Feeling the beauty botanicals vibe? We’ve searched high and low to find you the savviest botanical beauty ingredients and how they work!

Calming Chamomile Extract

Most of you will know chamomile for its soothing properties when used as a tea, but did you know it’s been used topically on the skin for centuries too? Chamomile extract contains a molecule called bisabolol, which has impressive anti-inflammatory properties to soothe unhappy skin. Studies looking at bisabolol showed that it reduced levels of inflammation-promoting molecules in the skin called cytokines – good news for skin that needs calming! For a closer look at some of the products containing this clever ingredient, take a look at our reviews of May Lindstrom’s Blue Cocoon and Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer.

Liquorice Extract: Brightening Beauty

Ever heard of using liquorice extract on the skin? We hadn’t either until we stumbled upon this ingredient in Alpha H’s Liquid Gold. This extract has some fab beauty benefits, which are down to it containing a molecule called glabridin. Glabridin is a skin-lightener, which works by blocking enzymes (biological busy bodies!) that produce melanin. Melanin is the skin’s natural pigment, and so blocking its production leads to a brightening effect. Brighter skin is perceived as more youthful, and so products that use this ingredient can help the skin appear younger. Glabridin also has anti-inflammatory properties, as it blocks a pro-inflammatory pathway called the cyclooxygenase pathway (we’ll forgive you for not remembering that one!). If you are looking for products which contain Liquorice Extract, we recommend you read our reviews on Alpha H’s Liquid Gold and FAB Facial Radiance Pads.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree Oil is one of our all-time favourite ingredients. If you’ve ever been to a Beauty by the Geeks workshop, the chances are we’ve bent your ear about this super ingredient. Tea tree oil is a great antimicrobial – antimicrobials kill and prevent the growth of nasty bugs like bacteria and yeast. It’s great for acne and dandruff because these two beauty problems have a microbial basis. One of the key stages in spot development is infection of blocked skin pores with bacteria like P.acnes, and tea tree oil is very good at stopping the growth of this unwelcome guest! No bacterial pore infection – no angry redness – no spot! Some kinds of dandruff are related to unregulated growth of some yeasts on the scalp, leading to excessive shedding from the scalp. Tea tree oil is useful here too for helping regulate these yeasts and put the brakes on the flakes!

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera gel is one of The Geeks’ go-to ingredients. It’s another one of those traditionally-used skin saviours, and is best known for its healing properties. Aloe Vera contains a sugar molecule called glucomannan, and a growth hormone called gibberellin – both of these interact with cells in the skin called fibroblasts to encourage their growth and activity. Fibroblasts are key cells in the wound healing process and produce that all-important structural skin collagen. Fibroblasts that have been activated by Aloe Vera application produce more of this skin-repairing collagen, speeding up the healing process.

Mucosaccharides (other sugars) in Aloe Vera are great for moisturising the skin, and Aloe Vera also contains a whopping 6 antiseptic agents too! No wonder The Geeks love it so much! Take a look at The Body Shop’s Vitamin C Glow Boosting Moisturiser if you are interested in products containing this savvy ingredient.

Garlic – anti-wrinkle and anti-inflammatory

“Garlic?!” we hear you gasp? That’s right – it’s not just for cooking, it’s a science-savvy anti-ageing ingredient too! Scientists studying the anti-ageing effects of garlic found that it contained S-allyl cysteine, uracil and caffeic acid. They’re all scientific-sounding molecules, but what do they all do?

These three molecules block the degradation of the skin’s structural collagen by enzymes called MMPs (that’s matrix metalloproteinases if you’re feeling super Geeky). This degradation is usually triggered after exposure to UV light, and significantly contributes to wrinkle formation, so blocking this process should help keep wrinkles away!

Witch Hazel – The Natural Astringent

Witch hazel is a natural astringent, and a popular alternative to alcohol-based astringent products. Astringents cause contraction of skin cells to help tighten the skin and pores. This makes it a very popular choice among those with oily skin types and acne-prone skin as closed pores effectively ‘seals’ them off, preventing them from acting as a breeding ground for bacteria, oil and dirt!

It’s thought that witch hazel owes its astringent properties to the presence of high levels of molecules called tannins. The anti-microbial effects of tannins are well documented, and these molecules are botanical anti-inflammatories, so it’s sounding like a wonder ingredient for anyone trying to tackle their acne! If you want to read more about products containing Witch Hazel, read our full review of Origins Super Spot Remover.

Gota Kola

Gotu Kola, scientifically referred to as Centella asiatica, is a herb native to the westland of Asia. It’s been popping up on our Beauty radar more and more recently, and with good reason…

Centella asiatica is a common ingredient found in cosmetics aimed at improving the appearance of cellulite. Regular BBTG readers will be clued up about cellulite, but if you would like to know more about this cosmetic woe then read more here. When used in the treatment of cellulite, this plant extract can stimulate collagen production, act as an anti-inflammatory and promote lymph draining, all of which will promote a smoother skin appearance and reduce the visibility of cellulite! If you don’t believe us, a scientific study has found that 85% of people who applied Gota Kola extract to affected areas over a period of 4 months reported a significant improvement in the appearance of their cellulite. That kind of science is hard to argue with!

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