Luxe Botanics

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


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The Confusion of Skin Care Labels: What Does Organic Really Mean?

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There are armies of skin care brands and marketers determined to push their products by using words that make you believe they’re the most effective and the least harmful to their distinct advantage. But what do these terms really mean? We break it down so you can be an informed consumer. Take back your power!

 

Organic

The term “organic” should signify that an ingredient was grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or radiation. In other words, the plant or animal was grown as close as possible to its natural state, just as if it was in the wild. Take note of this, it’s an important one for later…

The food industry in the US regulates organic food products through the National Organic Program (NOP). Manufacturers and farmers must meet the standards set by the NOP in order to have the organic label placed on their products.

In skin care, the criteria are far less stringent. Some companies may skirt around the issue, finding loopholes that allow them to label a shampoo or moisturizer organic simply because one of its main ingredients is water. Water is, after all, natural and harmless (permitted it isn’t boiling hot). If you see a product with “organic” written on the package, know that no authority has deemed it so (unless it bears the certain certified labels, which we’ll get into below). It is possibly a marketing technique, or the manufacturer has figured out it can use the term because just one or two of its ingredients fits the bill. 

 

Certified Organic

Though “organic” on its own is a flimsy term, the “USDA Organic” logo has much more authority behind it—that’s because in order to display it, an ingredient or brand must be certified by the USDA. This certification is enough to give you peace of mind that almost all of the ingredients in the product have been grown and processed in regulated conditions that mandate cleanliness, and that it does not contain pesticides, synthetic preservatives, petrochemicals, GMOS or ionizing radiation.

USDA classifications are based on the percentage of organic ingredients in the product, ranging from 100% organic to 70% organic or less. A product containing 70% or less organic ingredients will not carry the seal, and may be simply labeled “made with organic ingredients.”

The Soil Association, a nonprofit organic certification body in the UK, is another logo available to guide customers. Our Kigelia products are all certified by The Soil Association.

Like “USDA Organic,” The Soil Association classifications look for ingredients grown without the use of GMOs, pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers and more. They review the end-to-end manufacturing process including sourcing of ingredients, formulation process and premises as well as packaging. They even require an environmental waste management plan. For a product to be called organic, 95% of all ingredients must be organic. A product containing  20% or less organic ingredients will be labelled “made with organic” products.

And then there’s EcoCert, a certifying body that focuses on the percentage of natural ingredients within a formulation. To obtain EcoCert, the ingredients must be “derived from renewable resources and manufactured by environmentally friendly processes.” Formulations cannot contain GMOs, parabens, phenoxyethanol, nanoparticles, silicon, PEG, synthetic perfumes and dyes and animal-derived ingredients (unless it’s naturally produced, such as milk and honey). On top of that, they check out whether or not the packaging is biodegradable or recyclable.

EcoCert has two labels: “natural and organic cosmetic” and “natural cosmetic.” To obtain the former, at least 95% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula and at least 10% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming. For the “natural cosmetic” label, a minimum of 50% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula and a minimum of 5% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming.

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The Tricky Part

Your best bet is to look for the USDA, Soil Association or EcoCert seal if using an organic product is important to you. But here’s the tricky part: It can be challenging for poor rural communities to obtain an official organic certification often due to costs, time constraints, lack of resources and education barriers. Moreover, it can be supremely difficult—bordering on impossible—to certify a plant grown in the wild, like the Marula fruit. Wild crops are harvested in areas not under any sort of agricultural management. Therefore, the specific organic certification cannot be applied the way it can on a farm, where everything is heavily regulated and under constant manipulation by humans. Do note that many of these communities, for the same hurdles that impede their ability to nab certifications, cannot afford pesticides in the first place. What to do in this case?

 

Wild Harvested

Remember how we talked about organic simply meaning that a product is grown in a manner considered to be as close as would occur in the wild? This is where wild harvested comes in: the practice of harvesting plants from their natural, or “wild” habitat, for food or medicinal purposes. It applies to uncultivated botanicals untainted by chemicals wherever they may be found in nature. Ethical and sustainability considerations are often involved, such as protecting endangered species and taking care to remove only a few flowers or branches at a time, so plenty remains to continue the supply.

It’s really up to individual brands to work in harmony with rural communities that practice wild harvesting to ensure the ingredients are grown in optimal conditions and processed using techniques that maximize benefits. For example, our Marula is extracted from the kernel (nut) of the Marula tree in the Kenyan bush and cold pressed by the Maasai. And our Camu camu comes from deep within the Amazon basin harvested from bushes that grow along the waterways, hand-picked and processed by the local community in Brazil.

 

This Is Where We Stand

Aside from the certified seals mentioned, labels don’t guarantee anything. They can tell the whole truth (and nothing but the truth) or they can tell you only a part of the story.

Ultimately, what matters is the integrity of the brand. It’s up to the skin care company to not only produce high-quality products that perform, but also offer clear-as-glass transparency—from where and how their ingredients are grown, how they’re processed, transported and tested and how they ended up in the bottle you hold in your hand.

At Luxe Botanics we use certified organic ingredients whenever possible, but we believe wild harvested is equally as beneficial and should be respected as such. Because of this choice, along with the high percentage of wild-harvested ingredients in our formulations, sometimes our end product doesn’t meet the minimum percentage required by USDA/EcoCert/Soil Association to be certified as an organic product by these bodies. To meet their expectations, we’d have to reduce the percentage of wild-harvested ingredients in our formulations and increase our percent of those that are certified organic.

The downside? We wouldn’t be supporting local communities and wild harvested areas. For us it’s all about balance, having a mindful skin care ritual that not only gives back to the environment, but supports communities and nurtures sustainable farming practices for the future.  

For more info on labelling take a look at our earlier blog on skin care buzzwords

Naturally yours,

The Luxe Botanics Team

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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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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:

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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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