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Hops are usually associated with beer – but it turns out they’re a potent beauty ingredient that soothes, revitalises and protects the skin.
If plants were divided into superhero categories then the humble hop would be part of the core team dispatched to protect and repair skin. As well as making beer taste good, hop extract is great for skin toning and treating dark spots, restoring elasticity, promoting hormonal balance and treating acne.
Hops are the hero ingredient in Oxygen Natural New Zealand Skincare, which uses certified organic hops from its own farm in the Tasman district.
Oxygen Natural New Zealand Skincare founder Alana Riley had always seen their organic hops used for beer but when researching the benefits of hops in relation to skin and haircare, she discovered hop extract is a strong calming agent.
Hops ( humulus lupulus) are high in bitter substances due to polyphenols, resins and essential oils and alpha acids. The two primary bitter principles are known as humulone and lupulone. Humulones have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin, decreasing surface blood vessels, toning and firming the skin, and delaying the ageing process.
Riley was inspired to create a 100 per cent natural and fresh hand cream for her sister-in-law who was in her final stages of a long battle with breast cancer.
“I was impacted by the number of chemicals in our personal products,” says Riley. As a mum of three teenagers, during the research phase she also came to realise that there was no natural skincare range in New Zealand specifically for teenagers.
“One of the primary focuses at Oxygen is assisting in the healing of problem skin conditions such as acne,” Riley says. Third-generation family hop farmers Riley and husband Colin Oldham, who are based in Tapawera, near Nelson, continue to supply their organic hops to craft beer brewers as well as using it for their ground-breaking skincare line.
The naturally active botanical extract keeps skin soft and supple and helps repair damaged skin, while encouraging collagen and elastin production. It’s particularly helpful for skin toning and reducing dark spots and has a soothing, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial action on acne-prone skin.
Oxygen’s 2 in 1 Cleanser for problem skin has been scientifically shown to help prevent the spread of acne-causing bacteria in in-vitro studies*. Oxygen’s other problem skin products include their Blemish/Acne Gel which assists in reducing the appearence and severity of blemishes in as little as 24 hours. A little goes a long way too, thanks to the concentrated formulations which don’t contain cheap mineral oils or fillers.
“We just use high-quality base oils, natural plant extracts and essential oils,” says Riley. “Botanical actives and natural aromas work in conjunction with the senses of touch and smell.
“Oxygen’s philosophy is that true beauty is all natural.”