Luxe Botanics

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


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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

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.

 

Aloe Vera

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]

 

Kigelia Africana

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.

 

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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The Confusion of Skin Care Labels: What Does Organic Really Mean?

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There are armies of skin care brands and marketers determined to push their products by using words that make you believe they’re the most effective and the least harmful to their distinct advantage. But what do these terms really mean? We break it down so you can be an informed consumer. Take back your power!

 

Organic

The term “organic” should signify that an ingredient was grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or radiation. In other words, the plant or animal was grown as close as possible to its natural state, just as if it was in the wild. Take note of this, it’s an important one for later…

The food industry in the US regulates organic food products through the National Organic Program (NOP). Manufacturers and farmers must meet the standards set by the NOP in order to have the organic label placed on their products.

In skin care, the criteria are far less stringent. Some companies may skirt around the issue, finding loopholes that allow them to label a shampoo or moisturizer organic simply because one of its main ingredients is water. Water is, after all, natural and harmless (permitted it isn’t boiling hot). If you see a product with “organic” written on the package, know that no authority has deemed it so (unless it bears the certain certified labels, which we’ll get into below). It is possibly a marketing technique, or the manufacturer has figured out it can use the term because just one or two of its ingredients fits the bill. 

 

Certified Organic

Though “organic” on its own is a flimsy term, the “USDA Organic” logo has much more authority behind it—that’s because in order to display it, an ingredient or brand must be certified by the USDA. This certification is enough to give you peace of mind that almost all of the ingredients in the product have been grown and processed in regulated conditions that mandate cleanliness, and that it does not contain pesticides, synthetic preservatives, petrochemicals, GMOS or ionizing radiation.

USDA classifications are based on the percentage of organic ingredients in the product, ranging from 100% organic to 70% organic or less. A product containing 70% or less organic ingredients will not carry the seal, and may be simply labeled “made with organic ingredients.”

The Soil Association, a nonprofit organic certification body in the UK, is another logo available to guide customers. Our Kigelia products are all certified by The Soil Association.

Like “USDA Organic,” The Soil Association classifications look for ingredients grown without the use of GMOs, pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers and more. They review the end-to-end manufacturing process including sourcing of ingredients, formulation process and premises as well as packaging. They even require an environmental waste management plan. For a product to be called organic, 95% of all ingredients must be organic. A product containing  20% or less organic ingredients will be labelled “made with organic” products.

And then there’s EcoCert, a certifying body that focuses on the percentage of natural ingredients within a formulation. To obtain EcoCert, the ingredients must be “derived from renewable resources and manufactured by environmentally friendly processes.” Formulations cannot contain GMOs, parabens, phenoxyethanol, nanoparticles, silicon, PEG, synthetic perfumes and dyes and animal-derived ingredients (unless it’s naturally produced, such as milk and honey). On top of that, they check out whether or not the packaging is biodegradable or recyclable.

EcoCert has two labels: “natural and organic cosmetic” and “natural cosmetic.” To obtain the former, at least 95% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula and at least 10% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming. For the “natural cosmetic” label, a minimum of 50% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula and a minimum of 5% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming.

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The Tricky Part

Your best bet is to look for the USDA, Soil Association or EcoCert seal if using an organic product is important to you. But here’s the tricky part: It can be challenging for poor rural communities to obtain an official organic certification often due to costs, time constraints, lack of resources and education barriers. Moreover, it can be supremely difficult—bordering on impossible—to certify a plant grown in the wild, like the Marula fruit. Wild crops are harvested in areas not under any sort of agricultural management. Therefore, the specific organic certification cannot be applied the way it can on a farm, where everything is heavily regulated and under constant manipulation by humans. Do note that many of these communities, for the same hurdles that impede their ability to nab certifications, cannot afford pesticides in the first place. What to do in this case?

 

Wild Harvested

Remember how we talked about organic simply meaning that a product is grown in a manner considered to be as close as would occur in the wild? This is where wild harvested comes in: the practice of harvesting plants from their natural, or “wild” habitat, for food or medicinal purposes. It applies to uncultivated botanicals untainted by chemicals wherever they may be found in nature. Ethical and sustainability considerations are often involved, such as protecting endangered species and taking care to remove only a few flowers or branches at a time, so plenty remains to continue the supply.

It’s really up to individual brands to work in harmony with rural communities that practice wild harvesting to ensure the ingredients are grown in optimal conditions and processed using techniques that maximize benefits. For example, our Marula is extracted from the kernel (nut) of the Marula tree in the Kenyan bush and cold pressed by the Maasai. And our Camu camu comes from deep within the Amazon basin harvested from bushes that grow along the waterways, hand-picked and processed by the local community in Brazil.

 

This Is Where We Stand

Aside from the certified seals mentioned, labels don’t guarantee anything. They can tell the whole truth (and nothing but the truth) or they can tell you only a part of the story.

Ultimately, what matters is the integrity of the brand. It’s up to the skin care company to not only produce high-quality products that perform, but also offer clear-as-glass transparency—from where and how their ingredients are grown, how they’re processed, transported and tested and how they ended up in the bottle you hold in your hand.

At Luxe Botanics we use certified organic ingredients whenever possible, but we believe wild harvested is equally as beneficial and should be respected as such. Because of this choice, along with the high percentage of wild-harvested ingredients in our formulations, sometimes our end product doesn’t meet the minimum percentage required by USDA/EcoCert/Soil Association to be certified as an organic product by these bodies. To meet their expectations, we’d have to reduce the percentage of wild-harvested ingredients in our formulations and increase our percent of those that are certified organic.

The downside? We wouldn’t be supporting local communities and wild harvested areas. For us it’s all about balance, having a mindful skin care ritual that not only gives back to the environment, but supports communities and nurtures sustainable farming practices for the future.  

For more info on labelling take a look at our earlier blog on skin care buzzwords

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

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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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How Stress Affects Your Skin and How to Resolve It

How Stress Affects Your Skin and How to Resolve It

Women with Tomato

Have you ever had spots appear or experienced dry flakey skin when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed?

 

We don’t always think about how stress may be affecting our skin until we are literally staring at the results in the mirror.  Pimples, dry skin, wrinkles, rosacea and dull skin can all be a direct result of experiencing stress.

 

When we are stressed our body releases the hormone cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone designed to keep us safe from harm.  Cortisol sends a message to our body to shut down non-vital functions so it can focus on survival. The real problem occurs when we experience elevated levels of cortisol over a period of time.

 

High cortisol levels lead to a breakdown of many functions in the body:

 

  • Sugar levels in the blood are increased forming advanced glycation end products (shortened to AGEs). AGEs cause a breakdown in vital proteins for skin health like collagen and elastin.
  • High cortisol levels dramatically decrease the skin’s ability to produce hyaluronic acid, a natural moisturizer, which can lead to dry skin and wrinkles.
  • Cortisol can also cause an increase in oil production, which leads to oily skin, acne and breakouts.
  • There is a breakdown in the skin’s protective barrier[i], leaving your skin susceptible to rosacea, rashes, infection and inflamed acne[ii].

 

As you can see, cortisol and stress wreak havoc on our skin. But how can we prevent the effects of stress and repair any damage that has occurred? The good news is that we can take a holistic approach to heal and protect our skin.

 

Proper Nutrition

BlueberriesA diet that is anti-inflammatory and high in nutrients will hydrate your skin from the inside out and support the healing process. Eat organic food as much as possible and include plenty of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables—colorful vegetables, dark leafy greens, sea vegetables and low sugar fruits like berries are all wonderful.

 

It is also important to focus on gut health. A damaged gut can lead to nutrient deficiencies and inflammation in the body, which shows up on your skin. Consume plenty of probiotic rich foods like coconut water kefir or milk kefir, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables and organic yoghurt.

 

Skin-loving Supplements

 

By consulting a holistic practitioner you can determine which supplements will be most beneficial for you. However, everyone’s skin can benefit from including the following supplements in their diet:

 

L-glutamine

Often called the Fountain of Youth, this important amino acid promotes muscle strength and strong bones. In addition, it also helps to heal the lining of the gut wall. By supplementing with L-glutamine your body won’t have to use up its own stores (which decrease with age), which can result in muscle weakness and dry skin.

 

Collagen

Oral collagen supplements can help to smooth and firm the appearance of your skin. Look for supplements that also include hyaluronic acid and astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant.

 

Chlorella and Spirulina

Chlorella is a powerful algae, which acts as an internal cleanser, binding to toxins, protecting your cells and neutralizing free radicals[iii]. Less toxins results in clearer skin. Spirulina is a blue-green algae and a nutritional powerhouse.  This nutrient-dense food contains essential amino acids, iron, protein, B vitamins and vitamins C, D and E.  A true nutrient boost for your skin.

 

Mindfulness and Relaxation

 

By actively managing our stress levels we can dramatically improve the quality of our skin. Deep breathing calms our nervous system and reduces stress levels. By practicing mindfulness we can bring our focus into the present moment, easing worry and tension. Physical exercise, yoga and walks in nature are all activities that bring balance to our system, improving our ability to cope with daily stressors. Less stress means clearer, more youthful-looking skin.

 

Good Skincare

 Ceramic PotYour skin will require specific nutrients and ingredients designed to calm any inflammation and provide extra hydration.  Use a high-quality, non-toxic skincare with botanical and natural ingredients that rejuvenate your skin.

 

Antioxidant rich oils, like Marula Oil, that are high in omega fatty acids can protect, heal and intensely hydrate your skin. The good news is that, thanks to these omega fatty acids (linoleic and oleic acids)Plant-based and natural ingredients will be kind to your skin and help it to heal, repair and soften.

 

Our skin is our largest organ and it will reflect our emotional and physical health. The best way to prevent and heal from the effects of stress is to make yourself a priority. Practice self-care daily with good nutrition, relaxation and exercise.

And importantly, honor yourself by using high-quality, botanical and natural skincare.

 

As always, it is important to do your own research to discover what approach works best for you.

 

The Luxe Botanics Team

 

References

http://www.webmd.com/beauty/skin/effects-of-stress-on-your-skin

[i] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11176661

Psychological stress perturbs epidermal permeability barrier homeostasis: implications for the pathogenesis of stress-associated skin disorders.

[ii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2045620/
A nervous breakdown in the skin: stress and the epidermal barrier

[iii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23865357
Investigation of the effects of Chlorella vulgaris supplementation on the modulation of oxidative stress in apparently healthy smokers.

[iv] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26528587
Safety and efficacy of Sclerocarya birrea (A.Rich.) Hochst (Marula) oil: A clinical perspective.

[v] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20013815
Sclerocarya birrea (A. Rich) Hochst. [‘Marula’] (Anacardiaceae): a review of its phytochemistry, pharmacology and toxicology and its ethnomedicinal uses.