By  on April 13, 2007

LOS ANGELES — The ruby-red seeds of the hard-shelled pomegranate fruit appear to be skin care gold.

Given their high concentration of antioxodants, pomegranate seeds, rich in polyphenol antioxidant ellagic acid, are being incorporated as a key ingredient in items in existing product lines, or are at the center of new skin care collections.

"The skin care industry has picked up on the fact that pomegranates have a high ellagic acid content, which is the same antioxidant that is in goji berries and green tea," said Ian Lirenman, president of EmerginC, a New York maker of natural skin care products. Late last year, EmerginC introduced a pomegranate gel cleanser and toner.

"Because it's a powerful antioxidant, it will have better free radical scavenging abilities and is good for helping with pigmentation issues and the production of collagen," said Lirenman.

His products also contain extract of lemon peel, blackberry and chamomile. The cleanser sells for $45 and the toner sells for $44. Lirenman said that since their launch, the pomegranate items had been enthusiastically received at several local spas and dermatology practices. His company is also working with a doctor to produce and co-brand several new products that will include pomegranate.

Skin care experts agree that the category tends to take a "flavor of the month" approach to active ingredients, but the wave of interest in pomegranates appears to be a lasting one. One study, conducted at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, at South Dakota State University in 2003, shows consumption of pomegranate to be beneficial to the body. Skin care makers have extrapolated from these findings that topical applications can also be helpful for many conditions.

One academic said research at his university revealed positive results, too.

"The research I've done based upon its internal use has shown effectiveness in helping reduce plaque in arteries, 'bad cholesterol' levels and blood pressure," said Gene Bruno, dean of academics at the Huntington College of Health Sciences in Knoxville, Tenn., and also the vice president of Great Earth in Farmingdale, N.Y., a manufacturer of health supplements and vitamins. The company is launching a pomegranate supplement at the end of April.

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