Monday, 31 October 2011

The Philosophy of Organic Skincare

BIODYNAMIC farming is the secret to making plant-based cosmetics more powerful, says Suzanne Wangmann.

When it comes to natural cosmetic products, is organic really as good as it gets? In south-east Germany the farmers and cosmetic producers think their offerings are even better - they’re biodynamic. Biodynamic farming takes organic farming one step further. Developed in the mid 1920s, and based on the ideas of German philosopher Rudolph Steiner, biodynamic farming is a system of agriculture that works in harmony with light and temperature. Only natural fertilisers are used and fertilising, planting and harvesting are all done according to a lunar cycle. While this type of farming is practised worldwide, southern Germany is something of a mecca for biodynamic skin and body care products, with leading brands Dr Hauschka and Weleda growing many of their ingredients there.

Natural bonuses Professor Florian Stintzing, head of research and development at Dr Hauschka, says biodynamic plants contain higher-quality polyphenols than commercially grown crops. Polyphenols are chemical compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers that help the plant to resist sun damage and to heal itself. Polyphenols found in foods such as red wine, berries, dark chocolate, olive oil and other fruit and veg are believed to help protect against heart disease, while in cosmetics, the plant compound is regularly used to fight the free radicals blamed for much of the skin damage we see as we age. In spring the farmland of south-east Germany is a landscape of grassy hills dotted with oak trees and fruit orchards. Many families in this region run biodynamic farms and they are proud of their achievements. As Professor Stintzing explains, “It take 10 years of biodynamic farming to establish any credibility - and just one day to lose it.This is because although the style of farming is based on old ideas, the monitoring products are high-tech, with machines that will show even the slightest traces of contaminants, and medical-grade processing.

Pure ingredientsAs well as being the source of Dr Hauschka and Weleda botanicals, this region is also where the seeds of Australian brand Jurlique were planted. Jurlique’s co-founder, Dr Jurgen Klein, was a product formulator for Dr Hauschka before he left for Australia and his co-founder and former partner Ulrique Klein was a horticulturist.Most Dr Hauschka ingredients are from Germany but some are sourced worldwide due to climate. The company helps communities grow biodynamic crops such as roses in Turkey and neem in India. “Our approach is not just about human health but the health of the environment,” Professor Stintzing says.

6 of the best plants used by Dr Hauschka

Witch hazel: Bark and leaves have anti-inflammatory and firming properties.
Rose: A powerful moisturiser used in products for the face and body.

Calendula (marigold): Helps to heal skin, making it ideal in cosmetic creams.

St John’s wort: Used for its anti-inflammatory and soothing benefits.

Borage: Used to cool inflammation and boost skin health.

Quince: Components used in moisturisers and anti-ageing products.

Suzanne Wangmann
From: National Features,
October 29, 2011 11:30PM

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