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The benefits of plants in skin care

Polyphenols are phytoneutrients, which is a group of chemical substances found in plants, fruits, vegetables and wine, which have antioxidant properties that can be measured. The Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) is a way of measuring the antioxidant strength of a polyphenol.

What is ORAC?

Antioxidants and polyphenols can be measured in their ability to prevent disease and treat skin conditions. ORAC, also known as Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity, is a way of measuring the levels of antioxidants and phytoneutrients in food and other substances such as polyphenols. If a substance has a high ORAC score, it is high in antioxidants and has the ability to protect cells from oxygen free radical damage.

Polyphenols are Anti-inflammatory

Polyphenols have anti-inflammatory properties and can regulate inflammation. Anti-inflammatory polyphenols help regulate the activation of induced inflammatory proteins such as inflammatory cytokines (signaling molecules).

Polyphenols in Cosmeceuticals

Polyphenols such as flavonoids, bioflavonoids, along with ferulic acid, arbutin, resveratrol, kojic acid, hydroquinone, resorcinol, catechins and EGCG (gallocatechins) are commonly found in cosmeceuticals to treat skin conditions.

Benefits of Catechins

Catechins are flavonoids that are derived from plants which have antioxidants properties. They are found in teas such as green tea, white tea, black tea, and oolong tea. Epigallocatechin is the most abundant catechin found in tea, and may inhibit the formation of tumors.

Catechins strengthen blood vessels, and help reduce the inflammatory responses in the body. Studies have shown that catechins reduced atherosclerotic plaques in arteries, and are effective in preventing cancer.

What is EGCG?

EGCG is a gallocatechin. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate is the major preventative catechin found in the polyphenol, green tea. EGCG is an antioxidant that helps protect the skin from UVR induced DNA damage and tumor formation, and has the ability to inhibit the breakdown of collagen, and prevent cancer.

Green Tea Polyphenols; A Powerful Preventive

Certain plants such as green tea, is composed of a high content of polyphenols (bioflavonoids). Most polyphenols in green tea are commonly known as catechins, possessing highly potent antioxidant characteristics. The major preventative catechin in green tea polyphenol is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

Green tea has high antioxidant properties that assist in minimizing free radical damage, and has the ability to block UVB induced leukocyte infiltration in the skin. When taken orally, green tea will protect cells from free radicals in the body and prevent disease. This powerful polyphenol will help produce healthy cells, prevent disease, and contribute to the condition of the skin. Green tea polyphenols are important antioxidants with potent anti-aging benefits.

Green tea contains high levels of bioflavonoids which strengthens capillaries, and is effective when treating vascular skin conditions. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, green tea is recommended to use when treating skin conditions such as rosacea, couperouse, and inflamed skin conditions.

Green Tea; Anti-Carcinogenic

In clinical studies, the induction of skin tumors by UV radiation were significantly reduced by a topical administration of purified EGCG. Polyphenols such as green tea are known to have anti-carcinogenic properties and potent cancer fighting abilities.Olive Oil Polyphenols

Olive Oil Polyphenols

Olive oil (squalene) polyphenols are important antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties. The highest concentration of these polyphenols is found in extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil contains hydroxytyrosol, which can slow down the aging process by stabilizing the cell plasma membrane. The cell plasma membrane regulates and determines which molecules can enter or leave the cell.

Synergistic Therapy; Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Phosphatidyl-E

Phosphatidyl-E (PPC) is found in lecithin, has a direct impact on the cell plasma membrane. The use of phosphatidyl-E will have synergistic effects when combined with olive oil polyphenols.

Olive Oil Polyphenols to Treat Skin Conditions


Olive oil polyphenols destroy free radicals, minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, increases the skin’s ability to maintain moisture, brightens the skin, and evens out skin tone. Aging skin will benefit from its antioxidant and moisture maintaining properties.


Olive oil polyphenols are anti-inflammatory, and are effective in treating inflamed skin conditions. Because of its anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties, extra virgin olive oil polyphenols can have a direct impact on beautiful skin, and combat aging internally.Polyphenols to Treat Skin Conditions

Polyphenols in Dermatology

Arctostaphylos Patula, Arctostaphylos Viscida

Potent inhibitors of tyrosinase

Prevent and treat hyperpigmentation


Inhibits tyrosinase and prevents the formation of melanin

Prevent and treat hyperpigmentation, melasma, and other pigment disorders.

Ferulic Acid

Antioxidant properties

Prevents DNA damage, cancer, and accelerated cell aging


Inhibiter of melanogenesis and melanin production

Cytotoxic affect on melanocytes

Results were more dramatic when combined with kojic acid and glycolic acid.

Kojic Acid

Kojic acid prevents tyrosinase activity

Blocks the formation of melanin pigment in skin cells.

Scavenges reactive oxygen species, has antioxidant properties

Licorice Extract

Licorice (glabridin) inhibits tyrosinase activity of melanocytes



Mequinol inhibits melanogenesis

Approved in the treatment of solar lentingines, (freckles)

Synergistically used with retinoic acid, the results were accelerated

Paper Mulberry

Paper mulberry inhibits tyrosinase

Treats and prevents hyperpigmentation.


Resorcinol has antiseptic properties

Effective in treating psoriasis, eczema, pseudofolliculitis, and acne


Quercetin is an antihistamine

Reduces inflammation

Stimulates detoxification in the liver

Strengthens blood vessels

Useful in treating atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries).Resveratrol


Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes, and is contained in red wine

Activates the body’s natural genetic defense system

Prolongs longevity

Decreases insulin and glucose levels

Minerals in Dermatology


Selenium is important to immune function

Essential for the enzymatic synthesis of endogenous antioxidants naturally contained in cells

Summary; Polyphenols in Dermatology

When treating skin conditions, it is important to understand the benefits of antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and polyphenols. These powerful ingredients should be included when treating aging and skin conditions, and are essential to healthy skin and total body health.

Linda Gulla is an educator and author in cosmetic dermatology. Her writings are recognized internationally in aesthetic medicine. She will be the first to offer online courses and certification in medical aesthetics to licensed professionals and estheticians. Her online courses will be available by summer 2014.

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