Saturday, February 27, 2010

Horsetail extract

Horsetail extract (INCI: Equisetum arvense extract) is extracted from the horsetail plant - if you live in North America or Europe, you've no doubt seen these in your neighbourhood. If you've ever touched one, you'll know they have a kind of almost dry feeling on the stalks. This is the thanks to the silica that abounds in these plants - composing up to 7% of the plans content - and it has been used traditionally as a scouring pad for tin and polishing wood. So how does this stuff work in cosmetic products?

Horsetail extract is recommended as an astringent and anti-oxidant that offers increased wound healing, improved circulation, and retention of connective tissue like collagen and elastin.

The main component of horsetail extract is silica, making up 5% to 7% of the extract. This is believed to help improve nail and hair quality, and help retain collagen and elastin.

Horsetail extract also contains an unique mixed-linkage glucan (which can be called ß-glucan or beta-glucan, which is also found in oats), a polysaccharide that forms a thin gel like layer that offers hydration, emolliency, and anti-inflammatory features like those found in aloe vera.

It contains a ton of lovely flavonoids - the rutin derived isoquercetine and equisetrine are chelators and excellent anti-oxidants that offer circulation enhancing and possible UV protecting properties. Quercetin offers excellent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant features. And kampferol and its glucosides offer great anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidizing properties to your products.

It contains two acids - malic acid and oxalic acid. Oxalic acid can be a mild irritant to skin and a poisonous ingredient if ingested. It really doesn't offer much to the mix in our products. Malic acid, on the other hand, acts like an AHA with four carbon chains.

It contains some great phenolic acids. Caffeic acid is a great anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and UV protectant ingredient. p-coumaric acid offers anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and UV protection qualities as well. Ferulic acid is an anti-oxidizing polyphenol that can help soften and moisturize skin, helps with light or weather damaged skin. It can penetrate your skin to offer help with age spots.

Horsetail contains a lot of Vitamin C, which offers chelating and anti-oxidizing qualities to our products. And it contains phytosterols like cholesterol, isofucosterol, and campesterol, all of which are excellent anti-inflammatories, that offer a reduction in transepidermal water loss (TEWL), an increase in skin's barrier repair abilities, and help with weathered skin (sun, cold, wind).

I've never formulated with horsetail extract before, so I can only suggest you follow your suppliers' recommendations for usage. (In fact, I can't find it at any of my local suppliers' or the ones on the 'net that make me drool and wish I lived in the States for cheaper shipping rates!)

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating with ginseng extract.

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