Ingredient Review: Callicarpa japonica aka beautyberry

Seriously, is that not a gorgeous image. AND it hasn’t been retouched in any extreme way.  Go ahead and google the image. *Yes this is a google image. it’s gorgeous. I feel no shame. It’s actually native where I live but I haven’t been able to find it.

Callicarpa japonica is a plant native to Japan, Korean peninsula, and Taiwan. Callicarpa americana is a related species called American beautyberry and is actually native to the southern states, Caribbean, and Mexico according to the USDA. We grow it as an ornamental and hunters will use these bushes to target white-tail deer sometimes. It is edible; however, its extremely bitter but jellies, jams, teas, and wine include beautyberry.  After its cooked the bitterness goes away. And it makes a beauty of a jelly.  I haven’t seen any in my area.  It’s hard to miss those berries.

The Science

Vividly colors fruits generally contain a high level of antioxidants. Unsurprisingly given the vivid almost neon purple color of those berries, early work on the berries extract has shown the extract contains several novel compounds: acetyl forsythoside B, forsythoside B,  brandioside, poliumoside, actioside, and apigenin 7-galacturonide.  All the compounds except the last one are antioxidants that showed twice the activity as alpha-tocopherol (best known as Vitamin E). If you’re an ingredients watcher you know tocopherol/ Vitamin E is everywhere in the skin care industry.  It helps to stabilize other compounds including Vitamin C.  This works better than Vitamin E.

In skincare it’s been shown to be antibacterial, anti-oxidant, and decreases the skins ability to produce melanin making it an ideal candidate for skin lightening and brightening formulas.

Products that include beautyberry:

  • Clarins – Double Serum
  • Tatcha – Violet-C Radiance Mask

And that’s it for right now.  That’s all I could find.  If you find more chime in below and let me know where you’ve found it.  This berries potential has been known since ancient China and is used in traditional medicine and by the Japanese imperial court.  As more skin care companies move towards a plant-based approach I suspect you’ll see this included more in the ingredients list.

P.S.  If you’re reading this the day it is going live, I’m getting married tomorrow!!! To keep it on topic, if you wanted to include this into your skin care regiment this needs to be added at least 6 months – a year before you get married for the maximum benefit if using it for the skin lightening and brightening.


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