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.

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Marula Oil’s Acids Are Incredibly Effective Moisturizers

The main reason Marula oil is so good for your skin is because it’s high in fatty acids. A clinical analysis done by the University of Technology in South Africa found that Marula oil is very high in oleic acid.[2] Oleic acid, also known as omega-9 fatty acid, is a healthy, monounsaturated fat that your body also naturally produces.

 

Marula oil has a higher concentration of oleic acid than olive oil, making it considerably more shelf-stable.[3] Marula oil also contains linoleic, or omega-6, acid. Your body doesn’t make this acid naturally, so it’s important you provide your skin with it. Both these types of acids work together to help to add youthful moisture to your skin.

 

Marula Oil Is a Fantastic Antioxidant

Antioxidants, which help prevent and neutralize free radical damage, are arguably one of the most important ingredients you can apply to your skin.

 

To give you a bit of a science lesson, free radicals are atoms that only have one of two of their electrons. The free radicals aim to “steal” electrons from other healthy atoms, causing a cascade of damage.[4] Some of the main triggers of this process are pollution, UV rays, poor nutrition, smoking, stress and simply the act of living.[5] As an antioxidant, Marula oil fights these free radicals by “donating” electrons to stop the torrent of “stealing.”

 

Some of Marula oil’s antioxidant properties come from a richness in ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C. A 2002 study showed the effectiveness of vitamin C in reducing sun damage, one of the major signs of aging.[6] On top of that, here’s what Phytotrade Africa 2012 had to say about Marula oil: “Marula oil has been shown to have free radical scavenging properties higher than most oils oil on the market… Tests included ‘skin hydration’, ‘transepidermal water loss’ and ‘increase in skin smoothness’ with Marula oil performing significantly well.”

 

How Maasai Women Benefit From Marula Oil

Photo 13-02-2010, 02 58 58Marula oil provides an important income for the women of the Maasai tribe in Kenya. We work with the Leaky Foundation, an organization that creates opportunities for rural African people to earn money. Most of the people who gather marula fruits are women. Previously, women were offered little opportunity to bring money into their households to feed and clothe their children. After working for the Leaky Foundation for just a few months, these women earn enough money for food and clothes for their children for one year.

 

Marula oil has a tremendous economic impact on the African communities where it is collected. People are now able to live a higher quality of life, invest in their local economy and give their children a brighter future.

 

When you buy from the Luxe Botanics Marula range, you’re not only buying a product that will make your skin look younger. You’re also helping create jobs for women living in rural Africa. And that’s not all: Luxe Botanics works with the Buy1Get1 (B1G1) organization to give back. Every purchase from Luxe Botanics helps to support African and South American communities.

 

How Marula Oil Benefits the Environment

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Before the Leaky Foundation helped women earn money by collecting marula kernels, Maasai women could earn a small amount of money by burning wood to make charcoal. This practice, along with agricultural encroachment, leads to deforestation. Burning or cutting down trees can mean the loss of homes for animals and many unique plants. It also means fewer trees are available to absorb greenhouse gasses, contributing to global warming. Giving marula trees an economic value can help save these valuable natural resources and help save our planet.

 

As you can see, Marula oil is amazing in so many ways. It hydrates and repairs damaged skin like no other. It also helps the environment and improves the lives of people living in rural Africa. And that’s something we can all feel (and look) good about.

 

Naturally yours,

 

The Luxe Botanics Team

 

References:

[1] http://phytotrade.com/download/general/Anti-oxidant_properties_of_marula_oil.pdf

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26528587

[3] http://phytotrade.com/download/general/Anti-oxidant_properties_of_marula_oil.pdf

[4] http://www.livescience.com/54901-free-radicals.html

[5] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/drp/2012/135206/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11896774

 

 

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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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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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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

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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