When we first heard about the sea buckthorn berry, we were pretty sure it was the name of one of the Little Mermaid's gadgets and gizmos aplenty. In fact, the fruit doesn't have anything to do with the ocean at all—it grows on land, and it's increasingly widely used in beauty, nutrition, and medicine. Sea buckthorn juice was the official drink of Chinese athletes at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and its oil has been used by Russian astronauts to reduce the effects of radiation. Let's delve into why this little berry is being heralded as a big star.
A.K.A.: Hippophae rhamnoides L., seaberry, obliphica
Derived from: The berries grow on yellow-flowered shrubby trees during the spring and summer. Edible? Yes, but you definitely don't want to eat them raw—they're tart! Instead, the oil from each berry is extracted and concentrated into the form you'll see it in your skincare, body, and hair products.
History: Tale as old as time? Check. It's been reported that sea buckthorn berry was used for centuries in Europe and Asia to lower fever, reduce inflammation, and fight the common cold. The berry's Latin name, Hippophae rhamnoides, also loosely translates to "bright horses" or "shiny horses," a reference to the fruit being fed to the animals in ancient Greece.
Characteristics: The berry boasts a richly pigmented orange exterior due to a high concentration of beta-carotene, but you'll find small black seeds on the inside.
What it does: A lot. We often hear about the fatty acid benefits of omega-3, -6, and -9, but sea buckthorn berries also have the highest known natural potency of the more rarely found omega-7, also known as palmitoleic acid. Omega-7 is a natural component of skin, and when used in skincare products combats dryness, wrinkles, and loss of collagen and elasticity. Try Tata Harper's Clarifying Moisturizer, which reduces redness and gently removes impurities, Herbivore Botanicals' Phoenix Facial Oil Roller, which lends concentrated moisture to your complexion, or Odacite's Pe+C (Peach + Cypress) Combination Skin Serum Concentrate, which minimizes excess oil and decongests pores.
Sea buckthorn is also rich in vitamins A and C (in addition to B1, B12, C, E, K, and P), which support scalp health and shiny, vibrant hair. Haircare line amika has a self-proclaimed obsession with the berry's benefits—they use its oil in every single one their hair products (as their bright orange packaging indicates!). Check out the Can't Live Without Perk Up dry shampoo set, Nourishing Mask, Un.Done Texture Spray, or The Wizard Multi-Benefit Primer.
Other uses: Due to it being loaded with antioxidants (like flavonoids, lycopene, and phytosterols), sea buckthorn berry has been used to treat sunburns, wounds, and to ward off cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to a study in International Scholarly Research Notices (ISRN) Pharmacology, although more research is needed.
Found in: If the products above aren't enough to quench your craving for sea buckthorn, nourish your body with it as well. Supergoop!®'s Forever Young Hand Cream with Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40 will keep your hands supple, One Love Organics®' Gardenia + Tea Antioxidant Body Serum fends off environmental stressors, and La Mav's Cranberry Bio Exfoliating Scrub gives your entire body new life.