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Goji Berry and Wolfberry—Living a Double Life in Innovation?

Posted: April 17, 2007
Courtesy of Cosmetics & Toiletries Magazine

The goji berry lives a double life in the beauty arena. The berry, also known as wolfberry, is seen as a strong Chinese medicinal, herbal ingredient. Although the goji is known for its strong antioxidant protection, it comes with its own controversy. Some groups argue that the goji berry is a completely different berry known as the Tibetan Lycium berry, indigenous to the Tibetan and Mongolian regions. According to the Tibetan Goji Berry Company, the goji berry “grows in very remote, unpolluted hills and valleys of Tibet and Mongolia, in soil so rich in nutrients that the berries are exploding with this special nurturing vitality.”

Other groups, however, claim that the wolfberry is simply the name that is most commonly used in English, while gǒuqǐzi (goji berry) is the Chinese name. Mintel Cosmetic Research shows that the while wolfberry has been showing up in skin care products for a few years, it is indeed the goji berry that is being listed in some of the newest, most innovative products this year. The wolfberry is touted for its strong antioxidant protection, while the goji berry is being used in more forward-thinking products.

Estée Lauder launched Re-Nutriv Revitalizing Comfort Crème in 2005, citing the use of Reishi mushroom and Chinese wolfberry to “boost natural collagen levels while rich emollients lock in moisture.” The product was inspired by ancient Chinese medicine and used ginseng extracts, along with the Reishi mushroom and wolfberry, for their powerful antioxidant protection. Sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil and cupuacu butter provide the skin with hydration.

Elizabeth Arden First Defense Advanced Antioxidant Cream SPF 15 was launched in China in 2004, claiming that carnosine and wolfberry plant extracts were used for their ability to outperform vitamins A, C and E in neutralizing skin-damaging free radicals. The ingredient is actually listed as Lycium Chinese fruit extract, which some would claim to be goji berry if it came from the right region. However, the use of “goji berries” had not yet become popular.