I was inspired to write this blog after walking the cherry blossom lined streets here in Vancouver. I figured spring would be the perfect time to address "botanicals" in beauty products.
I have been a fan of botanicals for years...in fact, since the high school biology days. At first it was purely aesthetic (anyone else love old botanical Darwin drawings?), but as I explored more into the world of plants, I realized how in sync the human life is with the plant life. This is when plant based beauty really began to make sense to me. It also makes sense to many companies all around the world who are producing natural beauty products. However, many brands are so tightly holding onto phrases in their marketing plans such as "botanically based", "naturally derived" and "plant based" to attract attention, as we are starting to awaken to the idea of living a simpler, more natural lifestyle. Even big names such as Garnier and Aveeno are hopping on the natural bandwagon by using green, leafy labels and words that evoke the sense of their product being natural.
To Webster, "botanical" means: A drug, medicinal preparation, or similar substance obtained from a plant or plants.
To You, it may mean "Natural" or even "Organic" in your mind.... To the cosmetic industry, it's just a word tied in a bow
So next time you read the world "botanical" or "natural on a label, test yourself with the following:
1. How much is the product, and what store am I shopping in? Do I trust the people running this store?
- The price of a product is a direct reflection of the quality of ingredients. Low price? turn the product around to the back. You may spot synthetic perfume, paraben's or synthetic dyes...none of which should be in a natural product.
- Shopping in a household name store? Is the brand a house hold name? If so, this is the works of a sneaky marketing team. I can almost guarantee this product is not natural or safe in any way. Unless you can have a trustworthy conversation with a staff member of the store, I would say get out of there as fast as possible.
2. Is there perfume in the formulation?
- This is a huge red flag. Botanicals, which include essential oils, are added to formulations to create a beautiful and healthy scent. If you spot perfume in a "natural" or "botanical" product, put it right back on the shelf.
3. How many Botanical ingredients do you recognize on the label?
Most cosmetic products will have the english and latin name on the ingredient listing. The product may be named "Grapefruit and Basil Cleanser", but don't let them fool you". Turn around the product to the ingredient label. If the only two botanical ingredients you recognize are CITRUS PARADISI (GRAPEFRUIT) OIL and OCIMUM BASILICUM (SWEET BASIL) OIL then you have a problem.
Here is an example of a natural botanical ingredient list, and a conventional botanical ingredient list:
REAL Natural Product: Purified Water, Aloe Vera Gel [Aloe Leaf Juice, Purified Water, Irish Moss, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid], Avocado Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Neroli Distillate, Emulsifying Wax NF, Stearic Acid†, Seabuckthorn Fruit Extract, Hydrolyzed Oats, Squalane, Lavender Oil**, Phenoxyethanol‡, Carrot Seed Oil**, Ylang Ylang Oil*, Caprylyl Glycol†, Frankincense Oil**, Sorbic Acid, Italian Everlasting Flower Oil*, Geranium Oil* †vegetable derived; ‡occurs naturally in green tea;
FAKE Natural Product: Water, Phenyl Trimethicone (silicon), PPG-3 Myristyl Ether Neoheptanoate, Glycine Soja Seed Extract, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Glycerides (Unsustainable Palm), Silica, Mica, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, Isohexadecane, Bisabolol, Fragrance, Citric Acid, Magnesium Aluminium Silicate, Cetearyl Glucoside, p-Anisic Acid (fragrance), Polysorbate 20, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides (Unsustainable Palm), Sodium PCA, Urea, Cetyl Hydroxyethylcellulose, Polysorbate 60, Tetrasodium EDTA, Xanthan Gum, Hexylene Glycol, Trehalose, Polyquaternium-51, Methylisothiazolinone, Triacetin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides
The examples above are from Trimaran Botanicals and Aveeno. While Trimaran is natural and botanically based to the core, Aveeno uses the phrase ACTIVE NATURALS, which is JUST A NAME. They use Oatmeal as their "claim to natural" ingredients, yet fill their products with synthetics, fragrances and silicons.
My botanical favourites
The succulent and prickly plant Aloe Vera is commonly used to heal sunburns. It is cooling and soothing on the skin and healing for eczema.
Chamomile, a delicate flower that is mildly astringent and antibacterial may also soothe and repair irritated skin and act as an anti-inflammatory.
Olive oil is rich in healthy fats, antioxidants, squalene, vitamin E and omega-9 oleic acids. Moisturizing and healing for even the most sensitive.
Witch Hazel is commonly found as a herbal water for cleansing, toning and refreshing the skin. It can calm and soothe irritated skin and heal bruises.
Don't let yourself get sucked into marketing tricks. Do you research and find brands that you trust. By using botanical ingredients, you are doing your skin good.
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