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Here’s the Scoop on the 6 Most Popular Botanical Skincare Ingredients

A brown jar of yellow cream, a white jar with pink gel, a clear bottle of green cleanser
Youth to the People/Fresh/Youth to the People

Botanical-based skincare doesn’t have to feel overwhelming! Here are some of the most popular ingredients you’ll see in the botanical skincare trend and great products that incorporate them.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, the general trend centers on plant-derived ingredients, rather than synthetic, heavily processed ingredients, as part of the “clean beauty” movement that aims to use more natural products. Although it can feel intimidating to read labels with all these unexpected ingredients, it’s actually pretty easy to navigate once you know a little bit! Here is a rundown of the most popular ingredients and where you can find them.

Tea Tree Oil

A green tube of cleanser with leaves arranged next to it
Biossance

Tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of the Australian tea tree—no, not the same plant that makes the teas you drink! The oil is a natural anti-inflammatory agent and may have antibacterial properties, which makes it a popular ingredient in skincare. As a topical treatment, tea tree oil can help to soothe and purify irritated skin and reduce the appearance of blemishes.

This Biossance tea tree cleansing gel uses tea tree oil as one of its active ingredients to gently remove impurities. It also uses magnesium, which has similar purifying properties, as well as plant-derived squalane to keep your face hydrated and moisturized.

It might seem counterintuitive to add oil to your face if you’re struggling with blemishes, but in some cases, a few drops of a well-made balancing oil actually can help! Biossance’s tea tree balancing oil absorbs quickly and contains tea tree oil and squalane to address inflammation, as well as providing hydration so your face doesn’t go into dried-out overdrive and produce more oil that clogs your pores.

Caffeine

Two open jars of a yellow cream, surrounded by sliced fruit pieces on a green background
Youth to the People

Think caffeine is just for energy from the inside out? Think again! Just as drinking caffeinated beverages can rejuvenate and revive your energy levels, caffeine in skincare can help refresh tired skin. It’s an especially helpful ingredient to address concerns such as tired, dull skin or dark undereye circles.

Try this Youth to the People Resurfacing + Exfoliating Energy Facial to introduce a caffeine-based product into your routine. The facial uses both physical and chemical exfoliants to remove dead skin cells and reveal the fresh, glowing skin underneath. While bamboo and diatomaceous earth function as microexfoliants, enzymes from papaya and pineapple extracts break down dead skin. To finish it off, the caffeine in yerba mate and guayasa helps produce more radiant, “awake” skin.

If dark circles are one of your biggest concerns, The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% might be your new best friend. Just a few drops of this high-concentration but lightweight serum contains 5% caffeine, boosted with cathechin extracted from green tea leaves—both ingredients that tend to reduce puffiness and darkness in the delicate skin around the eye area.

Turmeric

A round vial of an orange jelly substance, with a pink lid tilted half-off
First Aid Beauty

Bright, beautiful turmeric is good for more than just using in the kitchen. The popular plant can address several different skincare goals, from brightening skin to reducing irritation and protecting against damage from aging and environmental factors.

First Aid Beauty’s Hello FAB Ginger & Turmeric Jelly Mask combines turmeric with a related plant, ginger, for a high level of superfood benefits. These crucial ingredients work together to calm and cool the skin while reducing inflammation and redness. The mask even includes Vitamin C to help with brightening and reviving the skin.

Turmeric can pair with any number of other natural ingredients, typically in masks that are meant to have a serious impact in a short amount of time. The KORA Organics Turmeric BHA Brightening Mask does just that, combining the brightening and evening effects of tumeric with beta hydroxy acid, derived from aspen bark, to unclog pores and reduce blemishes.

Rose or Rosehip

Fresh Rose Face Mask

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet … and have as many skincare benefits. Rose is a key ingredient in some cult-favorite skincare products, providing natural anti-inflammatory properties as well as a knack for improving skin texture and radiance. Plus, rose-based skincare smells amazing, without any of the irritation that tends to come from artificial scents.

The Fresh Rose Face Mask uses rose in two unique ways. Rosewater works as a toner, soothing the skin and helping to even out texture and appearance. Then, suspended in the gel mask itself, you’ll find tiny pieces of real rose petals, suspended in a cooling gel made from spa-favorite ingredients like aloe vera and cucumber.

Packed with rejuvenating ingredients, Biossance’s Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil is a multi-purpose facial oil. It hydrates and locks in moisture without a heavy or greasy texture, while the rose oil improves radiance, the vitamin C visibly brightens, and chios crystal oil boosts collagen production to help firm the skin.

Green Tea

Four bottles of pale green cleanser, three sitting on top of a brown box
Youth to the People

Like caffeine, green tea is one of those plant-based ingredients that’s as popular for external use as it is for consuming as a beverage. Those same benefits that make green tea so popular to drink—especially its antioxidants—produce similar results for the skin, reducing signs of aging and helping revive skin to fight the damage done by environmental factors.

This Youth to the People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser is packed with green goodness. Just as greens like kale, spinach, and green tea are proven to help cleanse and refresh your body, they’re here to refresh your skin. Kale provides a rich blend of nutrients to revitalize the skin, while spinach soothes and the antioxidants in green tea fight aging and dullness—all without overdrying the skin.

Green tea is a natural choice for cleansers, but it also works wonders when used in products that stay on your face longer. For instance, this Boscia Green Tea Moisturizer uses the soothing, refreshing benefits of green tea to balance the skin and help prevent the over-production of sebum that tends to cause blemishes and breakouts.

Elderberry

A green tube of facial cleanser sitting in a pile of small dark berries
Biossance

Elderberry works on multiple levels to help replenish and protect your skin from a myriad of concerns. With natural antioxidants, it works to fight visible signs of aging and protect from environmental damage, and its gentle anti-inflammatory properties work to soothe the skin and reduce the appearance of redness and blemishes.

This Squalane + Elderberry Jelly Cleanser from Biossance does everything you need a cleanser to do, all while adding nutrients to the skin rather than stripping them away. The bright pink gel contains elderberry extract, a rich source of antioxidants that help refresh the skin and reduce signs of damage. Plus, the cleanser includes a probiotic complex to support balanced and radiant skin.

Elderberry also works well in a mask treatment, like this Paula’s Choice Super Hydrate Overnight Mask. It’s just one of several ingredients, along with shea butter, reishi mushroom, and cloudberry, that work together to calm skin, reduce redness and dryness, and replenish moisture through an overnight treatment.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »

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