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The return of sea buckthorn

The berry is being used in new ways in restaurants and skincare products alike.

Touted as a superfood, sea buckthorn became popular as an ingredient in body oils and even chocolates. Now, the tart, vitamin-rich berry that grows wild in parts of Asia and Europe is seeing a resurgence in popularity with wellness-minded chefs and makers of skincare products utilizing it in innovative ways.

Culinary use

At decorated French chef Jean-Georges’ recent New York plant-based outfit abcV, sea buckthorn flavors a whipped macadamia milk breakfast bowl studded with persimmon, bananas, and gooseberries. “I added sea buckthorn because it's full of vitamins and antioxidants, and has a delicious sour tropical flavor, almost like passion fruit,” explains abcV chef de cuisine Neal Harden.

Also a fan of the berry: Marissa Lippert, nutritionist and owner of West Village clean eats café Nourish Kitchen + Table. She's adding it to her menu's juices.“Sea buckthorn is jammed with healthy omega 7s," she notes. Research shows that omega 7s improve markers of inflammation and support healthy cholesterol levels. The berry can also be found in smoothies at Great Northern Food Hall in Grand Central Station and combined with passion fruit in a tea at Coffee Mania in New York City.

Similarly, San Francisco-based chef and former Iron Chef contestant, Elizabeth Falkner, adds the super-fruit to savory dishes for extra texture and flavor. "I'll throw it into pasta and it's kind of like adding raisins and capers at the same time," she says.

Skincare use

Meanwhile, Utah-based skincare brand Sibu has expanded its sea buckthorn-infused offerings with everything from soaps to serums. "The fatty acids in sea buckthorn are vital building blocks of human skin," says the company's founder, Bruce McMullin. "When taken orally, it's great for supporting skin, hair, and nails," he notes.

California outfit Odacite recently began to incorporate sea buckthorn into its toxin-free skincare line to reduce the oil naturally secreted from the sebaceous glands, helping to prevent acne. Studies showthat it's (again) thanks to those omega 7s, which can help reduce sebum production by 45 percent while at the same time keeping skin hydrated.

Further, the berry also contains vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotenes, "all essential building blocks to healthy skin,” according to Laurel Shaffer, founder of green skincare brand Laurel Whole Plant Organics. “The berry is incredibly high in vitamin C, which aids in a whole host of skin healing abilities such as healing sun damage, preventing hyperpigmentation, building new collagen, and even repairing damaged DNA over time," she adds.