Edelweiss. You may know its name from a certain Rodgers and Hammerstein film, where it was immortalized in song by Captain Von Trapp and his children. But, did you know that this tiny white flower also has some mighty skincare benefits?
Let’s start at the very beginning, like The Sound of Music would suggest, and delve into the mystery of this delicate beauty of the European Alps.
The History of the Edelweiss
Native to meadows high in the Alps, the Leontopodium alpinum flower is a delicate white bloom with a furry texture – a texture that gives the illusion that it’s not quite real. This fuzz is thought to protect the flower from the weather extremes that come with living at high altitudes.
Edelweiss translates from German into “noble white.” It’s long been held in high regard across the entire alpine region. The Swiss and Austrians both honor it as their national flower. Towards the end of WWII, it became a symbol of German resistance against the Nazis.1
In European folk medicine, all parts of the Edelweiss have been used traditionally to combat respiratory, gastrointestinal, and joint ailments.2
How Edelweiss May Protect Your Skin
There is no doubt that Edelweiss is a spectacularly beautiful flower – but could it actually help boost your own beauty?
Let’s take a look at just how it may protect and rejuvenate your skin:
1. It’s a Potent Antioxidant
Edelweiss contains an active ingredient known as leontopodic acid.
It’s believed that this substance carries the flower’s antioxidant “magic.”
Researchers who tested leontopodic acid found that it had higher antioxidant activity than alpha-tocopherol, a major form of vitamin E found in nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables. Alpha-tocopherol has long had a reputation for being an antioxidant superhero.3
Antioxidants are your ultimate weapon in detoxifying the skin.
2. It’s a Natural Antibacterial
The Edelweiss plant showed substantial antimicrobial abilities against strains of bacteria known to cause serious skin issues.5
So when it comes to everyday skin care, Edelweiss may be extremely useful for its purifying and antibacterial effects.
3. It May Soothe Irritation
Studies have shown that this beauty queen of the Alps may also have powerful anti-irritation effects.
One study concluded that Edelweiss “possessed remarkable anti-inflammatory properties” and could be a valuable resource against irritated, inflamed skin.6
4. It May Help Protect Skin Against Sun Damage
One of the wonders of the edelweiss flower is that it’s able to protect itself from UV sun damage at the great altitudes where it lives.
This is because its fuzzy, tiny, white hairs seem to completely absorb UV rays. They also come in handy for shielding the flower from dehydration and extreme cold.7
Luckily for us, it may also be able to protect OUR skin. The Edelweiss plant contains high concentrations of phenolic acids and ﬂavonoids. These compounds are renowned for their ability to help fight UV-induced cell damage – which makes them a great asset to any sunscreen products.8
The Cost of Popularity?
In Switzerland, Edelweiss has been a protected species since 1962. But with these exciting findings comes a new fear. Could a flower that’s long bordered on extinction now meet its doom in the face of the beauty industry?
Thankfully, the Swiss quickly mastered the situation. For the past decade, they’ve been growing the alpine bloom commercially “off-slope” to great success for the cosmetic industry.9
How Do I Find Edelweiss Extract?
Edelweiss extract is found as a cream or serum in anti-aging products, sun protection, and antioxidative treatments. It can be sourced in beauty stores and all over the internet.
(But perhaps you should use this as a perfect excuse to take a trip to Switzerland, no?)