We had ashwagandha powders, bakuchiol serums and turmeric face masks… and this year, the beauty industry will go in search of another ancient Ayurvedic remedy.
As searches on Google have increased tenfold, and several brands are adding this ingredient to their lines, in 2023 Chebula will be a buzzword in cosmetics.
So what is it?
Terminalia Chebula (also called chebulic myrobalan, birhara, harada or haritaki) is a tree-growing fruit native to South Asia whose fruit extract and dried berries have been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to treat everything from digestive issues to disease and promote a healthy vision and brain function. In India, Tibet and Nepal, the berry is informally known as the “King of Medicine”.
Rich in luteic acid and gallic acid called chebulin, the ingredient is beginning to gain fame in the cosmetics sector under the name “Chebula”.
Chebula has been available as one of the many ingredients in several skin care products for some time (Paula’s Choice Super Hydrate Overnight Mask, for example), but only last year was it brought to the shelves as a standalone topical product.
American brand True Botanicals, launched in 2015, is making the most noise about Chebula so far with three standalone products: the chebula serum (which launched in 2021 and is already their best-selling product) and cream and cover sunscreen in 2022.
Olivia Wilde is a fan. “This product has completely cleansed and transformed my skin. I don’t want it to be a secret,” she is quoted on the brand’s website. “You’ll see the difference.”
Laura Dern also discovered True Botanicals on the set of Big Little Lies. “She was absolutely blown away by how these products transformed her skin to the point where she didn’t even have to put on foundation on a TV show,” says Sarina Godin, Chief Innovation Officer at True Botanicals, “so she personally wrote a letter of thanks to our founder Hillary Peterson!
So what are the main benefits of skin care?
It’s a strong antioxidant
With an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) score higher than acai, Chebula is a powerful antioxidant said to be more powerful than Vitamin C and E, meaning it has anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. “Chebula is one of the most bioactive and powerful antioxidants the skincare world has ever seen,” says Godin.
Heather Wish, Paula’s Choice Education Specialist, agrees: “In vitro studies show how Chebula has a protective effect on skin exposed to daylight. Chebula contains a rich source of antioxidants, and topical application will help the skin defend itself against various types of free radicals.”
When it comes to anti-aging, research is unanimous that antioxidants are essential, and the more you put on your skin, the better. antioxidants neutralize free radicals that damage the skin by clinging to collagen and weakening the skin’s elasticity. “Just like your diet, your skin needs a mix of healthy, beneficial nutrients,” Wish continues. “Skin is your body’s largest organ, so it’s important to nourish its surface with beneficial ingredients like antioxidants.”
And his powers are extremely long-lasting. “Where traditional antioxidants lose their potency within an hour of application, Chebula can continue to fight free radicals throughout the day,” explains Godin.
It’s a hard-hitting hydrator
Studies have shown that Chebula can increase skin moisture in a similar way to hyaluronic acid. A 2012 study found that “skin moisture content increased after application of the formulation throughout the study period.”
It can also reduce inflammation and soften the skin and help heal wounds due to its ability to increase cell production while reducing the production of free rays.
Helps fight photodamage, discoloration and melasma
Sheila Malmanis, founder of the American skincare line Derma MD, added Chebula to four of her products in the past year after seeing the hype around the ingredient on social media. By focusing on pigmentation, the addition of Chebula helped these products protect the skin from free radicals and UV damage, “which induce more melanin production and cause further pigmentation.”
“In my professional opinion, there wasn’t a specific antioxidant that could do everything Chebula does,” says Malmanis. “Daily use of this ingredient alone will amaze you after just a few applications. It works to even out skin tone, reduce roughness, reduce lines and wrinkles, and improve moisture retention. If you have pigmentation or melasma issues, you’ll see significant results in a matter of weeks.”
Three Chebula products to try:
True Botanicals Chebula active serum
Formulated with green tea and aloe vera, this chebula serum is ultra-hydrating and fights fine lines and inflammation.
Paula’s Choice Super Moisturizing Night Mask
In addition to free radical-fighting Chebula, this mask features Glycerin and Shea Butter for intense hydration, and Nordic Cloudberry and Reishi Mushroom to soothe the skin. It is ideal for people struggling with dehydration, redness and sensitive skin.
Derma MD skincare SPF 30 Chebula Moisturizer
This moisturizer contains cranberry seed oil, milk thistle extract, meadowfoam seed oil and red raspberry seed oil to moisturize and soften skin, and Chebula to fight free radicals that cause aging and dark spots stains, and 25% zinc oxide provides broad spectrum sun protection.