Nothing tests a person’s will to eat something quite like the struggle to get to the heart of an artichoke. “How badly do you want to make a dip out of me?,” it taunts. “Badly enough to handle my sharp, pointy outside and peel away my thorny inner leaves?” And then at the end of it you have one single piece. One heart of one artichoke.
But it’s worth it, isn’t it, because goddamn—artichokes are delicious. And so versatile, too! I can’t think of a single meal that would not be made better by the addition of an artichoke. More artichoke info: They’re higher in antioxidants than most other vegetables; they’re relatively low in calories, at about 60 per artichoke; and they’re packed with potassium, protein, fiber, vitamin C, and magnesium. All good things, sure, but it gets better.
For every fruit, vegetable, plant, and assorted thing growing on this earth, there is an extract. Artichoke is no exception. And for every extract, there is someone who will put it in skin care and try to pass it off as the real deal, something that’s gonna change your face and your life and alter your destiny for the better. But unlike so many other supposedly heroic ingredients, there may actually be some truth to the outstanding benefits of artichoke-infused skin care. There are studies.
Research presented by Procter & Gamble—back in 2014, no less, making it all the more alarming that we still haven’t fully embraced the humble artichoke as a beauty necessity—indicated that when applied twice daily, a moisturizer containing artichoke extract significantly improved the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in the eye area. Japanese company Ichimaru Pharcos, which tests the efficacy of potential cosmetics ingredients, also conducted a smaller study that found artichoke extract to improve skin elasticity, help prevent photo-aging, and tighten prominent pores. (You can find that information in .pdf form here.)
The scientifically proven verdict is that artichoke extract—in moisturizers, in serums, in essences, in toners—prevents pore “sagging” by strengthening and reinforcing cells from the inside, which also supports the defense against wrinkles; the same nutritional values that make the vegetable/thistle/flowering bud an antioxidant powerhouse are also a recipe for smaller pores and younger-looking skin. And because preparing an artichoke to eat is difficult enough without having to break down some kind of extract, here are six ready-to-go products that require no kitchen expertise whatsoever. Your paring knife skills aren’t the only thing artichokes are helping to make stronger.