Plant Extracts…Nature’s Blessings for Results-Driven Skin Care


The current trend in skin care across all markets from Cosmetic Medicine and Skin Care Clinics to the big box retailers is that many people are in search of healthier solutions to their anti-aging and skin care needs. The demand for “natural” and/or “organic” products are at an all time high. Information from well documented studies indicate that many of the chemicals found in skin care products may be considered harmful. The good news is that there are many naturally-derived plant and food based ingredients that are perfect alternatives to the harsher, potentially harmful, synthetic chemicals while delivering very promising results. Is it possible to achieve healthy, clear, youthful skin the healthy way? Yes, with the perfect marriage of natural sources along with the latest in safe cosmetic technology. In the past, it always seemed that we had to either sacrifice healthy skin care to get results, or sacrifice results to use something considered “healthy”. The harsher, more conventional chemicals used, albeit effective, can also cause collateral damage to the skin. Inflammation, irritation, oxidative stress (pre-mature aging), allergies, excessive dehydration, hormonal disruption and carcinogenic effects to mention a few. There is a substantial amount of old and new information about plant-based ingredients in skin care and their effectiveness. We are fortunate to have a sustainable amount of plant and food based ingredients from nature’s own pharmacy to create skin care products that are both safe and effective without using the harmful, synthetic ingredients.

Let’s start with a short history on naturally-sourced ingredients in skin care. Plants played a large part in Egyptian medicine and daily life well over 2,000 years ago. Plants were almost the exclusive source of cosmetics and skin care until the beginning of the 20th century. Science and the cosmetic industry have gone full circle in the discovery of benefits of plants for the skin. Through the strides of scientific research, it is now possible to fully understand what specific plant constituents are responsible for the following skin-related benefits found in herbs, fruits and vegetables. Let’s group them into two categories:

  • Skin Rejuvenation/Soothing/Healing
  • Stimulating/Revitalizing/Correcting

There have been a multitude of studies that have proven that natural ingredients can have a positive physiological effect on the skin; their application in topical creams, lotions and other preparations within the traditional medicines and healing traditions of many cultures has been observed. Over the last 20 years, clinical and laboratory studies have identified the benefits of an array of natural ingredients for skin care. Consequently, a number of these ingredients and compounds are today being developed, used or considered not only for anti- aging effects, but also for use in dermatologic disorders. Here are some examples of healthier alternatives for common skin ailments:

Psoriasis and Atopic Dermatitis: Colloidal Oatmeal vs. Synthetic Chemicals

Acne: Salicylic Acid (from Tree Bark) vs. Benzoyl Peroxide

Rosacea: Chrysanthemum Indicium (Daisy Extract) vs. Synthetic Chemicals

Anti-Aging: Blue Green Algae & Alpha Hydroxy Acid vs. Retinoic Acid

Dark Spots: Alpha Arbutin & Lactic Acid vs. Hydroquinone Antioxidants: Red Tea, Licorice, Acai Berry, Turmeric & Pomegranate

It is important to educate our patients as much as possible. Many people believe that natural ingredients are not chemicals, and that they are safer. The truth is that all things are made of chemicals! There are plenty of natural things that are not safe, i.e. poison ivy contains harmful chemicals. “Natural” may mean that it is derived from nature but it is not necessarily “chemical-free”, safer, or more effective. Likewise, synthetic or lab- produced ingredients do not necessarily mean that it is harmful or bad for the skin, either. With the proper education and usage instructions, and when used in moderation, there may be a need for both natural and synthetic ingredients. What should be considered paramount is that ultimately we should utilize the best of both to create the best products and results that we can offer, in the safest and in the best interest of our customers.

Author, Karla Keene Karla Keen Head Shot (2)has volumes of practical experience working with cosmetic physicians, estheticians, clinicians, franchises, and entrepreneurs in this market, as well as with prominent product and equipment companies in a myriad of capacities. She has served as part of several senior-level teams making decisions on strategic and tactical planning, product development, business development, national account development, brand management and new product and line extension launches for some of the industry’s leading skin care companies for over 30 years.

As a consultant to this industry, she has opened over 70 medical spas and has trained hundreds of clinicians, estheticians and spa/medspa owners. She also presently acts as an on-going consultant to one of the largest massage and facial spa franchises in the country where she created their original facial program, service menus, treatment protocols, and has had the pleasure of training over 2,500 estheticians, sales associates, and franchisees to date on clinical skin care, retail selling, business building, and the like.

Karla has been a member of National Advisory Board for the Medical Spa Expo & Conferences as an education advisor responsible for ensuring quality advanced esthetic education. Karla is a self-published, best-selling author, and a frequent contributor to trade publications, industry resources and articles. She has been published/quoted in prestigious national magazines, newspapers, and recently published her latest book “Your Esthetics Coach” An Estheticians Guide to Success which became the #1 Best Seller in both Skin Care & Cosmetics categories on Amazon. Karla is the CEO/Founder of ClarityRx Clinical Skin Care, Inc. and is still a practicing Licensed Cosmetologist/Esthetician at her ClarityRx Skin Wellness Boutique in Newport Beach, CA.