Opinions, Sustainability, Wellness / Self-Care

Are Plant-based formulas the way forward for Skincare?

We’re talking sustainability.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Nov 8, 2021

You’ve probably heard about botanical skincare even if you are a little bit interested in your grooming routine. With its mesmerizing promise of plant-based formulas and “all-natural” ingredients and components, plant-based skincare hold an almost utopic promise, that is just as mysterious as it is popular.


The term refers to a huge and expanding universe of products that use plant-derived substances, frequently in the form of oils or extracts, to offer outcomes that are free of the hazardous poisons that are alleged to lurk beneath the surface of their synthetic counterparts.


The hype

The hype, according to Hillary Peterson, founder of True Botanicals, is apparently true. After being disappointed with the efficacy of clean cosmetic solutions on the market, Peterson founded her company, described on the website as “a luxurious, consciously crafted skincare brand on a mission to deliver clean and sustainable products that are clinically proven to work at the highest standards.”


MADE SAFE, a nonprofit organization specializing in thorough safety standards backed by a mix of scientists, skincare professionals, and highly educated PhD candidates, certifies every True Botanicals product. The MADE SAFE label is a significant distinction in an increasingly crowded market, pushing the brand to innovate and produce even more effective solutions.


While True Botanicals is actually taking time to certify their products and make sure that they are backed by organizations such as MADE SAFE, not all brands are doing the same. But that doesn’t mean that plant-based formulas are not on the rise.


The haters

There is definitely an amount of doubt surrounding the potential of plant-based skincare to work as well as their less natural counterparts—and even whether they’re entirely natural to begin with. According to Michelle Wong, a Sydney-based skincare specialist with a PhD in chemistry and a YouTube channel where she explains and debunks common beauty industry falsehoods in a clear, straightforward manner, skepticism is partially grounded in fact.


She points out: “Some botanical substances can be quite effective, but you’re limited to what’s already in nature, and plants didn’t evolve solely to give us lovely skin.”


The appeal of botanical skincare stems from a rising recognition that nature knows best. But does it really work? Wong cites medical discoveries as well as beauty aisle staples like retinoids and stabilized Vitamin C derivatives as proof that skincare businesses have employed synthetic chemistry to alter natural components to make them more effective over time. “Natural” is likewise a hazy term. It’s not necessarily true to assume that all naturally produced items are better for the environment or your health, and businesses that are saying otherwise should not be fully trusted.


There’s hope

Experts are finding themselves debating two sides of the same coin, and it seems that they will be doing so for a long time. Both Wong and Peterson emphasize the need for third-party certification in determining the authenticity of a product, and ultimately, whether we can actually rely on a fully plant-based approach to skincare. They are proponents of self-education and avoiding brands that haven’t put in the necessary level of effort.


It seems that plant-based and botanical skincare is advancing at a slow rate in the market, but it does hold promise for a more ethically sustainable future when it comes to skincare and grooming routines.


Read more about how natural skincare ingredients aren’t always necessarily sustainable.


Photo via Blissoma