You might think of yerba mate as a beverage you’d order in a coffee shop. But it turns out that yerba mate—a leafy plant native to South America traditionally brewed as tea—is a powerful skincare ingredient. In addition to vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, yerba mate is also rich in antioxidants and caffeine, making it an excellent ingredient for combating free-radical damage and energizing the skin.
Yerba mate has been consumed by indigeous groups in South America well before European colonization, and it remains popular today—both in beverages and skincare. Unfortunately, the popularity of yerba mate has led to farming practices with not-so-great environmental impacts—namely, deforestation, erosion, and soil exhaustion. Here’s how skincare brand Good Molecules is supporting sustainable farming with the ethically-sourced yerba mate in its Yerba Mate Wake Up Eye Gel.
Young yerba mate plants, ready to be planted.
The yerba mate extract in Good Molecules Yerba Mate Wake Up Eye Gel isn’t just any yerba mate. It’s sourced through a program in southern Brazil called “Mais Floresta com Araucárias,” which aims to restore the region’s native araucaria trees. Due to logging and agriculture, the araucaria tree is at risk for extinction—it was determined to be “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2008.
The iconic silhouette of the araucaria tree.
So how does yerba mate help save the araucaria tree? The “Mais Floresta com Araucárias” program pays farmers to plant araucaria trees alongside yerba mate. This is a practice called agroforestry, a sustainable farming technique in which trees or shrubs are grown among crops. Agroforestry has multiple benefits, including better crop yield, more income for farmers, increased biodiversity, and better soil health, to name a few.
Mature yerba mate plants among araucaria trees.
In sourcing yerba mate through sustainable farming programs like “Mais Floresta com Araucárias,” brands like Good Molecules support reforestation efforts that help to offset carbon emissions, a main cause of climate change and global warming. Responsible sourcing of ingredients is just one way that the beauty industry can do better—and have a positive impact on more than just your skin.
This article was originally published May 11, 2021.