By Marissa DeSantis
Every year, the beauty world focuses on a handful of buzzy “It” ingredients that have since become (or maybe already were!) staples in our skincare routine. In the past, we’ve seen ingredients like hyaluronic acid, squalane oil, and bakuchiol touted as must-haves, and it seems like we may have already found 2021’s ingredient of the year: chebula.
The super antioxidant works harder than your average antioxidant (more on that later) to fight off skin-damaging free radicals while also minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, evening skin tone, smoothing texture, firming, and brightening over time. Chebula has only recently been approved for topical use, and True Botanicals is the first beauty brand to bring it to the market with their just-launched Chebula Active Immunity Serum.
Ahead, True Botanicals’ chief product innovation officer, Sarina Godin, tells us all about their hero ingredient.
Like many antioxidants, chebula is a fruit, and although it hasn’t been used in skincare until now, it has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine. “It comes from a quick-producing fruit tree that grows abundantly throughout India,” Godin says, adding, “It was only recently obtained for topical use via a clean and safe water extraction process.”
If you need a quick refresh, all antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals, which are damaging molecules that come from things like pollution, UV light, and cigarette smoke. Without antioxidant protection in skincare, those free radicals are responsible for accelerating the visible signs of aging in the skin like fine lines and dark spots.
But chebula outworks the average antioxidant because it doesn’t dissipate throughout the day.
“Chebula is a cascading antioxidant, which means once it’s done fighting a free radical, it reacts by taking a new form that can fight the next free radical, and the next, and the next,” Godin explains of the powerful ingredient. “This ‘phoenix rising in the ashes’ agent goes to battle time and time again without losing the ability to defend and protect your skin.”
While chebula is the star ingredient here, True Botanicals added some tried-and-true ingredients into its serum to make it even more potent. “The same way your body needs a strong immunity to ward off sickness, your skin needs a strong immunity to defend itself from outside aggressors and prevent future damage,” Godin explains of including more antioxidant ingredients like elderberry, echinacea, and ginger. These strengthen the skin’s immunity with anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties, as elderberry extract helps eliminate toxins, and echinacea extract accelerates wound healing and boosts cellular regeneration. Meanwhile, ginger increases blood circulation for glowing skin.
For more hydration, True Botanicals uses a green tea leaf extract base, and they paired low and high weighted hyaluronic acid molecules to improve hydration immediately and over time. Godin also notes that chebula supports long term hydration, too.
Godin shares that the serum is safe to use on all skin types—it’s pregnancy-safe. Like all of True Botanicals’ products, the Chebula Active Immunity Serum is Leaping Bunny certified, so it’s cruelty-free. It’s also Made Safe certified, which means it’s completely free from toxic chemicals and common irritants like endocrine disruptors, parabens, and synthetic fragrances.
True Botanicals instruct users to apply ½ to one dropper full of the serum to the face in the morning and at night after cleansing. While Godin notes that the serum’s consumer study is still underway, she says that people have cited noticeable results within just one week of use. I’ve been testing the serum out for nearly a week now, and while I haven’t noticed a difference in fine lines yet, my skin is noticeably more hydrated (even without using a moisturizer at night) and brighter. It also hasn’t made my skin break out—if anything, it’s actually helped to clear up a few spots.