There's no denying that Salma Hayek has the face of an angel. She's ageless. Approaching 50, the Mexican actress has the skin we dream of having at any age. And whenever people look as youthful and fresh-faced as they did 20 years prior, we are desperate to know their antiaging secret. So we were highly intrigued when Hayek revealed to Elle earlier this month that she doesn't use Botox, pills, or fillers—and that her secret weapon is instead a Mexican botanical called tepezcohuite. "It's used in Mexico for burn victims because it completely regenerates the skin, and there's no one in the States who is using this ingredient," she said. If life were a cartoon, that would have been the moment our wheels revved in place until we sped off in search of all of the tepezcohuite ever to slather over our faces 10 times a day until the end of time. Naturally, we had to know more about this little-known, exotic ingredient Hayek says is responsible for her flawless skin, so we did some research into the topic.
Also known as "mimosa tenuiflora," tepezcohuite is a bark tree found in Southern Mexico that resembles a fern. The tree does well at regenerating itself in the aftermath of forest fires, and natives of Mexico refer to it as the "skin tree." It was administered by the Mayan culture thousands of years ago to treat skin lesions such as burns, by grinding the bark up into a powder. In 1984, after a horrific gas explosion in Mexico City killed 500 and left more than 5000 with severe burns, the Red Cross treated the burn patients with tepezcohuite. It was so effective at healing their wounds and regenerating the skin that a year later, when an earthquake caused a series of explosions and fires, tepezcohuite was again used to treat victims.
Tepezcohuite has plenty of benefits, all of which make it a skincare miracle. It's particularly effective in reducing scars, which is how it's made its name. It stimulates stem cells in the skin, which mean the scars heal more quickly from the inside out. Because it has tannins and flavinoids, it reduces collagen and elastin deterioration. Tepezcohuite also inhibits hyaluronidase, in turn helping preserving any hyaluronic acid that's present at the skin level. The plant in high concentrations can even act as a solution to acne.
Unfortunately, because it hasn't been widely adopted by the west, scientific studies to figure out exactly all the ways tepezcohuite works are sorely lacking. However, if you look through enough beauty blogs, there should be a satisfying amount of anecdotal evidence as to the efficacy of this not-yet-hyped ingredient.