Luxe Botanics

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


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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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Holistic Recovery

“In order to have skin that glows and looks healthy and actually is healthy, you need to look at the whole picture and have a holistic approach to it. A lot of it is exercising regularly, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, and keeping stress down.” – Allison Williams

 

I’ve always considered myself a very healthy woman with a sound knowledge of health and wellness. However, as you may have seen in my last post, even when you think you’re doing well things can change almost overnight and for seemingly no reason.

When I had my first moderate to severe contact dermatitis reaction it was a big wake up call for me – as you age, change climates, and even make minute changes in your daily routine this all adds up to a cumulative effect that often comes through in your skin as a first sign of bodily distress. The biggest thing for me in this list is age – yes I am not that old! – but we love to think we will be young forever. But things change and its best to be aware and respect your body as you age. I initially tried to heal myself with natural topical treatments, however after 2 weeks at home with very little improvement I turned to prescription medications. Of course, when you take oral steroids this seems to fix everything and your skin looks wonderful again, but when the reaction keeps coming back you have to expand your thinking to a more holistic view.

VegetablesI started keeping a diary of everything I used on my face, hair, body, what I washed my hands with, what I used in the kitchen, what I ate, what exercise I did… This became a very long exhausting list and I began to feel lost in all this data. To help me understand this experience I was going through, I met with everyone I knew who worked in the holistic health industry – from lifestyle consultants to nutritionists to doctors to dermatologists – and the conclusion was always the same: You will have to drastically eliminate things from your diet and lifestyle to find out the cause and then slowly build back up again. So I decided to make my own way and began a dairy free, gluten free, low carb clean living diet along with healthy skin loving smoothies every day followed by at least 30 minutes of exercise. For my skin I cut back to only using my Luxe Botanics products coupled with a homemade argan and rosehip oil serum and organic hair care products.

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 9.41.11 AM2 months on, I will honestly say it has been hard but my skin has improved dramatically! I didn’t 100% stick to my plan the whole time, let’s face it I am human after all, so I did notice when things started to go backwards. The most important things I discovered was that I have very definite triggers: Carbohydrates and an overload of dairy make me bloat which in turn causes inflammation internally and externally; and anything with phenoxyethanol definitely triggers the dermatitis (even handwash!). Dietary things that helped to resolve this were obviously sticking to my clean eating, green smoothies with natural oils and a daily dose of cider vinegar calmed my gut and my skin. Skin care wise, marula oil became my saviour when my skin flared – it was literally like my skin was drinking it. When my skin had healed I kept up an alternating nightly regimen of marula or argan & rosehip oil. If I thought there was too much redness and inflammation a dab of kigelia calmed it down and made sure it didn’t become infected when it was peeling.

Feet walkingTo any of you out there who have gone through this or are going through this now, my only advice is to listen to your body. Try, test and learn (within reason). See what works and what doesn’t. Talk to people in the wellness community – they are a fantastic resource. And don’t be afraid to seek medical intervention if necessary. In my case it was very hard to be the face of a skin care brand when my skin was in such a dreadful state. Remember that you do change with time, climate and age, don’t get complacent.

My journey has just begun…

 

Jene


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A personal experience with synthetic ingredients

face eyesHave you ever woken up to itchy eyes? It’s a strange, unsettling feeling and one that greeted me on a sunny morning last week. When I looked in the mirror I was horrified to find my upper eye lids breaking out in scaly dermatitis. The delicate skin around my eyes had decided it was time to protest against a serum I had used, and the results were red, purple and angry. If you have every experienced dermatitis you will know the feeling I am describing. The worst part is that it takes days or even weeks to heal properly, with a lot of itching, scaling and peeling in between, and can cause hyperpigmentation.

I have been using only natural and organic cosmetics for many months, but after a day of particularly dry skin, and with my usual natural serum finished, I decided to pull out a hydrating serum that is not 100% natural from my bathroom cupboard. The serum contains 4 ingredients: water, sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), and phenoxyethanol (preservative). I figured that the percentage of phenoxyethanol in the solution was probably very minimal, so I decided to ignore that and use it anyway. How wrong I was… The result was not hydrated skin, but red, itchy skin. This is a brand that I know and trust, something I used on my skin for many years. I never use it close to my eyes – I know to avoid that. And yes, I checked and it’s still within its use by period so my reaction wasn’t caused by an out of date cosmetic. My only analysis is that after months of not using this, when I went back to it my skin was no longer used to coping with the synthetically derived ingredients in the formulation. Now I do accept that this could have been caused by food or other irritants, however I also know that I didn’t eat or do anything out of my ordinary routine last week, so I sincerely doubt that.

I’ve blogged about the potential effects of phenoxyethanol before. It’s a glycol ether that’s quite common in cosmetics these days as an alternative preservative to parabens. There are plenty of articles and blogs out there describing its ill effects, however lets focus on the research as gathered by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). According to EWG[i] the use of phenoxyethanol is restricted in cosmetics in Japan, and the EU classifies it as toxic or harmful and a potential irritant. In a 2006 study it was shown to be in the top 10 most frequent allergens[ii]. There are actually quite a few studies on phenoxyethanol (usually carried out in cell lines and not on human subjects), if you want to read up on it check out PubMed[iii]. If you need any help going through the research let me know…So after reading all the research I could find, I have decided to make my bathroom entirely phenoxyethanol free. But more on that in my next blog…

Right now I am concentrating on healing. While I’ve ensured that I am only using the purest, most natural skin care for sensitive skin (Luxe Botanics being one of them), the biggest mistake I made on this journey was using a very light over the counter steroid cream (DermAid 0.5%) on day 3 which just inflamed my skin even more and I believe to have been the cause of my skin almost “burning” (see the photos below and the peeling that ensued). This steroid cream should have actually been fine as its extremely mild, but I guess in my case my skin was just too sensitive already for anything topical to be applied. When the DermAid made it worse I finally went to my doctor, and with a course of oral steroids my skin seems to be slowly recovering.

Here’s what I’ve looked like over the past 5 days:

I’ve experienced redness, itching and flaking extending down from my upper eyelid onto my lower lids, that then went on to form a thick, smooth layer of skin all around my eyes that felt just like a heat burn. And then, it peeled…

I would love to hear from you if you’ve had a similar reaction to phenoxyethanol or other synthetic ingredients – how did you cope? What did you do to heal yourself? How long did it take to get back to normal again…?

As always, read your labels, do your research and be aware of what ingredients affect your skin…

Jené

Founder + Director, Luxe Botanics

[i][i] https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/704811/PHENOXYETHANOL/

[ii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16823706

[iii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=phenoxyethanol


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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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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