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.
But are their products potent enough to justify the incredibly high prices? Is the clinical research backing their products legitimate? How are real users reaction to True Botanicals products?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions by reviewing the ingredients in the two most popular True Botanicals products: Chebula Extreme Cream (their anti-aging moisturizer) and Pure Radiance Oil (their anti-aging face oil). We'll give our take on whether the products are likely to reduce visible signs of skin aging like wrinkles.
Chebula Extreme Cream Review
Chebula Extreme Cream contains 48 individual ingredients.
Sodium hyaluronate is one of the 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 one of the cosmetic ingredients with the most research backing.
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 accelerate skin aging.
We find that lactobacillus ferment is another good ingredient choice. A clinical trial published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science found that this probiotic species reduced skin damage, repaired the 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 UV damage, and also to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.
Coconut extract may provide a skin healing effect. A 2017 clinical trial found that this ingredient had an anti-inflammatory effect on human skin, and also enhanced skin barrier function. Coconut extract increased the expression of collagen when applied topically, which suggests an anti-aging effect.
We’re impressed by the number of effective botanical ingredients in this anti-aging cream.
Chebula Extreme Cream does contain the fragrance compounds limonene and linalool which may be slightly sensitizing. We would prefer these ingredients be removed because they don’t provide any anti-aging effect and are used for scent alone, but we consider them a healthier alternative to the generic “fragrance.”
We believe that Chebula Extreme Cream is likely to be effective for skin moisturizing and anti-aging given its effective formulation. We don't recommend the product overall because we believe that similarly-effective skincare formulations can be acquired at a lower price, but we have no issues with a consumer purchasing this product.
HydraGlow is our top moisturizer product. It features bakuchiol as an active ingredient which was described in a 2014 clinical trial as "clinically proven to have anti-aging effects." In the linked trial, topical bakuchiol reduced wrinkles, improved skin elasticity and firmness, and reduced photodamage (damage from UV rays). There are no questionable additive ingredients in this product.
HydraGlow costs $56 while Chebula Extreme Cream costs $110. Interested consumers can check out HydraGlow at this link.
A YouTube channel called "Roxanne Latulippe" published a review of Chebula Extreme Cream that includes a review of scent, texture and consistency and even before-and-after images. The review appears unsponsored:
Pure Radiance Oil Review
True Botanicals’ Pure Radiance Oil also has a high number of ingredients.
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 good science backing it as well. It’s proven to alleviate dryness and other skin problems that arise as a result of aging.
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 proposed that olive oil may promote “dermal reconstruction” and “permeability barrier restoration” which suggests it can heal damaged skin.
Silybum marianum (milk thistle) seed oil is an effective anti-aging ingredient due to its photoprotective capacity. A 2019 medical review on this ingredient documented that it can prevent photoaging, reverse effects of photoaging and cause skin to regenerate at the cellular 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 True Botanicals product we reviewed. Pure Radiance Oil contains farnesol, geraniol and linalool, as well as a preservative called benzyl benzoate that we recommend avoiding.
We believe that Pure Radiance Oil is likely to be effective for anti-aging, but we don't recommend the product overall due to the increased number of fragrance ingredients and the preservative ingredient. We consider this to be a worse formulation than Chebula Extreme Cream.
Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum is our top anti-aging skincare pick because of its effective and clean formulation. It contains hyaluronic acid which was described as a "skin-rejuvenating biomedicine" in a medical review due to its ability to reduce wrinkles and signs of facial aging. We consider this to be the most powerful topical skincare ingredient. Most importantly, this serum is entirely free of questionable additives like preservatives and fragrance ingredients.
Interested consumers can check out Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum at this link.
The same YouTube creator that we highlighted in the previous section also published a review of Pure Radiance Oil which includes information on skin types, a product application demonstration and overall thoughts on the product:
Esthetician Debunks True Botanicals Marketing Video
One of the most popular YouTube videos on True Botanicals comes from a channel called "Cassandra Bankson" who is an esthetician. The creator shares her issues with Olivia Wilde's (celebrity and True Botanicals spokesperson) marketing video about True Botanicals products.
We don't necessarily agree with all of the takes in this video but find it entertaining:
Questionable “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. The brand fails to link to the full research study; only providing summaries of the results.
We strongly disagree with skincare companies using results from company-funded studies as the basis for claims of clinical efficacy, especially when those studies aren't even published in any peer-reviewed medical journals.
When we cite clinical research on Illuminate Health, we're citing results from clinical trials published in peer-reviewed medical journals. This is the gold standard of product research.
We urge consumers to entirely disregard claims of efficacy made by skincare brands based on company-funded studies that don't appear in legitimate medical journals. The risk of bias is too high in such studies for the results to have any value to consumers.
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 "C" grade from Fakespot, which is a software tool that detects potentially fake Amazon reviews. Fakespot's "Adjusted Rating" for this product is only 2.5 out of 5 stars.
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.”