Superfoods aren't just for dinner anymore. Plants are now supercharging high-tech skincare with antioxidant goodness. From repairing skin from sun exposure, to increasing the skin’s natural collagen production, to reducing redness, skincare has gone green—specifically plant greens.
“Since organic plant matter is made up of the same vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, enzymes and amino acids as the human body, our skin absorbs them readily and circulates them to the rest of the body,” says Renee Tavoularis, co-founder of the impressive plant-based skincare line, Planted In Beauty. “Once absorbed, they can help with everything from increasing collagen production and improving circulation to restoring discoloration and diminishing visible signs of aging, leaving skin looking vibrant and healthy.”
We found some of our favorite high-power ingredients in some of our favorite high power brands.
“Purslane is well tolerated and well absorbed topically through the dermis, and arguably confers more anti-aging benefits than any other compound—natural or synthetic,” says Dr. Barbara Sturm, renowned facial aesthetics doctor and founder of Dr. Barbara Sturm Molecular Cosmetics. “I built my skin care line around purslane, which is considered a local 'native' herb in places as disparate as the US, China, Caribbean, Middle East, South America, Africa, Europe, and Russia"—so basically, all over the place.
An ancient herb, purslane has been used as medicine and food worldwide for 2,000 years. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used purslane as a wound salve and as an anti-inflammatory medicine. The ancient Romans and the Native Americans used it for internal medicine, skin disorders, and snakebites.
Fun fact: Purslane contains seven times more Vitamin A than spinach and six times more beta carotene than a carrot. Medically and in clinical trials, purslane was found to have dramatic anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidative properties and wound-healing properties.
Get it: Dr. Barbara Sturm Deep Hydrating Face Mask ($160) works wonders to supply intensive moisture and calm the skin. And purslane protects cell membranes against free radicals, making skin more resistant.
“The fern is an anti-aging wonder plant,” says Dr. Timm Golueke, founder of Royal Fern. “Fern extract combats skin aging on all levels: it stimulates cell renewal and the production of new collagen, moisturizes the skin, reduces hyperpigmentation, and inhibits the loss of skin elasticity.” And world renowned dermatologist and skin expert Dr. Golueke would know. Following four years of intensive research and development, he patented the unique complex of natural substances known as the Royal Fern Complex.
Get it: Royal Fern Phytoactive Anti-Aging Cream ($280) is brilliant. That patented Royal Fern Complex allows the deeply moisturizing cream to continuously released into the skin over the course of 12 hours.
Of course kale has made its way into beauty products. Made in California (obviously), Youth to the People's products all include kale, mixed with a bevy of other superfoods: spinach, green tea, alfalfa, spirulina, microalgae, aloe, and a variety of vitamins. Think of them like a cold-pressed juice for your face.
Every ingredient is chosen to help keep skin looking youthful and fresh. Kale in particular eliminates free radicals, repairs sun damage, and has "high levels of phytonutrients that rebuild skin cells and help preserve your youth." Products are free of sulfates, added fragrance, soap, phthalates, and added colors.
The lightweight cream ($48) is a powerhouse, with kale, spinach, and green tea, but our favorite is the Age-Prevention Super Food Mask ($44). It's got all your greens: microalgae, spirulina, kale, and spinach, for a super rich and moisturizing treatment that leaves your skin visibly brighter.
“Arnica extract has an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effect,” says Susanne Kaufmann. “My family has used arnica for generations for a variety of ailments—sunburn, arnica schnapps for a sore throat—it’s really a healing tonic for everything.”
Susanne utilizes the wild-grown flowers from the arnica plant in the Alps in her superpowered Arnica Oil ($60), which can be used to improve the natural elasticity in skin.
Get it: Planted in Beauty Balance + Calm Toning Lotion ($75) utilizes arnica and chamomile to calm skin and reduce redness, while sea buckthorn provide anti-inflammatory and skin soothing properties.
As we’ve learned before, the moringa tree that produces moringa oil is called the "miracle tree" for good reason—it nourishes dryness, decreases redness, can minimize scars, and is the perfect lightweight oil addition in hair products.
“Moringa oil mimics the skin's natural sebum production, so it’s ideal for all skin types (even sensitive skin),” said Emily Cunningham, the co-founder of True Moringa, a company entirely dedicated to it. “It helps to stabilize oil production for oily or combination skin, and nourishes dry and normal skin long after you apply. It soothes redness, evens skin tone, minimizes the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and fights the free radicals that cause premature aging.”
Get it: True Moringa Ultra Light Whipped Body Butter ($32) features moringa oil, shea butter and Madagascar vanilla, and goes on light and absorbs easily, leaving skin nourished and glowing from the inside out.
“I believe that olive oil is Mother Nature's biggest beauty secret,” says Olive + M founder Mariska Nicholson. “Molecularly it is very close to your skin’s natural oil (sebum) and so when applied, your skin recognizes it and it is able to penetrate quickly and deeply.”
Fun fact: Olive oil contains an antioxidant called Hydroxytyrosol, which is the highest known antioxidant on the planet.
Get it: Indulge in nature’s bounty with Olive + M’s Body Oil ($58) where the main ingredient is olive oil, then avocado oil, and pink grapefruit and bergamot add a light scent.
Learn more about powerful natural ingredients:
The Must-Use Oil You've Never Heard Of
How I Used Tea Tree Oil to Treat My Acne
The Best Natural Alternatives to Your Everyday Beauty Products