Writing in Industrial Crops and Products, researchers from the University of Antioquia in Colombia looked at all plant species listed in the European Commission’s (EC) CosIng database, identifying those present in Latin America and then investigating certain properties. Specifically, the team looked at: UV-filtering, UV-absorbing, bleaching, skin-protecting, and antioxidant functions, using in vitro assays for analysis.
Findings showed that whilst only half of the registered plants in CosIng were currently commercialised as cosmetic ingredients, 9% listed in the database were from Latin American plants. Furthermore, 28% of the plants registered in CosIng occurred in Colombia.
Achiote shrub, cacao tree and açaí palm power
Experimental analysis showed the Latin American plant extracts highest in skin protective activity were the Achiote shrub (Bixa Orellana), Cacao tree (Theobroma cacao), and Araza fruit tree (Eugenia stipitate). Each of these extracts had the capacity to inhibit collagenase, elastase, and hyaluronidase enzymes, the researchers said.
Plant extracts identified as having the highest antioxidant capacity were the Achiote shrub (B. Orellana) and Açaí palm (Euterpe oleracea), each carrying a high phenol content and spectrophotometric sun protection factor (SPF) value.
Achiote shrub (B. Orellana), Açaí palm (Euterpe oleracea), and Araza fruit tree (Eugenia stipitate) also showed photoprotective properties in human dermal fibroblasts due to the reduction of cell death, matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) production, and reactive oxygen species (Ros) production and an increase in pro-collagen production after ultraviolet (UV) exposure.
“Some studies have focused on identifying the potential cosmetic use of Latin American plants. However, their commercial use is not possible due to their limited availability as raw materials, their safety has not been proven, and their lack of inclusion in international lists,” the researchers wrote.
‘Sustainable and short-term commercial exploitation’
However, the researchers said this analysis provided a succinct list of Latin American plants with possible cosmetic applications, already listed in CosIng, and showed “the great potential of Latin American plant biodiversity in the cosmetics industry and its low commercial exploitation in contrast with Asiatic plant biodiversity”.
Importantly, the analysis of the CosIng database combined with experimental assays made it possible to highlight Latin American plant species with the potential for “relatively immediate commercial use in cosmetic ingredients and products because they are wild-harvested or cultivated plants”.
Whilst further work would be needed to incorporate these plant ingredients into cosmetic formulations and develop sustainable, innovative and commercial final products, the researchers said the list clearly presented the antioxidant and skin protection potential of certain extracts.
Source: Industrial Crops and Products
Published: February 2020; Volume 144. Doi: 10.1016/j.indcrop.2019.112007
Title: “CosIng database analysis and experimental studies to promote Latin American plant biodiversity for cosmetic use”
Authors: K. Bravo et al.