CHOLLEY Techniques: Phytocosmetics part 4

Phytocosmetics are cosmetic products whose principal active ingredients are derived from plants as opposed to being produced synthetically.  Phytocosmetics owe a great debt to popular and empirical medicine that over thousands of years through the crude technique of trial and error has identified the beneficial properties of innumerable plants.  Today equipped with our knowledge of chemistry and biology we can understand the scientific foundation of these properties.  However, there are still many natural mysteries that are beyond our current state of knowledge.

Chemistry of Phytocosmetics

To understand and appreciate phytocosmetics a basic knowledge of chemistry is indispensable.  The following is the second part of our overview of the basic concepts for better comprehension of the active ingredients used in CHOLLEY products. In the previous post we explored Minerals, Silicic and Alpha-Hydroxy Acid, Mucilages and Glycosides. In the following post we will talk about Saponins, Tannins, Resins and Alkaloids.

Chemical structure of the saponin "Solanine"


Saponins are a class of glycosides which have detergent properties.  When dissolved in water, they produce a foamy solutions and hence derive their name (from latin saponi.)   Saponins are found in a large number of plants.  Their internal use requires great caution.  When they enter the blood stream in a large dose, they dissolve the red blood cells which can be fatal.  In small doses they are diuretic, laxative, and expectorant.


These compounds precipitate albumen from cells; for this reason they are used to turn animal hide into leather.  They are very diffuse in nature and are found in a great number of plants.

In their free state and a high dose, they can be irritating.  In a small dose they can precipitate a small amount of albumen in the cells of mucus membrane, thus making them impermeable.  This prevents irritating substances from reaching deeper levels; thus helps the healing process.  It also explains their constipating action, and their role in treatment of burns.

Tannins also have an antibiotic action.  By depriving bacteria from albumen as a food source their proliferation is stopped.  In addition, precipitation of the albumen in the bacteria themselves, leads to their destruction.  Tannins can provoke contraction of fine blood vessels which helps stop certain types of hemorrhages.

Tannic acid, a type of tannin
Progetto senza titolo (1)


Resins are often produced along with essential oils, however, they are not volatile.  Resins are often used as irritants to increase blood flow in certain treatments.


Alkaloids are organic substances containing nitrogen which have a stimulating effect on the central and often also vegetative nervous systems.  Some alkaloids are highly toxic and their use need to be carefully controlled.  However, they can be extremely beneficial in treatment of some ailments and relieving of pain.

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