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While there are plenty of great “anti-aging” products on the market, most derms will tell you that Botox is the only surefire way to make wrinkles disappear. The injectable neurotoxin works by freezing certain muscle groups in your face to prevent movement — which causes lines in the first place — to eventually give you smoother skin. But if you don’t want to go under the needle just yet (or… ever), there’s an effervescent ingredient that might be the best: Hibiscus, which has become commonly known as “nature’s Botox.”
Let’s get one thing straight: whatever the nickname may imply, the Hawaiian flower won’t give you the same results as an injectable. “There’s a reason everything new is compared to Botox: There really isn’t a replacement for neurotoxin until now,” says Corey L. Hartman, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist at Skin Wellness Dermatology in Alabama. However, it has plenty of skin-altering properties that are as close to a topical ingredient as possible.
Below, the pros discuss the benefits of hibiscus skin care, so you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth adding to your routine to avoid injectables.
The benefits of hibiscus skin care
1. Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
Instead of freezing your facial muscles like Botox does, hibiscus works to reduce fine lines and wrinkles by significantly reducing the elastase activity in your skin. Elastase is an enzyme in your body that is responsible for breaking down elastin, leading to signs of aging. “Elastin is an essential protein naturally produced in the body that helps the skin maintain its shape. When elastin breaks down, you see sagging, sagging skin,” says Dr. Hartman. By reducing the amount of elastase in your body, hibiscus helps your skin maintain its natural elastin content, keeping it firmer over time.
In addition, hibiscus has been shown to suppress the activity of collagenase (the enzyme that breaks down collagen as we age), helping to prevent and smooth wrinkles.
Because light bounces off a smooth surface more easily than a textured surface, Botox’s wrinkle-reducing properties have the added bonus of making skin look dewy and radiant. Thanks to its exfoliating properties, hibiscus offers similar effects to make your complexion so smooth that it almost shines. According to Dr. Hartman contains the ingredient “AHAs” [alpha-hydroxy acids]AKAs [alpha-keto acids]and BHAs [beta-hydroxy acids that] exfoliate the skin to remove dead skin cells to reveal newer, brighter skin. Casey Georgeson, founder of Saint Jane Beauty, adds that this high concentration of chemical exfoliators “can retexturize the skin and reduce discoloration such as age spots.”
3. Calms Inflammation
Most skin-enhancing products marketed as “just like Botox” tend to be abrasive on the skin (think: tretinoin, chemical peels, and laser treatments), but hibiscus stands out from the crowd. According to Macrene Alexiades, MD, PhD, PLLC, a double board-certified dermatologist in NYC and founder of Macrene Actives, the ingredient offers medicinal benefits that actually help calm rather than causing inflammation. It contains protocatechuic acid (or PCA for short) and quercetin, two antioxidants that soothe inflamed skin and protect it from the free radical damage it causes in the first place.
4. Protects Against Environmental Stressors
The pros we spoke to all mentioned hibiscus as a great source of ascorbic acid, the most potent form of antioxidant-rich vitamin C, which provides evening brightening and skin-toning benefits. It also contains myricetin, an antioxidant that supports elastin production and suppresses UVB-induced wrinkles, plus a slew of B vitamins. All of these antioxidants work together to protect against the oxidative stress-inducing environmental stressors that lead to signs of skin aging (think: pollution and UV damage), leaving your complexion plump, resilient and radiant.
There is a solid reason why Georgeson says that “the benefits of hibiscus are many and incredible.” In addition to preserving elastin, exfoliating dead skin cells and protecting the skin from oxidation, “hibiscus also moisturizes via mucus, the super-effective moisturizing goo found in hibiscus flowers,” says Athena Hewett, a holistic esthetician and the founder of Monastery. skin care.
Who can (and shouldn’t) use hibiscus in their skincare routine?
“For most people, there is little to no risk if you include hibiscus in your skincare routine,” says Dr. Hartman. The only caveat? “You should always use sunscreen if you are using a product with AHAs, BHAs or AKAs. They make the skin more sensitive to UV rays, so it’s extra important to protect your skin on a daily basis,” he says. He goes on to explain that people with severe acne who are taking oral or topical antibiotics or prescriptions should consult their dermatologist before adding hibiscus to their routine.
Hewet also mentions that pregnant people may want to go light with hibiscus. “It is [technically] fine to use topically, but not internally during pregnancy,” she says. “In an abundance of caution, perhaps it should be avoided during pregnancy.
Buy Hibiscus skin care
BYROE Hibiscus Tea Glow Mist – $63.00
This formula provides moisturizing, soothing and refreshing benefits within seconds of spraying it on your skin. As one reviewer puts it: “This mist makes my face feel super glowy and looks great with or without makeup, but doesn’t leave my skin greasy or oily. It just leaves it refreshed and plump.”
Saint Jane Hydrating Petal Cream – Hyaluronic + Vitamin C Daily Moisturizer – $68.00
The texture of this cream is described as “silky floral”, which makes sense as it uses the moisturizing properties of hibiscus flower along with hyaluronic acid. And the active ingredient benefits don’t stop there: it also contains vitamin C for brightening, skin tone and protection, plus CBD to soothe inflammation and redness.
Cat Burki Dual Exfoliating Clay – $98.00
This formula has some serious exfoliating power. It has hibiscus petals, cranberry fiber and jojoba fiber for a gentle exfoliation of the skin, plus glycolic acid to kick things up a notch. The addition of kaolin clay, a known detoxifier, will further help to keep the skin clear and free of breakouts.
Honua Hawaiian Skincare Hibiscus Hyaluronic Acid Beauty Booster Serum – $54.00
This “beauty-enhancing” formula doubles as your daily moisturizing and protective serum. It has hyaluronic acid, which is famous for holding 1000 times its weight in water; astaxanthin, a marine ingredient native to Hawaii, said to be an even more potent antioxidant than vitamin C; and of course hibiscus.
Besoma Glow Goddess Original Serum – $49.00
This serum takes the skin-soothing properties of hibiscus to the next level by combining it with willow bark extract, a BHA that unclogs pores and gives your skin a glowing finish.
Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Moisturizing Mist – $34.00
“Flower power” is the name of the game with this botanical serum, which combines hibiscus extract with rose water to hydrate and smooth the skin and reduce redness. Spritz it throughout the day for a quick refresh, or use it between skincare steps to keep your complexion hydrated so serums can penetrate better.
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Our editors select these products independently. Making a purchase through our links can earn Well+Good a commission.