Plant extracts are one of the best tools in the natural formulator’s arsenal. Some of the most potent activity a plant possesses is suspended in its cell walls. When we create extracts, we use a solvent (like water or glycerine) to pull those active substances out of the plant material and into it. After all, who wants to be picking bits of plant leaf out of their hair all day long? Using words like ‘extract’ and ‘solvent’ makes it sound quite technical, but every time you make a cup of tea, you’re making an extract in your mug using hot water as your solvent. It’s that simple (well, in principle).
Plants contain lots of different chemistry that we take advantage of when we make haircare – plant or vegetable oils that moisturise and protect, essential oils for their fragrance and plant extracts that perform the widest scope of activities. Since they do so much, we often call them ‘actives’. We thought we’d share a few of our favourites for hair.
You’ll find this relative of your breakfast porridge working hard to deliver hair-strengthening moisturisation in To The Rescue Intense Moisture Hair Treatment. Black oats contain, among other things, amino acids that can attach themselves to damaged areas of your hair with ionic bonds, or penetrate the hair where they act as humectants. Humectants don’t just add water and moisture: they reach out into the environment and grab water. Humectants, therefore, add water to the hair shaft, where it plays an important role in keeping hair supple, moisturised and looking healthy.
We call Trametes versicolor our 'magic mushroom' for the heat protecting powers it gives our styling serums. It’s actually enzymes that, when extracted, help to protect hair from heat up to 220°C, which is hotter than most styling tools. Oh, and it helps to strengthen your hair while it’s at it. Another reason to reach for To The Rescue Anti Frizz Serum or Rise & Shine Hydrate & Shine Serum.
You might have come across this South African native in a tea bag, where it makes a smooth, slightly nutty and antioxidant beverage. In Colour Bomb Shampoo and Conditioner, it’s green rooibos that helps to prevent fade and extend the life of your colour, with its protective plant chemistry.
It’s amazing really, the powers of something achieved through a process that can be as simple as making a cup of tea.