By Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro, Contributing Editor
"On the motionless branches of some trees, autumn berries hung like clusters of coral beads, as in those fabled orchards where the fruits were jewels".
— Charles Dickens
With November behind us, it's safe to surmise that you may not have cranberries on your shopping list. Aside from that gelatinous tinned Thanksgiving blob, or the saccharine juice "cocktail" added to spirits for a happy hour bevvie, cranberries are mostly relegated to the proverbial bench.
According to Ocean Spray, these gem-like ruby berries were referred to as "ibimi" by the Leni-Lenape, meaning "bitter berry". Native Americans mashed cranberries, then mixed them with deer flesh to create sustenance known as "pemmicana". Cranberries were also commonly used to stave off scurvy, as a poultice for wounds, and to dye garments. Later on, Dutch and German settlers called them "crane berries", as the evergreen shrub’s flowers resembled the head and bill of cranes. "Crane berry" became "cranberry", and here we are.
Aside from preventing and treating ulcers, gum disease and UTIs, this phytochemical-packed fruit is known as the "wonderberry". (Phytochemicals are compounds in plants which give them their taste, fragrance and color.)
To understand how impactful these crimson jewels are, an 8 ounce glass of cranberry juice provides 137% of our recommended daily vitamin C, according to cranberries.org. Antioxidant-rich and loaded with carotenoids, vitamins A, K, and E, cranberries help prevent and even stop the affects of aging in their tracks.
Need more reasons to love these claret-colored baubles? Antimocrobial anthocyanins found in deeply pigmented berries have been shown to reduce cancer cell proliferation, lower blood pressure, and prevent cardiovascular disease. As if that weren't enough, cranberries are an anti-inflammatory food which combat diabetes, obesity and arthritis.
It’s worth mentioning that while cranberry fruits tend to get most of our attention, their seeds are actually rich in skin-loving essential fatty acids. Skincare industry professionals point out that cranberry seed oil has as a perfect 1:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 essential fatty acids. Cold-pressed cranberry seed oil is a brightening, super-hydrating powerhouse ingredient that’s added to cleansers and lotions to ramp up their healing properties. Additionally, this quickly absorbed oil contains linoleic acid, which helps maintain hydration and strengthen our skin’s natural barrier. This yields a protective shield, blocking free-radicals and pollution. Safe for all skin types and constitutions, it’s also used to calm dry, fatigued skin, acne, eczema and psoriasis.
Maintaining a regular daily exercise regimen and adding cranberries to a whole foods, primarily plant based diet is an excellent way to rev-up your year-end health boost. Bring them into your skincare routine, and you’ll be on a path to glowing, holistic wellness, inside and out. Check out these cranberry-infused products, then scroll down for our new DIY face scrub recipe featuring these dynamic berries.
Three-in-one cranberry milk toner cleanses, tones and hydrates, infusing skin with protective antioxidants to leave it glowing and refreshed. Removes dirt, oil and make-up. Helps protect and clarify skin with Cranberry Extract, containing vitamins, phyto-nutrients and essential fatty acids. Assists in neutralizing free radicals with Grape Seed Extract. Nourish and restore skin with White Tea Extract and Rice Milk.
An all-over moisturizer that provides instant relief and long-term hydration for dry, distressed skin and eczema. Banish dry skin with First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Cream. Suitable for all skin types, especially dry, flaky skin, this hydration wonder leaves skin feeling smooth, hydrated and comfortable after just a single use. Formulated with Colloidal Oatmeal, Shea Butter, Ceramide 3 and the FAB Antioxidant Booster, it provides immediate relief and visible improvement for parched skin and it is clinically proven to more than double hydration immediately upon application.
PC: First Aid Beauty
Antioxidant powerhouse that moisturizes and protects skin from photo-aging. Cold-pressed by Berry Beautiful from sustainably grown, certified organic red raspberry seeds.
PC: Berry Beautiful
A soothing facial oil loaded with nourishing and protective oils to help a sensitive or sensitized skin become calm. Soy bioflavonoids help to take down inflammation while CoQ10 gives antioxidant protection for an oil that’ll keep you glowing all day long.
PC: Jordan Samuel
And now, for some homespun skincare fun. . .
Anna Maria’s Berry Brightening Face Scrub
1 tbsp pureed cranberries
(or 2 tbsp fresh cranberries)
1 tbsp coconut, almond or olive oil
1 tbsp ground coffee
pinch of cinnamon
Mash the berries using a food processor or mortar and pestle, add coffee, neutral oil and cinnamon. (A blender will also do the trick.)
Blend until all ingredients are incorporated. Add a few drops of water if the paste is too thick. Apply to a clean, damp face using circular motions and massage gently onto neck and decolletage. Leave on for 5 minutes, remove with a dark, wet face towel. It’s a messy process, so it may be best to hop straight into a nice warm shower. Follow up with your favorite serum or face oil. Feel your hydrated skin drinking in the benefits of this self-care treat.
We hope you'll enjoy this scrub and reap the many benefits of bringing cranberries into the fold this December, and perhaps all year 'round. Stay safe, be well, and try to embrace all of the simple pleasures this season has to offer.
Photo Credits: Arcona, First Aid Beauty, Berry Beautiful, Jordan Samuel, Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro