Who knew raspberries could be so deceptive? Turns out, these velvety little fruits aren’t actually berries at all, at least not by the scientific definition, which states that they consist of a single ovary with multiple seeds, such as grapes. Technically, raspberries are a compound fruit made up of several drupelets, each containing a single seed. Of course that doesn’t keep us from referring to them as berries, a term commonly used for any small edible fruit.
But no matter what their scientific classification, there’s no denying that raspberries are a mega-powerful food crammed into one small and delicious package. Native Americans used raspberries to relieve sore eyes while Europeans employed the juice as a cure for stomach ailments. In folk medicine, raspberry leaf tea is said to strengthen gums, combat skin rashes, and calm gastrointestinal issues.
In the spa industry, raspberry seed oil is regularly used for skincare. “Raspberries are high in unsaturated fatty acid and vitamins,” says Jaime Olander, esthetics specialist for Dr. Hauschka Skin Care. “The oil replenishes the skin’s hydrolipid mantle and soothes rough patches while also providing antioxidant protection.”
Antioxidant power is exactly why Rhonda Allison says she uses the tiny red fruit in her skincare line, adding that raspberries also have strong astringent properties. “Today, raspberry is used primarily to nourish and cleanse the skin,” she explains. “I’ve seen it used in facial cleansers, with other fruit acids to exfoliate skin, and in body lotions and massage oils. Some spas even use fresh raspberries in smoothie shooters or water to finish a treatment.”
Rhonda Allison’s Raspberry Lotion blends an extract of the crop with shea butter, resveratrol, and salicylic and other acids to inhibit bacteria and ease inflammation. This specific combination helps balance oil production and is particularly beneficial for spa-goers with sun damage or oily skin. At Spa Alana (Dana Point, CA), Raspberry Lotion can be applied right after a facial and followed with the brand’s Blemish Serum and Aloe Matte Moisture Cream. “The lotion is essentially a toner for acne-prone skin,” says Alana Mitchell, licensed esthetician and owner of the California day spa. “Raspberries contain drying properties that are really great at absorbing excess oil.” Clients with blemished skin can book the Spa Alana Signature European Facial ($95, 75 minutes), a completely customized experience designed to address personal skincare concerns like acne breakouts.
Raspberries are also beneficial in the fight against free radicals, adds Mitchell, helping repair skin cells that have been broken down by smoking, pollution, and exposure to radiation and chemicals. “They’re ranked with one of the highest Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacities (ORAC), the unit by which antioxidants are measured, and are full of nutrients and minerals,” says Mitchell. According to her, this makes raspberries a major player in the fight against the signs of aging.
Stephanie Baresh, marketing director for Éminence Organic Skin Care, explains that the vitamin C found in raspberries supports collagen production. “Raspberries also contain high levels of tannins and quercetin, which are great for reducing redness and minimizing large pores,”she says. Éminence features two raspberry-based products that are ideal for anti-aging. Made up of raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry juices, the Raspberry Pore Refining Masque comes with a high dose of vitamins boosted by coenzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve skin’s overall appearance. Then there’s the Raspberry Eye Masque, which is deeply hydrating and increases elasticity of the eye area. Besides raspberry, key ingredients for anti-aging in this product are gingko, hawthorn berries, and seabuckthorn berries.
When creating the Regenerating Day Cream in 2008, Dr. Hauschka product developers chose to incorporate raspberry seed, because it produces a fine and fruity oil that supports youthful-look- ing skin. “The cream was formulated specifically for mature skin types,” says Olander. “It’s a rich, moisturizing cream that supports the natural process of cellular renewal. As it refines and replenishes, the product visibly smoothes lines and wrinkles, leaving skin soft.”
At The Spa at Westglow Resort & Spa (Blowing Rock, NC), estheticians use Dr. Hauschka’s Regenerating Day Cream as a moisturizer at the end of an Anti-Aging Facial ($120, 60 minutes). The treatment is designed as a preventative measure to help decelerate the aging process. Afterward, spa-goers are treated to a refreshing cup of “spa tea,” a chilled raspberry and apple cider mixture that’s packed with antioxidants.
While raspberry typically works for most skin types, Allison advises that clients with allergies to any kind of berry should avoid products and treatments containing the fruit. However, she adds, “there is no toxic evidence to this ingredient for the skin.” And when it comes to ingredients that mix well with raspberry, Olander recommends elements rich in unsaturated essential fatty acids, such as seabuckthorn, and rose, because it invigorates and supports the skin’s natural renewal process. Pairing it with other berries, as Éminence does, also amplifies raspberry’s antioxidant value. Berry or not, this mini fruit packs a potent punch.