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Eats/Treats/Cocktails

Magical Ingredients

September 7, 2013

Argan oil:
Nicknamed “liquid gold,” Morrocan women swear by this stuff to treat everything from wrinkles and psoriasis to burns and acne. Science is still catching up but argan is extremely rich in linoleic acid, which applied topically is proven to reduce acne, and vitamin E, an antiager that may reduce scarring as well.

Aloe vera:
You know that aloe vera gel has calming and restorative properties straight from the plant. Science says that it’s antibacterial and has been proven to speed wound healing in rats. In humans who’d undergone dermabrasion treatment, damaged skin healed 72 hours faster when aloe was applied.

Baking soda:
It will wash your sink, but it will also whiten your teeth, banish your bad breath, and deodorize bad smells—including your own.

Coconut oil:
With a molecular structure that allows it to penetrate skin and hair, both preventing water loss and replacing lipids that deplete with aging, it’s a double winner. Science says it also accelerates wound healing , can help treat eczema, and has shown to be therapeutic in the treatment of acne.

Green tea:
We should all be drinking it, but topical application of green tea has lots of science on its side, too. Several studies have shown it to reduce the effects of UV damage, enhance wound healing, and treat acne. Green tea is also anti-inflammatory and can help reduce the redness associated with rosacea.

Honey:
Before we had antibiotics we had honey, which was frequently used in wound dressing to accelerate healing. It’s no surprise then that science says it does, in fact, do just that. Its topical application also demonstrates antibacterial action, and helps prevent scarring. (It’s good on toast, too.)

Olive oil:
Just when you thought you’d heard everything there is to know about the powers of olive oil: A 2000 study done on mice indicated that topical application of olive oil after UVB exposure effectively reduced the rodents’ chances of developing skin tumors. Already proven to be a powerful antioxidant in food, olive oil may play an exciting role in reducing DNA damage in skin, too.

Propolis:
Bees use propolis, an antimicrobial resin, to sterilize their hives, and a variety of studies have shown its properties to benefit human health—from reducing the duration of common colds to slowing the proliferation of cancer cells. Topically, propolis functions as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory proven to protect skin against photodamage, it’s more antibacterial than honey, and is even effective against cold sores.

Shea butter:
West African women have been using this stuff forever. Not only does its application exhibit powerful anti-inflammatory properties but recent studies are indicating that cinnamic acid (found in shea) reduces the effects of UV damage.

Vitamin C:
You can’t soak your face in orange juice to get the topical benefits of this powerful antioxidant, but a good natural cream or serum containing L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which in its stable form helps the skin fight free-radical damage, reduces redness, stimulates wound healing, and helps minimize fine wrinkles.

Tea tree oil:
When it comes to acne, this is your friendly alternative to that beast benzoyl peroxide, which has been linked to cancer and is banned in Europe. A comparative study found tea tree oil to be just as effective as BP for treating pimples, if a little bit slower on the draw.

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