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True Botanicals Review: Cleaner Formulations or Marketing Hype?

True Botanicals Review: Cleaner Formulations or Marketing Hype?

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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

True Botanicals is a cosmetics brand that’s gotten a lot of attention recently for their clean and sustainable formulations. The brand claims that their products are “natural bio-compatible skincare” which are “clinically proven” to be effective.

In this article we’ll review the ingredients in some of True Botanicals’ best sellers based on published medical research to determine if we believe they’re likely to improve skin quality and if there are any harmful additives.

Chebula Extreme Cream Review

One of the most popular True Botanicals products is an anti-aging serum called Chebula Extreme Cream. It contains 48 ingredients which is a high amount for a cream. We would typically include a screenshot of the ingredients list of any product we're reviewing, but in this case the ingredients list is so long that it would take up too much space.

Sodium hyaluronate is one of the active ingredients and is effective for anti-aging. It’s a form of hyaluronic acid with a lower molecular weight. Hyaluronic acid is proven in medical research to be a “skin rejuvenating biomedicine” which reduces wrinkles and improves skin tightness and elasticity. It’s arguably the most well-studied cosmetic ingredient in medical research.

Green tea extract is another effective ingredient for a skincare serum. As we detailed in our green mask stick review, green tea extract inhibits certain enzymes that are proven in medical studies to reduce signs of skin aging.

We find that lactobacillus ferment is another good choice. A clinical trial published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science found that this probiotic species reduced skin damage, repaired skin barrier and reduced acne lesion size when applied topically.

Tocopherols (Vitamin E) is an effective ingredient in this serum. It’s proven in medical studies to protect skin from damage from UV rays, and also to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. This photoprotective effect is one of the reasons tocopherols are included in many research-based skincare formulations.

Another botanical ingredient in this formulation is coconut extract. A study published in 2017 found that this ingredient had an anti-inflammatory effect on human skin, and also enhanced barrier function. It also increased the expression of collagen, which is the structural protein in skin.

We’re impressed by the number of effective botanical ingredients in this formulation. The serum also has no harmful additive ingredients such as fragrance which we find in many cosmetic formulations we review. They use a mild preservative called ethylhexylglycerin which we typically recommend over harsher alternatives.

This serum does contain compounds which provide fragrance effects such as limonene and linalool which may be slightly sensitizing. We would prefer these ingredients be removed because they don’t provide any benefits to skin and are included to improve scent alone, so they provide no functional benefits. That being said, we still find these to be much safer ingredient inclusions than the generic “fragrance” which could contain any number of toxic constituents.

Overall we would recommend this product. It’s likely to have an anti-aging effect based on its active ingredients, and it has no harmful additives. This combination of formulation efficacy and safety is rare in the loosely-regulated cosmetics industry based on our previous reviews.

Pure Radiance Oil Review

True Botanicals’ Pure Radiance Oil is also formulated primarily for anti-aging effect. 

One of the botanical ingredients, called sclerocarya birrea (marula) seed oil, has been studied for dermatological effect in a research trial published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. The researchers found that the compound was proven to have moisturizing and hydrating properties, which make it a great choice for a skin oil.

Cannabis sativa (hemp) seed oil has research backing as a topical agent as well. It’s proven to alleviate dryness and other skin problems that arise as a result of aging. The linked research review also found that hemp seed oil contains Vitamin E, so it has added photoprotection as a result of that.

Pure Radiance Oil also contains a variety of compounds that may directly provide anti-aging effects based on the scientific literature.

Rubus idaeus (raspberry) seed oil is a plant derived source of Vitamin A, and according to a medical review published in the Plants journal, this makes it a prime anti-aging compound: “Vitamin A is a popular antioxidant and ingredient in anti-aging skincare products because it adds moisture, reduces the appearance of wrinkles and smooths skin texture.”

Olive oil has a “possible effect” on reducing skin aging according to a medical review of plant oils and skin barrier function. There is less research on the dermatological benefits of olive oil than other plant oils, but the study authors propose that the botanical may promote “dermal reconstruction” and “permeability barrier restoration” based on its unique phytochemical profile.

Silybum marianum (milk thistle) seed oil has a direct anti-aging effect due to its photoprotective capacity. A medical review published in the Molecules journal in 2019 was titled “Skin Protective Activity of Silymarin and its Flavonolignans”. 

The researchers identified multiple biological processes by milk thistle seed oil prevented photoaging, reversed effects of photoaging and showed a regenerative ability at the cellular and tissue level.

We can conclude that this oil is likely to be effective for reducing visible signs of aging and for improving skin quality overall based on a review of medical research.

This oil contains a larger number of fragrance compounds than the previous serum we reviewed, including farnesol, geraniol and linalool among others. We commend True Botanicals for listing the specific fragrance compounds used, rather than using the generic “fragrance” descriptor, because this allows consumers (and researchers like us) to determine the safety of the specific compounds.

All of the fragrance compounds included in Pure Radiance Oil are well-studied and we believe them to be relatively safe, but we would still prefer this formulation without them, because they provide no dermatological benefit and may be sensitizing to some consumers.

Unimpressive “Research” Section

True Botanicals has a Research page on their site where they claim their products are “Grounded in Research” and “clinically proven to perform.”

Unfortunately, this “clinical research” the company is referring to doesn’t appear to be published in any legitimate medical journals. They don’t even link to a full clinical study with methodologies and raw data. 

Instead, the brand simply shares results of an “Independent” study.

Quite literally any cosmetics brand can pay independent research firms to test their products, and we’re disappointed that True Botanicals does not even publish the full set of data or share information on which research firm they hired to produce it.

We do not consider company-funded studies completed by for-profit research agencies to be legitimate medical research in any regard, because the economic incentives create bias. We believe that only products with research in legitimate, peer-reviewed medical journals should be able to claim that their products are “clinically proven” to work.

Saying “here are the results from a study we paid a private firm to conduct and won’t share the details of” is simply not the same as publishing research in a medical journal.

We also find it misleading that the “See Results” button on the Research page leads users to a product page. Any user clicking that button would expect to be directed to the results of the clinical study.

True Botanicals User Reviews

True Botanicals is available on Amazon, and their Pure Radiance Oil which we reviewed above is one of their most-reviewed products. It has a 4.2 star rating out of 5 stars, which is pretty good. The product receives a B grade from FakeSpot, which suggests that the reviews are likely not manipulated.

The top rated positive review from a verified purchaser is written by someone named “Sara Kafka Hovsepian” who claims that the product has provided them with aesthetic benefit:

“Since I have started, can't this everyone I've face-timed has said (you look amazing). As someone who has gained 15 pounds from quarantine I can tell you this is the only thing elevating my physical appearance.”

The top rated negative review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named “DC” who warns other users that there are no expiration dates on the products:

“There is no Expiration Date on two of the three True Botanicals products I purchased form seller. The products started to smell rancid less than 2 months after I bought them, and I got a skin rash.”

True Botanicals Influencer Review

One of the most popular reviews of True Botanicals on YouTube is from an influencer whose channel is named “Totally Forkable.” The review is quite informative and even provides before-and-after images:

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True Botanicals is a high-quality skincare brand. The formulations of their most popular products have many botanical ingredients which are effective for reducing visible signs of skin aging, and are free of harmful compounds we find in most commercial formulations.

We believe that True Botanicals is a much better option than the average skincare brand we’ve reviewed.

We would recommend both their Chebula Extreme Cream and their Pure Radiance Oil. 

In the future, we hope that True Botanicals provides more transparency around their clinical test results, or amends their statements about clinical proof of efficacy.

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