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Thymes Naia Body Lotion: We Like the Yerba, We Could Do without the Limonene

With the first snow fall in December, comes the first sign of skin’s winter dryness.  Itchy, cracked, and even ashy skin is never attractive or comfortable for anyone. And while there are plenty of lotions out there that can help your skin, you should be careful about which you choose. Thymes Naia Body Lotion ($23, amazon.com) consists of Yerba Mate extract, Vitamin E, glycerin and Shea butter. For a complete list of ingredients visit the Thymes website. But, unfortunately, it also contains limonene, a known irritant.  

Yerba Mate: What Does This Herb Do?

[caption id="attachment_18939" align="alignright" width="300"]Yerba_mate Yerba mate has been shown to have high levels of antioxidants.[/caption] Yerba Mate, which yerba is Spanish for herb, is a leafy holly plant whose leaves are dried and seeped in either hot or cold water to make a tea.  Grown in South America; primarily Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, it is starting to gain popularity in the United States as a stimulant and diuretic, for its cardiovascular health benefits, and in helping with weight management (Journal of Food Science). The plant has 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, plus powerful antioxidants. With as much caffeine as coffee, the antioxidants of tea and the calming effect of chocolate, it is turning into the beverage of choice by many (Guayaki Yerba Mate Organic, My Mate World). So how does Yerba Mate help with skin?  Externally in a body lotion, the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that Yerba Mate provides are imperative to healthy skin. The body is attacked daily by free radicals, a chemical compound resulting in the toxic climate of environmental pollution and daily chemical interaction.  It is with this increase in toxicity that the skin will become vulnerable to premature aging, wrinkles and fine lines. Antioxidants are the skin’s key protection against free radicals, protecting against cellular destruction.

Yerba Mate and Cancer

According to the Mayo Clinic, some studies have shown that people consuming large quantities of yerba mate continuously, may be at a higher risk of cancer (Mayo Clinic). Studies have found that Yerba mate increases the risk of oral, oropharyngeal, esophageal, laryngeal, and bladder cancer (Journal of Food Science). But studies have also shown that Yerba Mate decreases the risks of certain cancers. In in vitro studies, Yerba Mate was shown to have a dose-dependent cytoxicity against squamous cell lines (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry). Taking the occasional sip of yerba mate probably won’t produce serious risks for a healthy adult. It is recommended to check with your health care provider before drinking Yerba Mate tea.

But Limonene Isn’t Such a Great Ingredient

Patch tests with limonene has shown that the ingredient can be pretty irritating. After removing the limonene, researchers looked the irritation of participants and found that irritation generally lasted for about 24 hours, and continued for some participants up to 72 hours (International Programme on Chemical Safety). [Read More: 5 Natural Ingredients that Can Irritate Your Skin] The real problem with limonene is when it oxidizes. As soon as you put it on your skin, the limonene oxidizes and can cause irritation. Researchers have found that there’s a considerably high frequency of contact allergy to oxidized limonene (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Contact Dermatitis). Limonene is a skin sensitizer, which means that it makes you skin more vulnerable to the sun. While we don’t think about it as much, this causes UV-damage all year round.

Personal Use and Opinion

Thymes Naia body lotion with Yerba Mate has a thin, liquid consistency with a velvety finish.  It’s not sticky or tacky and absorbs completely into the skin. The aroma has an upfront strong lemony fragrance, with a soft, pleasant earthy finish. My skin felt refreshed without feeling greasy. It’s just a shame that this lotion contains skin-sensitizing limonene.

Bottom Line

Even seemingly great products can have ingredients that aren’t so great for skin. While Thymes Naia Body Lotion has a lot of beneficial moisutizing ingredients, such as glycerin, Shea butter, and Yerba Mate; it also has ingredients that could irritate your skin, like limonene. You definitely need a sunscreen over Thymes Naia Body Lotion because of the limonene if you chose to use it. And be sure to patch test it to make sure it’s not irritating to you.