Luxe Botanics

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


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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 Aeon.co:

“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:

0b6fa5bc4047875a8fd36574ba1e21f9INGREDIENTS: WATER (75%), SUGARS (12%) (GLUCOSE (48%), FRUCTOSE (40%), SUCROSE (2%), MALTOSE (<1%)), STARCH (5%), FIBRE E460 (3%), AMINO ACIDS (<1%) (GLUTAMIC ACID (19%), ASPARTIC ACID (16%), HISTIDINE (11%), LEUCINE (7%), LYSINE (5%), PHENYLALANINE (4%), ARGININE (4%), VALINE (4%), ALANINE (4%), SERINE (4%), GLYCINE (3%), THREONINE (3%), ISOLEUCINE (3%), PROLINE (3%), TRYPTOPHAN (1%), CYSTINE (1%), TYROSINE (1%), METHIONINE (1%)), FATTY ACIDS (1%) (PALMITIC ACID (30%), OMEGA-6 FATTY ACID: LINOLEIC ACID (14%), OMEGA-3 FATTY ACID: LINOLENIC ACID (8%), OLEIC ACID (7%), PALMITOLEIC ACID (3%), STEARIC ACID (2%), LAURIC ACID (1%), MYRISTIC ACID (1%), CAPRIC ACID (<1%)), ASH (<1%), PHYTOSTEROLS, E515, OXALIC ACID, E300, E306 (TOCOPHEROL), PHYLLOQUINONE, THIAMIN, COLOURS (YELLOW-ORANGE E101 (RIBOFLAVIN), YELLOW-BROWN E160a), FLAVOURS (3-METHYLBUT-1-YL ETHANOATE, 2-METHYLBUTYL ETHANOATE, 2-METHYLPROPAN-1-OL, 3-METHYLBUTYL-1-OL, 2-HYDROXY-3-METHYLETHYL BUTANOATE, 3-METHYLBUTANAL, ETHYL HEXANOATE, ETHYL BUTANOATE, PENTYL ACETATE), 1510, NATURAL RIPENING AGENT (ETHENE GAS).”

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

 

Takeaway

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!

hello@luxebotanics.com

 

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:

 

OLEIC ACID

 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

 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.

 

WHAT’S THE PERFECT PERCENTAGE?

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

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Fresh Marula fruit from Kenya

 


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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