Pomegranate - The Natural Antioxidant

Pomegranate (INCI: Punica Granatum) is a relative newbie on the skin care scene. It has also relatively recently earned itself a place amongst the superfoods.

Pomegranate's Polyphenols

Pomegranate is heralded because of its high content of polyphenols – most particularly ellagic acid (which is a natural phenol antioxidant).

Because of this built-in content of free radical scavengers and natural antioxidant property, pomegranate is regenerative, even helping to stimulate collagen production. Overall, it is a firming and nourishing ingredient for the skin. To top off this list of goodies, it also has one of my favorites qualities – suitable for all skin types.

Claims, Facts and a Bit of Pomegranate Gossip

I'll freely admit that I can get as swept up in the excitement about a new ingredient for skin care as the next person. I do however, prefer documented facts to undocumented claims. 

So, at the risk of jumping the gun, here is a bit of 'pomegranate gossip': The initial testing on its beneficial effects for the skin do look very promising. In fact, it looks so promising that pomegranate is, in some places, prematurely being marketed as a 'natural cure for skin cancer'. 

This is due to some very preliminary testing that involves topical use on mice. In other words, they are still studying, and as far as I am aware, haven't even begun any testing involving human subjects. So, even though initial results give cause for some excitement, it will most likely be years before we have some hard scientific evidence of the benefits of pomegranate.

Pomegranate Oil and Extract

There are several suppliers that offer organic pomegranate – both as an oil and as a water-soluble extract. I work with both.

The Oil

is made from cold pressing the washed seeds of the pomegranate tree. It is so concentrated that it is suggested to use a maximum of 3% in any product – placing it in the 'active ingredient' category. This actually suits me just fine, because although it is described as a thin oil with a faint scent, I find the aroma is simply not very appealing. When I got my first whiff of it, I took it back to my supplier to ask if it was supposed to smell that way Even though the production date on the bottle was good, I found the scent heavy, almost musky and a little dank – not pleasant at all. To my surprise, my supplier couldn't understand my query and thought the scent was almost non existant. They also checked the bottle and date and compared with other bottles from the same batch. There was nothing wrong. I chalked it up to difference in scent preferences. Later, I asked a visiting friend to give me her impression of the scent of the oil. Her reaction was similar to mine, commenting that it reminded her of 'wet dog'. Needless to say, I'm happy it is not recommended for use in doses higher than 3%, and will inevitably try to 'bury it in a mix' when I am working with it.

The Extract

is prepared by using a unique extraction and filtration process that finishes by mixing the final extract with glycerine. The process, qualified by the Soil Association, results in a lovely, non-sticky moisturizing substance that happily dissolves into water soluble mixtures. Contrary to the oil, the scent of the extract is practically non existent. The only downside I have experienced with the extract is the appearance of sediment in some batches. This makes it less than ideal for use in a skin tonic, but no problem in emulsions, gels or serums.

Where it's Good and Where it's Not

I have been testing pomegranate in a variety of ways over the past 2 years. The extract has made its way into everything from skin tonics to cleansers and masks. However, because I never know if the batch of extract I have just ordered will be sediment-free, I will only use it in skin tonic for personal use. I have had fabulous results with it as an addition to face masks. Because I'd love to offer this as an ingredient for skin tonics, I have spoken at length with my supplier about the sediment situation. They inform me that it is not possible to ensure that I am getting a portion 'from the top of the barrel' every time (which is basically what it takes to ensure no sediment). I'm guessing if I were ordering large portions, this would not be an issue. As it is, though, I only use the extract in serums, gels or emulsions. The oil has still only found its way into personal oil blends. I have as yet to include the oil in an emulsion because I am still testing it in different combinations. I want to have a real solid handle on 'controlling the scent' before adding it to a product for a client.

More About Pomegranate

Study on Wound Healing by Journal of Medicinal Food
Antioxidant activity of Pomegranate (Journal of agricultural and Food Chemistry)