Standing in a tulip farm is like being inside one of those scenic wallpapers you know you’ll never see IRL. And yet there I was: at the Bloomeffects tulip farm in the Netherlands, among rows and rows of flowers of different colors as far as the eye could see. I traveled to Amsterdam to see how the skincare brand creates its “hands-on” collection of beauty products and, after spending an entire day in the scenic grounds with co-founders Kim and Hein van Haaster , I learned that the tulip is then much more than a pretty flower.
To coincide with the trip, I decided to test the ingredient by only using tulip skin care products on my face for two full weeks. Topically, it’s supposed to be a hydrating and skin-smoothing extract that rivals other anti-aging ingredients in the beauty world (even rose). I admit I was skeptical that a simple floral could give my beloved retinol a run for its money. Tulips are Instagram-worthy flowers that look great on my credenza and smell nice and fresh, of course – but all of my favorite ingredients tend to come from less visually appealing sources or are lab-derived and have similar scents to hot dog water (looking at you, fermented green tea extract, cholesterol and algae).
After cleansing, seruming, moisturizing, and masking my complexion with the plant for just a few days, my glow was…unparalleled. I had plump, plump, petal-soft skin – the kind of skin you hope a regimen of floral extracts would deliver.
The van Haasters, of course, made the same discovery before launching Bloomeffects in 2019. When Kim moved to the Netherlands to be with her husband Hein – whose family owns a 115-year-old tulip farm – she found herself first was struck by how beautiful the botany is. With a background in the beauty industry, she began researching how (and if) tulips can benefit the skin. Ultimately, they have some serious skin-enhancing prowess — so much so that they make the ubiquitous beauty rose pale in comparison.
“Tulips are one of the only flowers that continue to grow and lengthen even after being cut,” van Haaster told Bustle. Applied topically, this regeneration process results in increased collagen production (for example, it strengthens the building blocks of your skin). On top of that, it’s a superstar moisturizer. “Tulips are a natural humectant and can hold their full weight in water, which translates to moisturizing benefits in skin care,” van Haaster says. On top of that, the flower is rich in antioxidants, so it helps protect your complexion from free radical damage while gently evens out the skin. Compared to roses in skin care, tulips are richer in fatty acids, contain more amino acids, have more flavonoids, and are more suitable for sensitive skin. Not a bad resume for a beauty ingredient to have.
Typically, I soak my skin in a cocktail of fruit enzymes, retinol, and powerful chemical exfoliants — all powerful actives with science-backed beauty benefits. But I noticed that my skin reacted pretty quickly when I put my medical-grade regimen on the back burner and used Bloomeffects Tulip-enriched formulas instead. The redness that resided next to my nose and on my chin disappeared, and my face became irresistibly soft and perky. The brand’s new mineral-based sunscreen, the Tulip Dew Sunscreen Serum (yes, an SPF with tulip extract), has done wonders to protect my complexion while giving it the most subtle glow. And, although I was wary of trying the Dutch Dirt Mask – as physical exfoliators are often too harsh on my skin – it left my complexion brighter without causing irritation or feeling peel off the top five layers of my skin. My face also felt adequately hydrated all day thanks to my tulip-based skincare regimen, which is a welcome feat since I’m usually so prone to dryness. I was hooked.
I thought I was new to the Church of the Tulip, but I was wrong: the attraction of the flower actually dates back to the 17th century. Seriously – between 1633 and 1637, “tulip mania” was a time in Dutch history when people suddenly started investing in tulip bulbs, leading to major inflation. It was basically the Yeezy sneaker of the 1600s. Prices rose to 5,000 guilders (over $500,000 today) for a single bulb. “The black tulip in particular was every botanist’s dream in the 17th century,” says Dutch history expert Ad Geerdink. “If you could grow this flower [back then], you would instantly be a millionaire. Today, Bloomeffects offers a complete collection of black tulips that uses the rare variety in its special anti-aging formulas. “In our research, we found that the deeper and darker the petal, the higher the number of flavonoids, which leads to better antioxidant protection for the skin,” says van Haaster. Cue me slathering on plenty of Bloomeffects Black Tulip facial treatment that night in the quest for even more radiant skin. (Hint: it did the job.) My theory? The Dutch applied tulip extract to their skin in the 17th century and it is why the demand was so high.
Fast forward to weeks later when my tulip skin care experiment came to an end. I had stopped using my floral beauty products and realized that my skin wasn’t as soft or plump as when I doused it with tulip extract. (Was that… withering?) As I took a close look at my newly dull complexion one morning, I decided to put aside my exfoliating serum and apply one with the magic of tulips inside. of the vial instead. I had an a-ha moment: Tulip is like the Elle Woods of the skincare world. It’s nice, it works hard while being kind, and there is no doubt about it. The next time you see a tulip in a bouquet, show it some respect.
Hajem, N. (2021). Purple tulip extract improves signs of skin aging through dermal structural modulation, as shown by genomic, protein expression and skin appearance of the volunteers studied. J Cosmet Dermatol. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32613704/