One of the most beautiful flowers, the peony, can work some incredible magic on your skin. Here's how you can reap all of its soft, smooth, radiant benefits.
In Japan, the lush, magnificent peony is known as "the king or flowers," blooming up to 10 inches wide in a variety of gorgeous pink hues and effusing an intoxicating, rose-like scent. Native to Asia and Europe, peonies were brought to Japan by Buddhist monks in the 8th century, primarily for their healing powers. The roots and seeds of the peony plant were used as an herbal remedy to treat ailments such as migraine headaches and fever.
It took a few more centuries and the advent of modern science to discover that peony can also work wonders for the skin. Here's what this all-star ingredient can do for you.
1. Peony helps skin hold in moisture
Peony extract can help strength the skin barrier, which is the outer layer of skin responsible for keeping moisture in and the irritants out. When the barrier is healthy and strong, your skin can hold in water and other hydrating ingredients better, helping it stay soft and nourished.
2. Peony is incredibly soothing
In Eastern medicine, peony is hailed as a cure-all. In fact, the name of this plant species' genus, Paeonia, is derived from the character Paeon in Greek mythology, who served as the physician to the gods and healed their wounds after battle.
"Peony root extract contains paeoniflorin, a chemical compound that calms skin," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Research suggests that paeoniflorin is also antimicrobial and anti-fungal for even more healthy skin benefits.
3. Peony is a powerful antioxidant
We know that antioxidants are essential for shield skin against the environmental aggressors that contribute to the damage that ages skin. "The paeoniflorin in peony root extract has been shown to help protect skin against UV-induced free radicals, otherwise known as sun damage," says Dr. Zeichner. "This, in turn, helps minimize the risk of developing crepey skin and dark spots."
Since peony is now known for its potent trifecta of soothing, softening, and moisturizing properties, we'd crown this "king of flowers" a true skincare superhero, too.