Bamboo Extract: This Sustainable Ingredient Has Major Skin Benefits
Bamboo, it’s everywhere…
Bamboo is having quite the moment: you can find it everywhere from reusable plates and straws, toothbrushes, and bedsheets, and now, bamboo extract can also be found in your toners, serums, body creams, cleansers and more. So, why exactly should a panda’s favorite food be your new favorite skincare ingredient and an integral part of your skincare regimen? For starters, you’re both adorable, but let’s dive a little deeper. ;)
Bamboo is incredibly eco-friendly
Eco-friendliness goes far beyond what type of packaging a brand uses and extends well into the ingredient supply chain.
Bamboo is one of the hottest ingredients in sustainable skincare for good reason: it’s one of the most widespread plants and can grow in only 3-4 months, while most trees can take over 30 years to grow (1). Additionally, the cultivation of bamboo doesn’t require pesticides, and once it grows without these harmful pesticides, it can reduce up to 35% of the carbon dioxide in our climate. And beyond our atmosphere bamboo can help our water systems. The roots of bamboo control erosion and develop a strong barrier to water. Additionally, bamboo takes in high amounts of nitrogen which reduces water pollution (2). Knowing that bamboo is good for our environment should make us feel pretty good about applying extract from it to our skin, and here’s why.
Bamboo extract can protect you from oxidative stress
We know there’s nothing more miraculous than a ripe avocado, and we also know there’s nothing nastier than a sliced avocado left out on the counter. You know how that avocado starts to brown and shrivel, and in some cases, begins to look like it’s straight out of a horror movie? That’s a perfect example of the negative effects of oxidative stress, and bad news, your skin is prone to it.
In a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, published as the “Antioxidant Capacities of Fractions of Bamboo Shaving Extract and Their Antioxidant Components”, it was observed that bamboo leaf extract had the protective effect of preventing inflammation and oxidative stress in skin (3). We probably all have some experience with inflammation (hello, acne and eczema), but when do we ever experience oxidative stress?
Time Out: Time for a quick biology lesson….
Oxidative stress is a state that occurs when there is an excess of free radicals in the body's cells. External substances, like cigarette smoke and pollution, can cause the formation of free radicals in the body. And when there’s an excess of free radicals, that’s considered “oxidative stress.” Oxidative stress can damage cells, proteins, and DNA, which can contribute to aging (and specifically, skin aging).
Free radicals are molecules with one or more unpaired electrons. So, the best way to neutralize them, you ask? Enter: antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that neutralize or remove free radicals by donating an electron, and good news: bamboo extract is chock full of them.
Bamboo extract and antioxidants
Bamboo extract is rich in antioxidants that include: caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, p-coumaric acid, orientin, homoorientin, vitexin, isovitexin and amino acids — all antioxidant powerhouses for skin (3). Bamboo extract has been used medicinally for a very long time in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and fortunately research is beginning to catch onto its healing properties within Western medicine (4). While we all have what’s referred to as, “self-antioxidant systems” in our own bodies, because of pollution, these systems can be insufficient. As a result, a lot of research has been done on natural antioxidants as part of the solution to our own overrun antioxidant systems, and bamboo extract belongs to this particular group. It’s good for our skin, certainly, but also provides preventative measures when taken orally against free radicals that can cause disease (3).
Bamboo silica strengthens and firms skin
Bamboo is also one of the richest natural sources for organic silica, and silica is responsible for the health of our hair, nails, and bones. And in a study on silica by the National Institutes of Health, it was observed that silica provides “optimal collagen synthesis and activation of hydroxylating enzymes, improving skin strength and elasticity”(5). So, in essence, silica aids in the production of collagen, which firms skin and gives it a youthful bounce.
Bamboo charcoal in skincare
Charcoal has been used in face masks and cleansing products for quite some time now because it effectively draws out oils, impurities, and potentially harmful substances from our skin which can help breakouts. Bamboo charcoal can even be used to effectively treat psoriasis and eczema, as the charcoal is known to have strong anti-inflammatory effects as well (6).
It’s good for your skin, it’s good for our environment
We typically think about “clean” skincare products as being those products that don’t have damaging effects on our own body. While it’s essential for our well-being to make sure that we’re using products that are safe for ourselves, why not make sure that our products aren’t damaging our environment, too? While it sounds like a no brainer, we believe that the only way sustainable skincare will ever become mainstream is if a consumer doesn't have to choose between sustainability and efficacy. It’s up to brands to research and develop innovative formulas that deliver results that are just as potent (or more!) in order to gain mass adoption. Fortunately, ingredients like bamboo are making it that much easier to make that a reality. :)