Style.com

July 28 2014

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An Instant Pick-Me-Up for Parched Summer Skin

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glamglow-powermud-dualcleanse-treatmentVELVET PLANT (vel-vit plant) /n. / 1. A biennial flowering herb native to Europe and the Mediterranean, Verbascum thapsus (commonly referred to as mullein, and nicknamed velvet plant, lady’s foxglove, and donkey’s ears) was introduced to North America in the 1700s. /2. / With the potential to reach heights of 10 feet, the sturdy stalk was dipped into animal fat and used as a torch by ancient Romans and during the California Gold Rush. The soft, feltlike leaves have also earned it the sobriquet of “cowboy toilet paper” in the Western U.S. /3. / This botanical is rich in amino acids that replenish and build the skin’s lipid layer to defend against external irritants. Some native tribes apply a powder of the root to soothe rashes, sores, and skin irritations. /4. / Because of velvet plant’s innate emollient properties, traditional medicine practitioners used the dried flowers in teas or syrups to alleviate a sore throat or bronchitis—e.g., “Nix a bothersome cough or soothe an irritated complexion with velvet plant.”

Try it: Glamglow Powermud Dualcleanse Treatment, $69; sephora.com

Put Down Your Flatiron—Nature’s Frizz Fighter Has Arrived

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CASSAVA ROOT (ca-sa-va root) / n./ 1./ A type of plant native to South America, it’s often eaten as a carb-heavy side dish in subtropical regions. / 2./ In its dried, powdery state, it’s what we know as tapioca; as a powder, it also can be used as laundry starch. / 3./ The ingredient has been tested by some countries to be used as a source of bioethanol, a type of fuel./ 4./ When applied to hair, these plant fibers block humidity and help smooth it down—e.g., “A dollop of cassava root every morning will help keep your strands straight during the dog days of summer.”

Try it: Aveda Smooth Infusion Naturally Straight, $26; aveda.com

Photo: Getty; Courtesy of Aveda

Eat Your Greens—and Slather Them on Your Skin

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perriconeCHLOROPHYLL (klor-uh-fil) / n./ 1./ A pigment that gives plants and algae their green color and is used during photosynthesis to trap energy from the sun. / 2./ Rich in enzymes and amino acids, this biomolecule is found in green produce such as kale, parsley, sprouts, wheat grass, and seaweed. / 3./ Research has found that chlorophyll acts as a blocking agent against carcinogens and protects cells from DNA damage. / 4./ Because of its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, it has been used therapeutically to soothe wounds. / 5./ A trendy water additive, chlorophyll extract is thought to hike up energy levels by increasing oxygen in the blood. / 6./ Topically, the pigment helps pull impurities from skin and boosts radiance—e.g., “Beat fatigue and perk up your complexion with chlorophyll.”

Try It: Perricone MD Chloro Plasma, $75; sephora.com

Get the Skinny on the Beauty-Boosting Benefits of Indigo

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With it being denim week at Style.com, we thought of no better time to delve into the beautifying properties of indigo, or Indigofera tinctoria (the original and natural source of blue dye). Here, we break down its benefits:

INDIGO (in-di-goh)/ (n.)/ 1./ Grown mainly in tropical and temperate parts of Asia and Africa, this plant (known scientifically as Indigofera tinctoria) was traditionally cultivated to be used as a coloring agent. The dye is crafted through a process that includes soaking the shrub’s leaves in water, fermenting them, mixing the resulting solution with sodium hydroxide, and pressing it into cakes to dry. / 2./ India was the major supplier and center for indigo in the Old World, often exporting it throughout the globe to locations like Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Peru, and Iran—where it was valued as a luxury product and often referred to as Blue Gold. / 3./ During the Edo Period in Japan when silk was outlawed, samurai wore indigo-dyed cotton underneath their armor to help heal injuries. / 4./ Farmers also rotate this legume through their fields to improve the soil. / 5./ Applied topically, this botanical contains two actives—tryptanthrin and indirubin—which can help relieve sensitive, inflamed, and dry skin; e.g., “Brighten your blue jeans or soothe a cranky complexion with indigo.”

Try it: Tatcha Indigo Soothing Renewal Treatment, $98, tatcha.com; or in scent form via Nest Indigo Eau de Parfum Spray (a blend of Moroccan tea, Kashmir wood, black cardamom, and bergamot), $65, sephora.com

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Photo: Tommy Ton; Courtesy of Tatcha and Nest

SK-II Harnesses the Power of the Artichoke

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sk-ii-essential-oilARTICHOKE EXTRACT (ar-tee-choke ex-tract)/ (n.)/ 1./ Also known as Cynara scolymus, it is extracted from the leaves of the nutrient- and mineral-rich perennial thistle vegetable. / 2./ Native to North America, Europe, and the Mediterranean, the artichoke is one of the oldest cultivated edible plants, its use dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. / 3./ As a stimulant of bile secretion due to a high concentration of cynarin, the leaf extract has cholesterol-lowering properties and a restorative impact on the liver. / 4./ Research has shown that cynaropicrin, a bioactive compound found within the extract, inhibits free-radical formation and inflammation, preventing UVB-induced skin damage. / 5./ Known for its potency as a natural aphrodisiac, the artichoke was reserved solely for male consumption in the 16th century; e.g., “Boost a dull complexion or a dreary love life with artichoke extract.”

Try it: SK-II Essential Power Essence Serum, $185; saks.com