What is it?
Irises are perennial plants which grow in Europe, Asia and North America, and are known for their flowers. Iris florentina extract and iris root (also known as orris root) are used widely in perfumery and also in skincare.
What is it used for?
Iris has a scent almost like that of violets and so is widely used as a fragrance ingredient. However, in the form of iris florentina extract and orris root, it has long been used in anti-ageing products too due to natural isoflavones which are said to stimulate the skin and help to limit the breakdown of structural proteins, though research on the topic is limited. It is primarily - but not exclusively - used by natural and organic brands who will often steer clear of synthetic anti-ageing alternatives.
What are the pros and cons of using it?
If you prefer to use natural ingredients in your skincare regime, then iris florentina is an alternative to chemical anti-ageing options. It is said to be nourishing and soothing as well as targeting fine lines and dullness in the skin, and carries a delicate natural fragrance. However research into the use of iris in skincare is pretty scarce, and many believe that it can in fact cause irritation and sensitised skin reactions. If you have sensitive skin to begin with - or have a known allergy to orris root - then it might be best to avoid iris in favour of ingredients with a greater amount of scientific research to their name, however many have used products containing iris extract without experiencing any problems.
Which products can I find it in?
Iris is primarily found in leave-on anti-ageing skincare products such as masks, creams, essences and balms. Try Kiehl's Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence, Weleda Iris Hydrating Day Cream or Decléor Aromessence Iris Night Balm.