science of raspberries and DIY antioxidant facial treatment




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“In the natural sciences, and particularly in chemistry, generalities must come after the detailed knowledge of each fact and not before it.” Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac

Exfoliation is the foundation of a good skincare routine. The removal of the oldest skin cells enables the regulation of your sebum flow and therefore prevents acne and blemishes (read here). Basically you have two options: mechanical and chemical exfoliation. Most people know scrub or peeling in form of grains or a simple loofah (mechanical scrub) and I get increasingly often asked about the chemical alternative. Well-established chemical exfoliating agents are AHA (Alpha-Hydroxy-Acid) and BHA (Beta-Hydroxy-Acid) often in formulation strengths from 1 per cent to 10. Once applied they react with the upper layer of the epidermis and disintegrate the binding properties of the lipids that hold the dead skin cells together which allows the stratum corneum to be exfoliated, exposing live skin cells. So if you seek a dermatologist for an acne or juvenescent treatment, this is their go-to therapy. If you ask me for a cheap alternative I have a simple DIY recipe: fresh raspberries.

Not only is a raspberry (e.g. Rubus idaeus) a delicious treat, but also a little biochemical powerhouse which shows a notible amount of vitally important vitamins and potent antioxidants. I must admit, I knew about the vitamin C and antioxidants like anthocyanins but they additionally contain a nice blend of ellagitannins (hydrolyzable tannins, you might have heard about tannins from wine tastings), antioxidant flavonols and other phenols like ellagic acid (see pretty, symmetric molecule above). Research about topical application of vitamin C points out its photoprotective and signs-of-aging reducing properties (read here and here). The antioxidative characteristics of ellagitannins, flavonols and phenols are also well-studied and you find a great amount of interesting reviews and articles on this topic (like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). Something a little less probed may be the efficacy of Raspberry ketones, which presumably stimulate hair growth and skin elasticity by increasing skin cell-produced growth factors like IGF-1 and EGF (epidermal growth factor; read here) next to anti-obese action (click). I already saw supplements sold in US drugstores with big promises on this topic but personally I would not make an effort to search for the next chance to buy pure raspberry ketone powder or consider fresh raspberries the general holy grail of skincare, but a homemade facial treatment with approximately 2 Rubus idaeus every now and then (instructional video here) did improve my complexion quite comparable to regular chemical exfoliation products. It’s not as potent as a dermatologist’s solution but minimalistic, low-budget and refreshing. Given the nutritional facts I mentioned above, you should have great joy to eat the rest of the raspberry basket, too. Like every natural treatment I would advice a patch test first, maybe you are a little sensitive to the acids! Hope you have as great skin results with this treatment as I do, Ea Birkkam


today: berry sorbet