The Collagen Boosters: trial results on the 7 that promise most…

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Which extracts do you need in your products?

There are dozens of products promising to reverse the effects of aged skin and restore collagen, but most are not formally tested and trialed. Below is a list of the most commonly hyped ingredients, their trial results and their effectiveness on collagen synthesis.
The skin protects itself with naturally occurring antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E, squalene, and coenzyme Q-10. These natural antioxidants become depleted with age and especially UV exposure. UV radiation also forms thymine dimers in the DNA. These are usually repaired by the body, but if the damage continues, there is ever more chance of carcinogenesis.
The best-tested skincare staples include the following: (This does not cover SPF ingredients and concentrates mainly on collagen and UV-damage repair).

Vitamin A/retinols
Vitamin A naturally occurs in skin. Retinoic acid is the biologically active form and applying this topically has been shown to improve collagen metabolism, but it can be very irritating. However all vitamin A derivatives are converted into retinoic acid on the skin (retinol, retinaldehyde, and retinyl palmitate). Fewer trials have been carried out on these, but a 1% retinol cream was shown to increase collagen synthesis. Another trial on retinyl palmitate, after two weeks application, found an increase in protein and collagen, with the same cellular changes observed in retinoic acid, without the same irritation (Glaser DA – PubMed. 2004)
Vitamin B
These have had far fewer trials carried-out, but the results are encouraging, albeit not directly on collagen synthesis. Topical Niacinamide for 12 weeks significantly improved wrinkles and elasticity. Nicotinamide, in in-vitro studies increased the synthesis of ceramide. DMAE, another B vitamin, applied at 3% improved both wrinkles and sagging skin.
Vitamin C
Again, this has been comprehensively studied and topical vitamin C- L-ascorbic acid – has proven to be a cofactor for collagen synthesis. A 12 week study revealed an increase in the Grenz zone collagen, (just under the epidermis) and type I collagen. A 5% vitamin C solution applied for 6 months resulted in measurable increases of elastin, type I and type III collagen. A 3% solution had similar results.
Vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols)
This scavenges free radicals, preventing their ability to damage the lipid cell membrane and is protective. But there is little evidence that it can improve collagen directly. However, it does seem to have a synergistic effect when combined with Vitamin C.

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA)
This is an antioxidant that is not naturally found in the skin but is used in anti-ageing treatments. It has been found to repair oxidative damage ( in vitro). A 0.5% solution increased collagen synthesis in the dermis and epidermis (in animals trials). In a randomised, double-blind trial, 5% alpha-lipoic acid was applied twice daily for 12 weeks and showed 50% decreased skin roughness compared with 40% on the placebo, (both creams also contained 0.3% coenzyme Q-10 and .03% acetyl-L- carnitine.) Self-assessment by patients reported an excellent subjective improvement.

Alpha-Hydroxyl Acids – these must not be used at above 10%, unless by a doctor.
AHAs: (glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, citric acid, tanoic acid, alpha-hydroxycaprylic acid).
The most commonly used are glycolic acid and lactic acid. AHAs thin the stratum corneum by reducing corneocytes – the top layer of surface skin cells- and speed up the normal process of skin cell exfoliation. At high concentrations (20%) they can cause increased epidermal thickness, increase hyaluronic acid, improve the quality of elastic fibres and increase collagen. At concentrations below 8%, the results are still significant, with less irritation. These findings have been reproduced a number of times, but mainly on animal studies. A double-blind clinical trial, in which 8% glycolic acid or 8% L-lactic acid creams were applied twice daily to the face for 22 weeks, demonstrated a significant number of patients had at least one grade of facial improvement in photo-damage compared with placebo (1996, Stiller et al).

A subfragment pentapeptide – palmitoyl-lysine-threonine-threonine-lysine-serine (pal-KTTKS), a synthetic peptide, now patented, is designed to improve collagen and has had excellent results. In randomised t rials, it was found to significantly increase production of type I and type 3 collagen in dermal fibroblasts. It was linked to palmitic acid to enable it to penetrate skin effectively.

Plant polyphenols are responsible for the antioxidant properties found in botanicals. These can be divided into several classes of chemicals: antho-cyanins, bioflavonoids, proanthocyanidins, catechins, hydroxy-cinnamic acids, and hydroxy-benzoic acids. Bioflavonoids are antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory. They also inhibit UV-induced connective tissue damage in skin. Anthocyanins, a group of flavonoids, have been shown to decrease UVB-induced DNA damage and decrease cancer formation. Proanthocyanidins inhibit the production of free radicals and inflammatory pathways, such as histamine and prostaglandins. Whilst in-vitro trials are plentiful, few human trials have been conducted on commonly used botanicals. However, anecdotal evidence is encouraging and there is reason to be optimistic about the efficacy of botanicals.

These contain occlusives, humectants, and emollients.
Occlusives prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and are comprised of oils, butter and fats.
Humectants attract water and have a low-molecular-weight (so are easily absorbed). Natural moisturising factors are naturally occurring humectants.
Emollients do not have hydrating properties, but soften desquamating corneocytes, giving a smooth skin surface.
Hydration is important for the overall well-being of the skin. The stratum corneum (SC) contains corneocytes held together by a lipid bilayer. These restrict TEWL and are made up of cholesterol, ceramides and free fatty acids (mostly linoleic acid). Corneocytes contain water-soluble molecules – natural moisturising factors (NMF) and these allow the skin to bind to water. It is this combined action, binding water and preventing water loss, that maintains skin hydration and allows the stratum corneum to be soft and flexible.
As skin ages, there is a discernible decrease in the lipid content of the stratum corneum. This is vital for the skin barrier to repair effectively, so good quality moisturisers are designed to replace these lipids. Most studies are on aged or damaged, dry skin, so the findings may be different for well-hydrated, normal skin. A number of active ingredients can be added to moisturisers to increase their effectiveness. A study demonstrated that Nicotinamide at 2% in a moisturiser, markedly increased stratum corneum hydration when applied on skin with eczema, with a higher desquamation and decreased TEWL. There was also increased biosynthesis of ceramide and essential lipids.

All the ingredients described above can be found in moisturisers, serums and elixirs. Some are very effective and others less impressive, so close examination of the ingredients list is essential before buying a moisturiser. Decide what difference you want to see and how much suffering you are prepared to endure before reading what a product promises. These ingredients are often expensive and you may not need all that you are being sold. If you know what you are looking for, you are less likely to be drawn down a meandering path of promised eternal youth!

Why Your Skin Needs Carbs – from seaweed!

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Seaweed being distilled

We use seaweed in all of our creams, it has some fantastic properties we just can’t find in the same concentration anywhere else. One of it’s most beneficial aspects is that it is full of carbs(!) amongst other bioactive compounds (like polyphenol, anti-oxidants, peptides and anti-inflammatories).The carbohydrates, specifically the polysaccharides, have a demonstrable ability to bind water to skin and improve overall firmness. It out-perform hyaluronic acid used alone in in-vivo trials. It has also been shown to inhibit the enzymes that are stimulated by UV radiation whilst also producing a natural sun-protection too. These enzymes, if left unprotected, will eventually damage collagen. It can also improve the elasticity in the skin’s elastin.

So seaweed, or marine algae as we tend to write on the jars… is something your skin will thank you for, it imparts moisture, gives back spring and stops sag whist keeping out harmful sunshine. Just make sure you wash off the sand and limpets before diving into a pile of it head first!

OUR EXTRACTS: 11 Extracts skin loves

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Borage (Borago officinalis)

Contains: Vitamin A, carotenes, B complex and C, magnesium and zinc.

Uses: It is astringent and has anti-vital properties. It has been shown to be useful for acne and rosacea and can reduce the skin’s Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL) .

We infuse it in vegetable glycerine and rose hydrosol or olive, grapeseed oil and Vitamin E oil.

Calendula (Asteraceae officinalis)

Contains: Flavonoids, carotenes, mucilage, triterpenes and volatile oils.

Uses: It is anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-fungal and useful on inflammation (including acne and eczema), fungal infections (athlete’s foot and nappy rash) and burns, including sunburn. It has been shown to stimulate epithelial cell growth and improve collagen production.

We infuse it in vegetable glycerine and rose hydrosol or olive, grapeseed oil and Vitamin E oil.

Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)

Contains: It is rich in flavonoids, amino acids and a particular monocyclic sesquiterpene, a-bisabolol.

Uses: Anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-irritant (almost equal to 1% lidocaine), it reduces redness and swelling. A-bisabolol can be slightly exfoliating and is readily absorbed through the stratum corneum, so is able to improve skin texture and elasticity.

We infuse it in vegetable glycerine and calendula hydrosol or olive, grapeseed oil and Vitamin E oil.

Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)

Contains: Flavonoids, sesquiterpenes and coumarins.

Uses: Antiseptic, antibacterial and antioxidant, it is particularly helpful for damaged and flaky skin. It is astringent enough to be used on both acne and eczema and is particularly good for inflamed or irritated eyes. It improves skin texture, especially in elastin-depleted skin.

We infuse it in vegetable glycerine and rose or camellia hydrosols or olive, grapeseed oil and Vitamin E oil.

Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)

Contains: A reasonable amount of gamma linolenic acid and some of the omegas found in high concentrations in the oil, tannins and carbohydrates.

Uses: Reduces redness and inflamed skin, including eczema. It will counter-balance oiliness if used regularly. It has been shown to help acne caused by hormonal imbalance.

We infuse it in vegetable glycerine and rose hydrosol or olive, grapeseed oil and Vitamin E oil.

(Not to be taken orally by anyone with epilepsy and caution if taking long-term steroid therapy)

Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)

Contains: High level of polyphenols, Vitamin C, quercetin and chlorogenic acid.

Uses: Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral! Offers some protection from UV and photo-damage and is especially useful after sun exposure. Helps to stimulate collagen synthesis and is an excellent anti-oxidant and free-radical scavenger.

We infuse it in vegetable glycerine and honeysuckle hydrosol or olive, grapeseed oil and Vitamin E oil.

Mint (Peppermint, Spearmint, Atlas and Lemon Mint)

Contains: Menthol, Vitamin A, B & C. a-pinene, mycene and caryophyllene.

Uses: Anti-oxidant, anti-microbial and anti-fungal. Soothes itchy and irritated skin. It is also quite astringent and will reduce inflammation, including acne.

We infuse it in vegetable glycerine and mint hydrosol or olive, grapeseed oil and Vitamin E oil.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Contains: Vitamin C, B1 and B3, tannins, polyphenols, carbonic acid, Iron, potassium and zinc.

Uses: Anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. It can be used to preserve other extracts and oils and reduces sebum over-production. It reduces free-radical damage and improve skin tone.

We infuse it in vegetable glycerine and mint hydrosol or olive, grapeseed oil and Vitamin E oil.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Contains: Calcium, Vitamin A, flavonoids and thujone.

Uses: Reduces inflammation, is anti-microbial and soothes irritated and itchy skin. Anti-bacterial and astringent, useful for acne and dandruff. With some good anti-oxidant properties, which helps keep the skin barrier in good condition.

We infuse it in vegetable glycerine and mint hydrosol or olive, grapeseed oil and Vitamin E oil.

St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Contains: Condensed tannins, glycosides, luteolin and xanthones.

Uses: Anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. The glycosides offer some UV protection, it reduces sunburn and other skin burns and is astringent enough to calm acne. With regular use, stretch-marks can be reduced.

We infuse it in vegetable glycerine and mint hydrosol or olive, grapeseed oil and Vitamin E oil.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Contains: Lactones, tannins, flavonoids, alkaloids, linoleic acid and borneol.

Uses: Anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and astringent. It will stop cuts from bleeding and opens pores, with a similar effect to chamomile.

We infuse it in olive, grapeseed oil and Vitamin E oil.

Which Skin Type Are You?

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The Types

When considering the important question of how much sun is safe, it is helpful to know what skin you are wearing! This is an old, but reliable categorisation of skin types, devised by Dr. Thomas Fitzpatrick at Harvard Medical School. Subsequent charts are available, taking account of parent and grand-parent skin types (for instance, if your grandmother was from Mali and your grandfather from Ireland, but you appear to have Type 3 skin, you may not fit perfectly into that group, depending on what you inherited from each). This is a good place to start anyway…
Type 1 skin:  extremely fair, pale skin. Eye colour is usually blue or hazel,  with red or blonde hair colour. Freckles are common and the sun tends to burn, not tan the skin. Skin cancers are most prevalent in this group and this group includes albinos.
Type 2 skin:  fair, with blue eyes. A slight tan from the sun is possible, but these people burn easily. Hair is usually blonde or brown and this type include Scandinavians and Northern Europeans.
Type 3 skin:  A darker white skin that burns in hot sun, and will see a change to skin after even short exposure to sun, tanning to a light brown. Hair colour tends to be brown, eye colour is usually brown or green and the group includes darker Caucasians.
Type 4 skin light brown skin that doesn’t easily tan, but will turn medium brown in prolonged exposure. This is the largest group  and includes American Indians, Hispanics, Mediterraneans, and Asians. Hair is most often dark brown or black and  eyes are brown, occasionally green.
Type 5 skin: brown skin which tans very slowly to a medium/dark brown and rarely burns. Hair is almost always dark brown or black and eyes dark brown. This group contains Hispanics, Middle Easterners , and some African Americans.
Type 6 skin:  dark brown with very dark pigmentation. Eyes are dark brown and hair is usually black. There is little sensitivity to sun and sunburn is rare. This group are least prone to skin cancers and are mostly African Americans and dark-skinned Asians.

Minimal Erythemal Dose (MED)

There is a vast difference between the groups in terms of safe sun-exposure, as, clearly, group 6 have plenty of protective melanin, whereas group 1 have very little. This is important when calculating the MED, this is the amount of sunshine that will cause the skin to burn. As the natural darkness of skin increases, the MED gets longer. So, someone with Type 1 skin may expect to burn after 10 minutes, a Type 6 skin, in the same light, would remain unaffected after an hour, with roughly 7 times the protection, in terms of burning. Time in the sun is not the only factor, however and the following should be taken into account: time of the year, time of the day, altitude, latitude, ground surface and reflective surfaces.

Vitamin D

The MED is useful in calculating how much sunshine is necessary to absorb a reasonable amount of Vitamin D for the body to remain healthy, (1,000 IU). The lighter the skin, the faster Vitamin D is absorbed. Very roughly, the Vitamin D requirement is achieved at a quarter of the MED time, so if a burn occurs after 15 minutes, only 4 minutes are necessary for adequate Vitamin D. There is some strong evidence to suggest that Vitamin D is preventative for ovarian cancers, although no definitive results have yet been published.


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We produce perfume, skincare and hair products. Everything is made locally, we grow and distil our plants and flowers on site.

Extracts are added from our range of infused oils and glycerine bases, so we know exactly what is in it and at what percent. All our products are formulated to the highest standards, active ingredients are added at the optimum level to do what they are in there to do! The serums and moisturisers have added peptides, ceramides, vitamins and minerals to boost their performance. Possibly their most unique quality is that the water component of each (often over 70% in a standard moisturiser) is made entirely with hydrosols, so everything in the pot, even the water, is full of beneficial botanical ingredients.

Our perfumes are made from a palette of hundreds of exquisite oils and given a little more tenacity with a range of beautiful man-made musks and aroma chemical. They are formulated to unfold gradually and stay fresh throughout. Most are based on natural flower scents: Rose, Freesia, Gardenia and our cologne-style scents are greener with a more citrus centre. All are suitable for day or night and suit most people. They are alcohol based, but oil based alternatives are available on request.These are presented in velvet bags, boxed and beribboned!