The concept of beauty is a paradox that I have not completely figured out. Unrealistic ideals of beauty have hurt women even as they sold untold billions of dollars in cosmetics and facials and lotions and potions. Yet I, too, use these lotions and potions because I think they make my appearance more appealing, and that gives me pleasure. I like pleasure. I suppose I am not angry about wanting to look better—I think that is human nature—but I am angry about the commercial manipulation of those desires.
So I am careful when I talk about beauty. In my opinion, the best kind of beauty is a natural reflection on the features we associate with health—clear eyes, radiant skin, shining hair. Age or size doesn’t matter as much as whether a person is happy, rested, and healthy.
However, as we age, changes occur to our skin that can make it feel dull and dry. Sometimes this is because of environmental exposure, poor nutrition, certain medications, or genetics—regardless, it can certainly take a visible toll. Some health conditions can also be problematic, or even cause accelerated skin aging. Also, we can start to experience mucosal dryness that takes away the sparkle in our eyes.
One of the best nutrient interventions for restoring skin luminosity, reducing eye dryness, and improving moisture in all our mucous membranes is sea buckthorn seed and oil extract.
Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is a thorny bush that grows in northern climates, producing an orange berry that is full of rare and beneficial compounds, the most important of which is the omega 7 fatty acid.
You have heard of the importance of omega 3 fatty acids (primarily EPA and DHA) from fish for skin health, but omega 7 may be new to you. There are not many omega 7-rich botanicals in the world, but another good source is one of my favorites—macadamia nuts.
One important function for omega fatty acids is that they are incorporated into the cell membrane, where they each bring their unique characteristics into play. Omega 6s and 9s are stiff, tightly stacked, and solid. Omega 3s are resilient and flexible, resulting in cell membranes that are also more resilient and flexible. Omega 7s are extremely good at holding on to moisture. This means they are very effective for dry skin, fine lines, dull complexion, and dry, irritated eyes.
In a published study, 30 women between the ages of 50 and 70 took a proprietary blend of sea buckthorn seed and pulp oil (SBA24) capsules, four capsules per day, for three months. There was a significant improvement in skin hydration status and overall skin elasticity. Use of the capsules also resulted in decreases in the measures of mean roughness and maximum roughness of the skin surface, indicating the anti-wrinkle benefits of the oral sea buckthorn blend.
If you choose to use sea buckthorn, there are a few points to remember. Make sure it is hand harvested, because machine harvesting ruptures the berry and causes oxidation of the nutrients, rendering them less effective. It should be a blend of both sea buckthorn seed oil and sea buckthorn pulp oil. Each extract yields different nutrients, so the best supplements are blends of both.
As with all supplements, look for products that have been used in published clinical studies. Sea buckthorn is a worthwhile investment in your skin health, today and in the years to come, but you will derive few benefits from low quality oils.