"Mexico enjoys a privileged geographical location that gives life to an incredibly rich biodiversity," says Adriana Ruano, founder of the Mexican beauty brand Vervan. "The plants and fruits that grow from this soil were discovered by its earliest settlers, and have been experimented with through the years to promote a healthy lifestyle."
Ruano's had experience with this firsthand. "I grew up attached to my mother and grandmother who were wonderful cooks, and it was normal to create our own preserves, clothes, and ointments," she tells me. "That's how I became interested in artisanal processes, to create using my hands and natural ingredients." As such, she harvests native Mexican pants for her handcrafted skin-care line. Here, four ingredients you'll find throughout Vervan.
"Maize is a source of ferulic acid that's converted to ethyl ferulate, which has demonstrated activity to protect phospholipid membranes from UV-induced peroxidation," says Ruano. (That essentially means it protects against free radical damage on your skin.) "It's effective to protect your skin from redness induced by UVB light, and also helps prevent the formation of dark spots on the skin." Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD adds that maize also is is rich in carotenoid antioxidants (hence its bright color), and "helps put out inflammation in the skin caused by free radical damage from the environment."
Then there's the star of the famous mole sauce: cocoa. "The flavonoids of the cocoa extract improve the adverse reactions of the skin after exposure to UV rays, including sun damage and redness," says Ruano. "It acts by increasing the activity of the antioxidant enzymes of the cells. It also protects the skin from the inside out by neutralizing oxidative stress, a major factor in premature aging of the skin." I knew I loved you, chocolate.
If you've ever visited Mexico, you may have sipped on tamarind juice. Though it's not a plant that's native to Mexico, Ruana explains that it was imported to Mexico and now the country's one of its top producers. "Mexicans use [tamarind] in all kinds of ways," she says, which include as juice or candy. "It contains organic acids such as tartaric acid, malic acid, and ascorbic acid, which help to exfoliate your skin." Also key? "Tamarind contains high levels of vitamin C along with natural hydroxy-acids, which can help brighten and exfoliate the skin to improve radiance," says Dr. Zeichner.
Amaranth, which you probably know as a grain or candy, can really moisturize your skin when used topically. "Amaranth is rich in squalene, the main component of the superficial lipids of the skin," says Ruano. "It's an emollient and moisturizing, absorbs quickly and deeply, and restores your skin's softness and flexibility without leaving a greasy residue." It's also rich in vitamin A, according to Dr. Zichner. "High levels of the amino acid lycine [in amaranth] helps provide the skin with the necessary building blocks for optimal functioning," he says.
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