Monday, July 7, 2014Ingredient of the month

Tilia, the magic lime tree


Skincare and protection: these are the two words that sum up the cosmetic benefits of the lime tree. On top of that, it soothes, refreshes and perfumes the skin, and shows a good skin tolerance. Here is a beauty ingredient to (re)discover.

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~ 5 minutes

One story, several symbols

The lime tree is an ornamental tree with an exceptional longevity. The oldest is said to be 1700! Some of those planted in almost all villages across France as part of a policy ordered by Henri IV and Sully can still be seen alongside French roads! Such as those of 1792, the year when the lime tree was chosen to embody the French Revolution’s values of liberty.
It is said that having a lime tree in one’s garden augurs peaceful and serene family gatherings around the table. No argument in the shade of a lime tree! It is true that, at flowering time, it gives off a very pleasant, soft and sweet smell. And the herbal tea made out of its flowers is known for its soothing properties.
The lime tree used to be a sacred tree that symbolized femininity, love and justice in mythology, and then during the ancient times, long before landscape gardeners in search of senses, but also of harmonious branches, sought it for the conviviality it provides. These qualities are only matched by its health and beauty benefits.

One lime tree, several lime trees

Nature is generous, and it offers the cosmetics industry not one, but several species of lime trees. European lime trees (Tilia europaea) are divided into two categories: small-leaved lime trees (Tilia cordata) and large-leaved lime trees (Tilia platyphyllos). Their crossbreed (a natural hybrid) created the intermediate or common lime tree (Tilia vulgaris). There are also silver lime trees in Asia (Tilia tomentosa), others in America (Tilia Americana)… and they all provide their flowers, leaves, bark, wood or buds, for numerous cosmetic applications.

One tree, several actives

If each species has their own specificities, the properties of the various ingredients they offer do bear similarities.
Extracts are known for smoothing, hydrating and softening the skin, flowers have soothing benefits, the essential oils derived from them enrich the hints of perfume, while floral water is softening and toning, and boosts the complexion’s radiance. The sapwood provides a refreshing, soothing active, buds form a film and thus protect hair fibres in particular, which they coat without making them heavy.
The lime tree can thus be found in all categories of hygiene and beauty products, from shampoos and shower gels to skincare creams for dry and sensitive skins, from makeup to baby products…
It is to be noted that such diversity is associated with a very good skin tolerance: no undesirable effect is known to be related to the use of lime tree actives in cosmetics.

One active, several means of action

Just like all cosmetic ingredients, the actives derived from the lime tree first act in a traditional way, through cutaneous application.
However, their sphere of action, particularly that of floral extracts and essential oils, extends far beyond the sole skincare action. Of course, without being assimilated to that of medicine (it is prohibited by law, as by the accurate assessment of the expected effects!), it also affects one’s psychology, though in a more subtle way. There is no doubt the soothing action provided to fragile skins, or skins prone to red blotches, goes hand in hand with a more global soothing effect; thus the lime tree, which in this case is often combined with orange blossom or other actives of the same type, is used in numerous “relaxing” bath products or "unwind” massage oils"…

One tilia, several ingredients

The official names the Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients gives the actives derived from the lime tree all have a common root, tilia, completed with what makes their own specificities. Here are a few examples of the most used:
Tilia americana flower extract : American lime tree flower extract – Soothing, perfuming
Tilia americana flower oil: American lime tree flower essential oil – Masking, flavouring, perfuming agent
Tilia cordata extract: Small-leaved lime tree extract – Refreshing, smoothing, soothing agent, skin protective agent
Tilia cordata flower water: Small-leaved lime tree floral water – Masking, toning agent
Tilia cordata oil: Small-leaved lime tree essential oil – Masking, perfuming agent
Tilia cordata wood extract: Small-leaved lime tree sapwood extract – Refreshing, hydrating, soothing agent
Tilia platyphyllos extract: Large-leaved lime tree bark and leave extract – Soothing, hydrating
Tilia tomentosa bud extract: Silver lime tree bud extract – Plasticizing, film-forming, hair conditioning
Tilia vulgaris flower extract: Common lime tree extract – Soothing
Tilia vulgaris flower water: Common lime tree floral water – Masking, perfuming agent

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