Temptingly tasty curries come with beauty benefits – it’s routinely full of turmeric, whose active compound, the yellow pigment curcumin, is revered the world over for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant prowess.
Prettily coloured skincare may be brilliant for your shelfies, but it’s rarely a treat for skin, as some synthetic colourants are skin irritants and best avoided. But when the hue comes courtesy of anti-oxidant pigments extracted from nature, it’s a different story.
Check out this rainbow of natural ingredients with skincare super powers. It’s colour therapy for your skin.
Drinking it in your latte or munching down on it is seen as an insurance policy against degenerative disease, while applying it topically has been shown to tackle concerns from redness and acne to discolouration and lines.
Here’s what doing dry January will *actually* do for your skin (and it will totally shock you) Yellow Beauty, the US-Bangladeshi skincare brand, has turmeric at its heart, the products’ sunshine shade amped up by added ‘yellow’ ingredients such as jojoba, pineapple, pomegranate and vitamin e.
“Turmeric can pack a colour-punch, but a lot of commercial-grade turmeric contains added dyes to create a brighter yellow,” says the brand’s founder Jaz Fenton. “We prefer an organic turmeric powder that’s more of an earthy orange shade, along with wild turmeric which is so pale yellow it’s practically colourless.” So while a yellow tinge can be a welcome sign of turmeric in your product, says Fenton, a blinding yellow hue doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more potent than a mellow yellow one.
Find it in: Golden Hour Turmeric Face Wash, £27, Yellow Beauty
Turmeric Cranberry Seed Energising Radiance Mask, £36, Kiehl’s
The Orange Antioxidant
The livid orange-red carotenoid pigment, astaxanthin, produced primarily by microalgae is a favourite snack for salmon, shrimp and flamingos, hence their coral shade. Hugely antioxidant it boasts 6000 x stronger antioxidant properties than vitamin c. It protects cells from inflammation and even sunburn, and helps repair DNA damage. That means it helps protect against, and beat back, all signs of ageing, whether taken as food or a supplement or slathered on in your serum.
“We know that the more brightly coloured your carotenoid-containing foods like carrots, sweet potatoes and salmon are, the better they are for us as it points to a high level of protective compounds,” says Georgie Cleeve from Oskia Skincare. So in the case of astaxanthin, a deep orange or russet colour to your oil or serum can be a sign of particular potency.
Find it in: Algaemania Oil, £55, Oio Lab
CityLife Booster, £110, Oskia Skincare
Flavonoids are yet more plant compounds that signal their protective and healing powers through colour. Flavonoids give many superberries – think chia, coffeeberry, blueberry, acai, rosehip, cloudberry their red or purple hue. They act as antioxidants in the body, gobbling up the free radicals that are out to destroy cells.
Different antioxidants neutralise different free radicals, so it’s best to buy an anti-oxidant product that features a cocktail of them, as opposed to relying on one ‘super-potent’ one. If you’re opting for a plant-based oil or serum, look for cold-pressed, steam distilled or CO2-extracted oils (these methods preserve far more of the active plant compounds) and fermented ingredients.
The fermentation process makes many botanical extracts more bio-available, meaning the skin will absorb and process them more readily.
Find it in: Advanced Multi-Perfecting Red Oil Serum, £95, Venn
Red Serum, £17, SKIN LAB (k-beauty.co.uk)
Azulene is a plant oil extracted from the chamomile, yarrow or blue tansy flowers, and while none of these are blue, their oil is a pleasingly dramatic azure shade. Azulene is a mild antimicrobial agent, and also counts as an antioxidant. Prized for its anti-inflammatory properties, you’ll find it in products meant to soothe upset skin as well as those targeting spots and breakouts, including those resulting from rosacea.
‘Cosmetics cop’ Paula Begoun of Paula’s Choice skincare deems azulene a decent skin soother but also rates bisalobol and allantoin, ‘sister’ calming ingredients extracted from chamomile. “They are clinically proven, highly effective anti-irritants.”
Find it in: Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil, £85, Sunday Riley
Lapis Balancing Facial oil, £60, Herbivore
Glow for Green
Like orange-hued antioxidant, astaxanthin, green and blue-green algae produce brightly coloured antioxidant pigments to protect themselves from UV radiation and pollution, and these compounds can do the same for your skin.
They are also excellent at binding water to the skin (just look at how dried seaweed plumps to bursting in the presence of liquid). “They’re a great, ultra-light and non-sticky alternative humectant to hyaluronic acid – especially blue-green microalgae,” says Prudvi Kaka, chief scientific officer at The Ordinary.
He also likes blue-green algae (such as spirulina) and green algae (including chlorella) for their high levels of anti-inflammatory compounds that go some way in soothing irritation and skin disorders like eczema.
Find it in: Nutritious Micro-Algae Pore Minimising Hydra Lotion, £40, Estee Lauder
Alive Prebiotic Balancing Mask, £38, Algenist
So while you up the rainbow of nutritious veggies on your plate this January, do the same with your skincare and let your complexion feel the colourful rewards.