For some background, your skin loses its elasticity when an enzyme called elastase breaks down elastin proteins and result in wrinkles. Researchers found that maple leaves (of all things) contain a phenolic compound known as glucitol-core-containing gallotannins (GCGs), which can inhibit elastase activity when slathered on skin.
To study this effect, the scientists looked at how the GCGs do this via a test tube. Besides their blocking ability (GCGs with multiple galloyl groups as opposed to one were more effective), these compounds could potentially also protect your complexion from inflammation as well as lighten hyperpigmentation (in other words, it's pretty much a godsend ingredient for natural skin care).
"You could imagine that these extracts might tighten up human skin like a plant-based Botox, though they would be a topical application, not an injected toxin," says Navindra Seeram, Ph.D., the study's lead investigator. "And the fact that the extracts are derived from trees would be appreciated by consumers who are looking for natural, plant-based ingredients in their skincare products."
While the maple leaf's compounds aren't readily on beauty shelves just yet, it's cool to know there are possibly other anti-aging powerhouses out there in the world—and you can save yourself a trip to the dermatologist's office, to boot.
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