Bamboo is an incredibly resilient grass that grows on every continent except Antarctica. The plant has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for many, many years and, subsequently, most of the research about this plant in skin care have been done in China. It’s been shown to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing properties. There are claims that it has anti-aging potential, and early research is positive, but there’s not enough to back up the claim just yet.
Is Bamboo an Antioxidant?
Bamboo leaves have recently gotten attention for their antioxidant flavonoids. The Ministry of Health of the People’s Republic of China has declared it an antioxidant (Food and Chemical Toxicology). While it’s been found to have good antioxidant capabilities, it has been shown to have minor, but still present, pro-oxidant qualities as well (Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry). It’s also been shown to be a free radical scavenger by going after DPPH (Forestry Studies in China).
However, bamboo isn’t as powerful as another antioxidant tea, green tea. In fact, in tests looking at the antioxidant properties of various teas, bamboo has one of the lowest antioxidant capacities and amounts of flavonoids (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry).
Does Bamboo Extract Heal Wounds?
Bamboo has been used as a topical agent for wounds and cuts in traditional medicine for years (Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine). This is because it’s been found to have anti-inflammatory and healing properties thanks to the methanol in bamboo leaves.
Tests on mice have demonstrated that the plant has anti-bacterial and wound-healing properties that are in-line with the traditional usage of bamboo (International Journal of Green Pharmacy).
How Does Bamboo Work in Skin Care?
There are very few studies discussing bamboo’s actual use in skin care products. Often times, it’s broken into pieces and used to exfoliate skin. However, the actual extract has limited research behind it.
One study on rats found that bamboo extract inhibited the black pigment of cancer cells, while helping erationcytes and fibroblasts proliferate. It was concluded to be a safe and inexpensive additive for skin care (Chemistry and Industry of Forest Products).
Another study found that cream containing bamboo extract worked against UV irradiation and also helped deter melanin production with little to no irritation (China Surfactant and Detergent and Cosmetics).
In addition to its frequency in traditional medicine, bamboo has also been tested for its safety on mice. It was found to be non-toxic and non-mutagenic (Food and Chemical Toxicology).
Bamboo has shown in traditional medicine as well as lab studies to be effective for anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and wound-healing purposes. It also contains antioxidants — though not as many as other plant extracts. This makes it an effective addition to skin care. As far as anti-aging and potential limitation of melanin production, initial studies are promising, but limited.
If you want to try bamboo extract, consider:
In addition to anti-imflammatory bamboo, Ratio Ordon Chopra Age Fighting Eye Serum ($80, ratioskincare.com) has shittake mushrooms, which have been shown to stimulate the immune system, and Vitamin K to decrease dark circles.
Formula 10-0-6 Seriously Shine Free Mattifying Oil-Free Moisturizer ($7.49, amazon.com) has bamboo and aloe vera to soothe skin and reduce inflammation and salicyclic acid to help unclog pores.