This Under-the-Radar Anti-Inflammatory Beauty Ingredient Brightens Your Skin

Photo: Stocksy/Kaat Zoetekouw
When it comes to holistic treatments for battling a cold, echinacea has long been an MVP. (It's been scientifically proven to not only stifle your cough, but to also help prevent you from getting sick in the first place.) But there are major benefits to reaching for the anti-inflammatory herb even if you don't have a case of the sniffles: It's also a superstar beauty ingredient.

"Echinacea's a flowering plant that was the most widely used botanical in the world up until the 1900s," says Cheryl Karcher, MD, a dermatologist at New York's Sadick Dermatology. "Because it's anti-inflammatory, it's used to treat acne, fight wrinkles, and soothe sunburn." This is why echinacea has traditionally done the heavy lifting in many masks, conditioners, and anti-aging creams from natural-beauty favorites like Trilogy, Davines, and In Fiore.

A new strain of the plant, however, does way more than combat the dreaded "I" word. Meet Echinacea GreenEnvy.

echinacea skincare ingredient
Photo: Rachel Lapidos for Well+Good

"I discovered this plant about 10 years ago," Mark Veeder, co-founder and CCO of the natural skin-care brand Farmacy, tells me while on location at his (amazingly beautiful) farm in Forestburgh, New York. "It was blooming bright and green in my garden. I knew there was something special about it because there was no such thing as green-flowered echinacea." (Usually, echinacea flowers bloom in white, pink, or purple shades.)

Suspecting he'd stumbled upon something game-changing, Veeder packed up his unique find and sent it to a lab for testing. His hunch paid off: The green stuff proved to be so much more powerful than any other known species of echinacea, Veeder had it patented and now includes it in Farmacy's entire product line. "We have 30,000 Echinacea GreenEnvy plugs planted on our farm on the Delaware River," says Veeder (one of which I planted myself, NBD).

echinacea skincare ingredient
Photo: Rachel Lapidos for Well+Good

"The Echinacea GreenEnvy supports your skin's collagen production," explains Veeder, meaning it can prevent fine lines and wrinkles. This is thanks to its high concentration of cichoric acid, a natural antioxidant also found in chicory root. "Antioxidants are important because they fight free radicals, which are always attacking our skin," adds the clean-beauty maven. "That's what causes aging. It's pollution, sunlight, and all these environmental stressors—and the acid in the Echinacea Greenenvy neutralizes them."

With 300 percent more cichoric acid than any other species of echinacea, Greenenvy is essentially a complexion-beautifying superhero.

Cichoric acid has also been shown to prevent tyrosinase activity—AKA your body's melanin-producing process—in order to keep your skin pigmentation smooth and even. With 300 percent more cichoric acid than any other species of echinacea, GreenEnvy is essentially a complexion-beautifying superhero.

Farmacy's skin-care line extends beyond the usual coterie of serums and balms. Veeder—with a little help from a colony of bees—also uses it to make honey (something I know first-hand has some impressive cleansing powers on its own)."It's the only Echinacea GreenEnvy honey in the whole world," he says.

"It was crazy patenting this plant," Veeder says of his journey getting the ingredient from garden to jar. "But it's really been doing what we wanted it to do: We wanted something that would truly show results on the skin." Now that's worth buzzing about.

Originally posted July 18, 2017, updated August 22, 2018. 

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