Mediterranean Ingredients: a cosmetic excellence

What are the most effective botanical cosmetic ingredients? Why a phytocomplex  is better than a single active?

All these questions are answered by Giuseppe Salvadori, phytochemist with hundreds of hectares of land dedicated to medicinal plants, and Alla Reitsma, co-founder of Aeqium. The answers won't change your life, but they certainly could change your skin. 

Ten percent of scientifically known plants grow in the Mediterranean region, or 1.6 percent of the Earth's surface. This is a large group of 25 thousand different species, 60% of which are found nowhere else in the world.

This is where some of the most effective cosmetic ingredients are derived, including hydroxytyrosol, the base of Aeqium products, an active ingredient extracted from the leaves of the Italian olive tree that has tremendous antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Although the anti-aging properties of olive leaves have been known for thousands of years, hydroxytyrosol is still very rare and unique due to very high cost of extraction.

"Hydroxytyrosol has a very complex extraction process, because it works to maintain its antioxidant qualities and therefore its cosmetic effectiveness," explains Alla Reitsma, co-founder of Aeqium. "We tested hundreds of molecules, and among the most effective we found ingredients from the Mediterranean diet just like hydroxytyrosol or like vitamin C from Sicilian oranges. All extremely powerful antioxidants, really unique. After all, Italy is the center of excellence for the cosmetic products manufacturing, and not for nothing the 60% of the world turnover of beauty industry is produced in Italy. Thanks to the very strong expertise, we had access to the best formulators and producers of raw materials".

Among them is Giuseppe Salvadori, a passionate phytochemist, who tends medicinal herb fields in different parts of Italy. "I started with a small phytotherapy laboratory, where I prepared extracts from wild plants that I personally collected. Then I moved on to herbal teas, syrups and tinctures. But my passion was not for the plants themselves, but for their chemical and pharmaceutical structures. So, together with a biologist, a friend who worked in an astronomical laboratory, we studied a method to obtain the extract directly from the fresh plant". This is the big difference of the phytocomplexes in Aeqium: "The cosmetic and food industrialization normally brings the harvested plants to dry in the ovens, ruining them. We, on the other hand, start fresh, processing it immediately after cutting. It's seasonal work, and for this reason much more precious."

In addition, Salvadori talks about "phytocomplexes" not "active ingredients": "The phytocomplex is the whole set of active ingredients of the plant, it is not controllable. If I only want the active ingredient, I don't control everything else. But by doing so, I greatly increase the toxicity. Let me explain: it is one thing to have 300 or 400 ingredients made by the plant itself, in the right proportions with a set dictated by the laws of Nature, which obviously work better than the active ingredient isolated. Another is the single principle. But obviously, in comparison, the costs of the phytocomplex are high."

One of the cosmetically strongest phytocomplexes is Ekina3, developed with a skill worthy of a craftsman by Salvadori: "It is our flagship product. It's made from three types of echinacea, angustifolia, purpurea and pallida, whose roots, stems and flowers we use. All. The aerial part is cut off in the summer and the root in the winter, then working them separately. It has an immunomodulating effect, a natural shield of the body. Polysaccharides, polyphenols, alkylamides. Each molecule has its own function. An active ingredient alone is not enough. It is the whole phytocomplex that works". Unity is the strength, even among plants.

Returning to hydroxytyrosol, Salvadori explains its high cosmetic and economic value: "We collect olive leaves, the richest part for hydroxytyrosol, from trees from Tuscany or Puglia and we macerate them in special containers for about twenty days in order to filter all the polyphenols. They are a panacea for blood pressure, cholesterol, and also for pains because they are a natural analgesic thanks to a substance called oleocanthal. When the oil contains a lot of it we notice because it tingles in the throat causing sometimes that slight reflex cough. It is a powerful antioxidant and unlike resveratrol, it has a high absorption power. To understand the value of oleocanthal, just make a comparison: resveratrol can cost 300 euros per kilo, oleocanthal 1,500 euros per kilo". That's why we created the Antiox Matrix phytocomplex: it doesn't have just one polyphenol, but a pool of different polyphenols. There's green tea polyphenol, bergamot polyphenol, rosemary polyphenol, tomato polyphenol, grape polyphenol. Together they have an enhanced synergistic effect."

Among the Mediterranean ingredients chosen by Alla Reitsma is the Sicilian Orange, famous worldwide not only as an edible fruit, but also as an olfactory note for luxury perfumery. It is protected by IGP certification, and contains a pool of beneficial substances for the whole body including flavonoids (a kind of polyphenols with vasoprotective and antioxidant properties); carotenoids (including lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin) very useful especially at this time of year when we expose ourselves to the sun; vitamin C, which gives a strong support to our immune system and that is easy to "burn" smoking for example a single cigarette.

All these ingredients of natural origin are part of the Aeqium formulations. Between Science and Nature.

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