Botanicals has a strict ethics policy based on personal and environmental health and well being, and is committed to offering ecological products that are derived solely from sustainable, natural sources.
- All their products have been professionally tested and certified. This means they fully conform to the European Cosmetics Products Safety Regulations.
- All of their personal care formulations are free from skin irritants such as petrochemicals, sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate and propylene glycol.
- No artifical colours, fragrances or preservatives
- They are also free from hormone disrupting chemicals such as phthalates (often found in synthetic fragrance). They contain no harmful preservatives (such as parabens), no artificial colours and fragrances, and no genetically-modified and animal-derived ingredients.
- All the products and the ingredients they use are cruelty free, meet 'Humane Cosmetics Standard' criteria, and are suitable for vegetarians.
- Their commitment to the environment is based on sustainability, producing biodegradable products from naturally derived ingredients, and using minimalist recycled or recyclable packaging.
Their philosophy is based on personal and environmental health and well being, and in providing information on which consumers can make informed choices. A full ingredients disclosure is given on all of their products.
Why The Soil Association?
Botanicals is one of only a handful of companies specialising in body-care products to be licensed by the Soil Association, Europe's most well-respected organic certifying body.
Most people associate the Soil Association with organic food. And they may wonder why an organic standard should be important in body and skin care products.
Botanicals founder, Wendy Stirling, explains: "According to European law, all food must be certified as organic before it can be sold as organic. But this regulation does not extend to body-care products.
"It means that any company is allowed to label a product as organic - even if it only contains tiny amounts of organic ingredients. And even when the product contains other ingredients that are linked to health concerns - which are prohibited under organic food standards.
"We have genuine concerns about the over-use of toxic chemicals - for both human health and the natural environment. Becoming a Soil Association licensee shows our commitment to championing change for a greener and cleaner planet.
"The Soil Association standards are based on principles that require the maximum amount of organic ingredients, minimum synthetic ingredients, minimum processing of ingredients and clear labelling - so that the consumer can make an informed choice about the product they are purchasing.
"To comply with the standards, ingredients must be certified organic, or from sustainably produced natural sources. They must also be safe - from both a human health and environmental perspective - and be both fully biodegradable and certified non-GM.
"For many people, concerns about organic integrity are not that important when it comes to selecting a body-care product. But when there are two similar products - one made from a cocktail of chemical preservatives, additives and artificial fragrances, the other from high quality natural and organic ingredients (and no great difference in price) surely it's good to have a choice."
Botanicals personal care and wellness products are blended by hand using only carefully selected natural and organic ingredients - and absolutely no petrochemicals or synthetic additives. Aromatherapy, herbalism and reiki have all played apart in the development of their products, which are designed to work holistically - with the person as a whole.
This follows their belief that beauty comes not only from the care and nourishment of the skin, but also from the emotional and spiritual benefits of plant essences.
They drew up a list of 'must-haves' for their formulations, which include the following:
- To be effective - holistically as well as practically - and always give good results.
- Pleasant to use, (in terms of fragrance and feel). They appreciate that their customers wouldn't want to use a product - no matter how natural - if they didn't like the smell!
- Provide a therapeutic benefit. They add plant extracts and essential oils at a percentage sufficient to give a therapeutic benefit (not just to name them on the label).
- Kind to the environment. All the ingredients they use come from sustainable sources and are fully biodegradable.
- Cruelty free. They are totally against animal testing, and operate a non-animal testing policy for all their ingredients. They support, and are members of Naturewatch.
- Good value. Most of their products contain 100% active ingredients, with little or no water content. You therefore need a much smaller amount than conventional products.
Recent studies show that we absorb as many toxins through our skin as through the foods we eat.
Daily cleansing, moisturising and deodorising, can mean a cocktail of hundreds of different chemicals being absorbed by the skin, directly into our bloodstream (that's how nicotine and birth-control patches work!).
It makes as much sense to choose cosmetics made with natural and organic ingredients, as it does when choosing food. But there's a real difference between the regulations governing the labelling of food, and those for personal bodycare products.
Misleading ingredients lists
'Natural' and 'organic' are very mis-used terms in cosmetics. Unlike food, there's no legislation governing these terms. Products labelled 'organic' can contain as little as 1% of ingredients derived from natural or organic origin.
This means that products that are legitimately marketed as natural or organic, are competing with products that are being marketed on the basis of a 'natural' image - rather than actual ingredients.
How It Began
"My name is Wendy Stirling. I launched botanicals in 2004 after one of my daughters suffered a severe skin reaction to a natural-sounding 'herbal' shampoo.
I tend to be a careful shopper, preferring to buy organic products where possible. The label on this shampoo said it contained 'high quality ingredients derived from pure renewable plant sources', as well as 'herbs grown under certified organic conditions - no petrochemicals or pesticides'.
Checking the ingredients
So when my nine-year-old daughter came out in a rash after using the shampoo, I took a closer look at the ingredients listed on the label. I was surprised to find it was full of potentially harmful detergents (SLS and SLES) and parabens (chemical preservatives).
The tiny amount of herbal ingredients used may well have been grown under organic conditions, with no petrochemicals, but the shampoo itself was full of them.
On doing some more research, I found there were very few producers of truly natural products in the UK. I also discovered that large commercial brands find it very difficult to offer 100% natural products because:
Cost and shelf life dictates a product's ingredients - rather than consumer and environmental health and well-being.
Consistency in colour and fragrance is difficult to achieve - no two natural growing plants are identical.
There aren't enough specialist suppliers to provide large retailers with sufficient stocks of plant-based ingredients.
I spent the next year talking to lots of people, doing more detailed research, developing products, and getting everything in place to launch botanicals. My husband is a graphic designer, and he created both the website and the label designs - which was a great (and cheap!) help.
All our products are produced in small batches and preserved naturally - to ensure high quality and optimum shelf life (usually one to two years), and sold direct to the consumer via this website.
All Botanical's products have been professionally formulated and comply fully with the European Cosmetic (Safety) Regulations.