True Botanicals is a cosmetics brand that’s gotten a lot of attention recently for their clean and sustainable formulations. The brand describes its products as “natural bio-compatible skincare” which is “clinically proven” to be effective.
But are True Botanicals products potent enough to justify the incredibly high prices? Is the brand really "clinically proven" to work? Does the brand use any questionable additive ingredients? And how do real customers rate and describe the aesthetic effects of True Botanicals products?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we review the ingredients in two of the most popular True Botanicals products based on clinical studies, to give our take on whether or not they're likely to be effective.
We'll review Chebula Extreme Cream (the brand's anti-aging moisturizer) and Pure Radiance Oil (the brand's anti-aging face oil).
We'll share our concerns about some of the brand's clinical claims, feature unsponsored customer reviews, and provide a cost comparison to show which retailer sells True Botanicals for the best price.
Chebula Extreme Cream Review
Chebula Extreme Cream contains 48 individual ingredients, which are shown above.
At the time of updating this article, this full ingredient list is not accessible on the product page of the brand's website, which we consider to be a consumer safety issue.
Consumers deserve to know what's in the products they're putting on their face, and we urge True Botanicals to re-publish this information.
This cream has a number of research-backed active ingredients.
Sodium hyaluronate should have an anti-aging effect. It’s a sodium salt of hyaluronic acid with a lower molecular weight.
Hyaluronic acid has been shown in medical research to be a “skin rejuvenating biomedicine” which reduces wrinkles and improves skin tightness and elasticity.
Green tea extract inhibits certain enzymes that accelerate skin aging, as we documented in our green mask stick review.
Lactobacillus ferment is a probiotic ingredient that can reduce skin damage, repair the skin barrier and reduce acne lesion size when applied topically, according to a clinical trial published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science.
Tocopherols (vitamin E) are clinically shown to protect skin from UV damage, and also to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.
Coconut extract was shown to have anti-inflammatory and skin-healing effects in a 2017 clinical trial.
Coconut also increased the expression of collagen in the skin, which suggests an anti-aging effect.
There are only two inactive ingredients in this formulation we consider to be somewhat questionable from a health perspective.
Limonene and linalool are fragrance ingredients that may be sensitizing to skin, but we consider these to be healthier than generic "fragrance."
Overall, we consider Chebula Extreme Cream to be a high-quality cosmetic formulation, likely to have an anti-aging effect and to support skin repair.
We don't currently recommend this product due to the fragrance ingredients discussed above, but we consider it to be significantly superior to the average anti-aging skin cream we've reviewed to date on Illuminate Health.
A YouTube creator named Roxanne Latulippe has a review of this cream that discusses the scent, texture and consistency, and even includes before-and-after images:
Pure Radiance Oil Review
The ingredients in True Botanicals Pure Radiance Oil are shown above.
Like Chebula Extreme Cream, this product contains a large number of research-backed active ingredients.
Sclerocarya birrea (marula) seed oil was shown to naturally moisturize and hydrate the skin in a has been studied for dermatological effect in a clinical trial in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
Cannabis sativa (hemp) seed oil is clinically shown 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.”
Argan oil is clinically shown to improve skin elasticity, which suggests an anti-aging effect, as we documented in our review of Jones Road Miracle Balm.
Silybum marianum (milk thistle) seed oil is an effective anti-aging ingredient due to its photoprotective capacity.
A 2019 medical review on this compound documented that it can prevent photoaging (damage to skin from UV rays), reverse effects of photoaging and cause skin to regenerate at the cellular level.
This oil contains several inactive ingredients that may be questionable from a health perspective.
Farnesol, geraniol, linalool, citronellol, limonene and citral are all fragrance ingredients.
Benzyl benzoate is a synthetic preservative.
Overall, we consider True Botanicals Pure Radiance Oil likely to have an anti-aging effect due to its many research-backed active ingredients.
We don't currently recommend this product due to the fragrance ingredients, and we consider it to be inferior to Chebula Extreme Cream from a health perspective because of the increased number of fragrance additives.
That being said, we do consider this product more likely to be effective and healthier than the average anti-aging cosmetic formulation that we've reviewed to date on Illuminate Health.
A YouTube creator named Svetlana has a video on Pure Radiance Oil that includes before-and-after images:
Our Issues With "Clinically Proven" Claims
True Botanicals has a Research page on their site where they claim their products are “Grounded in Research” and “clinically proven to perform.”
Unfortunately, the “clinical research” the company is referring to doesn’t appear to be published in any peer-reviewed journals. The company fails to even cite the full study referred to in the above graphic, at the time of updating this article.
The brand fails to link to the full research study; only providing summaries of the results.
When we cite clinical research on Illuminate Health, we're citing results from clinical trials published in peer-reviewed journals. This is the gold standard of product research, as it ensures a high bar of study methodology.
We urge consumers to entirely disregard claims of efficacy made by skincare brands based on company-funded studies that don't appear in peer-reviewed journals.
In our opinion, the risk of bias is too high in such studies for the results to have any value to consumers.
Esthetician vs. True Botanicals
A popular YouTube creator and esthetician named Cassandra Bankson has a video sharing her issues with Olivia Wilde's (celebrity and True Botanicals spokesperson) marketing video about True Botanicals products.
The video has over 100,000 views, and while we don't necessarily agree with all of Cassandra's arguments, the video may be entertaining:
Real Customers Review True Botanicals
Amazon is a better resource for honest customer reviews than a brand's website in our opinion.
Chebula Active Serum is the brand's most-reviewed product on Amazon at the time of updating this article, with over 600 total reviews and an average review rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars.
The top positive review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named “Sara Kafka Hovsepian” who gives the product a 5/5 star rating, and likes its aesthetic benefits:
“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 negative review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named “DC” who gives the product a 1/5 star rating, and 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.”
We have no way to verify the above complaint.
True Botanicals currently has a 3.8 out of 5 star rating on Facebook.
True Botanicals Pure Radiance Oil currently has an average review rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on Google.
Our Clean Skincare Picks
There are skincare products containing ingredients shown in clinical trials to be effective for reducing wrinkles and improving skin quality.
Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum is our top anti-aging serum.
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.
HYDRAGLOW by CLEARSTEM is our top moisturizer pick.
It features bakuchiol as an active ingredient which was described in a 2014 clinical trial as "clinically proven to have anti-aging effects."
Bulletproof Collagen Powder is our top skin supplement.
Collagen supplementation was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology to reduce visible signs of skin aging as well as improve skin elasticity and skin hydration.
All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy or unsafe.
Where to Buy True Botanicals for the Best Price
True Botanicals products are sold at a variety of online retailers. Here's a price breakdown for a one-time purchase of the two products reviewed in this article, at the time of updating this article:
Chebula Extreme Cream
QVC: $110 (plus shipping, link)
Brand website: $110 (free shipping, link)
Amazon: $110 (free shipping, link to official Amazon listing)
Pure Radiance Oil
Nordstrom: $110 (free shipping, link)
Brand website: $110 (free shipping, link)
Amazon: $110 (free shipping, link to official Amazon listing)
True Botanicals products seem to have a set base price across online retailers, but the brand's website and Amazon have the lowest overall prices when factoring in shipping fees.
Pros and Cons of True Botanicals
Here are the pros and cons of True Botanicals in our opinion:
- Highly potent formulations
- Better-than-average brand
- Both products reviewed should have anti-aging effect
- Both products reviewed should have moisturizing effect
- Mostly positive online customer reviews
- Free shipping from brand's website
- Free of generic "fragrance"
- Free of artificial colorants
- Some formulations contain individual fragrance ingredients
- Brand makes questionable clinical claims of efficacy