Luxe Botanics

Innovated by Nature, Designed to Nurture.

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Ingredients With Purpose

Shea butter comes from the shea nut, and lavender essential oil comes from lavender flower. Obvious enough, right? But at Luxe Botanics, when we know there’s a more sustainable, natural or high-tech way to source ingredients—without compromising on performance—we get creative.

We formulate our skincare only with botanicals that boast scientific merit (never including something just because it smells or sounds nice). Each and every element must serve a beneficial purpose.


Another important aspect of formulating our transformative skin care is the synergy: making sure our ingredients are balanced in precisely the right proportions to work in harmony with one another. This means we won’t accept ingredients that render another ineffective. Our natural based stabilizing, emollient and emulsifying ingredients in every tincture are designed to be as friendly to skin as the rest of the bottle.

Here are such 11 such groundbreaking ingredients included in Luxe Botanics elixirs which show the power at the intersection of science and nature:



Peptides are protein fragments made up of amino acids. They’re essential for firm, smooth and bouncy skin. We include three kinds in our Kigelia formulas: Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4 and Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, which are created from sustainable coconut and palm kernel oils. These peptides are synthesized in our lab at our urban farm in the US — and are just as effective as other man-made peptides.


Ferulic acid

Ferulic acid is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radical damage, which is the top cause of premature ageing. This ingredient not only boosts the effectiveness of peptides, but it also enhances the stability of vitamins C and E within the same formula. Our ferulic acid is sourced from coffee and formulated with core botanical Camu camu berry.


Cetyl alcohol

Don’t be scared of the word “alcohol.” Although there are types of alcohol that aren’t skin-friendly, cetyl alcohol is simply a fatty alcohol used to stabilize and thicken skincare formulas, while making them easier to blend. Ours is sustainably sourced from coconut extract. This ingredient makes your favourite Luxe Botanics product feel amazing on your skin (texture is an essential part of your skincare ritual, after all).

Citric acid

Citric acid is a natural substance found in citrus fruits, which serves to adjust the pH and boost the performance of other ingredients in skincare formulas. Ours is prepared fermentatively from a suitable sugar source and forms part of our Soil Association certified Kigelia africana fruit extract.Dollarphotoclub_60180822.jpg

Cocamide MIPA

Cocamide MIPA helps emulsify the formula while thickening it. The ingredient also helps stabilize the blend. Ours is sustainably sourced from coconut oil.

Glyceryl monostearate and Glyceryl stearate SE

Glyceryl monostearate helps thicken and disperse the formula, while Glyceryl stearate SE acts as an emollient that slows down moisture loss. Both of these are made from sustainably sourced coconut and are EcoCert-certified.

Lactobacillus ferment

Sounds like something you’d find in your probiotic pill, doesn’t it? Lactobacillus ferment is a natural preservative that also delivers antimicrobial benefits (through its production of bacteriocins, which are proteins produced by bacteria). Ours comes from corn—or more specifically, its sugars.



Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is truly a skincare superstar. It helps suppress melanin production to keep your skin even toned, protects skin from UV damage, helps decongest skin, minimizes fine lines and strengthens and restores compromised skin. Beets and legumes (like lentils and lima beans) are used to create our niacinamide, which can be found in abundance in our Kigelia.


Phospholipids are made of fatty acids and are skin savers in their own right. They’re known to help offer antioxidant action and protect cell membranes, all while acting as an emollient and emulsifier in formulas. On top of that, it’s thought that phospholipids help other ingredients penetrate skin more efficiently. Phospholipids are normally made with virgin egg yolk, olive oil or hazelnut oil. Ours is made with soy beans and sunflower seeds.


Sodium hyaluronate

You’ve likely heard of hyaluronic acid, the trendy skincare ingredient known to hydrate and plump up skin like no other (and the main ingredient in the cosmetic injection Restalyne used to smooth our wrinkles). Sodium hyaluronate is a derivative, but its smaller molecules enable penetration into the skin. Back in the day, it was sourced from rooster combs or soybeans and corn. Ours is created through a biofermentation process of yeast with glucose and inorganic salts.


Want to learn more about our ingredients? Just drop us a line and we’d be happy to answer any questions.

Naturally yours,

The Luxe Botanics Team



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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


Ingredients Created by Humans Can Actually Be Good

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


Sometimes, Natural and Synthetic Need to Work Together

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


The Term “Chemical” Is Misleading

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

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

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


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



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

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

So if you ever have a question, just ask!


Naturally yours,

The Luxe Botanics Team

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Kigelia africana Fruit Extract: The Unsung Hero of Perfect Skin

Kigelia 22Whether it’s fine lines and clogged pores or dark circles and brown spots, we all have more than one skin issue we want to address in order to reveal the most radiant version of ourselves. But oftentimes, skincare treatments only target a single concern, making you improve in one area and not another. This is what makes the ultra-versatile Kigelia africana fruit extract all the more extraordinary — and one of our precious Core Botanicals.


The Triple-Threat Ingredient: Kigelia’s Astounding Skin Benefits

As a central focus in our Clarifying formulas, Kigelia extract works in synergy with other gems of nature to clarify skin, reducing and preventing blemishes, congestion and excess oil production. It also firms and tightens skin, making it a wonder to combat premature aging, like fine lines, wrinkles and sagging. Last but not least, the extract is extremely calming for skin (which means you can avoid the irritating side effects of typical anti-blemish or anti-aging formulas), instead soothing and strengthening skin so it appears at its healthiest.

That’s right, with this single ingredient, you can fight aging, acne (or the occasional blemish) and sensitivity!

FRESH-CUT-KIGELIA 2Kigelia extract is sourced from the sausage-shaped fruit of the Kigelia africana tree, which is common to West, Central and South Africa. Due to the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of Kigelia, local healers have traditionally used the fruit to remedy skin-related conditions, such as fungal infections, acne, eczema and psoriasis. The extract has even been studied to aid in the treatment of skin cancer since it also has DNA-repairing powers.

Kigelia boasts a number of powerful skin-friendly compounds, including flavonoids, fatty acids, steroids and saponins. Flavanoids are polyphenols known mostly for their potent antioxidant benefits, which are crucial in fighting free radical damage to minimize the signs of aging. Free radicals cause a negative cascade in molecules, triggering wrinkles and other unwelcome outcomes (the worst is cancer). Steroids are well known to soothe skin conditions including eczema.  Steroidal saponins are known to create uplifted, taut skin, while fatty acids are popular for moisturizing and plumping the appearance of skin.


Our Favorite Way to Use Kigelia

Many of our Luxe Tribe members love keeping a bottle of Kigelia Clarifying Serum handy for days when skin gets stressed out! Although it’s excellent for those with chronic breakouts, the multi-action serum keeps skin smooth, clear and luminous when hormones, stress, weather changes, lifestyle or diet trigger blemishes on occasion. If we’re using another serum, we also love mixing in the Kigelia Clarifying Serum every other day as a preventative measure.

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How has Kigelia changed your skin? Share with us on Instagram @luxebotanics

The Luxe Botanics Team

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Facial Oils: Are You Using the Correct Percentage of Oleic and Linoleic Acids?


If your skin is dry, sensitive or doesn’t seem as lifted and smooth as it once was, there’s a good chance it’s lacking some essential components it needs to function at its best. The first thing people do is slather on a facial oil in hopes of re-attaining moisturized, youthfully resilient skin. But for true, lasting effectiveness that can be felt and touched, you must pay attention to the structural composition of the oil you use.

There are two unsung heroes when it comes to reviving and revitalizing dry, aging skin: oleic acid and linoleic acid. The two fatty acids, which are found in Marula oil, are extraordinary elements for mature and sensitive skin, but the secret to healing is in their percentages—and this is why not all oils are equal.

Let’s explore first the difference between the two:



 You may’ve heard of omega-9 fatty acids and not oleic acid, but the two are the same thing: a fat that your body produces. (In fact, it’s even found in human sebum.) Olive oil is probably the most popular oil abundant in oleic acid, but there’s another oil that contains even more—and that’s marula.

Marula oil contains up to 78% oleic acid… but why does that matter when it comes to skin care?

Locks in Intense, Rich Moisture

Oleic acid is a godsend for dry, aging skin since it penetrates easily and deeply into the skin’s surface, replenishing lost moisture that naturally comes with age. It also helps the moisture from evaporating. Remember: Without oil, your skin becomes dry, meaning it becomes that much more vulnerable to fine lines, wrinkles, sagging and losing its bounciness. Oleic acid can restore this oil—without clogging pores.

Boasts Antioxidant Powers to Fight Off Wrinkles

Oleic acid comprises antioxidant compounds that help fight free radical damage caused by environmental aggressors like UV rays, the top trigger of premature aging.  By minimizing free radicals in skin, so too is the manifestation of wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, sagging and other unwanted features.

Promotes Healing and Repairing

As an anti-inflammatory substance that simulates wound healing, oleic acid can also help calm, balance and help repair skin, even those with damaged conditions like eczema, rosacea and psoriasis. Oleic acid also contains compounds that reinforce the integrity of cell membranes.



 Linoleic acid, also known as omega-6, is not produced by our own bodies, but it plays also plays a role in healthy skin. It’s a fat that helps promote healthy cell activity.

Marula oil contains between 4-7% linoleic acid, sometimes even more. Like oleic acid, linoleic acid is anti-inflammatory and helps stimulate cell regeneration—but the major difference when it comes skin care? It’s not quite as penetrating and moisturizing as oleic acid.



Together, oleic and linoleic acids deliver and lock in intense moisture into the layers of skin that need it most, while soothing, healing and protecting skin from harsh elements that expedite aging. But as with marula oil, oleic acid should be abundant in the oil you choose since it is richer (while being noncomedogenic) and works in harmony with the compromised structure of dry, aging skin.

On the flip side, if you use an oil with less oleic acid and more linoleic acid, it wouldn’t be able to penetrate and moisturize into deeper layers, which is vital for dry skin. Higher linoleic acid is often recommended for oilier skin types.

This is precisely why marula is the best facial oil for dry, sensitive or aging skin—and the heart of our Marula Hydrating Serum and Marula Hydrating Pre Cleanser.

What’s your experience with Marula oil? Show us on Instagram @luxebotanics

The Luxe Botanics Team


Fresh Marula fruit from Kenya


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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…



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Eyes wide shut – A review of skincare ingredients


I recently went on a reconnaissance mission… I decided to go to my local beauty store to investigate some of the products available. As I walked into the store I felt at ease and at home, surrounded by familiar brands. I browsed the shelves for a half hour or so, picking up the bottles, reading them, putting them gently back. But as I read the ingredients lists I slowly realised – the quality of the skincare brands I had come to know and use over many years, was not as high as I originally thought it was.


After spending months researching products and ingredients for our Luxe Botanics skincare range, coupled with 20+ years of experience with various skincare products and my scientific post graduate training, I believe I have a broad understanding of the ingredients used in skincare. And what truly upsets me is that a wonderful formulation can be utterly ruined by the inclusion of even just one undesirable ingredient.


Here’s a list of ingredients to avoid. I know its long, but I encourage you to read it all, take it in, digest it, and then go rummaging through your bathroom cabinets…



Parabens are usually used as preservatives in cosmetics and beauty products. They are things like: methylparaben; propylparaben; benzylparaben and butylparaben. Just look for anything in your skincare that ends with the word –paraben. Parabens are so ubiquitous in our beauty, skincare, haircare, body care, cosmetics, deodorants, toothpastes, and even in our food and drinks that in a recent study by the Environmental Working Group; all 28 participants tested positive for methylparaben and propylparaben. [i] Parabens have been blamed for allergies and skin sensitivity and they also act on the estrogen pathways potentially having effects on the reproductive system. [ii]



These are one of the most toxic and can be found in so many things in your bathroom and around your home that it may surprise you: beauty products such as nail varnish, hair spray, most things with a synthetic fragrance (many beauty products); cleaning and kitchen products with a synthetic fragrance; air fresheners; and plastics around the home such as kitchen bowls, food wraps, children’s toys, and most vinyl. They are used to soften plastic and also help beauty formulations to moisturise and be absorbed into the skin. Phthalates are regulated as pollutants but only some are banned by some states of the USA and the European Union. [iii] Phthalates have been shown to affect the reproductive system in both men and women, and have also been linked to allergies and asthma. [iv] Look out for: dibutyl phthalate, also called DBP; diethyl phthalates, also called DEP; and butyl ester. Phthalates have made headlines in recent years, leading to LÓreal discontinuing its use in products sold in the European Union.[v]


Cosmetic fragrances/ parfum

Cosmetic fragrances are a synthetic blend of compounds to make something smell like something natural. However, in many cases there are phthalates and/or other undesirable synthetic ingredients included in this fragrance mix.[vi] Often these are associated with dermatitis, allergies, and respiratory distress. [vii] Most regulatory agencies allow cosmetic and beauty companies to simply state “fragrance” or “parfum” on their ingredients list when such a synthetic mix is use, often because this is considered a proprietary or confidential formulation.[viii] [ix] [x] [xi]



Most of the time you will see this referred to on labels as SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate), SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate) or ALS (ammonium lauryl sulfate). Sulphates are responsible for that foam you get in your facewash, body wash, shampoo, bubble bath, hand wash, and many other things around the house. [xii] It’s been known to irritate the skin and eyes – so next time you get shampoo in your eyes and it hurts, read the ingredients list. There are also concerns around organ toxicity. [xiii] Some companies claim SLS is natural as it comes from coconuts, and this part is true, but the potential side effects on your skin and overall health prove that even something natural can be harmful if manufactured incorrectly. [xiv]



Commonly found in detergents, antibacterial soaps, toothpastes, face wash and deodorant, triclosan has been linked to liver and inhalation toxicity, and it may also disrupt thyroid function. Look out for things like “keeps [you/ food] fresh for longer” or “odour fighting/ eliminating”.[xv]  The American Medical Association has recommended against using triclosan as it may lead to antibiotic resistance. [xvi] In 2013 the FDA released a statement requiring manufacturers of antibacterial products to prove that they were safe and more effective than plain soap and water in an effort to protect consumers from unsafe products. [xvii] The industry has been slow to respond, however some companies like Avon have begun to phase triclosan out of their products.[xviii]



DEA (diethanolamine) is commonly used to help our beauty products feel creamy – so is generally found in moisturisers and sunscreens. Similar compounds such as cocomide DEA (from coconut oil) and lauramide DEA (from lauric acid) are found in cleansers and shampoos. It has been blamed for skin and eye irritations and allergies, and high doses have been implicated in certain cancers.[xix] Other common DEAs to look out for are linoleamide DEA (from linoleic acid) and Oleamide DEA (from oleic acid).[xx]



If you remember your biology dissection classes you will know what this is and what it does to living tissue. Formaldehyde is another common preservative and antiseptic – but often under a different name. This is because there are many ingredients that, once absorbed, release the formaldehyde compound slowly over time. Good examples are: Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidzaolidinyl urea, quarternium-15 and hydroxymethylglycinate. [xxi] It is a known human carcinogen that has a suggested link to certain cancers.[xxii]



These are perhaps the most ubiquitous and yet unknown of all the undesirable ingredients in our homes. It’s quite hard to fathom just how many ingredients come from a petrochemical base. Petrochemicals in your products often breakdown into a chemical called 1,4-dioxane, which has toxic effects on the kidneys, neurologic system, and the respiratory system.[xxiii] One study from the Environmental Working Group suggested this compound could be found in 22% of cosmetic products. [xxiv] Look out for: Oxybenzone, phenoxyethanol, benzene, toluene, paraffin wax, mineral oil, polyethylene glycol (PEG), butyl- anything (butylparaben, butylene glycol, butyl alcohol), ethanol and ethyl- anything (ethyl alcohol, ethylene glycol, EDTA), propyl- anything (propylene glycol, propylene glycol, propyl alcohol), and methyl- anything (methyl alcohol, methylparaben, methylcellulose).[xxv]



To all you ladies out there trying to achieve an even skin tone and perhaps a lighter complexion – look out for hydroquinone in your products! This is literally bleach. It’s also found in hair dyes and fragrances.[xxvi] It’s been shown to have very strong links to organ toxicity, cancers and alters immune function.[xxvii]  Other names include anything benzene or benzediol or hydroxyphenol.


I hope that this list makes it easy to understand what to look for in your favourite products.  Note that it is by no means an exhaustive list but I’ve tried to include the most common ones. However, I also urge you to weight the risks and benefits of each and to decide for yourself if you wish to continue using products that contain some of these ingredients. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database is a great place to start your research. Here’s a simplified version of their information which you may find easier to absorb:


As always, research for yourself and make your own decisions for you and your family.

The Luxe Botanics Team


All references are below for you if you want to (or can stomach!) to read more:






























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A skin care ingredient journey

A skin care ingredient journey

It’s the flight home after the holidays and I can feel the after effects of my gluttonous, slothful holiday coming up on my skin… On my chin. On my jaw. On my forehead. Ouch. I’m remembering the many fantastic home cooked meals I had and the lazy days on the couch… and I’m regretting every single one of them. But this isn’t how it’s supposed to be – why should I regret a week of wonderful times with my family just because of a few pimples? That shouldn’t ruin the memories of my holiday. And that’s when it hits me – If I could figure out a way to have healthier skin, surely my skin would react better to holidays like this one… and I wouldn’t be sitting on the flight home worrying about my skin?

So I’ve decided to blog my journey to finding solutions to give me healthier skin, most of the time – because, honestly, let’s be realistic, we can’t have great skin all the time. There will be days we don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. But I intend to keep those to a minimum.

The first thing I’ve decided to do is an audit of all the skin care I have in my bathroom to see what I have and to review all the ingredients. This a pretty big task because women tend to hoard so many skin care products, saving them for use at an unknown later date, which of course we never do… And my bathroom is no exception. It’s packed with free samples, travel sizes, full sizes, and salon sizes of all my favourite products. I reluctantly pick up my favourite cleanser, turn it over and start reading…

I am fortunate to have completed both a bachelors and master’s degree in science – specifically biotechnology and biochemistry – so my understanding of chemical ingredients, their interactions and effects is above average. I’ve also worked in many laboratories and healthcare corporations over the last 10 years so I’ve had my fair share of exposure to the world of pharmaceuticals. Add this scientific curiosity to the horrible acne prone skin I grew up with, and still have as an adult, and you essentially have a cosmetics super nerd.

So the first thing you need to know when looking at the ingredients list on your skin care is that ingredients are listed in descending order of percentage within the formulation, according to the laws and regulations in your country, or the products’ country of origin, whichever is more stringent. This means that whatever the first ingredient in the list is, this is what’s making up most of the product. And whatever is last on the list is probably 1% of the product, or less. So if you buy something called ‘ginger lemongrass scrub’ you would hope to see both ginger and lemongrass in the first 5 ingredients of the product. If you don’t, then I would question if ginger and lemongrass are actually the active ingredients, or if it’s just water, other ingredients, and some sort of preservative.

So when I start to read the back of my favourite cleanser and it starts with: Water, Caprylic/ Capric Triglyeride, and Butylene Glycol let’s just say I’m none too impressed. Let’s break that down:

  1. Water, well we all know what this is… But I often wonder when I see this as the first ingredient “why am I paying $$$ for water?”
  2. Caprylic/ Capric Triglyeride is made from plant sugars and a mixture of fatty acids from coconut or palm kernel oils. This is what makes your cleanser (or anything else) feel silky smooth and also what helps to nourish and moisturise your skin. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m none too happy with anything that comes from palm oil – just type in “true cost of palm oil” into google and you’ll see what I mean. But overall this is a very common ingredient that does have proven benefits – and often this can be derived solely from coconut oil… So really, this is up to personal choice I think – do your research and decide. You’ll  notice we have used this in a couple of our Luxe Botanics formulations, but this is conscious choice for us based on its benefits and we have made sure that ours come from sustainable sources.
  3. Butylene Glycol – This is an organic alcohol which is used to help other products dissolve in water so it thins creams and gels but its main function is as a preservative. Essentially it’s a petroleum by product. If you want to see what this does to your skin just google it – you won’t be impressed as this is often the culprit behind skin allergies and dermatitis.

Overall the first few ingredients don’t blow me away, and some certainly scare me a bit. As I keep reading the ingredient list I come across things like Safflower oil (excellent source of Linoleic Acid – Omega 6), Rosemary leaf oil (great for eczema, oily skin, and dermatitis) and tocopherol acetate (vitamin E) so my spirits are somewhat lifted. However, these ingredients are all pretty far down on the list. I haven’t had any bad reactions to it yet, so in the end I pragmatically decide to hold onto this one until I can find a better organic cleanser.

As I start to look through my other products I notice that a lot of them don’t list full ingredients but say things like “made from natural oils of 97% organic origin” and some just have a book symbol to indicate I need to refer to the product insert for more information – well what if I threw away the box with the insert when I bought it? And if 97% is of organic origin, what is the rest?

In the end I realise that I can only audit about half of the products in my bathroom. Most of the others require me to research more on the internet to find their ingredients and quite frankly I’m tired from my flight, and while I’ve been doing this I have unconsciously been scratching at my upcoming pimples… there’s not much the best skin care in the world can do if I don’t stop scratching!

Wishing you all the best of luck for your new year’s skin care audit,

The Luxe Botanics Team