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The Bountiful Botanical

Aug 17, 2007
When you see botanical extract listed on the ingredients label of your product, you automatically think of natural, good for you things coming from various plants. The thing a lot of people forget is that just because a plant extract is tossed into a product, that does not necessarily mean it is organic, nor does it mean the extract is always better than a synthetic ingredient.

Essentially, a botanical extract is a specific part of a plant that has beneficial properties and is carefully removed from the area of the plant; leaves, flower petals, etc., and is then often stabilized, joined with preserves, and had other unnatural things done to it. The simple fact is that the ingredient listing leaves these processes out. The ingredient is still in there, never mind what was done to it.

However, these processes are not necessarily bad for you. A few products may be entirely organic and not need a great deal of processes in order to get the desired results. With all the wonderful and useful plants out there, such as witch hazel, licorice, green tea, grape seed, lemon, sesame oil, and many others, you have to decide which you want on your skin.

There are equal amounts of usefulness for synthetic ingredients as much as their organic counterparts. After all, companies are not going to start using harmful plants in their products (unless of course, they manage to isolate a particular helpful part). It is important to remember that assuming all plants in nature are healthy and great for your body. Poison ivy anyone? There are just as many plants that can make you sick or severely irritate your skin as there are plants that can help it.

It is also important to note that just because a company has put a botanical extract of some kind into their products it does not mean that product is going to do wonders for your skin or hair. Instead, try reading up on botanicals and the different things they can do. This can help give you some insight into why a company has put particular extracts into a product and whether or not it will benefit you.

Different extracts have different uses. That is the great thing about botanical extracts, they have all sorts of possible uses and there are several that have been found to be particularly helpful, so do not write off botanical extracts just yet. You simply need to find products that use them to their fullest in order to get yourself the best benefit. Companies that toss them into products simply to be able to claim that it now has shea butter does not mean they are using a great deal of shea butter or that they are even using it to add to the product.

Various uses include some of the following extracts. Emollients, which are extra helpful to dry skin as a heavy duty moisturizer, can include extracts from marigolds, sesame oil, and avocado oil. Astringents help to close up pores and can include willow bark and witch hazel. Humectants help trap water to the skin and prevent more from escaping, and emulsifiers help to blend agents that normally separate like water and oil. A popular emulsifier is beeswax. Some extracts are simply used to help your skin feel cooler, more refreshed, and more relaxed, such as yarrow, meadowsweet, aloe vera, orange flower, and several more. Some botanical extracts also combine properties and can give you multiple uses.

Whatever botanicals you might find in your product, try to find out if they are there to help your skin, hair, or other beauty areas, or if they are there simply to make the product look a certain color or smell a certain way. You want a product that will get you the most use out of botanicals, that way even if there is a synthetic ingredient that does the same thing, you can go organic and get the same results.
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