Botanical Importance in the Skincare Industry
Botanical extracts have quickly made its way into many cosmetic and skincare products around the world. We take a closer look into botanicals and how they can be beneficial in skincare products.
A botanical extract is made from a plant’s roots, flowers, bark or leaves. The plant parts or components are dissolved using a special solvent which helps free up some of the natural ingredients within the plant. The solution is then separated from the parts of the plant which were insoluble. The extract can further be separated from the liquid to produce a powdered form. This liquid or powder can finally be dissolved into the solvent of a skincare or cosmetic product to help reap benefits through a topical application. If the process is performed correctly a pure extract can provide many natural properties of the plant in a concentrated form. The names of botanicals are typically based off the isolation process and chemical structure from the plant it was derived from.
Today botanicals have become the future of the cosmetic industry, promising to have benefits which range from skin and hair to even health. Since there has been a huge increase in consumer demand for natural products, botanicals have become the one of the biggest additives in skincare. New botanicals are coming to the market each year, and are present in all kinds of treatments, which make it difficult for professionals and consumers to understand the science.
Where it gets tricky
The extracts must be formulated in a product correctly which are synergistic to the skin’s properties. This means if a product is not formulated with a base or even the correct amount of base that is used as a delivery vehicle, the ingredients may not penetrate the skin as effectively and therefore the benefits could be limited. The method and percentages can very depending on what other ingredients are present. If manufactured in a professional facility, the formulator typically will have knowledge of which bases and processing methods to use in order to preserve the raw ingredient source and avoid denaturing it. If the correct method using solvents and bases in the correct concentration can be achieved then the final result is a concentrated extract which retains the original benefits of the plant source.
Another major concern is where the plants are sourced. It is important that they come from a high quality environment and no harsh chemicals are used. There are also many companies who sell extracts and their processing methods cannot be verified through quality control methods. because of this there are a huge number of extracts which have been incorrectly processed which have little to no nutritional or skin benefits.
An extract is usually in a liquid form or powder form and is concentrated so only a small amount is needed in a formula for maximum benefits and results. Often when purchasing or creating a pure extract or tincture there will be ratio associated with it to show the concentration of the herb or plant vs the base or solvent. For example a ratio of 4:1 means that the mixture used to produce the extract was 4 part plant and 1 part liquid. Common ratios are often 1:1 or 2:1. However some companies completely dilute their extracts.
So what are their benefits?
Most botanicals have many antioxidant benefits as many of these plants were able to thrive in direct sunlight being exposed to UV light. Therefore, protection against free radicals is a strong benefit from many extracts. Extracts can also have benefits to acne, oily skin, hyperpigentation, wrinkles, skin lightening and brightening etc.. Since the extract is in a concentrated form, a small percentage is actually needed to see max benefits because the skin can only absorb so much at a time. I will list a few popular botanicals used in today’s market and more can be viewed on our ingredients page.
A Few Common Extracts
Chamomile (Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract), The chamomile flower contains essential oils & flavonoids (antioxidants) and has long been used by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for centuries to treat asthma, colic, inflammations, nausea, skin diseases and cancer. It has also been used in teas as a mild sleep aid, and treatment of fevers and colds. Recent scientific research suggests it possesses powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-allergenic properties. Chamomile helps reduce inflammation, while increasing skin repair by purifying, refreshing, and neutralizing free radicals and other skin irritants.
Green Tea Extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract) a natural extract, containing a catechin (antioxidant), known as epigallocatechin (EGCG) which exhibits antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea will help reduce inflammation in the skin and fight off free radicals that cause damage to the cells and tissues in the body. Green tea’s antibacterial properties are capable of also killing the propionibacterium acnes responsible for acne. An independent study by Dr. Gan-Wong reported that the results in treating acne with a 3% green tea cream, to a 4% benzoyl peroxide solution were nearly the same. Green tea extract has few to no side effects compared to drug based products. According to another study in the “journal of drugs in Dermatology”, green tea is more effective when applied topically, and can also be used as a mild cleanser and exfoliant of the skin.
Tea Tree Oil: is an essential oil extracted from the leaves of the Australian Melaleuca Alternafolia tree. Tea tree oil contains terpinen-4-ol, which is thought to be responsible for the oil’s antimicrobial activity. The oil has been proven to be effective in killing acne bacteria (propionibacterium acnes ) when applied topically, and has often been used as a natural alternative to benzoyl peroxide. In a study comparing tea tree oil to benzoyl peroxide, patients who applied the tea tree oil topically, experienced much less side effects compared to those who applied benzoyl peroxide. People in both groups experienced a significant reduction in inflamed and non-inflamed acne lesions.