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Why is there food in your lotion? How kale and berries fight ageing and ‘maskne’

Nutrient-rich superfoods used to be just a wellness trend – but now these are found in beauty products that rejuvenate, nourish and protect the skin.

Kale, berries, avocado, acai – the list of superfoods keeps growing and so does their popularity, not just in the health industry but also in the world of beauty

Celebrated for nourishing the body from within, they can also work wonders on the skin because they are loaded with vitamins, fatty acids and antioxidants.

“These foods contain a range of unique benefits, such as being able to boost your immune system or speed up your body’s natural healing response after an injury,” said Hayley Teo, founder of Singaporean skincare brand Rooki Beauty, which offers products that harness the power of superfood ingredients.

Pure and potent, the high concentration of these single ingredients are likely to benefit the skin more versus consuming the same volume of raw superfoods.

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Also featuring the benefits of these nutrient-packed foods is local beauty brand, Sigi Skin. Founder and managing director Xenia Wong explained: “They help to address a wide range of skin issues, from skin’s inflammation, weakened skin barrier to ageing concerns to ‘maskne’ that almost everyone is suffering from right now.” 

It’s no surprise that there is increasing interest in these nutrient-rich foods in the skincare industry. 

“Superfoods initially started as a wellness trend, which spilled over to skincare. Because of all the health benefits of superfoods, there has been much interest and research into delivering those same benefits topically,” explained Teo. 

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser, S$50. This gel-to-foam formula blends strawberry seed oil with hydrolysed wheat proteins, and tomato extracts to help strengthen, firm, and protect as well as brighten the skin and minimise the appearance of pores. (Photo: Indie Lee)

However, it’s important to view superfood skincare holistically, she added. 

“Food has always been regarded as nourishment in Asia and many superfoods like matcha, ginseng and turmeric are culturally significant and a big part of many time-honoured traditions. Many of these ingredients have been used both internally and externally for centuries, and research is merely playing catch up to tradition,” she said.

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How effective are superfoods when applied on the skin? “When included in skincare they are essential for supporting, protecting and strengthening your skin barrier,” shared Dominika Minarovic, co-founder of BYBI Beauty.

For instance, to combat the signs of ageing, Teo said to look out for age-reversing superfoods such as matcha, red grapes, royal jelly and blueberries.

Wong added: “Blueberries have the ability to combat free radicals from sun exposure and they also contain significant amounts of zinc and iron, both skin-friendly elements.”

BYBI Beauty Strawberry Booster, S$23. This 100 per cent natural Strawberry Seed Oil improves moisture levels and gives naturally glowing skin while defending against environmental stressors including pollution and UV rays.(Photo: BYBI Beauty)

According to Minarovic, strawberry can also help to replenish moisture and nourish dry, sensitive skin while broccoli seed oil which is naturally rich in vitamin A and fatty acids, helps to increase cell turnover while regenerating and softening the skin.

The effectiveness of the superfood ingredients can be attributed to how these superfood ingredients are extracted.

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Kale, the vegetable superstar of the nutrition world, is high in vitamins A and K, and can help to protect the skin’s elasticity while decreasing the appearance of wrinkles, highlighted Wong.

Sigi Skin Kaleanser Face Wash, S$38. Kale extracts in this cleanser detoxify, cleanse pores and brighten the complexion. It also has soy extracts that soothe and moisturise while gently removing makeup and dirt, and rebalancing the skin’s pH level. (Photo: Sigi Skin)

“It also improves skin suppleness and improves the skin’s barrier,” she added.

Purslane, which is an edible weed that is high in omega-3 fatty acids and beta carotene, is another ingredient that can be beneficial. Wong said: “It has been well researched to promote collagen production and helps with skin’s inflammation.”

And to soothe irritated skin, Teo advised choosing ingredients such as oats which feature beta-glucan and other fatty acids.

Dr Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience Soothing Treatment Lotion (now in a Limited Edition Bruno Grizzo design), S$63. Featuring Reishi mushroom (or lingzhi) and fermented chaga, this lotion helps to calm and relieve sensitive skin while boosting the skin’s barrier to protect against pollution and stress. (Photo: Origins)

While superfoods are generally suitable for all skin types, they are especially beneficial for ageing skin.

“Superfood-based antioxidants can help to combat free radical damage, which will help you to preserve your youthful visage,” stated Teo.

Sensitive skin can also reap benefits from them as natural ingredients are gentle on the skin. “They are less harsh than other actives such as AHAs, or BHAs or retinoids, which makes it suitable for those with sensitive skin,” added Wong.

Superfood-based antioxidants can help to combat free radical damage, which will help you to preserve your youthful visage.

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Are there any side effects that come with these powerful ingredients? “The majority of people should not experience any adverse reactions, but as with all skincare products, there will always be a minority who end up developing side effects. Superfoods are not exempt from that.

However, one saving grace is there are many great superfood-focused brands with good formulation ethos,” said Teo.

So if your skin is especially sensitive, ensure that the superfood skincare products you’re getting are free from potentially harmful ingredients such as artificial fragrances, drying alcohol and parabens.

Minarovic also advised: “If you have an allergy to a specific superfood, we wouldn’t recommend using the same ingredients in a skincare product as this could cause an adverse reaction.”

The most crucial factors to getting the most out of superfood ingredients are the purity and freshness of the ingredients. 

“The effectiveness of the superfood ingredients can be attributed to how these superfood ingredients are extracted,” said Wong, who added that Sigi Skin’s extracts are cold pressed to ensure freshness and efficacy while the optimal percentage of the ingredient is used to reap its benefits.

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Rooki Beauty Circadian Fixer Hydro Drops, S$68. With Chardonnay Grapes and a concentrated harvest of eight marine algae plants including Wakame and Kombu, this quick-fix serum helps to hydrate and calm tired, dehydrated skin, and keeps it supple. (Photo: Rooki Beauty)

Rooki Beauty also uses cold-pressed ingredients. “This is the best method of retaining the beneficial nutrients in the oil. On the other hand, hot-pressed oil tends to undergo oxidisation, rendering it far less potent than cold-pressed oils,” said Teo.

Similarly, BYBI Beauty uses 100 per cent cold pressed ingredients in its products. “Pure and potent, the high concentration of these single ingredients are likely to benefit the skin more versus consuming the same volume of raw superfoods,” explained Minarovic.

But to attain great-looking skin, superfood skincare should go hand in hand with healthy eating. “It’s really important to note that balance is key to great skin health and applying superfoods topically to counteract a poor diet would not be wise,” advised Minarovic.

Source: CNA/yy