Due to the emerging market for natural and organic ingredients in cosmetic products, plant extracts have gained great popularity in the cosmetics industry. With skin care being the most important product category, plant extracts are commonly used for their functional properties. As a result, consumers are now interested in products that improve the health and beauty of the skin by providing a specific result, ranging from skin hydration to acne control and sun protection.
Botanica Natural Products (Botanica) is a producer and supplier of natural and organic plant extracts, oils, and powders for cosmetic applications and nutritional benefits. One of its core focuses is identifying, producing and supplying indigenous plant extracts in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner. This began with the cultivation of the indigenous plant Bulbine frutescens. The plant has a long history of use in Southern African traditional medicine as an effective remedy for a number of topical skin ailments, including blemishes, cuts, wounds, stings, scars, burns, external sores, ringworm, rashes, eczema and psoriasis, among others.
Since then, Botanica has expanded its range of plant extracts to include extracts from the following plants: Ceratonia siliqua, Buddleja saligna, Greyia flanaganii, Helichrysum odoratissimum, Syzygium jambos and Leucosidea sericea.
Skin depigmentation and the Ceratonia siliqua leaf
Ceratonia siliqua leaf extract is found to assist in the depigmentation of uneven areas of the skin. This plant extract is scientifically proven to naturally depigment the skin by inhibiting the tyrosinase enzyme and thereby reducing the appearance of dark skin spots.
Leaf extracts for skin and sun protection
Buddleja saligna leaf extract has antioxidant properties that assist in the protection of the skin from the damaging effects of the UV rays of the sun. This extract has been shown to reduce erythema and inflammation of the skin caused by the damaging effects of the sun. Similarly, Greyia flanaganii leaf extract assists in protecting the skin against the damaging effects of UV radiation when combined with a known sunscreen.
Helichrysum odoratissimum leaf extract and Syzygium jambos leaf extract both assist in boosting the sun protection factor (SPF) when combined with a known sunscreen. Moreover, Helichrysum odoratissimum leaf extract also has antioxidant properties that have the ability to scavenge free radicals which cause erythema.
Leucosidea sericea leaf extract has been found to assist with the active control of acne of the skin, especially comedones, papules, pustules and blackheads.
All the necessary clinical trials and laboratory tests on the aforementioned plant extracts were conducted by the University of Pretoria and are available on request.
Sustainability and social development
With South Africa being the third-most biodiverse country in the world in terms of species diversity and endemism, there is great potential to expand the range and use of plants for cosmetic applications.
In order to ensure the sustainability and equity of all commercial plant extracts, Botanica is compliant with the laws and policies put in place by the Nagoya Protocol and the respective regulations on Access and Benefit Sharing. To this end, Botanica employs staff from the local community in rural Limpopo and provides various social development initiatives to the community.
Botanica also actively promotes the sustainable use of biodiversity with the aim of achieving a net-zero carbon footprint. This policy has been implemented by planting more than 200 000 spekboom (Portulacaria afra) plants to offset its carbon emissions and to reduce local soil erosion. Spekboom is an indigenous South African species that captures carbon dioxide and converts it to oxygen 24 hours a day.
DID YOU KNOW?
Bulbine frutescens leaf juice is commonly used in formulations for its incredible soothing and moisturising properties. It protects dry and sensitive skin and helps increase skin hydration and elasticity. In addition, this extract enables the restoration of skin barrier function by reducing sensitisation and improving moisture retention.
This article appeared in Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Review December 2021. Download the article on Plant Extracts in the Cosmetics Industry here for more information.