In God we trust. All others must bring data. This is our ideology. So all formulations contain ingredients with zero-risk and scientifically verified performance.

Here is the list of all ingredients found in ishonest products.

skincare ingredient
Argan

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from argan fruit kernels, sustainably grown in Morocco.

When it comes to cosmetic oils and hype, argan oil is for sure leading the way. Dubbed as the " liquid gold of Morocco", we have to admit we have some trouble determining why this oil enjoys such a special miracle status. Not that it's not good, it is good, even great but reading the research about argan and a bunch of other plant oils we just do not see the big, unique differentiating factor (though that might be our fault not reading enough, obviously).

Argan oil is loaded with lots of skin goodies (but so are many other plant oils): it contains 80% nourishing and moisturizing unsaturated fatty acids, mainly oleic (38-50%), linoleic (28-38%) and palmitic (10-18%). It also contains a relatively large amount of antioxidant vitamin E (600-900 mg/kg, about twice as much as olive), small amounts of antioxidant phenols (including caffeic acid, ferulic acid, and epicatechin), as well as some rare sterols with soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Thanks to all the above goodness in argan oil, it can greatly nourish and moisturize the skin and hair. It's also claimed to be able to neutralize collagen-damaging free radicals, help reduce scars, and revitalize and improve skin elasticity. You can even read that argan might help acne-prone skin.

All in all, argan oil is a real goodie but we do not fully understand the special miracle status it enjoys.

  • European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology, Apr 1, 2011, Argan oil and other argan products: Use in dermocosmetology.
  • European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology, Jul 1, 2008, Argan oil: Occurrence, composition and impact on human health.
skincare ingredient
Black Cumin

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin:Cold pressed from black cumin seeds, sustainably grown in India.

The (fixed or non-volatile) oil coming from the black seeds of¬†Nigella Sativa, a smallish (20-30 cm) flowering plant native to Southwest Asia. The seed has a very complex chemical composition (it contains both fixed and volatile oil) and is used traditionally for a bunch of "anti-something" abilities including antitumor, antidiabetic,¬†antihistaminic, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. In middle-eastern medicinal literature, black cumin seed has been referred as "a healing seed for all diseases except death‚ÄĚ. ¬†

As for modern research and chemical composition, the fixed oil from the seeds is rich¬†in skin-nourishing unsaturated fatty acids ( mainly linoleic acid at 50 ‚Äď 60%¬†and oleic acid at 20%, but also contains some rare ones like C20:2 arachidic and eicosadienoic acids), amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. A component called thymoquinone (it's the main component of the volatile oil part, but the fixed oil also contains some) is considered to give the seed its main therapeutic properties including strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities.

 As for black seed oil and cosmetics, the oil is great to nourish and moisturize the skin and is highly recommended to treat inflammatory skin diseases like psoriasis and eczema.

  • Ali, B. H., and Gerald Blunden. "Pharmacological and toxicological properties of Nigella sativa." Phytotherapy Research 17.4 (2003): 299-305.
  • Amin, Bahareh, and Hossein Hosseinzadeh. "Black cumin (Nigella sativa) and its active constituent, thymoquinone: an overview on the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects." Planta Medica 82.01/02 (2016): 8-16.
skincare ingredient
Cacay

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from cacay seeds, sustainably grown in Brazil.

Cacay oil is a new ‚Äúanti-aging‚ÄĚ oil that is made from the fatty seeds of the cacay plant‚Äď a South American native that grows at the base of Colombia‚Äôs Eastern Andes Mountain range.

In addition to packing a powerful quotient of vitamin E and Linoleic Acid, cacay oil contains three times more retinol (which helps combat wrinkles and other signs of aging) - than many other popular face oils on the market today - including argan oil and rosehip oil. Because of its high vitamin E content, Cacay oil can also be used to help fade stretch marks and scars, plus its manufacture is very sustainable.

The Unique Story of Sustainability

After oil is extracted, the meat of the nut can be ground up for use in cooking while the inner peel can be used as cattle feed or compost. Cacay trees also grow very quickly, so nutrient turnover in the soil is high, and fallen shells can be burned for fuel (because of the oleic nature of the nuts, the shells burn very hot). 

Bloomberg reported that oil from this rare nut is now all the rage, and that has to do in part with the fact that the mounting popularity of Cacay oil results in a financial motivation for growers in the lower Amazon to avoid deforestation. Selling cacay nuts is financially advantageous than harvesting cacay trees for their wood. The result is a rainforest-sourced beauty product that helps preserve the environment.

  • Omar Malag√≥n, Jorge Ram√≠rez, Jos√© Miguel Andrade, Vladimir Morocho, Chabaco Armijos, Gianluca Gilardoni, Phytochemistry and Ethnopharmacology of the Ecuadorian Flora. A Review, Natural Product Communications, 2016.
  • Matteo Radice, Derwin Viafara, David Neill, Mercedes Asanza, Gianni Sacchetti, Alessandra Guerrini, Silvia Maietti, Chemical Characterization and Antioxidant Activity of Amazonian (Ecuador) Caryodendron orinocense Karst. and Bactris gasipaes Kunth Seed Oils, Journal of Oleo Science, 2014.
skincare ingredient
Camellia Tea

Incidecoder Rating: Superstar

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from camellia seeds, sustainably grown in China.

Our first reason is that green tea does not only sound good but it’s super  well researched. A 2015 research summary paper on green tea stated that there are about 6000 research papers on the topic currently in PubMed (the US National Library of Medicine research database). 

Before we dive into what the magic powers of green tea are it’s good to know that the  most useful components of the tea are called  polyphenols, and even more precisely  catechins. There are four major types: the most abundant and active one,  the real superstar is called EGCG (Epi Gallo Catechin Gallate). Also significant ones are  ECG (Epi Catechin Gallate), GCG (Gallo Catechin Gallate) and EGC (Epi Gallo Catechin), but there are also a few more types in green tea. 

To be able to truly judge the efficacy of a green tea product it’s  important to know the polyphenol content of the oil used. There can be huge quality differences between various green tea oils depending on climate, season, age of the leaf and how it was grown. (You know it’s like the tomato that you buy middle of the summer fresh from the market vs the tomato that you buy middle of the winter from a big supermarket, and it was picked totally unripe on the other half of the word a while ago -  they taste totally different). 

According to the 2015 research summary paper an average oil contains only 10% catechins (vs. only 4% in black tea). Dr. Leslie Baumann says in her Cosmetic Dermatology book that a  good quality green tea oil should contain 50-90% catechins and the high-quality ones are  brownish and have a characteristic odor. So if you stumble upon a green tea product that’s brown and has a distinct tea-like smell that is a great sign of a quality product. 

Ok, so now you know that not all green tea oils are made equal and which ones are the good ones. Let’s see those magic powers.

Great Antioxidant & UV protectant

The polyphenols in green tea are strong, proven antioxidants. That’s good because they help to protect our skin against not-so-nice little things called free radicals that are out there to destroy the very nice, firming collagen in our skin. Studies show that green tea reduces UV caused skin irritation and reddening (it’s called erythema), and decreases the number of sunburn cells. It’s a great idea to use a green tea product in the morning under your sunscreen. 

Anticarcinogenic 

This one partly comes from the antioxidant and UV protectant properties but we wanted to emphasize that green tea does not only give some ‚Äúsuperficial‚ÄĚ skin benefits but is truly a health protectant. It can inhibit DNA damage and even activates some enzymes that help with DNA repair. Thanks to this it‚Äôs very useful for preventing non-melanoma type skin cancer. So especially if your skin cancer risk factors are high (fair skin, skin cancer history in the family, blue or green eyes, past sunburns, some types of moles), introducing green tea into your skin care is a fantastic thing to do.¬†

Anti-inflammatory

Inflammation is an important process that’s a biological, protective response to not nice things that happen to our body. However too much inflammation in our skin is not good: it accelerates the aging process and it’s also behind many skin diseases (acne and rosacea the most common examples). The catechins in green tea are not only amazing antioxidants but they also possess magic anti-inflammatory powers. This makes green tea an awesome choice for sensitive, rosacea or acne prone skin. 

Anti-microbial

This one is probably the least well known, but green tea also shows promising anti-microbial properties against some not-nice bacteria. This property makes green tea even more awesome for acne-prone skin. We could find two promising research paper results showing that 2% green tea lotion is effective to treat mild-to-moderate acne. Also atopic dermatitis is a skin diseases that could be improved with the help of the green tea polyphenols. 

So the  bottom line is this: green tea is a real superstar with magic powers that make it an awesome ingredient to almost everybody. If you are worried about anti-aging, skin cancer prevention, acne, rosacea or atopic dermatitis, it’s an excellent idea to use a high-quality green tea product in your skincare routine.

  • Journal Der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft, Volume 13 (8)‚Äď Aug 1, 2015, Green tea in dermatology ‚Äď myths and facts
  • Seminars In Cutaneous Medicine And Surgery, , Volume 27 (3) ‚Äď Sep 1, 2008, Natural Approaches to Management of Photoaging
  • Dermatologic Therapy, Volume 26 (3) ‚Äď May 1, 2013, The use of green tea extract in cosmetic formulations: not only an antioxidant active ingredient
skincare ingredient
Cucumber

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from cucumber seeds, sustainably grown in India.

When it comes to cucumber and skin care, cucumber seed oil is the one that steals the show for its soothing and moisturizing properties. But cucumber also has seeds and these seeds contain oil that has nice fatty acids and emollient properties, similar to many other plant oils.

Cucumber oil is a high linoleic acid (60-69%) oil that also has a fair amount of oleic acid (9-20%). It also contains antioxidant vitamin E , phytosterols and some trace minerals such as potassium . It is a very light oil that is absorbed easily into the skin. It is described as an excellent oil for moisturization formulations.

  • Naveed, Akhtar & Mahmood, Arshad & Barkat, Ali & Khan, Barkat & Mahmood, Tariq & Muhammad, Haji & Khan, Haji M. Shoaib & Saeed, Tariq. (2011). Exploring cucumber extract for skin rejuvenation. AFRICAN JOURNAL OF BIOTECHNOLOGY. 10. 1206-1216.
  • Flayeh, Khawola & Sylayman, Khuther. (1987). Antimicrobial activity of the amine fraction of cucumber (Cucumis sativus) extract. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology. 3. 275-279. 10.1007/BF00933580.
skincare ingredient
Grapeseed

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from grape seeds, sustainably grown in India.

We wholeheartedly support the rise of seedless grapes as fruit snacks, but when it comes to skincare, we are big fans of the  seeds.

They  contain the majority of the skin goodies that  -  similar to green tea - are mostly polyphenols (but not the same ones as in tea). The most abundant ones in grape are called proanthocyanidins, and 60-70% of them are found in the seeds (it's also often abbreviated as GSP - grape seed proanthocyanidins). In general, the darker the fruit, the more GSPs and other flavonoids it contains.

So what's so special about GSPs? Well, they are  super-potent antioxidants, much stronger than Vitamin C or Vitamin E. And if that's not enough, GSPs and other flavonoids in grape also show  UV protecting and anti-cancer properties.

It's definitely a goodie to spot on the INCI list.

  • Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, Volume 9 (3) ‚Äď Sep 1, 2010, Original Contribution: Top 10 botanical ingredients in 2010 anti‚Äźaging creams
  • International Journal of Cosmetic Science, Volume 37 (5) ‚Äď Oct 1, 2015, Polyphenols as active ingredients for cosmetic products
  • Leslie Baumann, MD, Cosmetic Dermatology, 2nd edition, Grape Seed Extract - pages 301-302
skincare ingredient
Green Coffee

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from coffea arabica beans, sustainably grown in Brazil.

Green coffee oil is obtained by cold pressing green (unroasted) coffee beans. Researchers from several universities in Brazil, the largest coffee producing country in the world, have shown that administration of green coffee oil to fibroblast cultures results in the upregulation of collagen, elastin, and glycosaminoglycans as well as growth factors, such as transforming growth-ő≤1 (TGF-ő≤1) and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF).¬†In addition, results from the same research team demonstrated an increase in aquaporin levels due to green coffee oil treatment in keratinocyte cell cultures. Green coffee oil contains lipids that consist triacylglycerols, sterols, and tocopherols in addition to diterpenes, which have important pharmacological properties.

A great deal of interest in using coffee in skin care products stems from the effects of caffeine on skin biochemistry and physiology, in which case it has been shown to prevent accumulation of fat in the skin, act as a photo-protectant against UV radiation, and assist in drainage of lymphatic tissue.

Recent work focuses on the solar protection properties of green coffee oil and the oil fraction of spent coffee grounds. In sunscreen systems containing ethy-hexyl-methoxy-cinnamate, addition of green coffee oil provided an increase of 20% in sun protection factor (commonly known as SPF). Botanical oils, typically found in cosmetics, contain large amounts of unsaturated fatty acids, which are susceptible to lipid oxidation. Green coffee oil was found to improve efficacy of other botanical oils, probably due to increased protection of the oil from the elements.

  • J. Marto et. al., The green generation of sunscreens: Using coffee industrial sub-products,¬† Industrial Crops and Products,¬†volume 80, pp 93-100, 2016.
  • M. del Carmen Velazquez Pereda¬†et. al., Effect of green Coffea arabica L. seed oil on extracellular matrix components and water-channel expression in in vitro and ex vivo human skin models,¬† Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.,¬†volume 8, pp 56-62, 2009.
  • K. Speer and I. K√∂lling-Speer, The lipid fraction of the coffee bean,¬† Brazilian Journal of Plant Physiology,¬†volume 18, pp 201-216, 2006.
skincare ingredient
Hazelnut

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from hazelnut nuts, sustainably grown in Turkey.

Hazelnut oil is produced from pressing the seeds of c orylus avellana, also known as hazel or hazelnuts. Prominently known as a food ingredient, hazelnut possesses high concentrations of fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, squalene, and tocopherols, which are known to improve skin quality. 

  • Fatty acids play a role in balancing the skin‚Äôs protective barrier. They also prevent the loss of moisture from the skin‚Äôs surface. These fatty acids prevent any harmful substances from entering the skin.
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) prevents and repairs photo-aging. It has antioxidant properties that protect the skin from UV damage. It can also be used to reduce hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties and can help treat skin conditions like acne and rosacea. It also promotes wound healing and boosts collagen synthesis.
  • Vitamin E contains tocopherols and tocotrienols. It has high antioxidant properties that reduce free radical damage due to solar radiation. It protects the skin from oxidative stress. It helps prevent sunburn. It has therapeutic effects against psoriasis, acne, scleroderma, and atopic dermatitis. It can also promote wound healing. It might reduce the signs of sun damage, including skin thickening, wrinkling, and erythema Tocopherols also have skin-conditioning properties.
  • Folic acid improves skin firmness that may otherwise deteriorate due to aging.
  • Vitamin A (retinol) is often used in the treatment of acne, psoriasis, and other skin conditions. It also slows down the aging process. It protects the skin barrier functions and collagen, and reduces water loss. It also prevents the discoloration of the skin. It reduces excess sebum production, improves skin elasticity, and boosts collagen synthesis and keratin formation. It reduces the signs of aging and photoaging too. Research shows that vitamin A can reduce fine lines and wrinkles effectively.
  • Niacin improves the skin barrier function. It prevents water loss and increases the moisture content in the skin. It improves skin quality and reduces wrinkles. It may help treat skin conditions like acne and rosacea, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces the effects of aging and might also reduce skin discoloration.
  • Minerals like zinc and copper offer photoprotective properties and prevent damage from UV radiation. These minerals prevent the radiation from penetrating the skin. They also have antioxidant properties. Copper, additionally, improves skin elasticity and thickness.

When not to use

Hazelnut oil is generally considered safe for consumption and topical application. However, there is not enough research to guarantee its safety. It is advised to avoid hazelnut oil if you have any kind of nut allergy or sensitive skin. Hazelnut contains proteins similar to that of pollen allergens. If you have pollen allergies, hazelnut oil might not suit your skin. Perform a patch test on the back of your neck or under your forearm to ensure no harmful or adverse effects occur.

  • Masson, P. et al. Influence of hazelnut oil phospholipids on the skin moisturizing effect of a cosmetic emulsion. International Journal of Cosmetic Science 12, 243‚Äď251, 1990.
  • Contini, M. et al. Extraction of natural antioxidants from hazelnut (Corylus avellana L.) shell and skin wastes by long maceration at room temperature. Food Chemistry 110.3, 659-669, 2008.
  • Madhaven N. Final report on the safety assessment of Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Seed Oil, Corylus Americana (Hazel) Seed Oil, Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Seed Extract, Corylus Americana (Hazel) Seed Extract, Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Leaf Extract, Corylus Americana (Hazel) Leaf Extract, and Corylus Rostrata (Hazel) Leaf Extract. International Journal of Toxicology, 2001.
skincare ingredient
Jojoba

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from jojoba seeds, sustainably grown in Israel.

Jojoba is a drought resistant evergreen shrub native to South-western North America. It's known and grown for jojoba oil, the golden yellow liquid coming from the seeds (about 50% of the weight of the seeds will be oil).

At first glance, it seems like your average emollient plant oil: it looks like an oil and it's nourishing and moisturizing to the skin but if we dig a bit deeper, it turns out that jojoba oil is really special and unique: technically - or rather chemically - it's not an oil but a wax ester (and calling it an oil is kind of sloppy).

So what the heck is a wax ester and why is that important anyway? Well, to understand what a wax ester is, you first have to know that oils are chemically triglycerides: one glycerin + three fatty acids attached to it. The fatty acids attached to the glycerin vary and thus we have many kinds of oils, but they are all triglycerides. Mother Nature created triglycerides to be easily hydrolyzed (be broken down to a glycerin + 3 fatty acid molecules) and oxidized (the fatty acid is broken down into small parts) - this happens basically when we eat fats or oils and our body generates energy from it.

Mother Nature also created wax esters but for a totally different purpose. Chemically, a wax ester is a fatty acid + a fatty alcohol, one long molecule. Wax esters are on the outer surface of several plant leaves to give them environmental protection. 25-30% of human sebum is also wax esters to give us people environmental protection. 

So being a wax ester results in a couple of unique properties: First, jojoba oil is extremely stable. Like crazy stable. Even if you heat it to 370 C (698 F) for 96 hours, it does not budge. (Many plant oils tend to go off pretty quickly). If you have some pure jojoba oil at home, you should be fine using it for years. 

Second, jojoba oil is the most similar to human sebum (both being wax esters), and the two are completely miscible. Acne.org has this not fully proven theory that thanks to this, jojoba might be able to "trick" the skin into thinking it has already produced enough sebum, so it might have "skin balancing" properties for oily skin.

Third, jojoba oil moisturizes the skin through a unique dual action: on the one hand, it mixes with sebum and forms a thin, non-greasy, semi-occlusive layer; on the other hand, it absorbs into the skin through pores and hair follicles then diffuses into the intercellular spaces of the outer layer of the skin to make it soft and supple.

On balance, the point is this: in contrast to real plant oils, wax esters were designed by Mother Nature to stay on the surface and form a protective, moisturizing barrier and jojoba oil being a wax ester is uniquely excellent at doing that.

  • Tzu-Kai Lin, Lily Zhong, and Juan Luis Santiago, Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Jan; 19(1): 70, Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils.
  • Global Journal of Agricultural Food Safety Science, Vol.2 (3): pp. 270 283 (2015), Chemical studies on grown jojoba oils under Egyptian conditions.
skincare ingredient
Kiwi

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from kiwi seeds, sustainably grown in New Zealand.

Kiwi seed oil contains pro-health molecules, such as, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and amino acids, which help to promote a number of skin care benefits. Topical application of kiwi seed oil has been found to provide antioxidant, moisturizing, rejuvenating as well as skin-soothing properties.

Constituents such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E protect the skin from degeneration. Vitamin E helps to regenerate the skin’s top surface layers, allowing skin to feel softer and smoother. Vitamin C plays a major role in maintain the youthful aspect of the skin, which when applied topically can help to keep skin firm and supple. Most importantly, both vitamins equip kiwi with a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidant protection is vital for neutralizing harmful free radicals present within the body as well as the environment.

Kiwi seed oil is mainly comprised of alpha linolenic acid, a key component in the omega-3 series. Fatty acids such as omega-3 play an important role in improving skin barrier function. This in turn helps the skin to retain moisture and increase hydration. Polysaccharides found in kiwi seed oil can help promote skin proliferation and rejuvenation. They work by stimulating cell activity which in turn can increase the number of structural skin benefits for a youthful look.

For these reasons, the benefits are implemented in regenerating cosmetics and moisturizing products, which are essential for preserving the skin’s structural integrity as well as enhancing overall skin quality.

  • Fiorentino, A et. al. Identification and assessment of antioxidant capacity of phytochemicals from kiwi fruits. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 57.10, 4148-4155 (2009)
  • Quirin, K. W. Specialty Fatty Oils for Healthy Skin. Cosmetic Science Technology 16-2 (2009)
  • Deters, A.M. et al. Kiwi fruit (Actinidia chinensis L.) polysaccharides exert stimulating effects on cell proliferation via enhanced growth factor receptors, energy production, and collagen synthesis of human keratinocytes, fibroblasts, and skin equivalents. Journal of cellular physiology 202.3, 717-722 (2005)
skincare ingredient
Meadowfoam

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from meadowfoam seeds, sustainably grown in Canada.

The  emollient plant oil coming from the seeds of the white flowering plant called meadowfoam.  Meadowfoam Oil has a unique fatty acid composition with 95% of it being long chain fatty acids.  Eicosenoic acid (61%),  docosenoic acid (16%) and  docosadienoic acid (18%) make the oil  extraordinarily stable. It also  contains antioxidant components such as  vitamin E as well as  phytosterols.

Apart from Meadowfoam Oil's crazy stability, the oil is described as  non-greasy, rapidly absorbed and having a similar skin feel to more often used jojoba oil. The oil is ideal for products where a  soft, smooth, silky feel is required whether it be on skin or hair.

  • Nasir, Mohammad Atharand Syed Mahmood. "Taxonomic perspective of plant species yielding vegetable oils used in cosmetics and skin care products." African journal of biotechnology 4.1 (2005): 36.
skincare ingredient
Prickly Pear

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from prickly pear seeds, sustainably grown in Morocco.

The emollient plant oil coming from the seeds of the cactus commonly called Prickly Pear or Nopal Fig. Prickly pear is native to Mexico. It has large, sweet fruit that’s called tunas and has been used as a source of food since pre-Hispanic Mexico. Currently jams and jellies are produced from it and also a traditional Mexican alcoholic drink called colonche.

About¬†¬†18‚Äď20% of the peeled fruits are seeds, and the seeds contain only about 3-5% oil. This means that the oil is rare and expensive as¬†a ton of fruit (and it is literally a ton) is needed to yield 1 liter of it.¬†

As for its composition, its three main fatty acids are barrier-repairing linoleic (60-70%), nourishing oleic (9-26%), and saturated fatty acid, palmitic (8-18%). It is also rich in antioxidant vitamin E (110mg/100g) and in anti-inflammatory sterols (beta-sitosterol, campesterol).  As a high-linoleic oil, it has a light skin feeling, absorbs easily into the top layer of the skin and gives a velvety skin feel.

But what is it doing in our skincare products?

Well, according to swiss manufacturer, Mibelle its two main properties are that it soothes and hydrates the skin.  And what’s more, they have also created some nice test results both in vitro and in vivo (in the lab tubes and on humans) showing that Opuntia Ficus-Indica can protect skin cells against UV light. 

And that’s still not all. An American manufacturer has combined the ingredient with yeast extract and the two together helps to reduce neurosensory irritation caused by the application of topical products such as retinoids (slow reaction), alpha hydroxy acids (fast reaction) or preservatives which induce some type of irritation or inflammation. It is also well-known for its  soothing and hydrating properties.

The bottom line: though we could not really find a trove of independently published research, we think that Prickly Pear’s name sounds cool and it’s a very promising ingredient that seems to have great soothing and protecting abilities. 

  • International Journal for Applied Science, 2005-11, Soothing Factor from Opuntia Cactus for Sensitive Skin
  • Ramadan, Mohamed Fawzy, and J√∂rg-Thomas M√∂rsel. "Oil cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica L.)." Food chemistry 82.3 (2003): 339-345.
  • Ennouri, Monia, et al. "Fatty acid composition and rheological behaviour of prickly pear seed oils." Food Chemistry 93.3 (2005): 431-437.
skincare ingredient
Raspberry

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from raspberry seeds, sustainably grown in the USA.

Raspberry is one of the colorful berries that’s not only delicious but contains many biologically active, healthy compounds. It has polyphenols including anthocyanins and ellagitannins that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

According to skin care expert Paula Begoun (of Paula's Choice fame), it’s antibacterial as well but due to its tannin content it can cause irritation to the very sensitive skinned.

One of the manufacturers of Raspberry Seed Oil claims that the oil can  repair injured skin and restore a healthy barrier function (so that the skin is healthy and hydrated again). The manufacturer did some in-vivo (made on real people) studies to show that the oil did indeed decrease Trans-Epidermal-Water-Loss and reduced cracks and scales on dry lips better than placebo.

  • J. Agric. Food Chem., 2010, 58 (7), pp 3901‚Äď3909, Identification of Flavonoid and Phenolic Antioxidants in Black Currants, Blueberries, Raspberries, Red Currants, and Cranberries
  • J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Jun 13; 60(23): 5755‚Äď5762., Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Polyphenolic-Enriched Red Raspberry Extract in an Antigen Induced Arthritis Rat Model
skincare ingredient
Safflower

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from safflower seeds, sustainably grown in India.

The oil coming from the seeds of the yellow flowered safflower plant. Similar to other plant oils, it's loaded with  nourishing and moisturizing fatty acids: it's a high linoleic acid oil (70%) and has only smaller amounts of oleic acid (11%), making it great for acne-prone skin. It also contains  antioxidant vitamin E (44mg/100g alpha-tocopherol).

Omega-6 (aka linoleic acid) is  claimed to have  barrier repairing (by increasing cellular cohesion) and  skin soothing activity and is especially recommended for damaged skin. 

  • Bioresource Technology, Sep 1, 2008, Chemical composition and oxidative stability of flax, safflower and poppy seed and seed oils
  • Matravers, Peter, et al. "A two week clinical study evaluating the effect of a product containing omega ceramide on hydration and skin barrier performance: 3022." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 74.5 (2016).
skincare ingredient
Tamanu

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from tamanu nut kernels, sustainably grown in French Polynesia.

A green-yellowish oil coming from cool places like Tahiti, Bora Bora, and the island of Polynesia. Similar to other more common plant oils, it's loaded with  nourishing and moisturizing fatty acids (oleic acid: 30-55%, linoleic acid: 15-45%, palmitic acid: 5-20% and stearic acid: 5-25%). 

The special thing about Tamanu oil, though, is that it contains the totally unique fatty acid called calophyllic acid that is suspected to give the oil its amazing healing and regenerative properties. The traditional uses of Tamanu oil range from using it for all kinds of rheumatism (inflammation in joints) to burns, wounds, skin rashes, and chapped lips and modern studies do confirm the wisdom of the old Polynesians. In fact, the wound healing properties of Tamanu oil is so strong that it produces visible improvements even for old (older than 1 year) scars during a 6-9 week period. 

According to a manufacturer, Calophyllum Inophyllum Oil also has significant SPF boosting and antioxidant properties. This latter one is probably due to its significant vitamin E content with delta-tocotrienol (236mg/kg) being the main form in the oil.

Overall, Tamanu seems to be an amazing oil for skin that is in need of some regeneration and protection. 

  • Dweck, A. C., and T. Meadows. "Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum)‚Äďthe African, Asian, Polynesian and Pacific Panacea." International journal of cosmetic science 24.6 (2002): 341-348.
  • L√©guillier, Teddy, et al. "The wound healing and antibacterial activity of five ethnomedical Calophyllum inophyllum oils: an alternative therapeutic strategy to treat infected wounds." PloS one 10.9 (2015): e0138602.
skincare ingredient
Watermelon Seed

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from watermelon seeds, sustainably grown in Namibia.

We love a cold slice of watermelon on a hot summer day and we love watermelon as a skincare ingredient. It's really full of good-for-the-skin stuff: it contains a bunch of vitamins (A, B, C and E), mineral salts (Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium and Iron), amino acids citrulline & arginine, and antioxidant carotenoids & phenolics.

It's especially rich in potent antioxidant, lycopene (a type of carotenoid), the cool pigment that's responsible for the red color of the watermelon. According to a manufacturer, in-vitro (made in the lab not on real people) studies show that watermelon oil  gives significant DNA protection against UV damage. The in-vivo (made on real people) study also confirmed this and the watermelon formula showed 25% increase in skin protection compared to placebo.

All in all, it is a cool botanical oil with potent antioxidant magic abilities.

  • Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, Volume 24 (3) ‚Äď May 1, 2011, Bioactive compounds and antioxidant activities of different watermelon (Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Mansfeld) cultivars as affected by fruit sampling area
skincare ingredient
Glycerine

Incidecoder Rating: Goodie

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from jojoba seeds, sustainably grown in Israel.

Jojoba is a drought resistant evergreen shrub native to South-western North America. It's known and grown for jojoba oil, the golden yellow liquid coming from the seeds (about 50% of the weight of the seeds will be oil).

At first glance, it seems like your average emollient plant oil: it looks like an oil and it's nourishing and moisturizing to the skin but if we dig a bit deeper, it turns out that jojoba oil is really special and unique: technically - or rather chemically - it's not an oil but a wax ester (and calling it an oil is kind of sloppy).

So what the heck is a wax ester and why is that important anyway? Well, to understand what a wax ester is, you first have to know that oils are chemically triglycerides: one glycerin + three fatty acids attached to it. The fatty acids attached to the glycerin vary and thus we have many kinds of oils, but they are all triglycerides. Mother Nature created triglycerides to be easily hydrolyzed (be broken down to a glycerin + 3 fatty acid molecules) and oxidized (the fatty acid is broken down into small parts) - this happens basically when we eat fats or oils and our body generates energy from it.

Mother Nature also created wax esters but for a totally different purpose. Chemically, a wax ester is a fatty acid + a fatty alcohol, one long molecule. Wax esters are on the outer surface of several plant leaves to give them environmental protection. 25-30% of human sebum is also wax esters to give us people environmental protection. 

So being a wax ester results in a couple of unique properties: First, jojoba oil is extremely stable. Like crazy stable. Even if you heat it to 370 C (698 F) for 96 hours, it does not budge. (Many plant oils tend to go off pretty quickly). If you have some pure jojoba oil at home, you should be fine using it for years. 

Second, jojoba oil is the most similar to human sebum (both being wax esters), and the two are completely miscible. Acne.org has this not fully proven theory that thanks to this, jojoba might be able to "trick" the skin into thinking it has already produced enough sebum, so it might have "skin balancing" properties for oily skin.

Third, jojoba oil moisturizes the skin through a unique dual action: on the one hand, it mixes with sebum and forms a thin, non-greasy, semi-occlusive layer; on the other hand, it absorbs into the skin through pores and hair follicles then diffuses into the intercellular spaces of the outer layer of the skin to make it soft and supple.

On balance, the point is this: in contrast to real plant oils, wax esters were designed by Mother Nature to stay on the surface and form a protective, moisturizing barrier and jojoba oil being a wax ester is uniquely excellent at doing that.

  • Tzu-Kai Lin, Lily Zhong, and Juan Luis Santiago, Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Jan; 19(1): 70, Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils.
  • Global Journal of Agricultural Food Safety Science, Vol.2 (3): pp. 270 283 (2015), Chemical studies on grown jojoba oils under Egyptian conditions.
skincare ingredient
Hemp

Incidecoder Rating: Superstar

EWG Rating: 1 (Best)

PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan

Origin: Cold pressed from hemp seeds, sustainably grown in the UK.

Research suggests that hemp oil may have use as a treatment for a range of skin conditions, such as acne, dermatitis, and psoriasis. This is due to its potential anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. These may include:

Acne

Acne is the most common skin condition in humans. Hemp contains many compounds with oil-reducing, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties that may help improve acne. A 2014 study explored the effects of hemp on human sebocytes. These are the cells that create sebum, which is a waxy, oily substance the skin produces. While sebum helps protect our skin, excessive sebum can also result in acne. The study indicates that hemp oil can prevent sebocytes from creating too much sebum. A 2016 review notes the potential antibacterial and antifungal properties of the cannabis plant. This could help prevent acne due to infections on the skin. A 2019 study suggests that hemp may also be beneficial for treating the appearance of acne scars.

Dryness and itching

A 2019 study notes that hemp may be useful for treating some common symptoms of skin conditions, such as dryness and itching. The anti-inflammatory properties of hemp may be particularly useful for reducing potential triggers of eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. As hemp oil can help soothe skin and reduce the appearance of irritation, it may be useful for people with sensitive skin.

Aging and wrinkles

A 2017 study highlights the antioxidant properties of hemp oil. Oxidative stress can contribute toward the aging process. Therefore, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of hemp may help prevent the appearance of aging in the skin.

Infection

As the cannabis plant may contain antibacterial and antifungal properties, it may be useful for treating infections on the skin.

  • T√≥th, Kinga Fanni et al. ‚ÄúCannabinoid Signaling in the Skin: Therapeutic Potential of the "C(ut)annabinoid" System.‚ÄĚ Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 24,5 918 (2019).
  • Iffland, Kerstin, and Franjo Grotenhermen. ‚ÄúAn Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies.‚ÄĚ Cannabis and cannabinoid research vol. 2,1 139-154. (2017)
  • Andre, Christelle M et al. ‚ÄúCannabis sativa: The Plant of the Thousand and One Molecules.‚ÄĚ Frontiers in plant science vol. 7 19 (2016).
  • Ol√°h, Attila et al. ‚ÄúCannabidiol exerts sebostatic and anti-inflammatory effects on human sebocytes.‚ÄĚ The Journal of clinical investigation vol. 124,9 (2014).

The way our ingredients grow and harvest is just as important as their quality. We seek fair trade, sustainable sources for our ingredients, from non-GMO to cruelty-free to vegan-friendly. We strive to exclude undesirable ingredients in our products. Respecting the environment and protecting ecosystems is central to empowering sustainable natural beauty.