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Beauty brands go outside the lab for ingredients

NEW YORK (AP) ― They do not quite stumble upon them, but high-tech, skin-care researchers and developers sometimes find new ingredients in unexpected places: under a rock, behind a tree, in the garden.

The tips to look outside the laboratory can come from traditional medicine, alternative medicine, folklore and history.

Just in the world of botanicals, where many beauty ingredients emerge, there is so much more exploring to do, says Dr. Marcus McFerren, a dermatologist and ethnobotanist based in Danbury, Connecticut, who recently consulted with Origins on its newest anti-aging, plant-based product called Plantscription. McFerren says fewer than 5 percent of plants have been tested, and fewer, of course, are used for cosmetic purposes.

“Sometimes with plants, you’ll find something that’s good, but you can’t use it commercially because it’s too rare or too hard to get, so you look for plants with similarities,’’ adds Lieve Declercq, a plant physiologist and molecular biologist for the brand.

Dr. Andrew Weil, a leading proponent of integrative medicine, says he has stumbled upon new ingredients in his travels or from his broader network of natural-product enthusiasts. He promotes use of evening-primrose oil, black currant oil and Japanese medicinal mushrooms, for example, in the treatment of the skin, particularly to reduce inflammation.

“I look for novel ingredients with useful properties that meet specific needs,” he says.

Sibu Beauty, a Salt Lake City-based family business, basically bet the farm on the sea buckthorn berry from the mountains of India.

Real-estate developers by trade, Peter McMullin had to stir their entrepreneurial spirit when the housing crisis hit.

Shoppers are hungry for plant-derived products, says Jane Lauder, global president and general manager of Origins. “We’re listening to the consumer who has concerns about prescriptions, and we’re looking for products that will match those results. We’re putting plant against prescription.”

Weil says researchers might not always have to look as far as they do. “I love to make people aware of the beneficial properties of common foods, herbs, spices and weeds.”
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