Luxe Botanics

A botanic skincare line scientifically formulated to allow nature to nurture your skin.


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Don’t Be a Greenwashing Victim: 6 Key Points to Remember

Pure. Natural. Organic. Green. Clean. Chemical-free. These words make us feel comfort. Chemicals. Non-natural. Synthetic. Man-made. These words make us squirm. But when it comes to choosing a skincare product, is it that easy to differentiate what’s truly safe and effective for you—by looking for these words claimed on a label?

The short answer is: not always. These days, too many consumers are “greenwashed,” believing a company is environmentally responsible or that its products are truly “all-natural,” which often happens when the company demonizes ingredients that were made in a lab or using scary terms like “chemicals.”

But don’t be fooled! In today’s post, we’ll share the key points to bear in mind in order to shop smart for skin care and bypass all the greenwashing we face today.

 

Performance Is As Important As Safety… And Sometimes That Requires Supporting Ingredients

For centuries, cultures around the world have harnessed natural resources from their part of the world to create effective beauty solutions. For example, local women in Africa rely on the oil of Marula to keep their skin youthful despite spending hours under the sun. There are no labs, no additives, no preservatives. Just the oil. Many people insist this is the only way to go… that mixtures are bound to contain harmful toxins.

But if you were to have the wherewithal to enhance your one miracle ingredient so your skincare is that much more effective, wouldn’t you? Many botanicals in nature are able to work in harmony to provide glow-boosting benefits, making them all the more powerful. This is why we complement our Marula oil with other botanicals like Jojoba, Carrot and Rosehip (three well-known, tried-and-true ingredients known to transform skin). The key here is synergy—and when a skincare product is synergistically formulated, it can make a world of difference for your complexion.

 

Using the Word “Natural” in Marketing Is NOT Regulated in the U.S.

That’s right—a company can add a few drops of low-quality botanical oil to an otherwise toxin-filled formula and call it natural. On top of that, personal-care products are not tested to see if the manufacturer has in fact included the ingredients they claim it contains. The FDA hardly regulates anything (as of now), so “natural” doesn’t mean anything. The good news is that if you lack confidence about where the ingredients are sourced or how safe they are, you can always switch to a brand that offers total, 100% transparency, and is willing to answer questions about how they craft their formulas.

 

“Natural” Doesn’t Always Mean It’s Good for You

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Although there are many benefits to going the natural route, it should also be noted that natural is not invariably better for everyone. There are natural ingredients out there that can be abrasive and harsh on sensitive skin. For example, some plant oils, like coriander, can cause allergic reactions in some people. Although the word natural undoubtedly comes with a positive connotation, it’s important to realize and remember that not all natural ingredients are created equal.

Also—though we’re stating the obvious here—keep in mind that nature is sometimes harmful. Poison oak, poison ivy and certain poisonous mushrooms are no doubt natural, but we wouldn’t want to go anywhere near them!

 

Ingredients Created by Humans Can Actually Be Good

There’s no evidence to suggest that certain manmade ingredients are harmful. Take certain forms of squalane, for example. Although it’s a moisturizing substance found in olives and sharks, it’s totally possible to recreate it—safely and sustainably—in a lab. And the results are just the same.

 

Sometimes, Natural and Synthetic Need to Work Together

Oftentimes, it’s necessary to combine both natural and synthetic ingredients in a skincare product to ensure the highest level of efficacy. Take sunblock as an example. Many sunblocks contain titanium dioxide, which is natural, but this ingredient is further helped along by sodium hyaluronate, which is synthetic. Sodium hyaluronate improves the texture of sunscreen, making it easier to apply and spread on the skin. Together, these two ingredients make for the most effective sunblock to keep you protected.

 

The Term “Chemical” Is Misleading

Many people have an immediate visceral reaction when confronted with the term, as “chemicals” are almost always considered toxic or poisonous. However, everything in nature is made of chemicals, even something as beneficial and crucial to humans as water. We just rarely think of water in terms of its chemical name, dihydrogen monoxide. Plus, plenty of natural ingredients have scientific names that are long, hard to spell, hard to pronounce and, therefore, quite intimidating. Yet they are no more harmful because of it.

To illustrate this point, James Kennedy, who teaches chemistry in Melbourne, Australia, made this in a post on Aeon.co:

“In reality, ‘natural’ products are usually more chemically complicated than anything we can create in the lab. To demonstrate, I broke down the components in an ordinary banana. (For brevity’s sake, I omitted the thousands of minority ingredients, including DNA.) Here is the result:

0b6fa5bc4047875a8fd36574ba1e21f9INGREDIENTS: WATER (75%), SUGARS (12%) (GLUCOSE (48%), FRUCTOSE (40%), SUCROSE (2%), MALTOSE (<1%)), STARCH (5%), FIBRE E460 (3%), AMINO ACIDS (<1%) (GLUTAMIC ACID (19%), ASPARTIC ACID (16%), HISTIDINE (11%), LEUCINE (7%), LYSINE (5%), PHENYLALANINE (4%), ARGININE (4%), VALINE (4%), ALANINE (4%), SERINE (4%), GLYCINE (3%), THREONINE (3%), ISOLEUCINE (3%), PROLINE (3%), TRYPTOPHAN (1%), CYSTINE (1%), TYROSINE (1%), METHIONINE (1%)), FATTY ACIDS (1%) (PALMITIC ACID (30%), OMEGA-6 FATTY ACID: LINOLEIC ACID (14%), OMEGA-3 FATTY ACID: LINOLENIC ACID (8%), OLEIC ACID (7%), PALMITOLEIC ACID (3%), STEARIC ACID (2%), LAURIC ACID (1%), MYRISTIC ACID (1%), CAPRIC ACID (<1%)), ASH (<1%), PHYTOSTEROLS, E515, OXALIC ACID, E300, E306 (TOCOPHEROL), PHYLLOQUINONE, THIAMIN, COLOURS (YELLOW-ORANGE E101 (RIBOFLAVIN), YELLOW-BROWN E160a), FLAVOURS (3-METHYLBUT-1-YL ETHANOATE, 2-METHYLBUTYL ETHANOATE, 2-METHYLPROPAN-1-OL, 3-METHYLBUTYL-1-OL, 2-HYDROXY-3-METHYLETHYL BUTANOATE, 3-METHYLBUTANAL, ETHYL HEXANOATE, ETHYL BUTANOATE, PENTYL ACETATE), 1510, NATURAL RIPENING AGENT (ETHENE GAS).”

So if you’re the type of person who shuns a product just because you “can’t pronounce” an ingredient, remember this!

 

Takeaway

There are unfortunately a bevy of products out there that tell you they are “chemical-free” and completely “natural” and “pure,” but many times it means something far different than what you imagine. And in terms of wording and marketing, we have a long ways to go. As Kennedy says, “‘Pure’ should refer to single-ingredient products only. ‘Natural’ products should be sold exactly as they occur in nature, and ‘natural’ should be forbidden as a marketing term for cosmetics and other products. Finally, the use of ‘chemical-free’ – a logical impossibility – on product labels needs to be stopped.”

The brighter side of all this? There are some amazing skincare companies out there (we think we’re one of them ;)) that not only mean what we say, but exist on the pillars of honesty and transparency in order to provide the most high-performing skincare with safe, nature-inspired and nature-derived gems.

So if you ever have a question, just ask!

hello@luxebotanics.com

 

Naturally yours,

The Luxe Botanics Team

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Marula Oil: Healer of Skin, Souls and the Environment

At Luxe Botanics, we care about not only what we present on stage, but also what’s behind the curtain. What we mean is that we’ve chosen the most high-performing botanical ingredients to provide you with visibly effective solutions. Every bottle of skincare we deliver encapsulates our passion for beautiful skin. But what you’re not able to see are how our skincare is made. We ensure they’re all ethically sourced and benefit the women who harvest them for us. We believe in our own little “circle of life” —and it’s one of our most important tenets.

 

Today, we wanted to highlight our superstar, Marula oil. Marula oil is not only good for your skin—it’s also economically beneficial to the African women who gather it and environmentally sustainable.

 

Marula is a type of tree with the botanical name Sclerocarya birrea. It grows throughout many regions of Africa, including Kenya. The tree produces a fruit with two to three oil-rich kernels, or nuts, inside. These nuts are used to make Marula oil, a prized ingredient in natural skincare. The multitasking, overachieving Marula oil fights all the signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, sagging, leaving skin looking youthful and hydrated. In fact, it’s so good, we’ve made it one of our core botanicals.

 

African people have used Marula oil for thousands of years. It has been used for cooking, to preserve meat, to treat leather and as a natural cosmetic. African women use the oil to soothe and heal dry, cracked skin.[1] They also use it as a massage lotion for newborn babies!

 

Marula oil effectively fights the signs of aging skin. It does this by hydrating and moisturizing skin, increasing skin’s elasticity and combating skin damage. Here are few of the ways Marula oil achieves these remarkable results.

LB MARULA RANGE

Marula Oil’s Acids Are Incredibly Effective Moisturizers

The main reason Marula oil is so good for your skin is because it’s high in fatty acids. A clinical analysis done by the University of Technology in South Africa found that Marula oil is very high in oleic acid.[2] Oleic acid, also known as omega-9 fatty acid, is a healthy, monounsaturated fat that your body also naturally produces.

 

Marula oil has a higher concentration of oleic acid than olive oil, making it considerably more shelf-stable.[3] Marula oil also contains linoleic, or omega-6, acid. Your body doesn’t make this acid naturally, so it’s important you provide your skin with it. Both these types of acids work together to help to add youthful moisture to your skin.

 

Marula Oil Is a Fantastic Antioxidant

Antioxidants, which help prevent and neutralize free radical damage, are arguably one of the most important ingredients you can apply to your skin.

 

To give you a bit of a science lesson, free radicals are atoms that only have one of two of their electrons. The free radicals aim to “steal” electrons from other healthy atoms, causing a cascade of damage.[4] Some of the main triggers of this process are pollution, UV rays, poor nutrition, smoking, stress and simply the act of living.[5] As an antioxidant, Marula oil fights these free radicals by “donating” electrons to stop the torrent of “stealing.”

 

Some of Marula oil’s antioxidant properties come from a richness in ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C. A 2002 study showed the effectiveness of vitamin C in reducing sun damage, one of the major signs of aging.[6] On top of that, here’s what Phytotrade Africa 2012 had to say about Marula oil: “Marula oil has been shown to have free radical scavenging properties higher than most oils oil on the market… Tests included ‘skin hydration’, ‘transepidermal water loss’ and ‘increase in skin smoothness’ with Marula oil performing significantly well.”

 

How Maasai Women Benefit From Marula Oil

Photo 13-02-2010, 02 58 58Marula oil provides an important income for the women of the Maasai tribe in Kenya. We work with the Leaky Foundation, an organization that creates opportunities for rural African people to earn money. Most of the people who gather marula fruits are women. Previously, women were offered little opportunity to bring money into their households to feed and clothe their children. After working for the Leaky Foundation for just a few months, these women earn enough money for food and clothes for their children for one year.

 

Marula oil has a tremendous economic impact on the African communities where it is collected. People are now able to live a higher quality of life, invest in their local economy and give their children a brighter future.

 

When you buy from the Luxe Botanics Marula range, you’re not only buying a product that will make your skin look younger. You’re also helping create jobs for women living in rural Africa. And that’s not all: Luxe Botanics works with the Buy1Get1 (B1G1) organization to give back. Every purchase from Luxe Botanics helps to support African and South American communities.

 

How Marula Oil Benefits the Environment

IMG_0138 (1)

Before the Leaky Foundation helped women earn money by collecting marula kernels, Maasai women could earn a small amount of money by burning wood to make charcoal. This practice, along with agricultural encroachment, leads to deforestation. Burning or cutting down trees can mean the loss of homes for animals and many unique plants. It also means fewer trees are available to absorb greenhouse gasses, contributing to global warming. Giving marula trees an economic value can help save these valuable natural resources and help save our planet.

 

As you can see, Marula oil is amazing in so many ways. It hydrates and repairs damaged skin like no other. It also helps the environment and improves the lives of people living in rural Africa. And that’s something we can all feel (and look) good about.

 

Naturally yours,

 

The Luxe Botanics Team

 

References:

[1] http://phytotrade.com/download/general/Anti-oxidant_properties_of_marula_oil.pdf

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26528587

[3] http://phytotrade.com/download/general/Anti-oxidant_properties_of_marula_oil.pdf

[4] http://www.livescience.com/54901-free-radicals.html

[5] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/drp/2012/135206/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11896774

 

 


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Are Citrus Oils Safe for My Skin?

You may’ve heard that some essential oils—citrus oils in particular—have phototoxic properties. The rumor mill says you should avoid them altogether. But like many factoids you can find on the ‘net, the concept is both true and false. Let’s get educated.

 

“Phototoxic” sounds scary, especially if you don’t know what it means. “Photo” means having to do with the sun, while “toxic” means poisonous or harmful. Phototoxicity is the most common type of photosensitivity—an immune system reaction to sunlight.[1] This occurs when you take a medicine or use a topical treatment that causes your skin to react to the sun’s burning ultraviolet (UV) rays.

 

Symptoms of a phototoxicity reaction are similar to a bad sunburn, including hives and blisters. These symptoms can cause damage to skin cells, and can be severe in some cases.[2]

 

Does this mean you shouldn’t use citrus essential oils on your face?

 

Fortunately, NO. You can use citrus essential oils as part of your skincare routine—if you do it safely and approach it as a smart, well-informed consumer. The first step is to learn about phototoxicity and essential oils to help save your skin from unnecessary damage.

 

Citrus oils have many amazing skin benefits, so it makes sense to use them wisely as part of a healthy skincare regimen.

 

Phototoxicity and Essential Oils: What You Need to Know

Safety is of the utmost importance when using any type of essential oil on your skin. Some types of citrus essential oils can cause phototoxic reactions when they’re applied the skin without dilution. However, phototoxicity doesn’t occur when safe concentrations of citrus oils are used.

 

An analysis done by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review determined that citrus oils are safe in the small amounts found in cosmetic products.[3] The International Fragrance Association recommends using citrus oils in concentrations of no more than 4% in products meant for use on your face.[4] (Luxe Botanics uses essential oil concentrations of less than 0.4% in all our skincare products. This is well below the amount known to cause a phototoxic reaction—and more importantly, the astounding skincare benefits outweigh the costs (especially because there are no costs in this case!))

 

f9886ab0a770c83c88f33c3b026b65c8What Are Citrus Oils?

Citrus essential oils are made from the concentrated rinds, or peels, of citrus fruits. In cosmetic applications, citrus oils are usually made by cold-pressing, which is a method of mechanically extracting the oil from the rind. Some common examples of citrus oils include sweet orange, lemon, bergamot, lime, grapefruit, neroli and tangerine. These oils are both pleasant to smell and good for your skin when diluted.

 

Skin Benefits of Citrus Oils

Citrus oils have several amazing applications for skincare. It would be a shame to miss out on these benefits because of a fear of phototoxicity, especially since their use in our products is completely safe. Here are some of the skin benefits of citrus oils.

 

Citrus Oils Are Extraordinary Antioxidants

A study published in the European Journal of Medicinal Plants in 2011 found that citrus oils have antioxidant properties when used in skincare.[5] Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals—chemical particles that can damage your skin cells. Damaged skin cells occur naturally as you age, and they can also be caused by the sun, stress, your environment and your diet.[6] When free radicals damage your skin cells, you skin appears aged, stressed and lifeless. The study found that using citrus oils on your skin in safe concentrations helps fight skin damage, and could even make your skin look younger. Citrus oils effectively rejuvenate cells and brighten your skin.

 

Citrus Oils Are Anti-Inflammatory

Clinical trials have proven that citrus oils are strongly anti-inflammatory.[7] This means these oils reduce inflammation in your skin. Inflammation is an immune system reaction to a perceived problem in your skin cells. Inflammation can cause your skin to look red and irritated. Anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as citrus oils, help soothe skin and combat inflammation.

 

Citrus Oils Can Help Treat Acne

Acne is a major skin problem for people at all stages of life. Several studies have shown that citrus oils can help treat and prevent acne in test subjects.[8] The reason for this is because citrus oils are toxic to the bacteria that causes acne.[9]

 

Aromatherapy Benefits of Citrus Oils

Not only can citrus oils help you have younger-looking, clearer skin, they can also help enhance your mental well-being through aromatherapy. Smelling citrus oils as you use your daily skin care products can help you reduce stress and enhance your mood. A 2011 study of elementary school teachers in Taiwan found that smelling bergamot essential oil lead to reduced blood pressure and heart rate.[10] That’s awesome!

 

Citrus oils hold a host of benefits for your skin and even your mental health. If used correctly, such as in the small, strategic amounts in Luxe Botanics formulations, citrus oils are completely safe to use on skin. They can even help make your skin look young, bright and clear.

 

We’d love to know how citrus oils have benefited your body and mind. Share your stories with us on instagram or twitter @LuxeBotanics and #NatureToNuture!

 

The Luxe Botanics Team

[1] http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/skin-disorders/sunlight-and-skin-damage/photosensitivity-reactions

[2] http://www.skincancer.org/publications/photosensitivity-report/phototoxic-reactions-versus-photoallergic-reactions

[3] http://www.cir-safety.org/sites/default/files/cpeelo092014FR.pdf

[4] http://www.ifraorg.org/en-us/search/s/lemon_essential_oil#.WSREEoWcFMt

[5] http://www.journalrepository.org/media/journals/EJMP_13/2012/Dec/1354795022-Bertuzzi%20et%20al_312012EJMP1987.pdf

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3299230/

[7] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213453014000056

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18838824, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23235794

[9] http://thescienceofacne.com/citrus/

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3092730/