Many clients ask me how my broccoli facials came to be and I always tell them that they were inspired by Dr. Paul Talalay. Sadly, he passed away in March 2019, so I felt it was appropriate timing to share my story with you.
Years ago I was in search of an antioxidant and skin energizing ingredient. My biochemist and I were scouring the internet and books to find the best options when we came across broccoli. I was laughing about smearing a broccoli mask all over someone and then we realized that it’s exactly what I should do! The more we read the more excited we became. Broccoli is an incredible antioxidant and chemoprotective agent. We struck gold when we came across Dr. Paul Talalay’s research and his Brassica facility. Brassica is a group of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, to name a few. To think that there is an entire lab dedicated to broccoli makes me smile!
Dr. Paul Talalay was a renowned pharmacologist who pioneered advances in cancer research at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Talalay’s team of researchers isolated sulforaphane, found in broccoli, as a cancer-fighting chemical. Sulforaphane is a member of the isothiocyanates family of micronutrients (found in herbs like mustard, onions and horseradish). Essentially, plants contain certain phytochemicals that can protect cells against cancer-causing damage. Broccoli, specifically, is jam packed with these cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
In addition to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, isothiocyanates turn on enzymes that help to eliminate carcinogens from the body. This can detoxify cells and protect against oxidative damage. This isn’t just hypothetical; there is real evidence supporting a decreased risk of lung, liver, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, and breast cancers. Furthermore, sulforaphane even brings cardiovascular and anti-bacterial benefits.
The way I describe it to my clients is to think of your skin cells as little soldiers. Visualize a soldier who is at attention and one who is on a rest break. When you use powerful antioxidants such as sulforaphane found in broccoli, your skin cells are at attention. So, if UV rays hit the skin cells they will already have their protective gear on and they can combat the rays before the damage infiltrates the deeper layers. When the soldiers (skin cells) are on a rest break, it takes time for them to pull out their gear and fight off the attack. By then, the radiation damage has already penetrated the layers. The only thing you can do is try to repair your skin by using products containing retinol, Vitamin C, and arbutin to reduce potential hyperpigmentation and inflammation.
Broccoli in Skin Care
Now that we know these benefits, how can we get more of this awesome compound?
While the benefits of eating cruciferous plants have been known for years, broccoli sprouts contain a tremendous amount of nutrients. Specifically, they have 10 to 100 times more isothiocyanates than other cruciferous vegetables.
After we learned as much as we could about broccoli, we ventured out into other types of plants, such as radish, cucumber, red clover and wheatgrass. We researched the properties of each and how they would benefit the skin. After a lot of trial and error, we figured out how to grow the plants to a certain stage, extract the goodness and store them. I named these beautiful bright extracts “Botanical Boosts”. Now I use them in my facial services as an add-on option to most facials and I base my Hello and Goodbye Masks on them as well.
Facial Mask Benefits
Once we realized that making a mask with the sulforaphane found in broccoli could work, we went deeper into finding ways to improve the skin. We eventually began adding various ingredients, including lactic and salicylic acids. We were able to make up blends of the Botanical Boosts to target various skin issues, such as loss of elasticity, dullness, acne, inflammation and redness.
The Hello Mask has a potent anti-aging blend to encourage new cell formation and to stave off wrinkles. The Goodbye Mask is packed with oil-destroying properties to eliminate blemishes and scarring from old pimples. They are made to order and shipped with an ice pack to keep them cool along their journey into your refrigerator. They’re meant to be used within a month, however, people have told me that their efficacy keeps longer. I think of the masks as vegetables. They contain fresh nutrients that degrade quickly, so the longer they stay in the fridge the less nutritional value you will have.
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