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Superfood skincare: how skincare became ‘healthy’

June 1st 2016 / Anna Hunter / 3 comments


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‘Wellness’ is one of today’s biggest buzzwords, but how does healthy living translate into skincare?

The world’s gone ‘super’ crazy. According to research carried out by Mintel, between 2011 and 2015 there was a 202% increase globally in food and drink launches containing the words ‘superfood’, ‘superfruit’ or ‘supergrain’. In 2015 alone, there was a 36% rise in food and drinks launched with such wholesome taglines, and the ‘super’ trend isn’t limited to culinary spheres, as while 43% of ‘super’ product descriptions connoted to food and drink between 2011-2015, 30% applied to beauty and personal care products, with 12% in the health and hygiene category and 4% in the pet sector. Mintel global food science analyst Stephanie Mattucci thinks that the ‘you are what you eat’ message is well and truly making waves across the board in terms of product development and marketing:

“The popularity of ‘super’ products is clear as food and drink manufacturers globally are tapping into a demand for these nutritionally dense ingredients. But superfoods are not only limited to food and drink, they are regularly springing up in the beauty, health and hygiene and pet food aisles as a result of today’s consumers becoming much more aware of what they are putting into and onto their bodies.”

From avocado oil in moisturisers to quinoa in haircare, beauty product launches are beginning to sound more ‘salad bar’ than ‘science lab’, but what are the hot ingredients to look out for in particular in 2016? Stephanie has a few tip offs to add to your shopping list:

Turmeric has potential as an ingredient in supplements and functional food and drink products, particularly within products aimed at the growing senior population. Additionally, moringa could be used in anti-ageing beauty food products. Whilst currently the ingredient is used in many beauty launches, the leaves are nutritional powerhouses.”

Food trends are influencing beauty, and skincare in particular, like never before, and given that the organic cosmetic market is forecasted to be valued at $66.1 billion by 2020 according to a 2015 report by Future Market Insights, it looks as though our passion for all things natural and minimally processed will only heighten. From environmental awareness to a concern for healthy living and holistic wellbeing, our values and lifestyles are beginning to be reflected back at us by the beauty industry, and for once it’s been smaller batch, more boutique brands and retailers who’ve been leading the charge. From the rise of ‘free from beauty’ to the popularity of home grown brands that are clear on ingredient provenance, it’s been a case of mainstream companies playing catch-up, but the big boys are finally beginning to harvest all things holistic, infusing new skincare lines especially with ‘superfood’ goodness.

Whether the benefits of so called superfoods bear fruit on our faces is a different story; putting kale in a night cream is unlikely to give you supermodel skin as you sleep, but given the desirability of health giving ingredients of late, adding superfood extracts to skincare along with powerful, proven ingredients is at the very least unlikely to do too much harm. Skincare products have been derived from nature for thousands of years, so really a green juice inspired face mask is just a modern twist on a tried and tested formula. Aligning your skincare routine with your diet isn’t for everyone, but with the likes of chia seed oil for example promising extra nourishment by way of plumping, anti-inflammatory omegas and antioxidant vitamins, dabbling in a superfood here and there could well pay off in terms of skin health. Scientists are still on the fence as to the tangible, proven results that many superfood extracts could reap in terms of topical application, but if you’re drinking a superfood laden smoothie, you may feel tempted to dabble in the external equivalent. Here’s your (non-exhaustive) ingredients list if you’re putting 360º wellness well and truly into practice…



As with menus up and down the country, kale is creeping into our daily skincare. Leading the fad pack is Nip + Fab, whose Kale Fix range is designed to comfort and replenish dry skin. The fact that Kylie Jenner endorses the Kale Fix moisturiser is a meeting of likely very profitable health and celebrity crazes, but with an almond oil and aloe vera rich formula, in addition to the leafy green element, its credentials for alleviating moisture sapped skin are positive. The antioxidant potential of kale is also the main selling point for Nourish Skincare’s Kale lineup, developed by brand founder, biochemist and cosmetic scientist Dr Pauline Hili. The Nourish kale offerings are also vegan, which is particularly apt seeing as veganism has increased in the UK by 350% over the past ten years according to studies commissioned by The Vegan Society.


Green concoctions aren’t just to be guzzled, and this en vogue algae seems to be particularly at large in skincare designed to cleanse and purify. See Ren Clarimatte™ Invisible Pores Detox Mask, £19, and Origins By All Greens™ Foaming Deep Cleansing Mask, £32. Origins add spinach, green tea and coconut to the mix for extra superfood clout, not to mention bumper antioxidants and fatty acids. In short, a green blend you actually might savour.


Another member of team green, moringa tops the table in terms of antioxidant power. Fitting, then, that it’s becoming a major skincare player. You’ll find moringa butter supercharging the moisturising element of new Chanel Hydra Beauty Instantly Hydrating Flash Balm, £43, while for body Kypris Body Elixir, £74, allows you to slather your limbs in phytonutrient packed moringa oil.



Not solely served on toast, apparently. For much more subtle incarnations of avo, look to Murad Hydro-Dynamic® Ultimate Moisture, £46.75, which smooths and soften skin instantly thanks to a cocktail of avocado oil and coconut extract. It may not shout about it from the rooftops, and it’s certainly not as Instagrammable as the real deal, but avocado is doing its good fat thing for the face in a whole different way thanks to Dr Murad and others.



The super spice of 2016, turmeric forms the base of golden lattes, aromatic curries and enlivening, spicy ginger shots, but the bright yellow root has it going on in the skincare stakes too. Kiehl's Turmeric and Cranberry Mask, £28, aims to energise and brighten dull skin, and given turmeric’s much lauded anti-inflammatory reputation its transformative capacity is not to be underestimated.


Chia seeds have come a long way from the early days of frogspawn scorn. Now that we appreciate it as a nutritional powerhouse, it’s time to start feeding our faces. Perricone MD Chia Serum, £65, plumps skin, adds radiance and transports lovely fat soluble vitamins to your mug. As plant oils go, it’s a goodie, and shouldn’t irritate sensitive skins.


Like chia, quinoa seed extract contains a glut of vitamins, antioxidants and beneficial proteins, alongside anti-fungal properties. Clarins Double Serum Complete Age Control Concentrate, £55, harnesses the power of organic quinoa as an emollient to strengthen the skin’s barrier.



Possibly the longest standing and most widely researched superfood of all, the humble blueberry comes out fighting as far as phytonutrients go. Skinceuticals A.G.E Eye Complex, £78, contains blueberry extract as a key ingredient to help to combat free radicals that can accelerate ageing in the delicate eye area. Whether it’s as health giving when applied as when eaten is still up for debate, however…

Goji berries


All has been a bit quiet on the goji berry front (as superfoods go, this one’s a tad 90s), but all that vitamin C has surely got to be good for our complexions. The new Lancôme Énergie de Vie range fuses antioxidant goji berry extract and fast-absorbing Korean skincare technology to brighten and hydrate, thus in theory eliminate signs of fatigue.

Chocolate (well, cacao)

If it were up to us we’d anoint chocolate with superfood status, but for now plain old cacao will have to do. Another hard hitter in the antioxidant stakes, Éminence Chocolate Mousse Hydration Masque, £34.99, looks just like its dessert counterpart, although we recommend applying around the mouth rather than in it. Your restraint should result in smoother, more resilient and generally well fed skin.

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