London - On the run up to her 50th birthday, Charlotte Vøhtz noticed her skin was changing.
"When you’re a child, skin renewal takes place every three to five days," she says. "But when you get into your 50s, it takes two to three months. Even if you apply the most amazing expensive cream, it’s going on top of dead skin cells. It can’t penetrate, so it won’t work."
An organic beauty pioneer, Charlotte didn’t want to use chemical "tweakments", so she started researching cutting-edge, scientifically proven botanicals that could delay ageing.
"I knew I needed to find a way to exfoliate the skin without being too harsh. I love wrinkles, but I don’t like dry, sagging skin."
A former nurse, Charlotte has a background in pharmaceuticals and is fascinated by science. But she also believes passionately in the power of nature.
After six years of research, Charlotte, now 60, has just launched her signature range, Age Defy+ by Cha Vøhtz, a natural skincare regime that uses a blend of innovative plant-based alternatives aimed at skin aged 30, 40, 50 and beyond.
Here, she explains how anti-ageing plant extracts, among them pomegranate, hibiscus, neroli and sea holly, can be just as effective.
SWAP: Botox for hibiscus. With its magical reputation for increasing skin elasticity, it’s no wonder hibiscus is called the Botox plant.
It has an incredible ability to inhibit the activity of the enzyme elastase, which is responsible for breaking down our skin’s precious elastin.
Hibiscus actively combats the ageing process by firming and lifting your skin, allowing it to ‘snap back’.
Because of the slightly exfoliating effect of the organic acids found in the plant, hibiscus also helps speed up cell turnover, resulting in a more even-looking skin tone.
It can even help to control acne breakouts, bringing your skin back in balance for a gorgeous, glowing complexion.
Hibiscus also enhances the skin’s ability to retain moisture, a key factor in keeping a youthful complexion.
SWAP: Hyaluronic acid (a much-used additive in anti-ageing creams) for beech bud extract.
Beech bud extract is an exceptional ingredient, rich in a range of substances that boost the metabolism, smooth the skin’s surface and restore hydration.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that the beech is known as the Everlasting Youth Tree.
SWAP: Alpha Hydroxy Acids, or AHA (chemical compounds used in abrasive cosmetic exfoliators) for pineapple extract.
Exfoliate dead skin cells by rubbing a thin slice of pineapple or papaya over your face. Leave for five minutes, then rinse off with tepid water.
Pineapple extract is rich in skin-boosting vitamins C and E and bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme.
SWAP: Butylene Glycol (a type of alcohol used as a solvent in anti-ageing serums) for sea holly.
A beautiful, purple, thistle-like plant, sea holly is amazing because it has evolved to survive in the harshest conditions.
An extract is obtained from cultured plant stem cells, which contain all the attributes of the whole plant and, as a result, have powerful regenerative and rejuvenating properties.
Sea holly stimulates and protects the skin’s natural elastin and collagen, both of which decrease as you age, resulting in greater skin radiance and luminosity.
SWAP: Dermal fillers for extract of the herb baikal skullcap.
Much-used in Chinese medicine, the extract baicalin comes from the roots of baikal skullcap, a herb in the mint and sage family native to East Asia.
It’s an ingredient with remarkable anti-ageing properties in adults aged 30 or over.
SWAP: Retinol (a popular chemical skincare ingredient) for squalane.
Squalane is the saturated, or stable, form of the compound squalene, originally obtained for commercial purposes from shark liver oil, but today extracted from olive oil.
Adult skin is lubricated and protected against external aggressors by the sebum our skin produces. In healthy skin, sebum contains 10 percent to 13 percent squalene. This level drops as we get older.