By  on August 10, 2007

Beauty's never-ending quest for exotic “it” ingredients continues, and this season, it has landed some top firms on the shores of Madagascar.

Home to ylang-ylang and vanilla, the tropical island off the east coast of Africa has long been a go-to source for fragrance firms. Now, thanks to big names including Chanel, Clarins, Clinique and Kiehl’s, it is quickly becoming the natural destination for skin care makers.

Often referred to as the eighth continent because of its large array of rare plant and animal species, Madagascar’s recent popularity can also be attributed to the global reach of the beauty industry today. “Companies go all over the earth to find new ingredients,” says Caroline Pieper-Vogt, senior vice president of marketing for Clarins U.S.A. The company’s new Generation 6 Double Serum, due on counter in September, features centella asiatica, a native plant often referred to as tiger grass because tigers are known to roll in it to heal skin wounds.

“We uncovered that there are molecules capable of soothing irritation and stimulating collagen,” says Pieper-Vogt.

Kiehl’s Centella Skin-Calming Facial Cleanser, slated for an October launch, also contains centella asiatica and Clinique’s Zero Gravity Repairwear Lift cream, launching in September, touts Madagascar’s Siegesbeckia Orientalis leaf extract.

Also in October, Chanel plans to introduce its latest skin care line, Beauté Initiale, aimed at stopping damage in young skin with Madagascar blue ginger. The tall, spear-shaped herb boasts antioxidant properties that “have a dual effect, improving radiance and helping to restore skin’s natural defense system,” according to company executives. Chanel’s exclusive version, Blue Ginger PFA, is said to be 1,400 times more concentrated than the extract taken from the herb.

Lisa Hoffman, wife to actor Dustin Hoffman, will also capitalize on the trend that month with her Night and Day 24 Hour Spa Bath Collection, scented with the Madagascar orchid. The note was discovered by Givaudan on a “rain forest Scent Trek” there.

“It is a delicate white star-staped flower with a lush scent,” says Hoffman. “It is clean and fresh, yet rich and intoxicating, a perfect scent for a luxurious bathing experience.”

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