Luxe Botanics

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


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What You Need to Know About the Most Popular Skincare Oils

Once upon a time, we’d shrink in terror by the mere thought of drenching our skin in oils. Nowadays we use oils as freely as ever like nobody’s business because science (and the radiant complexions among us) have demonstrated the undeniable benefits that botanical oils bestow upon our largest organ.

Derived from various parts of plants, including the seeds and nuts, botanical oils practically do everything: they moisturize, prevent water loss, decrease or prevent blemishes, protect against sun damage, stimulate skin renewal and minimize the appearance of wrinkles. Some oils even go so far as to control natural oil production on the skin by mimicking it.

Of the multitude of oils out there for skin transformation, there are a handful commonly used as “base” oils, which are often found in the highest percentages, as they act as the foundation in which to concoct the entire formula. Check out our breakdown of some of the most popular below.

 

Marula OilMarula

Marula oil is born from the kernels of the fruit that sprout on the Marula tree. It’s been used for years by the Tsonga people of South Africa and Mozambique as both a moisturizing and a massage oil. (Fun fact: these populations, despite spending hours under the sun, have remarkably luminous and healthy-looking skin well into old age.)

Marula is high in oleic acid, or omega-9, rendering it a thicker, richer oil. But despite its relatively heavier texture, it absorbs rapidly into the skin and is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores. In addition to its incredible moisturizing powers, Marula oil bursts with antioxidants that effectively fight free radical damage; these two qualities render Marula the perfect elixir to prevent and alleviate the visible signs of ageing, such as wrinkles and the loss of elasticity and firmness. That’s not all though: Marula oil also has antimicrobial properties, which means you can hydrate your skin to plumpness without causing breakouts. This oil can be used on both dry and acne-prone skin with exceptional results.

If you want to deep dive into the world of Marula (including why it’s so good for our Earth), read more about it here.

Argan OilARGAN

Derived from the fruit of the Argan tree native to Morocco, argan oil is one of the most popular facial oils on the market. Chances are you’ve seen it inside a huge variety of skincare products, either as part of a formula or as a standalone.

Argan oil is composed almost equally of oleic (46-48%) and linoleic acid (31-35%). This particular composition makes argan oil moisturizing and absorbent without leaving a greasy residue. Argan oil is rich in vitamin E, making it a great ally for ageing skin, as it fights free radicals in the body. Vitamin E is also known to encourage new skin cell growth and boost cell regeneration.

 

Avocado OilAVO

Like Marula and Argan oils, Avocado oil is also particularly great for mature skin, as it contains antioxidants and vitamin E. Those with acne-prone skin, however, may want to proceed with caution because it is a thicker oil more likely to clog pores. Yet when it comes to extremely dry and chapped skin, Avocado oil is a godsend. It’s known for being especially soothing with protective elements, with research indicating that it can also prevent sun damage.[1] Avocado oil is also high in beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A is known for encouraging cell production and stimulating the growth of fibroblasts, which are the cells that keep skin taut and prevent sagging.

 

Jojoba OilJOJOBA

Native to southern Arizona, southern California and northwestern Mexico, Jojoba oil comes from the seed of the Jojoba plant, a desert shrub. Jojoba oil is light and absorbs quickly and easily into the skin. It has also been shown to be effective as an acne treatment.[2] This may be due to the fact that jojoba oil has anti-inflammatory properties (ultimately, while oil and bacteria are also involved, inflammation is the root cause of acne).[3] Jojoba oil is also one of the oils closest in composition to the natural sebum produced by the skin which, in short, means it’s highly welcome by the epidermis. When it comes to acne, in fact, jojoba oil “tricks” the skin into thinking it’s already produced enough sebum, which in turn prevents it from producing any more. Thus, skin remains hydrated and perfectly balanced without getting too oily, keeping those pesky breakouts at bay. Jojoba oil is best for naturally oily and acne-prone skin, but can be used to hydrate dry skin as well.

 

Grape Seed OilGRAPESEED

Pressed from the seeds of grapes, typically after they’ve been used for wine production, grape seed oil continues to grow in popularity thanks to its incredible one-two punch when it comes to skincare: it’s both a potent moisturizer and has the ability to assuage pimples.

Grape seed oil contains almost 70% linoleic acid, the type of fatty acid particularly helpful for acne-prone skin. Linoleic acid results in lighter oils that don’t sit heavily on the skin and clog pores, leading to blemishes. As a lighter oil, it also absorbs more easily into the skin, providing hydration and a softer, smoother feel and appearance. Grape seed oil is also high in phenolic compounds like flavonoids, giving it a high antioxidant capacity. Antioxidants help fight ageing of the skin by demolishing the very free radicals that would attempt to damage cells and speed up the ageing process. Overall, grape seed oil is a well-rounded oil, as it can be used on dry, mature and acne-prone skin with great results.

 

Olive Oil9a6b844fdf5ce5f11359122dc7a019a3

Olive oil has been associated with Italian feasts for so long you might be hesitant to slather it on your face, but it’s actually very common in skin care. It is a hydrating powerhouse with ageing well benefits containing high amounts of squalane, a terrific emollient that hydrates dry skin. Squalane is also a potent antioxidant that can potentially minimize signs of ageing.

 

So Which Oil Reigns Supreme?

Although all these oils help hydrate and protect skin, Marula is significantly higher in antioxidants, particularly because it contains the ultimate brightener, Vitamin C. (In fact, Marula contains about 15%-20% more antioxidants than the famed Argan oil!) On top of that, Marula’s high concentration of omega-9 acids helps the oil penetrate the skin more deeply—where it can do real transformative work—all while offering antimicrobial properties. For this extraordinary versatility and effectiveness, Marula is one of our Core Botanicals—yes, it’s that good!

Another important note to keep in mind is that these oils, like in Luxe Botanics formulations, are not used alone—they are key ingredients of a larger recipe created to synergize into a skin-transforming treatment. So even if you have oily skin, for example, you don’t necessarily need to avoid a richer oil like Marula, as it’s part of a carefully crafted elixir with overall intents to create healthy skin.

 

Try it for yourself.

Naturally yours,

The Luxe Botanics Team

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3263051/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22585103

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15629254

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How to Balance Blemish Prone, Sensitive Skin (Without Making It Worse)

For those with both sensitive and blemish-prone skin, trust us, we know how difficult it can be to successfully remedy this. The trouble, for the most part, lies in the fact that sensitive skin is innately more fragile and requires special care, but common methods to eradicate acne often lead to dryness, further sensitization and, ultimately, even more breakouts. It’s a vicious cycle that is hard to know how to break, annoyingly frustrating and quite frankly upsetting.

 

The Causes Of Sensitive, Blemish-Prone Skin

Sensitive skin is genetic and is characterized by a thin epidermis with generally lower amounts of pigment. (If we get technical, sensitive skin should not be confused with sensitized skin, which is caused by skincare habits and lifestyle. For the purposes of this article, we’ll reference both as sensitive skin.)

With sensitive skin, the protective lipid barrier (the outermost layer) experiences water loss and also allows more irritants, allergens and microbes to get through instead of shielding them out. When these penetrate into the skin, they can cause inflammation, flaking, itchiness and redness. The result is a more negative reaction to certain topical skincare treatments that are too aggressive, leading to even more redness and irritation.

Whether blemish-prone skin is caused by a multitude or combination of factors like excessive oiliness, hormones and stress. Diet can play a role, too: Some research shows that certain high-glycemic carbohydrates can be responsible for blemishes.[1] A pimple essentially forms when a pore becomes clogged with excess oil, or sebum, and dead skin cells. Then, bacteria comes in and inflames the clogged area, leading to a ripe, red pimple. Definitely not cool.

While they’re two separate conditions, sensitive skin and blemishes often come hand in hand. Because of its thinner lipid barrier, sensitive skin deals with more irritants passing through into skin, including bacteria, and the declining ability to heal itself. At the same time, conventional treatments, like chemical peels and harsh ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, typically require further sensitizing of skin to tackle blemishes, which ultimately wreaks more havoc on skin. And so begins the vicious cycle of irritation and breakouts.

 

How To Treat Sensitive, Blemish-Prone Skin

Sensitive skin should be treated with kid gloves—but that doesn’t mean you’re only left with ineffective solutions.

Although this will be hard to do, prioritize the sensitivity first. Because zits are often considered more aesthetically unpleasing, people tend to focus on eliminating their bumps and breakouts without considering the compromised nature of skin. But here’s the thing: As long as your skin is frail and vulnerable, your pimples will likely return—with a vengeance. On the other hand, if your skin is strong, it’s able to get rid of and prevent the blemishes much more efficiently.

To relieve your sensitivity, first make sure your skincare techniques aren’t aggravating. Avoid over-cleansing (limit cleansing to once or twice a day) and use gentle chemical exfoliators instead of physical scrubs, which may have jagged granules that will cause small tears in your skin when rubbed all over.

Second, avoid harsh skincare products that include commonly irritating ingredients like preservatives and fragrances. Your best bet is to turn to natural ingredients while avoiding more traditional treatments like benzoyl peroxide or harsh acids which, as previously noted, can be very harsh and strip sensitive skin.

Plant sources, particularly nut oils like jojoba or marula oil, have been known to reduce skin’s natural oil production by promoting a healthier natural balance of oils, allowing for hydration without fear of blemishes springing up. Chamomile oil is another great one to help soothe and calm skin. The good news is that there are also natural treatments that are specifically effective against pimples without making the condition worse. Ingredients like tea tree oil, aloe vera and Kigelia africana are ideal because they get the job done without inflaming or otherwise irritating.

 

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a tried-and-true method known for its ability to destroy pimple-causing bacteria.[2] Many people find success dabbing a small amount onto the affected area, leaving it on overnight. When using any type of skincare treatment, always do a patch test first to make sure you won’t develop any adverse reactions, especially if your skin is sensitive. Tea tree oil is much gentler than benzoyl peroxide but can still lead to dryness if used excessively, so use it cautiously.

Tea Tree

Aloe Vera

The ultra-gentle aloe vera helps reduce the manifestation of pimples thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.[3] Moreover, it has moisturizing effects that are especially good for sensitive skin, which can lean toward dryness. Studies have even found that drinking aloe vera can lead to a decrease in the number of blemishes on the skin.[4]

Aloe Vera

Kigelia Africana

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention our darling Kigelia africana extract. The plant has both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been shown to have a firming effect as well. Studies have found that both the root and fruit of the plant have antibacterial and antifungal compounds.[5] The antibacterial property is key, as it is what will help fight the bacteria that causes pimples, reducing the amount of it residing on the surface of your skin. Another study found that in addition to antibacterial properties, Kigelia africana also has wound-healing abilities.[6] This “wound-healing” quality can potentially help accelerate the reduction of blemishes in both size and intensity.

As a bonus, the flavonoids (substances in plants that protect from UV damage) in Kigelia africana provide antioxidant protection, fighting off free radicals, which are unstable atoms that damage skin cells and accelerate ageing. Furthermore, Kigelia africana is soothing and moisturizing, ideal for sensitive skin that is easily irritated and prone to redness and dryness. Kigelia africana is gentle but powerful and effective, reducing pimples while keeping skin soft, nourished and calm.

Kigelia africana

 

Coming to Terms With Sensitive, Blemish-Prone Skin

Sensitive, blemish-prone skin can sometimes feel like a scourge, but it need not be! Knowing the right products and ingredients to use can make all the difference. Sure, it may require some more diligence than treating normal skin, but it’s not impossible as long as you know which ingredients to avoid and which to embrace. Just remember to respect your skin, and it will reward you by glowing with clarified radiance.

 

Curious to find out more on Kigelia africana? Read about the unsung hero of perfect skin in our earlier blog.

Naturally yours,

The Luxe Botanics Team

 

[1] http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/1/107.full

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17314442

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763764/

[4] http://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=ajcn.2014.29.34

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8792668

[6] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/aps/2013/692613/

 


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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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A healthy skin routine – why you should have one

I just love that feeling when you wake up and know you have a day at the spa ahead of you. You begin to imagine the massage, the facial, the steam room, the mud bath, the pool, some healthy food, and hopefully a glass or two of champagne with your best girlfriends. That was how I woke up this weekend – full of excitement and looking forward to relaxing. We spent 4 hours in a fantastic spa, surrounded by nature and the occasional peacock, enjoying being pampered and lazing by the pool. When it was time to make our way to dinner, we showered and commenced the inevitable skin care routine that would help us continue to look fabulous into the evening.

 

My first shock came when I realised I was the only one who had brought a full suite of skin care products. So naturally, I offered to share. I convinced one of my friends to try my hyaluronic acid serum – fantastic for plumping the skin – and then our Luxe Botanics Camu Brightening Serum – to help maintain that healthy spa glow. She happily applied them and then began to walk away. I called after her: “don’t you want any moisturiser?” She replied, almost laughing: “you want me to put on another layer?” I found myself staring back at my friend in disbelief – she wanted to go out without any moisturiser on?

 

In that moment I realised that even my friends, who hear me talk about skin care all day long, didn’t really know what to use or how to use it. This moment explains so clearly why I do what I do and why it makes me happy. I want women to become wellness conscious, not just with their health, but also with their skin. To that end, and inspired by the recent Sarita Coren article on Ayla beauty, I want to explain a few things I believe are key to good skin care:

 

Cleanse

Cleansing well is the first step to good, healthy skin. And I don’t mean over cleansing – there are many brands out there that will tell you that you must double cleanse, but honestly this is 90% marketing in the hopes you will need to buy more product sooner. The only reasons to cleanse twice are if your skin is horribly dirty (think playing in the mud) or if your cleanser isn’t working well for your skin. Most of the time you need a pre-cleanser along with a normal cleanser. This is because pre-cleansers have a different function to normal cleansers – generally they are used to gently remove makeup, oil and dirt from your skin while still preserving your skins natural barrier. Your normal cleanser is then used to cleanse deeper into the pores and provide a clean base to start your next step.

On a side note – many people advocate using a toner to rebalance/ balance your skin after cleansing. Personally, this is not something I have seen any benefit from. I honestly believe if you are using the right cleanser, which shouldn’t strip or dry out your skin or remove your natural barrier, then you shouldn’t need a toner.

 

Exfoliate

This is my favourite part of my skin care routine for the simple reason that after I exfoliate, my skin feels like it did before teenage acne attacked me.

There are 2 major categories of exfoliants, each with a different use:

  • Abrasive (the ones you can feel the scrub, think of jojoba beads, rice bran, etc)
  • Enzyme (the ones that tingle – AHA (glycolic acid), BHA (Salicylic acid), other fruit/ plant based acids)

Abrasive exfoliants are used for superficial exfoliation – like when you need your skin to be super smooth for that date – and are more like a polish. If you have irritated or acne prone skin an abrasive is not recommended as it can inflame the skin even more, and generally people with acne tend to over exfoliate. However, a gentle abrasive is good for dry skin

Enzyme exfoliants are used for deeper exfoliation and these sometimes can take days before your skin will peel. They can be used for all skin types, as they are non-abrasive, but should still be used with caution until you know which type works for you. I’ve left a glycolic peel on too long before and ended up looking like a peeling lizard 3 days later. Not a sexy look.

If you have very sensitive skin you may skip exfoliation products all together and rather use a delicate sponge or facial brush, however if you are willing to try a product start with a gentle enzyme exfoliant.

Exfoliation is important because not only does exfoliation leave the skin feeling smooth and soft, but it also clears away dead skin and stimulates repair. So don’t skip it!

 

Preserve

The most important step after cleansing is applying the right serum. This all depends on your age, skin type, time of day, what you plan to do that day, where you live, what time of year it is, etc. However, it’s important to target 2 key areas with your serums:

  • Hydration (hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, caprylic/ capric triglycerides, natural oils)
  • Protection (Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, green tea, retinol, resveratrol, ferulic acid)

You can alter the strength of these ingredients in your serums accordingly but investing in serums that cover these 2 key areas will do wonders for your skin. In varying strengths and combinations these will address everything from oily to dry, dull to uneven, ageing and wrinkles.

 

Hydrate

Hydration is the key step in keeping your skin balanced. However, this is also the step most of us get wrong. Either we over or under hydrate. And we forget that this needs to change based not only on the seasons or travel, but also day to day. I am especially guilty of this.

Throughout my years of acne I assumed that the more hydrated my skin was, the oilier it would be, so I used the lightest moisturisers I could find. When in fact, it was actually oilier because I was depriving my skin of vital hydration and it was desperately trying to compensate by over producing natural oils. You will also find this happening when you use stripping acne products such as those containing benzoyl peroxide (who honestly thought applying peroxide to your skin was healthy?). The “aha” moment came for me when I was in a dermatologists office, on yet another round of roaccutane, wondering why my skin wasn’t getting any better. We together figured out that I was using too little hydration to support my skin. Once I upgraded my serums and moisturisers my skin calmed down completely.

Conversely, when I have had IPL in the past I’ve been told to layer on the hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, vitamin C and heavy moisturisers to facilitate the healing. But every time I do this I end up with more closed comedones than I started with. I have learnt that the key is to intensely hydrate in the first 2-3 days – after that I need to take my skin back to a more moderate routine.

 

Protect

This last step cannot be missed! Sunscreen is your best friend and the soundest investment you will make in your skin. I’ve heard every excuse for people not using sunscreen – ranging from “I don’t like the texture” (so try a different brand) to “but I work inside all day” (First of all I hope you get to see some sunlight in your day, but even if you’re outside for less than 30 minutes sunscreen matters, and not just on sunny days). Sunscreen is the most cost effective way to preserve your youth and your skin health. I worked for years in melanoma clinical trials and it was severely depressing to see so many preventable cases of skin cancer.

 

Overall, remember that your skin has mood swings too – it can go from dry to oily and back to dry multiple times in the day depending on your environment (aircon, humidity, cold), stress levels, exercise levels, diet, and many other factors. The best thing you can do for your skin is analyse it every day and then decide what to apply. Take time to review your skin and learn what works best for you.

The Luxe Botanics Team