Natural cosmeceuticals of herbal origin

— novel approaches in herbal cosmetics and natural skin care

Actually, what are cosmeceuticals?

Cosmeceuticals are cosmetic products (including some skin care products) containing biologically active ingredients purporting to offer (intentionally or non-intentionally) a pharmaceutical therapeutic benefit. The active ingredients can be extracted and purified from natural sources (botanicals, herbal extracts, marine organisms or even animals) but can also be obtained biotechnologically by fermentation and cell cultures or by enzymatic synthesis and modification of natural compounds. A cosmeceutical ingredient should possess an attractive property such as anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, skin whitening, anti-aging, anti-wrinkling, or photoprotective activity, among others. During the past years, some authors even said four decades, there has been an increased interest on the enzymatic synthesis of bioactive esters and glycosides based on (trans)esterification, (trans)glycosylation, or oxidation reactions. Natural bioactive compounds with exceptional therapeutic properties and low toxicity may offer a new insight into the design and development of potent and beneficial cosmetics (Antonopoulou I. et al, 2016).

Cosmeceuticals of herbal origin are becoming more popular than conventional cosmetics

It is now widely understood that what we eat directly influences our metabolism and health. Since skin is the most important protective barrier in our body and directly exposed to the harsh environment, most of the deleterious effects of the environmental toxicants are visibly manifested on the skin, including that of aging. Many anti-aging agents in cosmeceuticals are consumed orally; however, these are also known to work topically for improving the skin health. Due to the increased popularity of cosmeceuticals, these agents are being specifically manufactured and marketed in different categories such as body care, face care, skin care, hair care and growth and sun protection cosmeceuticals. These preparations usually contain ingredients that can prevent or reverse cutaneous aging, which is mainly caused by highly reactive oxygen molecules damaging the skin structure. In this regard, botanical agents are getting wide-spread attention since many antioxidant phytochemicals are evolved as a protective mechanism in plants to counter the oxidative stress. There is an upsurge in discovering novel and effective botanical antioxidants that can quench reactive oxygen species including hydroxyl radicals, superoxide anions and fatty peroxy radicals, to protect the skin from oxidative damages (Singh RP, Agarwal R, 2009).

No doubt, modern medicine and pharmacy is rooted in ethnobotanical traditions using indigenous flora to treat symptoms of human diseases or to improve specific aspects of the body condition. Herbal medicine is now used by over half of the American population. Yet the American medical community generally lacks knowledge of the function, metabolism, interaction, adverse reactions, and preparation of herbal products. The most important botanicals pertaining to dermatologic uses, such as cosmeceuticals, include teas, soy, pomegranate, date, grape seed, Pycnogenol, horse chestnut, German chamomile, curcumin, comfrey, allantoin, and aloe. All are documented to treat dermatologic conditions. Only green and black tea, soy, pomegranate, and date have published clinical trials for the treatment of parameters of extrinsic aging. Preparation of botanical-based cosmeceuticals is complex. Very few of these products are supported by evidence-based science (Thornfeldt C, 2005). If it is not well designed, formulated and compounded can exhibits substantial side, noxious effects.  

The number of cosmeceutical companies, products, and ingredients has been exploding since the advent of famous and still favorite retinoids and hydroxy acids. The clinical effects of these two classes of compounds proved that nonprescription topically applied products could produce visible improvement in one or more signs of extrinsic aging. Simply mixing any ingredient into a topical formulation and then applying it does not ensure clinical success. The complexity of the skin does not allow it in most cases (Thornfeldt C, 2005).

Cosmeceuticals, or physiologically active cosmetics, are subject to many misconceptions

Most consumers mistakenly believe that cosmeceuticals are regulated and tested as drugs/medications, that is not the truth and our reality. They also believe that the ingredients and final products have been tested for safety and that the claims made in advertisements are valid. Although cosmeceuticals and pharmaceutical ingredients have never been closer together, their regulatory environments are vastly different due to the distinct Congressional mandates given the Food and Drug Administration. Physicians are in a good position to help patients and potential cosmeceutical users understand the benefits and realistic limitations of these products (Newburger AE., 2009).

Cosmeceuticals are used for nourishing and improving the appearance of the skin and are also documented as effective agents for treating various dermatologic conditions. Cosmeceutical preparations from herbal origin are most popular among consumers because these agents are mostly nontoxic, or less toxic and possess strong antioxidant activity. Because oxidative stress as well as disturbance of naturally acidic skin pH are two of the major mechanisms for skin aging and dermatologic conditions, phytochemicals with proven antioxidant activity, such as silibinin, could be useful for treating many dermatologic conditions as well as skin aging. Silibinin is a flavonolignan compound from Silybum marianum (milk thistle plant) that possesses strong antioxidant activity and also modulates many molecular changes caused by xenobiotics and ultraviolet radiation to protect the skin (Singh RP, Agarwal R., 2009).

Nutracosmetics are an emerging class of health and beauty aid products that combine the benefits of nutracosmetical ingredients with the elegance, skin feel, and delivery systems of cosmetics. Herbs and spices have been used in maintaining and enhancing human beauty because herbs have many beneficial properties, such as sunscreen, antiaging, moisturizing, antioxidant, anticellulite, and antimicrobial effects. As compared with synthetic cosmetic products, herbal products are mild, biodegradable, and have low toxicity profile. To enhance these properties, research is being done in the development of newer approaches, which could improve both the aesthetic appeal and performance of a cosmetic product. In this respect, the approaches studied and discussed include liposomes, phytosomes, transferosomes, nanoemulsions, nanoparticles, microemulsions, nanocrystals, and cubosomes (Chanchal D. et al, 2008).

Dr. Isidor Apothecary and cosmeceuticals

Some products of Dr. Isidor Apothecary might have cosmeceutical effects (potential “healing” or pharmacological effects), however they are formulated not to treat your dermatological conditions, but to provide your facial and hand/body skin and hair with proper everyday care and maintain your skin homeostasis and normal physiological processes. Please, contact your dermatologist and other healthcare provider in a case you have some dermatological alterations or diseases. Of course, they are formulated carefully considering the rules of the traditional and ancient apothecary, ethnobotany, pharmacognosy as well as scientific results of research in the modern cosmetic science.

Majority of our formulas are designed for the adult type skin, not formulated for the children skin (we have a special line of the products for children), not formulated for the people who are allergic on the natural carrier oils and essential oils, and natural herbal products or nuts. If you are pregnant or in the period of breastfeeding or placed on the treatment with multiple medications, please make consultation with your healthcare providers such as a pharmacist or a physician and discuss using this kind of natural and organic products. Some medications make interactions with botanicals naturally and can induce side effects.

Our 100% pure natural Calendula salve belongs to the category of cosmeceuticals; however, it does not have intention to compensate professional dermatological treatment for your serious skin alterations such as severe psoriasis and other dermatological diseases. Discuss with your dermatologist, is calendula salve proper option to alleviate your skin problems, symptoms and sings of skin diseases. Many other formulas are not designed to compensate dermatological treatments but they could alleviate the symptoms and signs of the skin alterations. For the medical treatment contact your dermatologist. We can help your dermatologist with consultation regarding natural and organic skin care products, cosmetics and cosmeceuticals and we can make a signature product for you specifically designed for your skin health alterations in collaboration with your dermatologist.


Dr. Isidor



Antonopoulou I, Varriale S, Topakas E, Rova U, Christakopoulos P, Faraco V., Enzymatic synthesis of bioactive compounds with high potential for cosmeceutical application. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2016 Jun 8.

Chanchal D, Swarnlata S., Novel approaches in herbal cosmetics. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2008 Jun;7(2):89-95.

Thornfeldt C. Cosmeceuticals containing herbs: fact, fiction, and future. Dermatol Surg. 2005 Jul;31(7 Pt 2):873-80.

Thornfeldt CR., Cosmeceuticals: separating fact from voodoo science. Skinmed. 2005 Jul-Aug;4(4):214-20.

Newburger AE. Cosmeceuticals: myths and misconceptions. Clin Dermatol. 2009 Sep-Oct;27(5):446-52.

Singh RP, Agarwal R. Cosmeceuticals and silibinin. Clin Dermatol. 2009 Sep-Oct;27(5):479-84.

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