The desire for clear, glowing skin is universal to all of us. After all, who doesn’t want to look healthy and well-rested with minimal effort? Well, one little berry may just be able to help nourish your skin from the inside and work as a topical treatment. Let’s dive into sea buckthorn oil's skin benefits, as well as other ways you can enjoy this tangy berry and its effects on your skin.April 27, 2022 4:41 pm May 18, 2021 3:31 pm
What is your skin, and what does it need?
Let us transport you back to the heady days of your high school biology class. As you shake the dust off those memories, you will also undoubtedly start to remember words like ‘subcutaneous layer’ and ‘dermis’. If that’s as far as the memory extends, allow us to give a brief refresher.
The role of our skin is essentially to act as a barrier between the delicate inner functions of our bodies and the outside world. So, whether that’s protecting you from bumps and knocks (and producing beautiful, technicolour bruises in the process) or fending off disease-causing germs, it’s constantly at work.
The three layers of the skin
The skin has three main layers. The top one, which you can see, is the epidermis. The very top layer of your skin consists almost entirely of dead cells, which is quite a thought!
The cells in the epidermis are mostly involved in making keratin. Yes, that’s the same protein which is probably a treasured part of your haircare routine. Keratin is found in both skin and hair and helps provide structure to both.
Lower down, you’ll find the dermis, which is made up mostly of collagen fibres. Another classic skincare ingredient! Collagen is a strong protein which makes your skin tough enough to protect you from the outside world while still stretchy enough to be flexible.
Interestingly, if the dermis becomes very stretched it can tear. The result? Stretch marks.
The dermis is also home to your skin’s blood supply; it’s as far as your capillaries reach.
At the bottom, you’ll find the subcutis, or subcutaneous layer. This is mostly made up of fat and water. Some important hormones are made here, and it also provides a cushion against bumps and blows, protecting your organs.(1)
The Erbology approach to skincare
Most topical skincare ingredients – with the notable exception of vitamin C – never get past the epidermis. However, according to the founder of beauty brand Silk Therapeutics, Greg Altman PhD, that’s not really a cause for concern.
Non-penetrative ingredients “seal the skin and give a hydrating effect, and when you do that, then everything happening underneath is very happy,” he explained in an interview with The Cut.(2)
That said, you also need to strike a careful balance between ‘sealing’ the skin so it can stay hydrated, and blocking your pores, which can lead to breakouts.
Pores, claims Dr Greg, are one way channels which take sweat and sebum out of the body. “Any time we put things in pores, we end up in trouble,” he says.
However, there’s a whole lot more to skin health than just sealing it up from the outside. To do all the work of healing wounds, generating new cells, producing keratin and other proteins and dealing with uninvited pathogens, it needs energy and nutrients. Those must come from your diet.
But what about ingredients that can nourish skin from the outside and the inside? Now, you’re starting to get a feel for why we love sea buckthorn so much!
Using sea buckthorn oil for skin
The most common way that people use sea buckthorn in skincare is by applying the oil topically, so let’s begin our investigations there.
(A note: sea buckthorn oil has a vibrant orange hue which some people find a bit alarming at first glance, and it can also stain light-coloured fabric. If you’d like to use it topically, apply before bed and sleep on a dark coloured pillow case. Alternatively, you can dilute it in a non-comedogenic carrier oil to tone the colour down a bit!)
Sea buckthorn oil is found naturally in the berry. At Erbology, we cold-press sea buckthorn berries to extract their oil. Cold-pressing means that the valuable nutrients within are preserved (whereas heat may damage them).
Our sea buckthorn oil is food-grade and many of our customers use it to nourish their bodies through their diet (more on that below). However, it’s also an excellent natural skincare ingredient. What’s more, it works brilliantly as a standalone facial oil; no need to blend with other ingredients to see effects.
The first thing to mention is that, as an oil, it contains lipids which ‘seal up’ the skin, as Dr Greg advised. This helps enhance your skin’s protective barrier.
Pure sea buckthorn oil contains omega-7, also known as palmitoleic acid, which plays a role in helping the epidermis to create new cells, and in wound healing.(3)
It also soothes skin burns (such as sunburn) and skin problems such as bedsores and chafing.(3)
Gamma linoleic acid: the skincare hero you’ve never heard of
Sea buckthorn oil is particularly high in gamma-linoleic acid (GLA).
GLA is vital to create the ‘glue’ that sticks your epidermis cells together (officially called intercellular cement), to make cell membranes and improves blood circulation to the skin. This in turn improves the amount of nutrients and oxygen delivered to your skin cells and helps you flush away any nasty toxins. The result? Your skin structure, appearance and tone all improve.
Interestingly enough, GLA also manages to squeeze past your epidermis and make it into the lower layers of your skin. There, it gets converted into prostaglandins, which are special lipids involved in inflammation and healing.
According to one study, this means that GLA protects against infections, allergies, inflammation, and even slows down the ageing process.(2)
Other good stuff in sea buckthorn oil
Sea buckthorn oil is also a good source of beta-carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A. This, scientists believe, is what gives sea buckthorn oil regenerative and anti-wrinkle properties.(2)
In our modern lifestyle, where we regularly pay a fortune for complicated, lab-developed skincare, it’s hard to believe that something so natural can work so hard for our skin.
Besides, how many skincare ingredients can you eat, as well?
"In our modern lifestyle, where we regularly pay a fortune for complicated, lab-developed skincare, it’s hard to believe that something so natural can work so hard for our skin."
Sea buckthorn in your diet
Sea buckthorn is edible, and the berry has a sharp, energising flavour. To us, it seems rather like a gooseberry mixed with a pineapple.
When cold-pressed, the oil has a milder flavour and is more botanical. You can take it neat, or you can add a small drizzle to your recipes. We particularly like it on our porridge.
By eating sea buckthorn you’re improving the odds of getting those vital skin-loving nutrients delivered to all layers of your skin. The lower layers (the dermis and subcutis) are serviced by your bloodstream, which delivers nutrients from your diet to allow their cells to function properly.
Those nutrients include omega-7, beta-carotene (converted to vitamin A), and vitamin C.
Now, let’s take a look at the scientific evidence for how eating sea buckthorn can help your skin.
Benefits of eating sea buckthorn oil
One study followed 49 patients with atopic dermatitis for four months and found that taking 5g of sea buckthorn oil a day improved their symptoms.(3)
Another study compared two groups of women aged between 50 and 70 who were given either a capsule of sea buckthorn oil or a skin cream containing it. (Importantly, both contained a mixture of sea buckthorn pulp oil – like ours – and seed oil. It’s important to note the difference, as the berry pulp oil and seed oil have quite different nutrient profiles; pulp oil is high in omega-7, where seed oil contains omegas 3 and 6).
Both groups experienced improved skin elasticity and hydration. Meanwhile, the group which consumed the oil experienced a decrease in the roughness of their skin, suggesting its anti-wrinkle effects. The women who applied the cream experienced increased cutaneous thickness, which the study’s authors attribute to structural changes and boosted collagen synthesis. It’s a win-win!(4)
Eating sea buckthorn also means that its nutrients can circulate round your whole body, not just your face. That has added benefits as well. Essentially, wherever it goes, sea buckthorn seems to provide moisture.
For example, it can help with dry eye. A study in 2010 found that taking sea buckthorn oil daily improved the symptoms of participants suffering with this unpleasant condition.(5)
it can be a useful natural remedy for menopause. A study found that consuming sea buckthorn improved symptoms of vaginal dryness experienced by women going through menopause.(6)
Other ways to enjoy sea buckthorn
At Erbology we love sea buckthorn so much that we make a range of different products to suit different lifestyles and needs. They’re all pure sea buckthorn, but (minimally) processed in slightly different ways.
If your’e looking exclusively for skincare benefits, we recommend our Organic Sea Buckthorn Oil. This is due to the wealth of scientific evidence available for just how effective it is when eaten or applied topically. Plus, who doesn’t love a multi-use product?
However, we also make a raw powder, juice, shot and dried whole berries from this wonder plant. If you’re more interested in nourishing your skin from the inside out, these could also be great choices for you.
Our Organic Sea Buckthorn Powder is made simply from dried and crushed sea buckthorn berries with the seeds removed. This is a perfect option if you’re looking for an easy and convenient way to add sea buckthorn to your diet but aren’t quite sure what to do with it!
Simply add a spoonful into your smoothies, breakfast bowls or snacks for a hit of flavour and nutrients. It’s also high in vitamin E and folate, which is the naturally occurring form of folic acid.
Next up, our Organic Sea Buckthorn Juice, which is also available as a handy 40ml shot. If you start your morning with a fruit juice or smoothie, this is the one for you. Many people love the sharp flavour to help wake them up, but if you have more of a sweet tooth you can blend it with your orange juice or smoothie.
It’s incredibly high in vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant and helps you build collagen.
Finally, we make dried sea buckthorn berries, which are great as a snack, baking addition, or scattered over your salads.
Sea buckthorn skin benefits
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why sea buckthorn is fast becoming the darling of the skincare world. However, just remember that you don’t need expensive formulations or complicated sounding chemicals to see results. It’s all in the berry itself, and compared to lots of skincare products it’s very affordable.
One final note: as always, we recommend that you source your oil from an organic supplier to ensure that no chemical nasties make their way onto your skin.
Otherwise, we’re delighted to share this little skincare secret with you! It won’t be long until sea buckthorn is the ‘it’ ingredient on everyone’s shopping list, but you can luxuriate in the knowledge that you got there first – and you’ve got the gorgeous, glowing skin to prove it
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