Below are two extracts - the one on the left is pomegranate peel and the one on the right is white oak bark. I love the rich colors - these are due to the wonderful compounds extracted from these substances called Phenolics.
Phenols are a class of aromatic compounds (containing a benzene ring and a hydroxy group).
It turns out that pomegranates (fruit, peels, roots etc), white oak bark and several other plant materials are rich in polyphenols - compounds that have multiple phenol structural units. Below is a further classification of different types of polyphenolics which have different benefits for skin:
One of the key properties of polyphenols in general is their exceptional antioxidant properties. They are fantastic scavengers of reactive oxygen species that are generated in our tissues when exposed to harmful UV rays from the sun and lead to various skin disorders, including in the extreme, skin cancer. There are a multitude of other benefits as well as shown in the picture below:
My primary interest is to see how polyphenol topical application can help with skin issues. The picture above indicates the mechanisms by which these compounds can help against aging - photoprotection, cell renewal, inhibition of melanin (suppress age spots, melasma?), collagen stimulation, constriction of blood vessels (under-eye dark circles).
Coming back to my two extracts - pomegranate peel extract is rich is polyphenolic acids (punicalagin acid, ellagic acid) that have photoprotection benefits and also rich in tannins which aid skin cells renewal. In other words, perfect for use in an anti-aging product!
The white oak bark extract is rich is quercetin and tannins - which can help with blood vessel constriction and melanogenesis inhibition - i.e. an under-eye dark circle treatment. I also plan to extract the flowers and leaves of magnolia grandiflora which are also rich in polyphenols such as magnolol and honokiol, and other tannins for an anti-acne treatment.
The next thing to figure out is the concentration needed for efficacy and what kind of formulation to use it for in. Fun stuff!