Is it just me or do you feel like every second celebrity has pumped out a skincare range lately? Many of them are based on botanicals like lotus flower, turmeric, ginkgo biloba, rosehip and papaya. So what’s the story?
Let’s whizz through the evidence.
Turmeric. Favoured by one Australian supermodel, Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties in a petrie dish. And there is indeed mounting evidence that an active component of turmeric, curcumin, might have strong health impacts. What about putting it in skincare? A 2016 systematic review of 8 published trials of topical turmeric found insufficient data to support its use in skincare.
Lotus flower. Favoured by one young actress, lotus flower sounds nice. It doesn’t have science on its side. A 2013 study of 22 people found that in combination with green tea, topical lotus flower made the skin slightly less oily. That’s a lukewarm start. Not evidence.
Kakadu plum. Favoured by one entrepreneur and former model, Kakadu plum, which she claims (on her skincare website) is “The world’s highest source of vitamin C” and that it “boosts skin luminosity and radiance while simultaneously reducing the appearance of wrinkles.” I beg to disagree! The strength of L-ascorbic acid in Kakadu plum is actually only 2% which means it cannot affect the skin in any way.
Dragon’s blood. This Amazonian medicinal plant with its characteristic red sap is championed by one Victoria’s Secret model, saying it helps “soothe and shield the skin from environmental stressors during the day.” We have certainly seen it growing in popularity in skin care over the past few years. In petrie dishes it seems to have anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties that haven’t been replicated in human skin. In a 2019 review, the authors warned it “offers limited use in dermatology and further investigation is necessary to gain further insight into its potential clinical implication.” Thumbs down.
Natural black tea ferment. Said to improve “overall skin health by enhancing smoothness, radiance and color,” by one ex-singer/ WAG of a famous football player and entrepreneur. Evidence? Not a shred!
Ginkgo biloba. One of my favourite singers states that this ingredient “helps control surface oil and clarify skin,” a claim without any scientific backing. While one study of 20 hairless white mice did find that a combo of green tea and ginkgo helped sunscreen along, other evidence is totally absent!
Let’s get real. Celebs look stunning because they are. Plus with enough resources and a high incentive to invest in their looks, they can make their natural talents stay better for longer. Plus they have amazing makeup artists on permanent duty! If the key ingredient in any skincare product is vague like a “rare French melon” or can only be found in limited places like the Kakadu plum, hone your BS detector. Evidence is unlikely to be strong. Formulating with evidence based ingredients is hard, and can be expensive. But if you want more out of your skincare than a nice scent, great packaging and a name with star cache, celebrity skincare is unlikely to deliver.