Skin is the body’s largest organ and often one of the most neglected. Skin is an organ of elimination and retention- ensuring your body retains the correct amount of moisture to keep your entire body functioning, and eliminating toxins, wastes and other foreign materials that come into contact with your body. Skin has the capacity to absorb substances when topically applied- the amount varies greatly based on the nature of the substance. Claims that your body absorbs 100% or any static percentage of everything you put on it are simply inaccurate. But it remains true that your skin does have the capacity to absorb anything that you put on it. 

Your skin contains a specialized type of cell, called Langerhans cells, which are able to collect foreign materials and then move down from the epidermis to the dermis where they deposit the foreign materials into the lymph vessels which then take it to the lymph nodes for elimination. Due to this ability of your body to absorb foreign substances, what you put on your skin is as important as what you put into your body. If you care for your skin with high quality organic ingredients that your skin needs to maintain its health and vitality, your body will absorb and process these substances. Conversely, if you are constantly applying synthetic substances that do not benefit your skin, your skin will  be working overtime to eliminate these foreign materials since they do not provide any nutrients.

Your skin is constantly creating new cells in the lower layers of the epidermis, which gradually move up through the layers and become hard and flat once they reach the surface.  The body covers itself in hard flat skin cells to protect the lower layers of skin by locking in moisture. No matter what your age, you always have new skin cells forming- typically every four weeks the skin completely renews all its cells. So when using a new skin care product you cannot expect instant results; the active ingredients work throughout the layers of the skin nourishing the skin cells while they are on their way to the surface. 

What are botanical extracts?

At FLORA+FUNGI we make a wide array of botanical extracts to use in our products. We often get the question, what exactly are botanical extracts and how they are made. So today we would like to tell you a little more about them. Botanical extracts are natural compounds derived from plants- often in a concentrated form. These compounds are bio-available, meaning that your body can process and use these same compounds that plants create and reap their benefits. These can be derived in a number of ways depending on the type of compound and its solubility- the type of substance it can dissolve into. Often a plant may have several different desirable compounds which all need different solvents to be extracted. For example, many plants have hydrophilic (“water loving”) compounds which can be extracted in water or glycerine, other compounds have lipophilic (“oil loving”) compounds which require being extracted in oil. Most botanical extracts require being soaked for weeks or even months in oil, glycerine, or other solvents. Some require heat to extract their compounds, but others are too delicate to use heat since it may damage them. It all depends on the plant, compound and solvent being used to extract it. 

What types of compounds do plants contain?

Plants contain an amazing range of compounds which are beneficial in skin care. The types of compounds we seek out most often when looking for botanicals to use in skin care products are those with anti-inflammatory and  anti-bacterial properties, and also compounds which help regenerate skin and rebuild collagen, as well as a range of vitamins and antioxidants. Botanicals in skincare can also go past functionality and enter the realm of aesthetics and scent. For example, Blue Tansy oil will add a lovely floral scent and luxurious blue hue along with its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.

Which botanicals are best? 

The best botanicals are those cultivated and processed organically without the use of synthetic chemicals. Plants are amazing!  All too often, when people think about the benefits of plants in skincare and holistic health, their minds drift toward exotic plants of which they’ve only seen in pictures or heard tell of from some trending article. At FLORA+FUNGI, we aim to show people that equally amazing plants are all around us, beneath our feet, in our gardens and in our forests. We specialize in using native regional botanicals which grow in abundance in Northeast Michigan, as well as other plants we organically cultivate. We combine cutting edge modern research into the internal and external benefits of these native plants with centuries of multicultural botanical traditions to create high performance products which embrace both science and tradition. 

Have you ever used botanical skincare before?  What are some of your favorite botanicals? Do you trust traditional western medicine or holistic health care more?