Nature’s ability to serve our beauty needs is pretty incredible and, to be honest, sometimes underrated. For example, sweet, gooey Honey has been used historically to combat acne, a touch of Caffeine can improve those pesky undereye bags, Nut Butters and Oils are celebrated for their nourishing and hydrating properties, and plant botanicals can help protect and improve our skin.
Today we’re focusing on one specific (not to mention beautiful) botanical — Peony, a creamy, pale pink flower with ruffled layers of petals.
“Peonies, along with other flowers, have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries,” says Dr. Kelly Bickle, a board-certified dermatologist base in Santa Monica, California. “Most often the root, and less commonly the flower and seeds, are used to make medicines. Peony Extract is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.”
Historically (and even through today), Peony served as primarily an herbal remedy for a variety of physical ailments, including gout, arthritis, respiratory tract infections, menstrual cramps, liver disease, seizures, nerve pain, and migraines. Today, Peony is also being used in cosmeceutical and skincare formulations. You can find even find it in the bareMinerals Skinlongevity Vital Power Moisturizer Broad Spectrum with SPF 30.
Let’s explore why Peony is the pretty pink skincare hero our skin deserves.
The Skincare Benefits of Peony
Like many other botanical ingredients, Peony boasts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which makes it particularly useful in skincare.
“As Peony can provide antioxidant benefits, this ingredient can help to protect the skin from free radical damage induced by UV radiation,” notes Dr. Jeanette M. Black, a board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills,California. “For that reason, this ingredient pairs well with sunscreens and helps to further protect skin from oxidative damage from the sun’s harmful radiation.”
In layman’s terms, that means that Peony can help to protect your skin from oxidative stress it’s subjected to every single day. Those who live in sunny climates, spend a lot of time outdoors, or in cities where pollutants run amok can especially benefit from that. Skin that’s better protected from these stressors are less likely to develop premature wrinkling and fine lines, sun spots, and uneven texture.
Dr. Black points out that this is one reason why we see Peony in various skin brightening products. Those aren’t all the potential benefits of Peony, though.
“Peonies contain another compound call paeonol, which is thought to be antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory,” says Dr. Bickle. “This makes it good for treating a variety of skin conditions. [For example], Paeonol is thought to activate the skin’s natural defense mechanisms and help it to regenerate, thereby toning and firming the epidermis.”
(We’d like to note that initial studies on Peony are quite promising and that we’re very eager to see more studies conducted to confirm these findings, as well.)
Which Skin Types Benefit Most?
Peony can serve a number of different skin types, but is especially ideal for anyone who wants to take steps to help brighten their complexion and improve firmness. We also recommend Peony-infused skincare products for those who spend a lot of time outdoors or for who live in the city and want to further protect their skin from free radical damage.
When Should You Apply Peony?
Speaking of free radicals… Because of Peony’s antioxidant properties, this ingredient will serve you best when used in the morning. That’s one of reasons why we formulated our SKINLONGEVITY Vital Power Moisturizer, which puts Peony in the spotlight, with a broad-spectrum SPF of 30.
This particular product features a lightweight, non-greasy formulation and should be applied as the final step in your morning skincare routine right before you put on makeup. And remember — your foundation doesn’t protect you adequately from UV rays even if it has an SPF.
Should You Not Mix Peony with Other Ingredients?
Unlike some of the harsher ingredients out there, such as retinol or BHAs and AHAs, Peony can be easily layered and combined with other ingredients without worry.
Try it on top of AGELESS 10% Phyto-Retinol* Night Concentrate, which is formulated with peptides and vitamin A; or in conjunction with AGENESS Phyto-Retinol* Eye Cream, which contains super hydrating Shea Butter, numerous botanical extracts and Gold.
How Often Should You Use Skincare Products with Peony?
More good news! You can use products containing peony as often as you prefer — even if that’s every single day.
Some Considerations to Keep in Mind About Peony in Skincare
Although Peony has the ability to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays, that doesn’t mean it’s a true replacement for your sunscreen. (Again, that’s one reason why we formulated our Skinlongevity Vital Power Moisturizer with additional SPF). Consider it an ingredient that complements — even augments — the benefits of sunscreen.
Also, there’s always potential for botanical skincare ingredients to cause some reaction on the skin. If your skin is sensitive, or if you’ve experienced irritation from the use of other botanical extracts in the past, we highly recommend doing a patch test before slathering all over.
To do this, apply the product to a hidden area — such as on your neck under our hair, or on the interior of your arm — and watch the area carefully for 24 hours. If you notice any redness, tingling, itching, or pain, then this probably isn’t the ingredient for you. However, if your skin looks good then go ahead and apply to your face.
Doesn’t all the above make you want to give Mother Nature a big high five? Its ability to provide for us — in countless ways — is truly worthy of applause.
*Plant-based retinol alternatives.