Ancient beauty ingredients that are seeing a comeback

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

Marula oil is extracted from the seeds of the marula tree
Marula oil is extracted from the seeds of the marula tree

Related tags Hair Skin Cosmetics Ingredients Givaudan Active Beauty Symrise Lucas meyer cosmetics ingredient technology

With more consumer focus on the revival of ancient beauty rituals, we share some of the latest offerings from ingredients companies based around these age-old beauty favourites.

Marula oil

Swiss ingredients company Givaudan offers marula oil, a precious oil made from cold pressing the seeds of the Sclerocarya birrea​ tree that has many skin care benefits.    

According to the company, the oil has traditionally been used for cosmetic purposes in South Africa.

"In the Limpopo region, women use it to massage their babies and as a body lotion for their face, feet or hands,” ​said a spokesperson. “While other local populations such as the Tsonga people in southern Africa, have been using marula oil for many years as a moisturising lotion to protect against dry, cracked skin, and as a shampoo for dry, damaged and fragile hair.”

Fermented cosmetic ingredients

Fermented ingredients have long been used in South Korean beauty rituals and this inspired Mibelle Biochemistry to develop Black BeeOme™.

This contains an active ingredient that comes from an elixir obtained by fermenting honey from a rare and ancient species of bee. The ingredient is designed to restore individual skin microflora after stress, resulting in healthy, exceptionally clear and pure skin.

Dragon fruit

According IFF Lucas Meyer Cosmetics, the pitaya, also known as dragon fruit is a naturally rich source of oligosaccharides with prebiotic efficacy, which inspired the company to develop IBR-Dragon®, an aqueous extract of special varieties of white-fleshed pitaya (Hylocereus undatus).

The fruit has long been used in beauty rituals in southeast Asian countries and according to IFF Lucas Meyer Cosmetics, a competitive coculture in-vitro study showed that IBR-Dragon® selectively supported the growth of beneficial commensal strains like S. epidermidis, while limiting the growth of detrimental strains S. aureus and P. acnes.

The company said: “Corresponding with this prebiotic activity, in a clinical setting, topical application of IBR-Dragon® increased skin microbiome phylogenetic diversity and decreased the abundance of opportunistic pathogens like C. tuberculostearicum (strengthening the microbial barrier). IBR-Dragon® decreased TEWL (reinforcing the physical barrier).”

It said it also reduced skin inflammation and irritation and strengthened skin resilience to histamine challenge.

Black cumin oil ​ 

According to Symrise Cosmetic Ingredients there is a “rise of A-beauty, showcasing Africa’s natural resources, ancient wisdom and traditions in scientific and innovative products that celebrate the diverse continent”.

The company started to work in Africa in 2006 by developing a sustainability program for vanilla production in Madagascar with over 7,000 farmers across 90 villages. It has since expanded to cultivate and produce other plants that have long been used in ancient African remedies, such as tamanu oil, baobab oil, moringa oil, rooibos and black cumin oil.

Many Ancient Egyptians were said to take a teaspoon of black cumin oil (also known as black seed oil) mixed with raw honey every day to boost their immune system. The oil was also used for a variety of skin conditions and applied to the scalp to help encourage hair growth.

Coriander seed oil

Coriander seeds have been used traditionally for thousands of years to support health and wellness and based on this, ingredients company Seppic created SEPIBLISS™ BIO, a certified-organic virgin coriander seed oil that’s derived from an eco-extraction.

The company said the ingredient is rich in petroselinic acid – an important fatty acid – and that studies have shown it is effective in supporting a healthy inflammation response and therefore has skin-soothing activity.

One study that was conducted on female subjects with sensitive and reactive skin for 56 days showed that the ingredient was proven to have protective effects against redness and stinging sensations.

Amaranth oil

Amaranth oil was used by the ancient Aztec populations for everything from nutrition to beauty rituals, but nowadays it has seen a revival in beauty products, especially hair care.  

The oil has a high proportion of non-saturated fatty acids that make it perfect for restructuring hair treatments. It’s also rich in squalene, which is a powerful emollient.

Spanish ingredients company Provital has created an Amaranth Collection of three hair care ingredients, which it said can help to repair hair, prevent frizz and preserve the hair style.  


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