Trust me on this one.
Stretching approximately 750 miles and reaching elevations over 15,000 miles, the Alps are undeniably one of the most impressive mountain regions in the world. It's spread across France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Slovenia, and Austria — all of which embrace the beauty and power of its wilderness. Of course, the Alps are known for their elite ski resorts and breathtaking hikes, but what's often overlooked by the common person is the various, resilient flora.
Roughly 13,000 species have been identified in the region, with some living in elevations as high as 11,500 feet. Year-round, they survive extreme temperatures and harsh winds — not to mention, some plants grow in rocky areas.
Now, imagine your skin. More likely than not, it experiences more dryness and dehydration than usual during the cold winter months. "Much like cold winter months, dry air can strip the skin of essential oils leading to microscopic cracks in the outer skin layer," explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and the Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Manhattan's Mount Sinai Hospital. He furthers that the lack of moisture in the air depletes the skin of its natural moisture levels, leaving it itchy, red, and quenched.
And the solution to this problem can be found in the Alps.
The brains behind several of the most innovative skincare products have turned to alpine flora for their formulations. Considering how they endure and thrive in such extreme weather, the idea that they could turn around parched skin and make it supple and healthy is a logical one.
Founder of her eponymous Austria-based skincare brand Susanne Kaufmann tells InStyle that the local Alpine plants have been her main source of inspiration her entire life, and she sources many of her brand's active ingredients from the Austrian and Swiss Alps. (Rosemary, Alpine willowherb extract, spruce needle oil, marigold, and mountain pine oil, are just a few in the makeup of her work.)
They're scattered throughout her collections, and apart from having anecdotal benefits, the Derma Consult Concept GmbH in Bonn, Germany conducted clinical trials of several of Susanne Kaufmann's products to test their efficacy. The results were sent to InStyle, and they confirmed that the formulas support those with dry skin in a major way.
The brand's Nourishing Day Cream is a prime example. It uses alpine rose, which grows at high altitudes and has developed impressive strategies to protect itself from dehydration and the attack of free radicals. "It protects skin stem cells from environmental stress factors, increases the vitality of the cells, promotes skin regeneration, and strengthens the skin barrier," explains Kaufmann. Furthermore, Dr. Zeichner says it has soothing and calming properties. In the clinical studies of this product, an overwhelming majority of participants reported more hydrated skin after two weeks of use. Not to mention, a reduction in fine lines and overall brighter skin.
To shop: $80; susannekaufmann.com
Edelweiss is another flower commonly found in the Alpine region. Growing in rocky areas wherever a crevice is found, it's one of the most resilient out there — and that translates to skincare. In fact, Dr. Hadley King, a Manhattan-based board-certified dermatologist, previously shared with InStyle that a 2020 study demonstrated that edelweiss extracts provide strong antioxidant activity in response to UVB, anti-inflammatory effects, and increased moisturizing activity. "The in-vivo data demonstrated that topical application correlated with improved wrinkles, skin elasticity, dermal density, and skin thickness compared to placebo," she said.
It's why The Mandarin Oriental in Lucerne, Switzerland uses skincare with edelweiss front and center in the treatments at its Bellefontaine Spa. "It contributes effectively to protect hyaluronic acid and collagen against the damage generated by environmental aggressions," explains Maartje Raaijmakers, the hotel's Spa Manager, who calls the humble flower "a real Alpine 'survival star.'"
It really is, which is why it's featured in the the Barneys NY Beauty debut product line. Each product contains a proprietary antioxidant complex that works to improve skin tone, texture, and moisture retention. It's made up of eight rare and natural ingredients, including edelweiss.
To shop: $168; barneys-beauty.com
To further understand the magic of the Alps and the moisturizing secrets it holds, look beyond its flora and set your eyes on its glacial water instead. "It's the result of centuries-worth of pure mountain snow freezing into ice, only to be enriched with minerals as it melts and seeps slowly through layers of granite," explains La Prairie's Global Director Strategic Innovation & Science, Dr. Jacqueline Hill. Dr. Zeichner adds that glacial water tends to be free of impurities as it's derived from the snow itself, making it beneficial for people with dry and/or sensitive skin.
The brand's Crystal Micellar Water features mineral-rich Swiss glacial water and liquid crystal technology to purify, detoxify, and moisturize the skin. The water itself begins as rainfall before landing up in the mountains and turning to ice. From there, it makes its way downhill through the mountains' rocks, soil, and flora — absorbing with it all the minerals it comes in contact with. Dr. Hill explains that the water is sourced for this La Prairie product comes from Mount Titlis at 3,238 meters (106,23 feet) above sea level.
To shop: $150; laprairie.com
Having to survive extreme temperatures means that, inevitably, some form of wound-healing must come into place. Plants such as cowslip (which Dr. Zeichner explains has soothing and anti-inflammatory effects) and health speedwell are two of such and are renown for speeding up the healing process in tenfold, making them an effective agent in topical products to treat and prevent winter-related issues such as chapping. Swiss brand Luzern knows this, which is why they're standout heroes in several of their products.
"Many of the organic bio-actives extracted from the flowers, leaves and stems of these plants provide moisturizing care for dry and sensitive skin — they help skin attract and retain moisture much the way hyaluronic acid does," says Luzern co-founder Ralph Herbert. He furthers that the brand turned to the Swiss Alpine region for inspiration as the environment forces the plants to produce high levels of antioxidants and other nutrients necessary to survive these harsh conditions, making them ideal for skincare products.
To shop: $325; luzernlabs.com
Treating dry and dehydrated skin can be done with other types of ingredients too, of course. However, when thinking of natural ingredients and what each of them must do organically to survive millennia after millennia, it's undeniable that those that reside at monumental heights are some of the strongest, most resilient contenders. Now imagine what their powers can do their skin.
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Read the original article on InStyle.