Chaparral extract is made from the leaves and stems of the Creosote bush (dwarf evergreen oak). Chaparral extract has a component (Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid) with antioxidant properties. NDGA was widely used by Native Americans as a sunscreen and a protective agent against keratosis caused by exposure to UV rays. As an antioxidant, nordihydroguaiaretic acid has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties for skin.
Topically, chaparral extract can have antimicrobial properties as well. Constitutes are: Alpha-pinene, amino acids, beta-pinene, cobalt, gossypetin, limonene, nordihydroguaiaretic acid or NDGA, zinc. NDGA is thought to moderate hair regrowth and slows down cell growth rate. It’s also considered to reduce DHT levels.
Cosmetic formulators encourage the use of chaparral extract in skin lotions, cleansers, toners and astringents because it “has been known to have anti-septic properties and be useful for acneic skin.” The usual concentration is between 0.5-5%.
Herbalists maintain that chaparral extract contains lignans that are very similar to estrogen, giving it an effect on the skin similar to that of soy taken internally. Some sources cite UV protection.
Chaparral extract may cause contact dermatitis.
Journal of Ethnopharmacology, June 1996, pages 175–177
Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, January 1995, pages 6–12