Yes—in theory. “Wild-crafted, foraged ingredients are exposed to environmental stressors that traditionally harvested botanicals are spared from,” says clean cosmetic chemist Krupa Koestline, founder of KKT Consultants. “Therefore, these stressed plants produce higher levels of antioxidants as a coping mechanism to deal with the stressors. Therefore, in principle, wildcrafted varieties have higher levels of beneficial antioxidants compared to traditionally grown.”
That in principle mention is important: We don’t have a ton of data right now when it comes to comparing wild versus organically farmed skin care. We do have science behind extremophile endurance technology, where plants living in extreme, uninhabitable environments—the desert, depths of the ocean, the Arctic—can have some pretty potent benefits for the skin (read all about it here).
But what about wild-crafted ingredients that don’t live in extreme conditions, like the bottom of the ocean? What about plants that are just a little more stressed by living in nutrient-rich, untouched soil rather than in nice, pretty rows on cultivated ground?
It certainly makes sense, but it’s a wider-known concept in the organic food space—with topicals, the actual science isn’t caught up quite yet. “I don’t think it’s a hypothesis that’s been tested,” says board-certified dermatologist Cynthia Bailey, M.D., founder of Dr. Bailey Skin Care. “That may be a ‘cart before the horse’ situation.”
In other words: It’s promising, but we do have some ways to go. Butler concurs: “We have only just begun to scratch the surface in regard to what benefits [wild plants] can bring to the surface of the skin when applied topically.”