I have the pleasure of being a Production Assistant at Palermo Body, which means I am part of the team that lovingly makes each product by hand at our studio in Brooklyn. I work with our ingredients every day and have gotten to know them quite well. We love all our ingredients, however the simple truth is that some natural materials look, feel, and....smell better than others. Pretty Himalayan salt and fragrant jasmine oil will always get a lot of love. But with ingredients, as in life, there is often more than meets the senses. Some of our most unexpected ingredients have quietly won our hearts, delivering unique and powerful properties from behind the scenes. So today we celebrate the underdogs—the lovable, hardworking oddballs that give our products that extra little something.
Burdock root. We've sung this humble ingredient's praises before (see here), but it's worth mentioning again. I have a special personal connection to this one; burdock is a traditional ingredient in Japanese cooking (called gobo), and one of my favorite dishes growing up was my grandmother's gobo cooked in sugar and sake. In addition to being delicious, this antibacterial, anti-inflammatory root is chock full of nutrients and vitamins, making it great for soothing skin both internally and topically. It also has the unique property of promoting sweating, which is essential for releasing toxins through the skin. Check out our Milk Bath and Detox Facial Mask to experience burdock root in action.
Spirulina, kelp, and seaweed powders. Have you ever seen seaweed in health food products, or spirulina in a smoothie? There's a reason; sea vegetation is known for being exceptionally rich in vitamins and nutrients. Using these ingredients topically has the added benefit of targeting skin directly, and their list of reputed benefits is virtually endless: they can help boost skin's elasticity and ability to retain hydration, they are rich in amino acids and protein, and they encourage cell turnover, which can help fade the appearance of dark spots and heal acne and scarring over time. They are also powerful detoxifiers, which is why they are featured heavily in our Detox Body Scrub and Detox Facial Mask.
Seaweed and spirulina are pretty common in wellness, so you may be wondering why they are on our underdog list. The truth is, when you have a habit of buying dried algae in bulk, you realize it can smell a lot like fish food. But not to worry! A little goes a long way with these extracts, and we pair them with other lovely ingredients so our products smell earthy and fresh, never fishy.
Glycerin. This one is nothing new, chances are you've heard of glycerin before. It's probably already in your medicine cabinet in some form, and if you wear makeup, it's likely in a number of those products as well. Although it's the steady backbone of many products, glycerin's benefits are often forgotten or overlooked and we think it deserves its moment in the spotlight. Glycerin is a mega-moisturizer and a humectant, meaning it attracts water to itself and draws moisture deep into the skin. Similar to the popular ingredient hyaluronic acid, glycerin penetrations deep beyond the skin's surface layers to ensure longer-lasting hydration. Hyaluronic acid is getting a lot of buzz these days, but we love working with glycerin because it offers the same level of powerful hydration, and pound for pound is the most cost-effective form of hydration on the market.
We use glycerin as an ingredient in our Hydrating Facial Toner, but glycerin is also a naturally occurring ingredient in all of our soaps. We make our soaps with the cold-process method, which includes a chemical reaction that naturally produces glycerin. That means every time you use a bar of Palermo soap, you're also getting some glycerin-level hydration. Cool, right?
I hope this gave you an interesting glimpse into some of my favorite lesser known ingredients! Are there other natural ingredients you'd like to learn more about? Comment with your questions!
About the author: Jenna has been a valued member of the Palermo team since 2018, working as a Production Assistant and more recently as a copywriter and contributor to our blog, The Supercritical. With a deep interest in storytelling and building connections, Jenna draws on her production experience working with our natural ingredients as well as a close connection with our founder Jess to create thoughtful articles that bring Palermo's vision and values to life.