Luxe Botanics

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


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Sustainability That Goes Beyond Skin Deep

Our guiding philosophy at Luxe Botanics has always been Nature to Nurture. It’s what we set out to do when on the hunt to find the intersection between science and nature. And it’s what drives us every single day to source only the finest, nutrient-rich core botanicals for healthier skin.

For us, sustainability is the code we live by. Every step of the way is completed with intention and care — from harvesting each rare and natural ingredient, to the conscious innovation we use in production methods, all the way to ensuring every component of our packaging is able to be recycled — no step is unaccounted for and no waste is left behind. You might say, it makes our world go round (in every sense!).

But what exactly is sustainability?

Shall we start from the beginning…

Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations. [1]

Ok, sounds promising. But what about the benefits?

  • Reduces waste and your impact on the environment
  • Saves natural resources
  • Addresses social issues and improves the livelihood of individuals and communities
  • Saves money on the life of your products
  • Creates work for local suppliers
  • Creates a market for sustainable goods to help the economy grow and creates more jobs [2]


The berry that keeps on giving

For superberry botanical, Camu camu, our pursuit for sustainability starts at the source. Organically grown, as with our other core botanics Marula and Kigelia, Camu is hand-picked with extreme care (figuratively and literally) for its ability to benefit humans, nature and is at the top of its class when it comes to Vitamin C and broad-spectrum antioxidants, warranting its title as nature’s brightening powerhouse.

LB Camu 2.png

Sure, the power of this beauty is evident after giving it a try for yourself, but what is hard to see at a bottle’s glance is the home-hitting effects on the communities who harvest it as well as the environment they protect and nurture for future generations. Through our partnership with NGO Fitovida we’re able to provide specialized education and training to the local communities in Brazil so they can safely explore the country’s biodiversity. Our efforts ensure continued use of the Brazilian biome in a safe and sustainable way. All in a day’s work, for a fair-trade wage. Now that’s enough to brighten anyone’s day!

As you can see, our mantra of Nature to Nurture has deep roots and our mission (should you choose to accept) is to spread this throughout the world. We’re so happy you could join us for the ride because we’re just getting started.
Naturally yours,

The Luxe Botanics Team

 

[1] https://www.epa.gov/sustainability/learn-about-sustainability#what

[2] https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/benefits-buying-sustainable-goods-and-services

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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.


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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

 


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The warm and fuzzies of skincare

Sustainable, fair trade, cruelty free…

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for products that say “sustainable”, “cruelty free” and “fair trade”- I love the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I buy them. So it’s been quite the eye opener for me to go through the process of discovery of what these “warm and fuzzy” words actually mean in practice. I’m sure you will associate to one more strongly than the others, and I encourage you to support what you believe in…

 

Cruelty Free

I’ve always been an animal lover – which is probably a side effect of having grown up in South Africa surrounded by the most amazing and fascinating animals. As a child I had the typical pets – dogs, cats, birds and hamsters – and I loved each of my furry little companions dearly. I was also very privileged to have a life that involved travelling to game reserves and natural habitats throughout southern Africa as a child. I was inspired by the work that the game rangers did every day – protecting wildlife from poachers and providing them veterinary care – so much so that I gave serious thought to training as a game ranger. As a result, it’s very important to me to try to buy products that are cruelty free. This to me means not only whether or not it was tested on animals, but also if the product is made from any animal products. As an interesting note – there is no international or nationally agreed language around what it means to be cruelty free.  However, it is generally accepted that this means that the products and their ingredients are not tested on animals.

The best way is to check if any of your products display these logos:

cruelty-free-bunny-logo-symbol

The leaping bunny logo is an internationally recognised symbol guaranteeing consumers that no new animal tests were used in the development of any product displaying it (http://www.leapingbunny.org/content/leaping-bunny-logo ).

The others you may recognise are the USA PETA logo – the bunny with the pink ears; and the Australian Choose Cruelty Free black and white bunny logo.

Here’s a quick blog to help you spot the logo’s and also the fakes! http://www.crueltyfreekitty.com/cruelty-free-101/cruelty-free-bunny-logo/

“Every product, every action, and every lifestyle decision can be a choice to harm less.”

— Zoe Weil, The Animals’ Agenda

 

Sustainable

The meaning of the word sustainable is pretty straight forward:

  • Able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed
  • Involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources
  • Able to last or continue for a long time

(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sustainable )

If you stop and think about how this may apply to farming methods of your favourite ingredients, you may think that this is similar to how subsistence farmers have farmed for generations – without modern farming soil additives they cannot afford to completely deplete the soil that they use to grow their crops. Nor can they afford to drain their local watering supply. And they certainly cannot overwork the cow or donkey that helps them hoe and til the land…

As so wonderfully described by the Grace Communications Foundation:

“In simplest terms, sustainable agriculture is the production of food, fiber, or other plant or animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare.”

The only issue with this comparison is that the above does inevitably happen as the modern world encroaches on theirs, and their neighbours downstream start draining their water supply, and the effects of climate change encourage the loss of the topsoil. Which is why it is of utmost importance that we recognise the importance of sustainable farming – we need to preserve not just our natural environment but the environment that is necessary for those less fortunate to survive.

 

Fair Trade

This is something you see very often on your product packaging – though usually it applies to just a few ingredients in the product (unless its, e.g. coffee – I would hope you’re buying 100% coffee beans!). This is something that is quite close to my heart – I sincerely believe we should not be exploiting others for our gain. There is something to be said for hard work, and it should be fairly rewarded.

Fair Trade International offers this explanation:

“Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between producers and consumers. When farmers can sell on Fairtrade terms, it provides them with a better deal and improved terms of trade. This allows them the opportunity to improve their lives and plan for their future. Fairtrade offers consumers a powerful way to reduce poverty through their every day shopping”

(http://www.fairtrade.net/about-fairtrade/what-is-fairtrade.html )

This is one of the few “warm and fuzzy” words that has an internationally recognised definition and charter of principles – agreed by the World Fair Trade Organisation – and which has defined standards per industry. If you see this symbol then you can be sure you are supporting the local community that supplied that ingredient or product.

Overall, there are many certifications and labels that are available for use – just be sure to research those that are closest to your heart and support those products that adhere to those standards.

 

The Luxe Botanics Team

afffa-warm-fuzzy-feelings


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Skincare Buzzwords

Organic, botanic, natural, plant based… what’s what?

 

When we decided to develop our line of skincare products we were set on the fact that we wanted them to be organic. This was part of our core Luxe Botanics philosophy and key to how we chose our ingredients and manufacturing partner. However, along the way we noticed many other skincare buzzwords being used in the industry, either as the company’s core values or as part of their marketing strategy, and honestly, it just got confusing! What is the difference between organic and natural? What is plant based versus botanic? What’s the difference between certified organic and organic? …its very frustrating both as a consumer and as a skincare formulator to work out the differences. Along our journey we have learnt so much and have had some amazing teachers so I wanted to share our knowledge with you in the hopes that it enlightens your skincare journey too! So here goes:

 

Certified Organic

An international standard of agreed methods for farming the base product (food and agricultural) which may be formulated into an ingredient for use in skincare, food, etc. To receive the certification the farm (and its processes) have to be assessed, approved, and maintained to this international standard on an annual basis. Although the overall ethos is the same, the requirements do vary country to country and between industries. In general, the requirements are very strict and require that:

  • Crops and livestock must be raised in a production system that emphasizes protection of natural resources; plant and animal health; preventative management of pests, diseases, and predators; and compliant use of allowed materials
  • Maintain or enhance soil and water quality
  • Conserve the local environment (Wetlands, woodlands and wildlife)
  • Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used
  • Products must be protected from prohibited substances and methods from the field to the point of final sale

(http://www.ams.usda.gov/publications/content/guide-organic-certification )

There are various bodies that can assess and approve the certification, for example: the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture); ACOS (Australian Certified Organic Standard); Ecocert (European certification with branches all over the world); among other local certification bodies globally.

Overall, this is a very costly process and can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the country in which it is being certified, the industry and the setup of the farm.

 

Organic

Without the official certification, products can still be labelled organic, they just can’t use the certified organic logo or market as certified organic. As I have learnt, in many cases small producers simply don’t have the resources (money or staff) to keep up with the requirements set forth by the organic certification bodies. And often when this is the case, they wouldn’t have the money to purchase expensive pesticides anyway. As I have come to understand it, organic simply means that the product is grown and produced in a manner which is considered to be as close to natural plant or animal growth as would occur in the wild. Just be aware that many companies are now using this word loosely as a means to market their product. If a product is labelled organic its worth your while to research where their ingredients come from and how they are farmed.

 

Natural

Natural is a tricky one… Most people (including me) are fooled by this into thinking that the product contains ingredients found in nature, but in reality this not always the case. Natural really just means that the ingredient or ingredients mimic something that is found in nature, and is therefore considered to be natural. An ingredient that is chemically similar to one found in nature could be one of 2 things – the actual ingredient sourced directly from nature (plant or animal source) or it could be entirely synthesized in a lab to chemically resemble the natural version. As I’ve said in previous blogs, this may or may not affect you – we all react differently to different chemicals – but you should be aware of the ingredients origin.  You may find that you’re allergic to mango, but if you use the chemically synthesized version you have no reaction (as is the case with me and Aloe Vera).

I was recently fooled into buying a body wash that was made by a company with “natural” in the name, stupidly thinking this meant that the company would value botanic and organic ingredients, but when I opened it and used it for the first time the smell and texture gave it away – it was full of “natural” papaya and mango ingredients. Chemically they mimic the real thing but the effect is just not the same on the skin or the nose… When I read the back of the bottle I realised that nowhere did it say Carica papaya (Papaya) or Mangifera indica (Mango), so clearly they were using a chemically synthesized ingredient.

The word “natural” to me is perhaps the most misleading and misused word in the industry and is commonly known to fool us lesser mortals into thinking we are using something good for us…

 

Botanic & Plant Based

Botanic refers to the origin of the ingredient and identifies it as made from or taken from plants.

(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/botanical ) This is often interchanged with the words “plant based”.

Again, you should do your research here as often the word botanic can have the same implications as the word natural – it really just means the ingredient is similar to something botanic (a plant) – but is this lab synthesized from chemicals or is it made from the actual plant itself?

Botanic is not yet in the mainstream  marketing that you see on your shelves, so I really hope that as it becomes more widely used it is better explained and understood than the word natural.

 

Overall, I always emphasize that you do your research to make an informed choice. Always be aware of the buzz words and the way they are used to market a product…

 

The Luxe Botanics Team