Here at Peaceful Dumpling, we’re always interested in learning about ways to enhance natural beauty through vegan-friendly, plant-based means. I’m especially inspired by treatments that go a little deeper and improve one’s overall health—meanwhile, shinier hair, clearer skin, etc., may just be one of the enjoyable side effects.
One of my favorite ways to give myself a little boost from the inside-out is through supplements. I’ve tried a mind-boggling number of herbal supplements (in part because I just love to experiment), and I’ve landed on a select few that I really love. To clear hormonal acne, I’ve come to rely on this DIM and turmeric blend, for example.
In recent years, I’ve become increasingly interested in skincare beyond the scope of acne—I’m talking about aging. Fortunately, a combination of my embracing more natural living and a current cultural shift away from pursuing “anti-aging” and battling every fine line with unquestioned fervor has informed my self-care routine; it’s gentler and more about self-love.
I’m realizing that the way my skin changes over time through the natural aging process isn’t necessarily something to rage against à la a Dylan Thomas poem. Rather, it’s all about perspective and allowing yourself to come as you are to your reflection in the mirror and to your life.
That said, it’s natural for us to want to look our glowiest, and I still thoroughly enjoy an in-depth self-care ritual that layers plenty of skin-loving products and routines (like massage…mmmm!). The key here is enjoying the ritual.
One of the most interesting supplements I’ve added to my ritual is French maritime pine bark (doesn’t that just sound lovely?), also known as Pycnogenol. This wonder-supplement has been the star of several peer-reviewed studies illustrating just how special this extract is.
When it comes to skin health, Pycnogenol is an MVP.
protects skin by reducing free radical damage
blocks UV light’s photo-aging effects by blocking inflammation and reducing protein loss, two factors in wrinkle formation
improves skin smoothness
improves skin barrier function
boosts skin hydration
provides antioxidant support via oligomeric proanthocyanidin compounds (aka, OPCs, which are also found in grapeseeds)
Translation: Pycnogenol helps mitigate the natural aging process by protecting collagen and elastin (i.e., the stuff keeping our skin supple, firm, and resilient) while also protecting skin from UV damage (like sunscreen from the inside-out—but please, still wear your SPF!).
One fascinating study lays it out more specifically: In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 62 women ages 45-73 sampled an oral supplement containing Pycnogenol. After six weeks, their skin elasticity improved by 9% compared the control group. By 12 weeks of treatment, their skin roughness was reduced by 6%.
Another study in 2012 showed that a daily 75-mg dose of Pycnogenol increased skin hydration by 8% after 6 weeks of use; for participants with dry skin, the hydration increase was up to 21%! The results confirmed that Pycnogenol can help increase elasticity and also demonstrated that Pycnogenol can help reduce skin fatigue.
Pycnogenol goes more than skin-deep, however. Several studies have demonstrated that this impressive extract has implications for heart health, diabetes, memory function, and arthritis. I encourage you to read more about Pycnogenol’s many benefits!
While I haven’t had a chance to take Pycnogenol for an extended period of time, I can say that my skin has felt more resilient in the meantime. The change is a bit difficult to pinpoint, but the 2012 study that mentioned skin fatigue resonated with me. In a subtle but much-appreciated way, my skin just seems less tired. Perhaps as a result, it seems to cooperate more with whatever foundation I use—there’s less flakiness and (seemingly) fewer fine lines. I’ll take it!
What’s your favorite skin-healthy supplement?
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