Aesculus hippocastanum is a large, deciduous tree commonly known as horse chestnut. Fruit from this tree develop with a shell that is a green, spiky capsule containing one nut-like seed. The seeds, especially those that are young and fresh, are slightly poisonous; although not dangerous to touch, they cause sickness when ingested.
Horse chestnut seed extract contains saponins, which are collectively known as ‘aescin’. When added to skin care formulations, they provide a gentle, soapy feel. Aescin is capable of reducing capillary fragility, and thus can help to prevent leakage of fluids into surrounding tissues. This means that horse chestnut seed extract can help to reduce swelling and puffiness. The saponins found in this extract also possess potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In fact, horse chestnut seed extract is believed to have more powerful antioxidant activity than vitamin E.