Cleansing with the AHA of the flower, assisting with the anti-glycating properties (meaning it holds like Botox but without the needle – amazing!) How the components of the garden favourite, the Hibiscus flower, can benefit your skin when extracted and formulated with precision to deliver amazing benefits.

Used traditionally for skin treatments and a broad array of bioactivities. The Hibiscus species has identified itself as a species worth researching. Studies have aimed to characterise the phenolic composition of the plant in order to distinguish and assess the antioxidant capacity, sun protection and anti-collagenase properties of the leaves and flowers. The results of the recent studies have shown the anti-aging bioactivities of the Hibiscus species hold great potential for the medicinal and cosmetic industries as a possible anti- aging and antioxidant addition.

The research shows the leaves and flowers of the Hibiscus species are high in hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives, flavonoids, kaempferol glycosides, catechines, dihydrochalcones and anthocryanins. These compounds create the antioxidant, sun-protection and anti-collagenase activity that make this plant a potent addition to cosmetic products.

Additionally, there are many plant species that have been used in folk medicine as an antidiabetic. One being the genus Hibiscus due to its hypoglycemic and antidiabetic effects. This common landscaping plant has also been shown to hold antibacterial, wound healing, antidepressant, cardiac, and as mentioned before, antioxidant effects.
To connect the antidiabetic properties of the Hibiscus with skincare we must first look at the effects of diabetes on one’s health. Many changes take place in the body that affects your skin’s health if blood sugar levels are too high for too long. Our body excretes blood sugar through the urine. Therefore, if one has too much blood sugar, more regular urination will occur, resulting in dehydration and dry skin. High blood sugar may also lead to inflammation, which, overtime, may dull or overstimulate the immune response. Reduced circulation caused by nerve and blood vessel damage reduces circulation. This poor blood flow alters the skin’s structure and collagen. The absence of a healthy collagen network means the skin can become stiff and brittle, and wounds won’t properly heal.

One complication of hyperglycemia is the development of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). This affects protein structure and function both directly and by cross-linking.

Cross-linked and glycated extracellular proteins (collagen) can contribute to ageing and diabetes. The development of fibrosis in diabetes can be caused by the augmentation of collagen glycation. With this information, a model of reconstructed skin was created and modified by glycation of the collagen, demonstrating the impact of glycation in skin ageing.

The enzyme elastase may break down our skin’s natural elastin if not controlled. Properties in the hibiscus flower can decrease this enzyme, protecting the skin and assisting it to keep its integrity and wound-healing abilities. ibiscus can also support collagen through its abundance of vitamin C.

Let’s look more closely at the benefits of Hibiscus in skincare.

Extract of Hibiscus is full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, all natural remedies for a plethora of skincare problems. Present in the extract is malic acid which is known to make skin clean, clear, healthy and youthful. Rich in AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid), Hibiscus is considered one of the best natural ingredients for skincare. AHA rejuvenates skin, leaving it soft and smooth. The antioxidants of the Hibiscus fight the free radicals which are formed in our skin from exposure to dust, pollution, UV rays, lack of sleep, poor eating habits or an unhealthy lifestyle, all of which can damage, dull and dry-out our skin. Not only do the antioxidants provide protection from free radicals, but they also hold astringent properties, assisting in poor reduction and an even skin tone. AHA also boosts collagen production, and as mentioned earlier, inhibits the enzyme elastase. By tightening the skin and firming the connective tissues, it can effectively reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Many studies have been conducted to assess the healing and hydrating proerties of the genus hibiscus. Research shows that wound healing was accelerated and the expression of the genes responsible for skin hydration and homeostasis were increased. Therefore, hibiscus extract was found to stimulate biomarkers of skin regeneration, thereby contracting the molecular pathways that lead to skin damage and ageing.

Hibiscus extract is hugely beneficial for skin and our skin’s myriad of ailments. With its natural moisturising, radiant and youthful properties, it is a popular addition to moisturising creams, lotions, cleansers and toners.

Let’s look at why;

Moisturising Properties

Mucilage is a thick, sticky substance found in nearly every plant which allows them to store water and food. Used on the skin, it can help it stay hydrated for extended periods of time. Hibiscus extract in particular is brimming with mucilage, thus making hibiscus extract a potent, natural moisturiser, maintaining the skin’s moisture, hydration and nourishment.

Cleansing Properties

Hibiscus contains a chemical compound known as saponin. Saponin is a natural surfactant, meaning it reduces surface tension and increases the wetting and spreading ability. Saponin, in addition to the organic acid found in Hibiscus, effectively cleans skin and removes dead skin cells. The removal of dead skin cells and other debris assists in unclogging pores, thereby preventing acne. As hibiscus is a natural product, it does not strip the skin’s natural oils as synthetic products do.


The combination of AHA and the organic acid in Hibiscus extract removes dead skin cells from the surface of your skin, similar to that of a face scrub. The skin is then left smooth, soft and radiant.

Additionally, hibiscus accelerates wound healing by increasing the production of fibronectin, the protein responsible for closing the edges of the wound. The acceleration of cell-regeneration and increased hydration also assists in the wound-healing process.

Skin Tone

Common visible signs of ageing such as blemishes, dark spots and hyperpigmentation are all reduced by the antioxidants found in Vitamin C, of which Hibiscus extract is rich in. The added benefits of skin exfoliation also drastically improves skin tone.

The major component of Hibiscus flowers is anthocyanins (ACNs). Anthocyanins are a group of flavonoid antioxidants found in most purple, blue and red plants. With potent anti-inflammatory properties, the ACNs act as a whole-body protector, assisting in neuroprotection, cardioprotection, antidiabetic, antiobesity and anticancer effects on the body. The plethora of pharmacotherapeutic benefits that ACNs contain are enormous and diverse and supported heavily by preclinical and clinical evidence. Dietary ACNs are considered more potent and more effective antioxidants than Vitamin E or C. ACNs influence the antioxidant defence mechanisms and activate the antioxidant enzymes which can reduce free radical production. Chronic diseases, ageing processes and acute inflammation are all benefited by the consumption of antioxidants found in plants such as Hibiscus Flower. Flavonoids and Anthocyanins have been found to be the most therapeutic naturally-occurring compounds to assist with such ailments.

Returning now to the previously mentioned AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid). What is it and why is it so beneficial to our skin?

While the majority of AHA originate from a natural source, flower AHA derives from, you guessed it, flowers! Hibiscus flower extract is the most common form of flower-derived AHA. Used for centuries in teas for its anti inflammatory properties, hibiscus extract has more recently become an impressive skincare ingredient. The combination of very mild malic and citric acid both exfoliates and brightens the skin, additionally aiding in the repair of UV damage.

Due to its mild, gentle nature, some are sceptical as to its exfoliating ability. This comes from an outdated notion that exfoliating products (especially acids) must sting or burn your skin in order to be working. When in actuality
this is completely false, as the stinging feeling is the protective skin layer thinning out, or worse, being destroyed all together. Although strong AHAfacial peels may provide patients with instant gratification of smoother, brighter skin, the consistent and regular stressing of the skin can backfire in the years to come.

It is therefore our conclusion that less is always more when it comes to skincare and gentleness is paramount. Opting for a mild product, with low levels of AHA, in order to be able to use them daily will increase the health and glow of your skin.

Evidence of what has been stated above can be seen in Spa Technologies UK where they recognised the necessity for a less invasive approach for the regeneration of skin. By using hibiscus flower and a seaweed polysaccharide, they formulated a multi-function serum that exfoliates skin while simultaneously nourishes it with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. What it resulted in was a peel without the burn as shown below when comparing Hibiscus flower acids to conventional AHA’s. Hibiscus flower acids are;

  • 50% more hydrating
  • 20% great cellular renewal
  • 30% reduction in wrinkles

For sensitive and dehydrated skin (with or without breakouts), red, histamine-driven skin, the following paper quotes “Hibiscus sabdariffa L, the calyces extract, is the high content of anthocyanins, which presents compounds with anti-inflammatory properties.” Additionally, “the extracts if H. sabdariffa showed the presence of Hexadecanoic acid, ethyl ester, which has antioxidant and hemolytic 5-alpha reductase inhibitor feature. Consequently, these compositions may be used as ingredients for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industrials.” (

Additional Points

Although the quality of the active ingredients plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of skincare products, so too does the mechanisms used to deliver these products into the skin. There are delivery systems active ingredients can use to reach the live tissue; intercellular, transcellular and transappendageal. Which pathway the active ingredient chooses to follow depends on many interconnected factors. These factors include concentration, pH, molecular size and weight and water (hydration).

Concentration of the active ingredient dictates how much the skin will try to absorb it. Therefore, the higher the concentration of the active ingredient, the harder the skin will work to absorb it. This then eventuates into more of the active ingredient reaching deeper layers of the skin.

Concentration is also influenced by the pH of the skin. Our skin is constantly working to maintain a balanced pH state. Because of this, if the pH levels are low, the skin will absorb more of the active ingredient to neutralise the levels. Alternatively, if the pH levels are higher, less will be absorbed, leaving the active ingredient to sit on the top layers.

The molecular size and weight is an important factor as if the size and weight of the molecules of the active ingredient are too big to penetrate the skin, the product will simply sit on the surface, unable to travel to the deeper layers of the skin. Unabsorbed products can cause issues such as irritation, sensitivity, breakouts and skin dehydration or at the very least, not bear the desired results of the product. If under 500 daltons (kDA), the molecules are able to penetrate the skin. If larger than this, the active ingredients would either not be passed through the skin, or need to be structurally altered in order to do so.

Water is the most common assistant in penetrating the skin with cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. Hydration of the skin encourages the delivery of hydrophilic molecules by increasing the fluidity and making the molecules have a higher permeability.

From what we have discussed up until now, it is clear that the quality of the active ingredient is key, but not the stand-alone factor. Quality, active ingredients, concentration of active ingredients, molecular size and weight, pH and hydration all work together collaboratively to create the ideal product for deep skin penetration and skin health.
At Cell Defence, our products are aware of all of these interconnected and equally important factors. Our aim is to deliver to you products that lead to your ultimate health and wellbeing.Using other ingredients to synergistically work together with hibiscus is extremely beneficial to skincare. Which is exactly what Charmaine D has done with her Hibiscus Cleansing Gel from Cell Defence. Below we will discuss the two other ingredients that work alongside the hibiscus flower in our Hibiscus Cleansing Gel.

Aloe Vera

The super plant, aloe vera, contains 75 components including vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and amino acids.

  1. Vitamins: vitamin A, C and E. Vitamin B12, folic acid and choline 2. Enzymes: aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, amylase, bradykinase, carboxypeptidase, catalase, cellulase, lipase and peroxidase. All of which reduce inflammation and breakdown sugars and fats
  2. Minerals: calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc
  3. Sugars: glucose, fructose and glucomannans.
  4. Fatty Acids: cholesterol, campesterol, sisosterol and lupeol. Consisting of anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and analgesic properties
  5. Hormones: wound healing and anti-inflammatory hormones auxins and gibberellins.
  6. Antiseptic Effect: 6 antiseptic agents; lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamonic acid, phenols and sulphur, all of which inhibit bacteria and viruses.

Additionally, aloe vera contains nearly all of the amino acids and essential amino acids the human body requires. It enhances the penetration ability of other substances when used topically and stimulates collagen production and helps to bind moisture to the skin.

Red Algae Extract

Red algae is a rich source of vitamins B, antioxidants, beta-carotene and amino acids. It helps to clarify and cleanse the skin. Thanks to its mineralcomposition, red algae extract forms a natural, non-occlusive film over the skin and thanks to its biometric properties, reinforces and stimulates keratinisation of the epidermis. This active ingredient gives off a slow release effect and reduces the trans-epidermal water loss, therefore, moisturising as well as deep cleansing.

Now with a greater understanding of the three star ingredients of our Hibiscus Cleansing Gel, let’s take a closer look at the product on


Reveal your skin in its purest form by cleansing with this vitamin and nutrient rich formulation of calming, natural ingredients. Our Hibiscus Cleansing Gel will gently and effectively lift and remove impurities and makeup whilst maintaining a natural moisture balance; leaving your skin feeling soft, hydrated and smooth.

Our Hibiscus Cleansing Gel has been formulated by infusing Aqua Water with the calming Aloe Vera, Hibiscus Flower Essence and Red Algae Extract to create a superior cleanser that will provide the first step in helping to improve the skin’s barrier function and regenerative process by:
● deep cleansing;
● assisting in the prevention of moisture loss;
● helping to naturally hydrate and moisten the skin;
● helping to retain the skin’s natural oils;
● assisting in the exfoliation of dead skin cells;
● improving skin’s texture and
● providing antiseptic qualities that may assist in wound healing. ● Assisting in regulation of sebum(oil) production
● Regulation of the 5@ reductase enzyme activity in the oil gland assisting with acne due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and other androgenic driven skin conditions

Red algae is a rich source of vitamins B, antioxidants, beta-caroten and amino acids. It helps to clarify and cleanse the skin. Studies have shown Hibiscus extracts to be rich in antioxidants called anthocyanocides which makes it slightly astringent and gives it the ability to help fight against free radicals. Studies have also found hibiscus extracts to be rich in flavonoids, anthocyanins and fatty acids and have demonstrated its potential to accelerate wound healing and act as a natural sun protectant. Hibiscus extract has a naturally high mucilage content that helps to keep your skin hydrated and retain moisture for a longer period of time. Mucilage is a sticky gelatinous substance which is found in plants to help them store water and food.

This cleansing gel will glide effortlessly over dampened skin and its natural properties will form a foaming lather to help you achieve a deep, nourishing cleanse morning and evening. Your first important step towards attaining a healthy, nourishing and well- balanced complexion.


Finally, to conclude our love for Hibiscus, let’s turn to Cell Defence’s Saffron Eye Firming Plant Stem Cell Serum. This powerful serum for the delicate eye region visibility reduces fine lines and wrinkles, mimicking the effects of botox. This potent product also contains Hibiscus Leaf Extract, further proving our point of the plant’s diversity and power.

For more information on our Saffron Eye Firming Serum, keep an eye out for our future blogs or visit