Since ancient times, plants have adapted sophisticated mechanisms to ensure their survival. These functionalities have been brought to light under the lens of modern research technologies.
For example, some plants produce ampholytic macromolecular polysaccharides to absorb more water than typical polysaccharides. Extremophiles may produce secondary metabolites, glycoprotein stress modifiers, and osmotically active amino acids and sugars to survive their habitats. Perhaps the most common adaptive chemistries in plants in general are antioxidants.
We still have much to learn from our botanical neighbors but science is already translating what we know to benefit human life across sectors, cosmetics among them. Recent work by Burt’s Bees provides a good example.
Turmeric, known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, was integrated into a healing lip balm, which was shown to improve the product’s benefits. Hemali Gunt (HG), Ph.D., head of clinical scientific affairs for Burt’s Bees, explained in a recent interview. Following is an adapted excerpt.
C&T: Why use turmeric in a lip balm?
HG: Most lip balms contain moisturizing ingredients and emollients, which form an occlusive barrier on the lips and provide hydration; and that’s good—that is what we want on a regular basis. But when you are treating extremely severe dry lips, with cracking and chapping going on, you want something additional.
So why turmeric? Because when there is irritation in the lips, that is a low-grade inflammation. You want something that is going to soothe that inflammation. And in general, our skin is metabolically active, so there is also free radical generation happening. With both inflammation and free radical damage going on, that is where the antioxidative properties of turmeric come into play.
That is the reason we chose this ingredient and added it to the other moisturizing ingredients—to be able to heal and repair the lips quickly and in a natural manner. This was the rationale behind the addition of the ingredient.