Sea buckthorn is not a skincare ingredient you often hear about. Its praises aren’t typically sung in cosmetics campaigns, and few celebrities talk about its benefits. Once you know about this little orange berry and the wonders it can work on the body, though, you may wonder why.
Sea buckthorn (hippophae rhamnoides) plants are native to Central Asia and parts of Europe, and the berries have been used by people around the world for centuries. Medical histories from the 8th century A.D. noted the medicinal and nutritional value of the fruit, and there are references to sea buckthorn in ancient Greek and Tibetan medical texts. Some historians believe the plant may even have been cultivated by a plant breeder many centuries ago, because it is remarkably rich in vitamins and nutrients. Legend has it that the Greeks fed the berries to their racehorses, thus its botanical name, “hippophae,” which means “shiny horse.”
The oil and juice expressed from the berries offer an abundance of healing properties for the skin, which is why they are now found in a host of skincare products. Those created for dry, mature skin are especially common. “Sea buckthorn has a very complex and unique lipidic content,” says Angela Eriksen-Stanley, director of education for Phytomer. The oil found in the berry is a rich source of omega-3, -6, and the rare omega-7 acids and is easily absorbed by the skin. It’s these fatty acids that help to both moisturize skin as well as support its lipid barrier. “As we age, our skin’s ability to retain moisture weakens, it loses elasti-city, and our cells divide slower,” says Rebecca Haight, spa director at Elements Spa Salon at the Great Wolf Lodge (Niagara Falls, Ontario). The spa offers a Deluxe Facial ($125, 80 minutes) using Éminence Organic Skin Care products that contain sea buckthorn. “By adding sea buckthorn topicals, we are adding moisture and helping to slow the aging process by enhancing cell regeneration,” says Haight, referring to the spa’s most popular facial.
Cell regeneration is indeed a big topic in the world of anti-aging these days, with many skincare companies now working to improve skin’s health and restore youthfulness from the inside. Sea buckthorn is a fantastic natural ingredient that offers these much sought-after benefits. “There is a great demand for a natural solution to the visible signs of aging, so when we discovered the multiple benefits of sea buckthorn for rejuvenating the skin and increasing elasticity, we decided it was the perfect foundation for our Firm Skin VitaSkin Solution,” says Stephanie Baresh, director of product development for Éminence Organic Skin Care. Many experts claim sea buckthorn oil is able to boost natural cell turnover, leaving skin vibrant, plump, and smooth. This could at least partially explain why researchers have found that the ingredient can help with wound healing.
Improved cellular regeneration can also be of benefit for those with acne. “In skin that is acne-prone or regularly breaks out, slow tissue regeneration can be a real issue, causing a simple breakout to last for a week or two,” says Eriksen-Stanley, who adds that this slow healing can lead to scarring. Using products with sea buckthorn oil is perfectly safe for those with oily skin, as it actually helps regulate sebum production. And its anti-inflammatory properties are soothing for those with acneic skin, too.
Sea buckthorn is also loaded with high levels of vitamins C and E, as well as pro-vitamin A. These vitamins—along with beta-carotene—act as free-radical scavengers that help maintain healthy, youthful skin. Looking for a way to bump up the antioxidant, and thus anti-aging, potential of a certain facial? Try adding products made with this berry. Combined with its skin moisturizing and plumping capabilities, this antioxidant effect makes sea buckthorn a well-rounded ingredient that’s perfect for mature skin. “Clients hoping to have their skin feel firmer and more hydrated, while seeing a reduction in fine lines, will be extremely pleased with their choice of a facial containing sea buckthorn, as they can see results after a single treatment,” says Haight.
For spa-goers looking to detox and deep-cleanse, sea buckthorn is again an ideal ingredient. It’s rich in sulfur, one of the main components of detoxification in the body. “Sea buckthorn is ideal for stimulating circulation, eliminating toxins, and warming muscles,” says Lesley Gordillo, spa director at Elemis Day Spa (Merrick Park, FL). Detoxifying foot treatments can also benefit from a dose of sea buckthorn. KENMEN-BC/ONE’s Foot Soldier Pedicure ($95 suggested, 60 minutes) aims to soothe inflammation and reduce swelling with a little help from the Mojito Sulfate-Free Shower Gel, which contains the ingredient.
Your guests can experience the powers of sea buckthorn beyond the treatment room. “Educating clients on the benefits of sea buckthorn makes it an easy item for them to continue using at home,” says Mindy Biggar, director of The Spa West 9th Street (Ontario, Canada), explaining the retail power of sea buckthorn products at her spa. Because sea buckthorn is an ingredient many clients may not be familiar with, explaining the berry’s benefits is essential. Try displaying a fact sheet about the ingredient at the check-in desk or including information on sea buckthorn in a digital frame found in the relaxation room. You could also try offering a sea buckthorn beverage—either tea or juice—to guests before or after they enter the treatment room. “We want our guests to be aware and educated on this natural ingredient and its amazing anti-aging benefits to the skin,” says Haight. This is a simple enough message, given the miracle berry’s many benefits, and one your spa clients are sure to want to hear, too.—Megan O’Neill