Pure botanical skin care - how effective is it at slowing skin ageing?

Pure botanical skin care - how effective is it at slowing skin ageing?

At Mokosh, we pride ourselves on being one of only a handful of brands world-wide that leaves the synthetic ingredients out of our products. Apart from our soaps, for which we must use lye, all our products are made using 100% certified organic ingredients, which means they are present in their natural state. We consider this to be important because, unlike our digestive system, our skin has only a limited means of converting nutrients to a usable form. Because our skin is our largest organ, for our long-term health it makes sense to feed it pure, organic nutrients in their natural state.

So what do pure botanical ingredients do for our skin? Is all natural skin care really the best option? Here we look at what science tells us about keeping our skin healthy and glowing, and how botanicals perform when it comes to taking the best care of our skin.

What we expect from our skin care

The key function of a well-formulated skin care product is to keep our skin in good health. However, science is continually uncovering more of what ‘good health’ means for our skin. It’s now clear that exposure to UV light and pollutants, as well as problems with our skin barrier can result in permanent damage to our skin -  the degenerative changes we identify as ageing. As we learn more about what triggers these changes, we are also discovering that botanicals can provide the key to slowing down these changes and keeping our skin in good health for longer.

How botanicals can slow down skin ageing

1) Preserving the skin’s barrier

Keeping our skin’s barrier intact is key to slowing down ageing. A compromised skin barrier will result in dry, irritable, inflamed skin. Scientists now believe that low grade inflammation resulting from a poor skin barrier contributes to the 'inflammaging' of old age, or whole body ageing, not just the ageing of our skin (1, 2). Key to preserving the barrier is delivery of effective emollients as well as the essential fatty acid, linoleic acid, which can be incorporated into the lipid barrier (6). It is also important to protect other components of the barrier: the pH and the microbiome, by limiting the use of detergents, preservatives and strong acid and alkaline products on our skin (read more here).

2) Protecting collagen, elastin and the extracellular matrix

Collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid are degraded by enzymes known as proteases. Protease production can be triggered by UV radiation, oxidative stress and inflammation. A number of plant extracts have been shown to inhibit the action of these enzymes, or boost production of collagen. For example, shea butter has been shown to inhibit the proteases that destroy collagen and elastin (4) and bakuchiol has been shown to boost collagen production (5).

3) Delivering antioxidants

Antioxidants are important because they neutralise the action of free radicals that damage our cellular structures - lipids, proteins and DNA. In the skin, free radicals are released following exposure to UV light, some pollutants, and by inflammation (3). Important antioxidants effective in skin are the tocopherols (vitamin E) and phenols. These are abundant in botanical oils including rosehip, pumpkin and pomegranate seed oils.

4) Reducing hyperpigmentation

Patchy areas of hyperpigmentation caused by over-production of melanin are thought to be caused by over-exposure to UV light, as well as inflammation. A number of plant extracts have been shown to be effective at inhibiting melanin production, including niacinamide from yeast and root vegetables, and glabridin from liquorice extracts (7), as well as bakuchiol from Psoralea corylifolia (5).

Skin care formulation is important

A range of plant extracts have been shown to be effective in one of the above key areas, commonly in tissue culture studies, making them promising candidates to add to skin care products. However, new ingredients must be stable in the product and delivered in sufficient concentrations to be effective. In some cases, they are water-soluble, which means they can be included only in water-containing skin care, therefore requiring the addition of emulsifier and preservative to the product. When this is the case, it’s worth considering the long-term value of a promising ingredient, considering it must be delivered with synthetic ingredients that are potentially disruptive to the skin’s barrier (Read more about how preservatives and emulsifiers can disturb the skin’s barrier). It can be difficult to assess whether the benefit from a product outweighs the disadvantage of its means of delivery. We believe you don’t need to make the choice.

A holistic approach

In fact, you can take the best care of your skin using water-free, and therefore synthetic-free skin care that also delivers age-defying botanical ingredients in their natural form. All our products are formulated to protect and restore the skin’s barrier - the number one way to slow down degenerative changes in the skin. In addition, they deliver abundant antioxidants and anti-proteases, and in the form of bakuchiol, can boost collagen and reduce hyperpigmentation, thereby providing all the key components you need to slow down ageing, without the synthetics that can negate their effects.  

But skin care is just once piece of the picture. Consuming a botanical-rich diet is a very effective way to deliver antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, collagen-protective and collagen boosting nutrients to our skin. Combining clean, effective skin care with a nutrient-rich diet, regular exercise and an uplifting lifestyle will boost our skin and whole body health, providing the perfect blueprint for slowing whole body ageing. 


(1) Agnerhofer, C.K., Maes, D. and Giacomoni, P.U. The use of natural compounds and botanicals in the development of skin anti-aging products

(2) Agrawal, R. et al (2023) The Skin and Inflamm-Aging. Biology 12:1396

(3) Costa, E.F., Magalhaes, E.F., Di Stasi, L.C. (2022) Recent Advances in Herbal-Derived Products with Skin Anti-Aging Properties and Cosmetic Applications. Molecules 27:7518

(4) Israel, M.O. (2014) Effects of topical and dietary uses of shea butter on animals. American Journal of Life Sciences 2:303-307

(5) Park, S.J. (2022) A comprehensive review of topical bakuchiol for the treatment of photoaging. Journal of Integrative Dermatology.

(6) Lin, T-L et al (2018) Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. International Journal of Molecular Science 19:70.

(7) Zhu, W. and Gao, J. (2008) The Use of Botanical Extracts as Topical Skin-Lightening Agents for the Improvement of Skin Pigmentation Disorders, Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings. 13: 20-24.

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