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Kombucha (Photo by Megumi Nachev/Unsplash)

In The Mix

When a product’s ingredient is more than just a trend, it becomes a beauty and grooming game-changer 

By Adriana Ermter

Typically speaking, technology reigns in and as beauty and grooming’s most innovative products. We’ve seen (and the brave have tried) everything from vibrating mascara wands and app-driven body-contouring gadgets to pore-sucking face vacuums and exfoliating razor blades. Yet in the background of all of this whirring and twirling, scientists continue to diligently research and mixmaster unique ingredients to create game-changing formulas for skin care, hair care, body care and even fragrance. Here are five of our favourites to try right now.

Innovative Ingredient #1: Kombucha

Even if you haven’t yet sipped it (which makes us say, What??? because kombucha tea is refreshingly delicious), you’ve most likely heard of it. Well, guess what, the same fermented ingredient is now a skincare favourite with brands such as Murad, Pacifica Beauty and Fresh. It has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties, and a 2021 study by Scientific Reports claims kombucha helps prevent signs of aging, while lightly exfoliating the skin and adding a healthy glow. The tart ingredient is also beneficial for helping maintain moisture and elasticity, while providing the appearance of an even skin tone and texture. 

Innovative Ingredient #2: Xylitol

Recently, hard-to-pronounce xylitol has become renowned as a primary ingredient in toothpaste tablets (you know, the small Chiclet-like squares of hard toothpaste offered by brands like Hello, Good Organics and Lush). According to the National Library of Medicine, this natural sugar is extracted from fibrous fruits and veggies such as berries, green beans, and corn on the cob. But it doesn’t break down like a regular sugar would and, instead, helps maintain a neutral pH level in your mouth. So when it’s mixmastered into minty formulas, xylitol can actually eliminate acid, prevent bacteria from sticking to your teeth and protect from cavities. Plus, along with eliminating spats about who left the tube off the toothpaste, xylitol-infused tablets are airplane friendly, heat resistant and eco-friendly, as their formulas are void of the tiny indestructible plastic polymers that regular toothpastes have us unknowingly spitting down the drain. 

Innovative Ingredient #3: Japanese Indigo

This beautiful long-stemmed green plant with tiny pink bud-like flowers is revered in its homeland Japan for its deeply soothing, restorative and calming powers. According to beauty legend, Tatcha skincare’s Taiwanese-American founder Victoria Tsai discovered its anti-inflammatory properties in a 200-year-old beauty manuscript, which then prompted her to have the plant feature in her brand’s skincare products. But Tsai isn’t alone; scientists around the globe agree. Replete with nitrogen-rich compound trytanthrin (which helps eliminate toxins and irritants) and the isometric compound indirubin (which helps strengthen and support the skin’s barrier), the little plant that could is swirled into multiple brands’ skincare formulas, including Indigoblue Skincare, La Mer, Glossier and, of course, Tatcha. 

Innovative Ingredient #4: Upcycled Food

‘Waste not, want not’ is not a new phrase or concept. Most people heard it as children at the dinner table. Many have even used upcycled shampoo, soap and skincare products without knowing it. So what’s the hype? Companies such as UpCircle Beauty, Superzero and Farmacy Beauty are now transparent and vocal about their focus on upcycling ingredients and their viability to reduce costs via reductions in wasteful practices. According to to skincare products include coffee grounds, charcoal, blueberry-seed oil, fruit-peel extracts, cacao-bean waste, apricot stones and walnut-shell powder. Their benefits extend well beyond their exfoliating, cleansing, antioxidant and nourishing etc. properties. These well-loved ingredients help preserve fresh water, limit overharvesting and prevent greenhouse gases, while making good use of leftover materials.

Innovative Ingredient #5: Mushrooms

While mushrooms have been sprinkled over salads, candied as treats and slipped into mouths as party favours for decades, their popularity in creams, lotions and perfumes has made them a grooming mainstay in bathrooms. And not just because of their intimate and musty scent quality: gender fluidity in skin care and perfumery is certainly a factor influencing the fungi’s growth, as is its sensual universality with brands like Demeter, St. Paul’s Apothecary and Origins. Yet, according to research and development company FlavorChem, all varieties of mushrooms in beauty and grooming products are now specifically sought out as part of the wellness and self-care movement that exploded during COVID. Renowned for their positive, mood-boosting and stress-relieving benefits, the mushroom’s earthy fragrance is believed to be calming and grounding, while providing a cool and edgy base for perfumes and scented candles. 

ADRIANA ERMTER is a Toronto-based, lifestyle-magazine pro who has travelled the globe writing about must-spritz fragrances, child poverty, beauty and grooming.

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