Our mission is to create clean beauty products using naturopathic healthy and beauty teachings from our founder’s mother & locals we encountered in our journeys through the Amazon rainforest. We’ve developed highly effective combinations of the most wildly potent, naturally derived active ingredients from the rainforest and beyond to deliver products that are effective, luxurious, multi-functional and affordable.
Clean Beauty standards are highly subjective and sometimes personal, we take a 4 step approach in evaluating the ingredients that go into our products.
- First pass, we run the entire ingredient list through EWG’s SkinDeep for an immediate look at just pure numbers. We try to stay away from anything that rates above a 3 (the majority of our formulas have ingredients that are almost entirely 1s).
- Second, we looks at some of the best ingredient standards created in the industry, such as the Wholefoods Premium Standards, as another guide for ingredients that we stay away from.
- Third, we then apply our own standards and lenses after putting the ingredients through the first two as there might be ingredients that are ok in the first two but that are not ok for us due to sourcing methods, environmental impact, etc. Given our B-Corp Certification, we have to abide by really strict standards on both ingredient selection and sourcing. Our B-Corp certification ratings are really high and that is what has allowed us be part of their “Best for the World” group.
- Lastly, we review the lists and ratings on an on-going basis and make adjustments along the way to make sure we incorporate any new information or changes in how ingredients are rated, new findings, etc. We have changed a couple of formulas to replace ingredients that went from 1-3 in ratings. For instance, a while back we replaced Retinyl Palmitate in the Multi-Tasking Oil formulation with Sweet Potato extract. The safety of some ingredients is also highly dependent on the type of products they are used in.
What We Currently Say No To & Why
Information about the safety of ingredients changes often as new evidence is found. The safety of some ingredients often times can also be related to your own needs and limitations, so staying informed is key. In fact, don’t trust either brands nor retailers to do the homework for you. There are a lot of retailers who claim to have “Clean” assortments that oftentimes still utilize PEGs as preservatives as an example and often times even worse. There are great independent sources for ingredient info, a couple of our favorites are EWG’s SkinDeep. We also love the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. But once again, seek to understand and based on the info they provide come up with your safety net given your own needs and what makes the most sense to you. This is a key component to selecting safe ingredients that often times people tend to dismiss. Having the knowledge will help you Clean Up your beauty routine and make safer choices. After all, your skin is your largest organ. It’s also important to make choices that are good for you, but also safe for the environment. What may be clean for someone, may not take into account your own values and limitations. Click here to learn more.
- Ethoxylated Ingredients: Synthetically produced using Ethylene Oxide, known carcinogen, avoid ethoxylated ingredients including ceteareth-20, emulsifying wax, PEGs, polysorbate-20 and -40, steareth-20, sodium laureate sulfate and ammonium laureate sulfate.
- Formaldehyde: Ingredient labels don’t typically list formaldehyde, although its ‘releasers’ are and often have formaldehyde in them: benzylhemiformal, diazolidinyl urea, dmdm hydantoin, glyoxal, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, tosylamide/formaldehyde resin, quaternium-15, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, and 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3 dioxane.
- Hydroquinone: This compound may cause discoloration or skin irritation, since it inhibits melanin synthesis. It’s also a metabolite of benzene, a known carcinogen.
- Lanolin & Keratin: Both come from sheep; lanolin is an oil in sheep’s glands and keratin comes from sheep’s wool - although obtaining these materials doesn’t harm sheep in any way, farmers often use insecticides which can be toxic. Cupuaçu Butter is a great and 100% safe alternative to Lanolin and twice more moisturizing.
- Methyl Cellosolve (2-Methoxyethanol): Already banned in the EU, this solvent can cause skin irritation but even worse, it may affect the central nervous system as well as the health of the kidneys, liver, blood and even bone marrow.
- Methylchloroisothiazolinone & Methylisothiazolinone: Also banned in the EU, these preservatives can be toxic to the nervous system and cause skin irritation and allergies.
- Nanoparticles: These are synthetically engineered tiny particles that may impact your health and the environment. Be skeptical of beauty products claiming to contain “non-nano” zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as this is often misleading.
- Parabens: Anyone who’s mildly versed in clean beauty practices knows to avoid parabens in skin and hair care products. This is because they have been linked to hormone disruption.
- Petrolatum & Paraffin: These ingredients make the ‘dirty’ list mainly because the sourcing practices associated with them are unsustainable and results in a cancer-causing risk of Polyaromatic Hydrocarbon contamination.
- Phthalates: Most phthalates ‘hide’ under the label of ‘fragrance’, and have been linked to hormone disruption.
- Resorcinol: Many hair dyes use resorcinol, which has been linked to many issues from irritation and allergies, to hormone disruption.
- Retinyl Palmitate: Although it’s fine for use in night creams, retinal palmitate may increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun when worn outdoors.
- Silicones: Although silicones can provide some plumping benefits to skin, silicones have a negative impact on the environment and may cause blemishes for acne-prone skin since they can clog the pores.
- Toluene: This solvent is found in nail polish and is toxic to the immune system and may cause birth defects.
- Triclosan & Triclocarban: Used in some personal care products as antibacterials, these ingredients may cause hormone disruption and cause environmental issues.
- Synthetic Fragrances: Scents are added to many skincare products, and there are plenty of natural fragrances that are clean-beauty-approved. Avoid synthetic fragrances and phthalates.
Some other things to keep in mind, which are not necessarily harmful, but need to be used in moderation and you should be aware of your own limitations.
- BHA: Butylated Hydroxyanisole is a preservative that is sometimes used in cosmetics and has been linked to skin irritation, disruption of hormone balances and even cancer.
- BHT: Butylated Hydroxytoluene is another preservative linked to skin irritation, and is toluene-based.
- Animal By-Products: Animal oils, musks and fats. We have chosen to be 100% Vegan, so we never include animal by-products in our formulation, but it is important to understand if you are looking for Vegan products that many animal by-products can be hidden in ingredient names and also that many traditionally animal sourced ingredients can now be substituted by plant sources, so be aware of the source and ask.
- Beeswax & Bee Products: Although honey, pollen, beeswax and propolis are all safe and effective cosmetics ingredients, assurances should be made that ingredient suppliers are treating the bees humanely since bee populations are struggling.
- Carmine: Derived from scale insects, carmine is a red pigment that is often used in color cosmetics. Also known as cochineal, crimson lake, and Natural Red 4, carmine is generally allowed but should be clearly noted on ingredient labels.
- Chemical Sunscreens: Some chemical sunscreens have either been understudied or have been linked to hormone disruption. Instead, look for natural mineral sunscreens with titanium dioxide and zinc.
- Cyclical Silicones: Studies have shown that some of the chemicals in cyclical silicones may develop toxicity or disrupt reproductive and endocrine functions.
- EDTA: The different variants of EDTA do not break down naturally in the environment and may pose a harmful risk to aquatic life.
- Ethanolamines: Cancer has been linked to chemicals like nitrosamines, which sometimes contaminate cosmetics ingredients such as ETA/DEA/MEA/TEA.
- “Glycols”: Some glycols, such as butylene, dipropylene glycol, polypropylene, and propylene are okay and don’t pose safety risks for most people, but propylene glycol may irritate skin and polyethylene glycol (PEG) is not a clean ingredient.
- Heavy Metals: Many cosmetics contain trace amounts of heavy metals in synthetic colorants and even natural mineral pigments. Although there is little immediate health risk, these metals can build up over time and cause problems. Ensure your cosmetics companies work with their ingredient suppliers to obtain consistent batch testing on their colorants to minimize exposure.
- Microbeads and Glitter: make sure to look for microbead free exfoliants that use natural exfoliating agents (seeds, pulps, coffee). Stay away from synthetic glitter, make sure that any glittery materials are derived from Mica (a mineral).
- When using products that come in plastic containers, make sure they are in PET 1 packaging vs. HDPE Plastic, PET being post-consumer recyclable and the least harmful and whenever possible (non-shower and smaller weights), choose glass. Large glass containers, anything above 8 oz. can have a huge carbon footprint impact to the environment that could be worse than recyclable plastic.
Our Community Engagement – You have a Say
We created a community called The Botanist Workshop. Through that community to engage with our customers to source product development needs and ideas. We believe that our customers should be involved in the process and their needs should be heard and met. They also help us to evaluate lab samples early on to test product acceptance and effectiveness. It’s a win, win. Click to answer a short survey in order to become part of our thriving community.