We learn about the latest key ingredient in the battle against premature aging.

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The old saying goes that little girls are made of “sugar and spice and everything nice”—and winding through the vibrant Spice Market that takes over Grenada’s capital of St. George’s every Saturday, I’ve never been more inspired to be a girl.  The dewy scent of the tropics mingles with more pungent aromas, drawing you in like a siren song.  If it’s sensory seduction you seek, this island is your paradise.  And as if to prove it, turning a corner, I spy the treasure  I’m searching for—the hottest new ingredient in the battle against  premature aging.  Like the best Victoria Secret ad, the small, black stone peaks provocatively out of the fruit’s flesh encased in an intricate, lacy, red layer.  Nutmeg.  Sexy, exotic: Is it any wonder that this rumoured aphrodisiac has been a key ingredient in the beauty regimens of the local women for centuries? 

Old World Beauty 

Providing a third of the world’s nutmeg, the women of “The Spice Isle” have long understood the benefits of their most important export. In addition to adding flavour to cookies and cakes, nutmeg is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, and there is antidotal evidence to support its ability to heal acne and minimize the appearance of scars. Local do-it-yourself beauty tricks claim to give you gorgeous, young-looking skin—with ingredients you can find in your baking cupboard!

Combining nutmeg’s anti-inflammatory properties with the antiseptic qualities of honey can make a fragrant, natural facial mask. A homemade facial scrub made from nutmeg powder and orange lentil powder can help you remove the excess oil and dead skin that cause blackheads, leaving your skin fresh and young looking. The oil of the nutmeg seed can also be very beneficial. Both antiseptic and anti-bacterial, oil extracted from the nut can bring life to dull or dry skin and minimize fine lines. It’s a key ingredient in many local soaps, lotions, and creams, and can have a soothing and refreshing effect if you add a few drops of the essential oil to your bath.

A Not-So-Tough Nut to Crack 

Intrigued by the anti-aging attributes of natural nutmeg, but not into the baking-cupboard approach to beauty? Fear not. Nutmeg’s skin-care attributes are far from old wives’ tales. Studies have found that nutmeg contains macelignan, an active polyphenol that has recently been clinically proven to help increase the volume of adipose (fat) tissue found underneath the skin. Many of the signs of aging—sunken features, sallow colour and fine lines—come from the reduction of the natural plumpness of skin as you get older. The increase of adipose tissue means that nutmeg extract can help to fill in wrinkles and expression lines. In addition, macelignan has been found to help increase the development of new adipose cells, which naturally decline with aging.

With the buzz generated by grass-roots nutmeg-based natural beauty remedies, research and development firms for the cosmetic industry have started to sit up and take notice.  Spain’s Provital Group, a company specializing in the creation of environmentally sound products, has created Noline—a nutmeg-based anti-aging product. A study conducted on volunteers between the ages of 35 and 50 reported a 19 per cent improvement in the visibility of lines and wrinkles, with a 25 per cent improvement in overall skin quality. Proudly paraben-free, 76 per cent of volunteers saw their deepest wrinkles filled. Across the pond, Milbar Labratories in New Haven, Conn., have developed its own nutmeg-based anti-aging product. Containing 95 per cent pure macelignan, Numelle is patent pending, and clinical data has found positive results indicating that it can brighten skin, reduce wrinkles and increase skin firmness. Numelle should be available in prestige department stores and through direct response and multi-level marketing in late fall.

Grenada’s best-kept secret is finally out—and from Europe’s haute couture to North America’s home-grown remedies, it’s taking over the skin-care scene. Back in St. George’s Spice Market, a choir of proprietors tempt me—bright sarongs, handmade jewelry, floppy beach hats. But clutching my bag of the Spice Isle’s “black gold,” I’ve found the treasure I came for. Sugar and spice. After all, that’s what little girls are made of. 

The U.K.’s couture fragrance company Jo Malone offers a range of spice-inspired products, including Nutmeg and Ginger Cologne, Crème and Bath Oil (From $65 to $151 at jomalone.com). 

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Closer to home, the organic W.S. Badger Company in New Hampshire makes Nutmeg and Shea Everyday Moisturizer ($13.40). Both products are available to order at badgerbalm.com. 

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