The tree of happiness is a fitting subject for my latest ingredient obsession. So called because it was used in Chinese medicine to bring relief to the gloomy and grief-stricken, the Albizia tree could also give our skin something to feel upbeat about. I am starting to see it more frequently in anti-aging skincare and you should keep it on your radar. Here’s why.
Extracts of Albizia Julibrissin or Albizzia Lebbeck have an impact on one of the most important causes of aging, a process called glycation. Glucose is a vital cellular fuel, but it can also cause damage by randomly reacting with proteins and DNA. When this happens it is called glycation and it can have negative consequences. Glycated enzymes often fail to work as well as they should or a glycated protein may lose its shape and become unstable.
When it comes to the skin, glycation leads to cross-linking, which is the formation of chemical bridges between proteins or other large molecules. A material that undergoes cross-linking usually becomes harder, less elastic and has a tendency to tear or crack. Cross-linking equals wrinkled skin.
So where does Albizia come in? It can suppress glycemic activity (source) and it may also prevent sugar molecules from actually distorting the collagen proteins, but this is only according to a patent application. Frustratingly, although many skincare companies (such as AminoGenesis and Rhonda Allison) tout the glycation preventing abilities of the albizia tree, they are all pasting and copying the same text and there isn’t much in the way of published trials to back this up.
Happily, we are on firmer ground with some other important anti-aging and health benefits. Albizia is an extremely powerful antioxidant and has been shown to be effective against cancer (source). A study in the early aughts showed it to be six times stronger than L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) at scavenging free radicals. And it is a strong anti-inflammatory according to this study.
You’ll find our happiness extract behind some new designer ingredients. One is Prodizia and it can be found in this form in the new MitoQ Crystal Brightening & Skin Correcting Serum ($155 in the shop), a face and under eye serum that incorporates this ingredient to combat dark under eye circles.
Another is Beautifeye, which couples it with darutoside and it can be found in Deciem NIOD Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate ($68 in the shop). The makers of Beautifeye also make the anti-glycation claim saying that it reduces “capillary leakages and accumulation of glycotoxic pigments” as well as lifting lids and reducing lines and crow’s feet.