Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why did I buy that fruit extract? Strawberry

Happy first day of summer! I guess there's no better way to celebrate summer than to talk about fruit! Fruit extracts offer so much to our products - phytosterols, polyphenols, vitamins, flavonoids, and anti-oxidants - and they sound lovely on a label! Just think about it for a moment. Peaches and cream, raspberries & apricot, strawberry kiwi - don't these sound just lovely! So I thought I'd take a look at some of the extracts - fruit and otherwise - you've suggested in the why did I buy that? post

When you're using fruit extracts - and, indeed, most extracts - you'll be adding them to the cool down phase at around 0.5%. For something like a shampoo, lotion, or other thick product, I like to pour a little heated water at 45˚C to 50˚C (the temperature of our cool down phase)  - not much, maybe 5 to 10 ml - into the powdered extract and mix until it dissolves. Then I add it to the product and mix well. If I'm adding it to something like a mister or toner - something that's pretty much all water - I don't bother dissolving it!

Here's a blast from the past (March 10, 2010) with a post on strawberries!

Strawberries are outstanding! We have local strawberries every year, and I can't help but buy a basket at the farm drive-throughs to be eaten the moment I get home (although not this year! SIGH!) And I love strawberry extract (INCI: Fragaria vesca (strawberry) fruit extract), which we can find in a powdered and liquid form (the liquid generally contains water or a humectant and the powder).

This extract is recommended for oily skin to help with sebum production and large pores. It is an astringent powder, thanks to the hydroxybenzoic acid gallic acid, a great wound and burn healer as well as an astringent. Chlorogenic acid is recommended for acne prone skin as it offers anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidizing properties.

The phytosterol kaempferol offers amazing anti-oxidizing and free radical scavenging properties, as well as anti-inflammatory help for reddened skin, an increase in skin's barrier protection abilities, a reduction in transepidermal water loss (TEWL), a reduction in itching and dry skin, and help improving the quality of weather damaged skin.

Strawberry extract contains Vitamin C, a great anti-oxidizing and chelating ingredient.

One of the main features of strawberry extract is the ellagic acid, which you might remember from pomegranate and borage oil and mango butter. It is being used as a post-sun exposure ingredient to prevent freckling and spots that might arise after UV exposure. It appears ellagic acid is a tyrosine inhibitor (tyrosine plays a role in melanin synthesis or melanogenesis). It can also reduce the destruction of collagen and act as an anti-inflammatory. One bonus is ellagic acid can help regenerate skin cells, which may lead to thickened skin, which can help reduce the look of aging.

Strawberries contain anthocyanidins and anthocyanins (not to be confused with proanthocyanidins and procyanadins from green tea extract), which are water soluble flavonoids that give colour and protection to plants. (They are anthocyanins when they contain a glucose molecule, anthocyanidins when they don't.) They are very good anti-oxidants, scavenging those free radicals that lead to rancidity and spoilage. The colour is dependent upon pH - when the solution is below ph 3 (very acidic), the colour is red. At neutral pH (7), they show violet, and above pH 11 (very basic) they show blue. (They can be used to determine pH level at home!) Strawberries contain between 15 to 20 mg of anthocyanidins and anthocyanins in 100 grams of fruit.

So what does this all mean for us when we use strawberry extract? We can use it at up to 0.5% in water containing creations when we dissolve it in warm water and add it to the cool down phase for some great anti-oxidant, astringent, and anti-bacterial features. A huge down side for strawberry extract - it is really hard to preserve.

POINT OF INTEREST! I'm a good preserver: I have had the odd batch of product go off after a long period of time, but strawberry extract is a mould magnet! I can make a toner with strawberry extract today and two weeks from now it will start to grow ick (and you know there's ick in there long before I can see it!), so I suggest that you use strawberry extract only in products you can refrigerate or use in a really short period of time. You can try using two preservatives together to keep it nicer longer (for instance 1% Germaben II and 0.5% Germall Plus) but it is an extract that doesn't play well with water. And don't even think about using it in a clay mask unless you make it every single time! Clay is a great breeding ground for ick, and combined with strawberry extract it will go bad very very quickly no matter how well you preserve it.

Is it worth it given all these problems? I say, yes! Strawberry extract not only has great label appeal - everyone loves strawberries! - but it's a great inclusion in facial cleansers or toners meant for oily, large pored, or acne prone skin. It's probably not the best ingredient for newbies who are unsure about their ability to preserve, but if you're a confident formulator, you can work with strawberry powder in your products. I personally wouldn't use it in a lotion as there are too many things that can go wrong. Stick to toners, sprays, cleansers, and surfactant mixtures with strawberry extract. Or consider using it in a gel toner just for a change from the liquid stuff!

Are you working with strawberry extract? What do you find works for you? Share your thoughts!

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating with fruit extracts! 


Lise M Andersen said...

Absolutely LOVED this posting Susan! So thorough! thanks so much! I used liquid strawberry extract in my skin tonics for a while, but seriously, I felt absolutely no difference - even after a long period of use, so finally dropped it.

onewomanglamsquad said...

I'm not sure if any research has been done in exactly the concentration that would be required to achieve noticeable benefits from a strawberry extract in a product. Perhaps this is why Lise didn't notice much of a difference?

Then again, how rigorous were the studies that showed strawberry extract had a benefit at all....

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

And that's always the question when we're taking a look at ingredients - are there any studies? If so, are they good studies? Who completed them? Do they have a vested interest in the product? What was the study size, control group, length of time, concentration of the ingredient, and so on? (I'm a big fan of the scientific method!)

I used the powder at 0.5% in a toner, and I quite liked it. I can't say I saw my pores getting smaller (mainly because they're huge!) but I did feel that my skin felt less oily than usual. That could have been due to a number of different variables (humidity, weather, amount of running around I did that day or week, ingredients in the toner, and so on), but it could have been due to the strawberry extract. I haven't made this toner again as it was really hard to preserve, so I can't say for sure, but I did think it was a nice addition at least for the colour!

Anonymous said...


I just ordered strawberry powder and i want to use it in emulsified sugar scrub for body. Im planning to use only oils and Polawax, i am not adding any water (still using preservative). Can you tell me how much i can use it in this kind of scrub?

Thanks a lot!


This is interesting because I found strawberry extract at making cosmetics and they say shelf life is two years and they use phenoxyethenol as preservative. I wonder if you were to add more of that preservative to your toner if it would last longer than two weeks.i am interested to know if there have been any more studies regarding the pore reducing effect of this since your post or more studies regarding preserving this. Or is this 2 yrs shelf life because it isn't in a finished product?

Shannon said...

I've played with powdered strawberry extract and have been leaving it in water to see what happens etc. I really want to make a dry mask with a mixture of clays and extracts and clients add their own liquid (water, etc). Has anyone had any results and/ or problems with this? I've tested it but I would like to have some additional experiences outside of my own test subjects.


Chris Karagiannis said...

Hi there! I also would like to know if it can be moxed with dry ingredients in a mask where the customer adds her own liquid! Your blog is so educational and fun! Thank you

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Chris and Shannon! Sure, you can use it that way. Just make sure your customers are very aware that they can't mix it in advance and store it.