I’ve been consistent with these products for about three months and am ready for a brand review.
This should be said before the review: African Botanics is definitely a luxury, high-end skincare brand. The prices can be quite jaw-dropping at times, but in some cases such as their moisturizer, you can see that because of the larger size it is actually equivalent to other products out there in green beauty which would be comparable had they also been sized up. In addition, I highly encourage you to read about the brand on their site. I am a big fan of their philosophies:
With great respect to Africa’s biodiversity, we utilize the most concentrated active plant extracts and superior botanical actives working together with South African botanists who study African traditional plant usage, share their knowledge and unite our efforts with one common goal: to ensure our unique products’ quality, safety and effectiveness. […] Our selection of ultra-powerful actives starts with in-depth research and analysis by closely collaborating with university labs and research teams in South Africa, France, Austria and Switzerland. […] African Botanics products are highly active and extremely concentrated with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory omegas, cell-communicating peptides, intelligent collagen boosters, botanical stem cells, minerals, marine biotechnology and energizing vitamins compared to most skincare products on the market.
I love how they combine traditional knowledge with modern technology and utilize the amazing botanics from Africa. A lot of green beauty brands don’t emphasize science enough, so I appreciate how they collaborate with university labs and research teams. You can get a better understanding now of why it’s such a unique, luxe line. I like to describe it as a YÜLI Skincare based in Africa.
Rose Treatment Essence ($160 for 50 ml / 1.7 oz)
This is one of my products from this line that I enjoyed, and one of the first I purchased. It’s a gel that’s mattifying to the skin as well as soothing. I prefer “wetter” formulations as toners to hydrate my skin (think Ambrosia Del Cerrado, Hydrating Mineral Gelee), but I also love the matte formulation of this product. In green beauty where we are saturated with oils and balms, it’s definitely refreshing to find matte products, especially for those who have oily skin. The Rose Treatment Essence is a thick, dry gel that spreads easily on skin without leaving a sticky or shiny residue.
It has a lovely, light scent of rose, which wafts through even with a small amount of product. I use one pump usually, and it does the job. The good thing about African Botanics products is that you don’t need to use a lot, which makes the price easier to digest. This is the same case with moss products such as Potentci and Illumina, and should be the case with all good-quality products that don’t have fillers or unnecessary additives. We tend to think slathering on more is better, but in reality, for those products that already have high concentrations of actives and botanicals, we don’t need as much as we think. Amongst the vitamins, rose flower water, and floral extracts, also included are botanical emollients, peptides, and humectants. Lately it is quite difficult to convince me to buy more oils or balms, as I already have so many and feel many out there can be so similar to each other, so looking at products such as this to purchase supersedes those.
I enjoy having this product in my routine for day and night, and find it very easily layers with other products. Since it is a gel and a low-oil formulation, it will be used in the beginning of my routine. It doesn’t plump my skin the way I really want it to – I’ve been trying to find a toner/low-oil serum that can have a real impact in this regard, but it’s been difficult. Even serums that constitute of hyaluronic acid are not giving me what I’m looking for. Josh Rosebrook’s Active Vital Balm and Tinted Day Cream actually do a better job of this I’ve noticed than other products. This being said, however, this is one of the toners I like. Although it doesn’t give me that dramatic difference in plumpness or texture, it does make it a positive difference in my skin – it’s soothed and I have noticed that it controls oil. Am I so impressed however that I will repurchase it again for the given price? Debatable. As much as I enjoyed the product, I do feel like there are better options.
Ingredients: Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Aloe Ferox Leaf* Extract, Butylene Glycol (Sugar Cane derived), Yeast Beta-Glucan, Hyaluronic Acid, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract*, Arnica Cordifolia Extract*, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Extract, Sambucus Nigra (Elder Tree) Extract, Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract, Hedera Helix (Ivy) Extract, Anacyclus Pyrethrum (Pellitory) Extract, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein (Di- and tripeptides), Hamamelis Virginia (Witch Hazel) Oil, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Kigelia Africana** Fruit Extract, Propanediol, Allantoin, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Bulbinine Frutescens*, Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola) Extract, Green Coffee, Caffein, Lamium Album (White Nettle) Flower Extract, Pinus Sylvestris Cone Extract, Burdock Root (Arctium Lappa), Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile)* Flower Extract, Rosa Centifolia (Rose)* Flower Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula)** Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol. *Organic, **Wild-Harvested Ingredients.
Cloudburst Micro-Emulsion Moisturizer ($260 for 50 ml / 1.7 oz)
This is a good moisturizer – but not my number one. Although per African Botanics style, the list of ingredients are very impressive, I didn’t see enough of a difference on my own skin. It’s also stated to be a balancing moisturizer, but I saw more of that effect from the Rose Treatment Essence shown above. Here is what they say about the product:
“[It contains] the latest in Marine glycobiology derived from very resilient Laminaria Algae. Rich in biologically active oligosacharides, these truly unique molecules significantly reduce the depth of wrinkles while protecting and repairing skin cells.
Regulates sebum production, prevents breakouts and skin oxidation with Copper, Magnesium and Zinc while oxygenating cells.”
Significantly reduces the appearance of wrinkles, less breakouts, etc- it sounds great, right? I can’t say I noticed a particular improvement with my fine lines nor in the breakout category, which goes to show that sometimes it’s better to assess the results of a product for yourself before reading the claims and convicting yourself of their existence. Indubitably it feels very light, cooling, and fresh on the skin, however I always have to layer with a heavier moisturizer afterwards. Due to its gel-like consistency, cooling sensation, and lightweight formulation, I feel like it really is more of a toner, not a moisturizer. Topping off this list as one of the most expensive products from the line I’ve yet tried, I would have to conclude that I won’t be repurchasing this product. This is not a bad product in any means, however for the same characteristics – lightweight, gel, cooling, fresh, hydrating- I personally prefer the Hydrating Mineral Gelee by AMBAR, which is much less pricey and feels more hydrating on my skin; the HMG also contains Zinc, Copper, and Magnesium. The former is $260 for 50 ml, while the latter is $55 for 30ml. The price may seem crazy at first, BUT if you consider the size of the Cloudburst Moisturizer at 50 ml, then it’s really quite equivalent to Potentci by moss skincare if the price/size of that product were doubled. Although consisting of a much simpler ingredient deck while maintaining similar characteristics to the Cloudburst Moisturizer, I would have to say that the HMG by AMBAR proves itself the winning option in this category.
Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerin (Vegetable), Sodium Hyaluronate, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Hydrolyzed Rice Protein (Di- and tripeptides), Yeast Extract, Hydrolyzed F- Fucoidan (Algae) Extract, Myrothamus Flabellifolius (Resurrection)** Plant, Hydrolyzed Candida Saitoana Extract, Kigelia Africana Fruit Extract**, Panicum Miliaceum (Millet) Seed Extract, Tannic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Carbomer, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Hamamelis Virginia (Witch Hazel), Aspalathus Linearis (Green Rooibos)* Tea, D-alpha Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola), * Zinc Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula)** Seed Oil, Resveratrol Ferment Extract, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Ginko Biloba Extract, Magnesium Sulfate, Green Coffee, Caffein, Allantoin, Carica (Papaya) Extract, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Eriocephalus Punctulatus (Cape Chamomile)**, Schinziophyton Rautanenii (Mongongo)** Seed Oil, Adansonia Digitata (Baobab)** Seed Oil, Citrillus Lanatus (Kalahari melon)** Seed Oil, Helichrysum Angustifolium (Everlasting/Immortelle)* Oil, Rosa Centifolia (Rose) Flower Oil, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vit C), Archillea Millefolium (Yarrow)*, Aloe Ferox* Leaf Extract, Aminomethyl Propanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol. *Organic, **Wild-Harvested Ingredients.
Buchu Botanical Enzyme Polish ($75 for 100 ml / 3.4 oz)
Let’s start off by talking about the smell- tropical and delicious. It’s different from the rest of the line, which has more subtle and light scents. I’ve been on the hunt for a good mechanical exfoliator, and decided this would be a good option to try. If you’re wondering whether enzyme, acid, or mechanical exfoliation is the way to go, it can be quite confusing deciding which one is best, especially with the different articles online. You could simply try each one and assess when your skin looks the best. Does a certain type of exfoliation give your skin better results, or does a combination suit you the best? In terms of physical exfoliants specifically, they are hard to find as there are so many products that utilize particles that are just too harsh, which is why I personally am not interested in purchasing any more mechanical exfoliants. If the particles used are large, angular, and abrasive, then they will definitely not be good to use on our skin. The smaller and rounder the particle, then allegedly the gentler it will be on the skin – even though I didn’t experience this with Leahlani. After trying a sample of their Honey Love Microdermabrasion Exfoliator, which uses finely powdered Corundum crystals that are stated to not have any jagged edges and thus not cause microtears, I still found them way too harsh on my skin. Honey is actually my preferred option, as Celestyna from moss suggests that the stickiness can actually count as mechanical exfoliation. If you’re also concerned about this, just note that there is many sides on this topic. Either angular/sharp particles cause micro-tears and thus should be avoided, or particles should altogether be avoided; either acids are demonized or they are the best way to go. You get the point. This doesn’t mean we need to be paranoid about every exfoliator out there, either, but make sure you trust the brand before your purchase. It’s generally accepted that one should control how much they exfoliate, though, so no matter which type you are using, be mindful of not overdoing it. Pay attention to the directions on how to properly use the product, whether it’s okay to use it daily or much less frequently.
All this being said, to conclude, this product definitely does a great job of decongesting and softening my skin, but again I do find the particles too harsh for my skin. I do love that the product contains enzymes – papaya and pineapple- since this aids in targeting dead skin cells and minimizing pores, however the physical particles utilized consist of crushed seeds, and due to how rough they feel and their nature, I assume they can potentially cause microtears in the skin. As stated by the website:
“A unique combination of sun dried aromatic Buchu plant and crushed Baobab fruit sourced from the southern tip of Africa are merged with healing Micro-Algae and fine granules of ancient volcanic minerals to visibly refine texture and soften the look of fine lines and dark spots by buffing away dull skin.”
I saw positive results with its use, and thus to avoid and irritation associated with the particles, I used a very light hand when applying, massaging, and removing this product from my skin; I barely applied any pressure, with my hands ever so lightly pressing against my skin when massaging in for 2-3 minutes. Aside from the rough particles, I definitely like this product better than the Active Enzyme Exfoliator by Josh Rosebrook, which also shares the same issue of rough particles but which does not match its performance. I noticed a posititve difference in my skin after using this product – smoother, decongested – which lead me to continue using it despite my issues with it. I simply adjusted by lightening the pressure I used with it. Yet will I repurchase? Probably not. As stated before, I feel all mechanical exfoliants are too harsh for my skin, and I can better results with other types of exfoliation.
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Carica Papaya (Papaya) Extract, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Pumice (Volcanic Minerals), Glycerin, Agathosma Betulina (Buchu) Leaf Powder*, Corn Starch, Acrylates, Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula) Seed Oil*, Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Fruit Powder*, Aloe Ferox (Bitter Aloe) Leaf Extract, Lactobionic Acid, Citrus Bergamia (Bergamot) Essential Oil, Athrospira Platensis (Spirulina) Micro-Algae Extract, Pelargonium Graveolens (Cape Rose Geranium) Essential Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Kigelia Africana Fruit Extract*, Aspalathus Linearis (Green Rooibos Tea) Extract, Cyclopia Genistoides (Honeybush) Extract. *Organic & Wild-Harvested Ingredients.
Infinite Resurfacing Mask ($200 for 50 ml / 1.7 oz)
Years ago, I would have probably used this product once a week every week (if not more), in combination with every other type of mask and exfoliant I could get my hands on, when I believed that my textured/acneic/oily skin needed more stripping to get rid of oils and force it to be softer. Alas, this is when you start asking for sensitive, sad skin. Of course after those years and after educating myself, I’m much smarter about it now. I don’t believe, however, that one should “never” use acids. If you are trying to recover and help your skin barrier heal itself, as I had to do after all those years of abuse, then absolutely do not use any exfoliators – in fact, don’t use anything and give your skin time to breathe. You need to give your skin the chance to heal itself. On the other hand, granted if your skin is not sensitive and you’ve let your skin recover, using acids, if properly used and formulated, will not be detrimental to your skin. As Celestyna states:
“The larger the acid molecule, the less deeply it penetrates, and using an acid for a deeper peel once or twice a year won’t hurt. Lactic acid has the largest molecule size and will be the most gentle, while glycolic is a smaller molecule and therefore stronger.”
Once again, there is a lot of “do this, don’t do that” advice out there, and although there is a lot of factual information we shouldn’t determine for ourselves, just remember that sometimes moderation, facts, and listening to your own skin can be key. If you don’t feel comfortable using acids, then don’t. If you prefer lactic acid because it has a bigger molecule size, then do that. If you want to use acids however, I would say this product is a nice choice. Of course more ingredients doesn’t make a product better than one with a few, but from assessing the performance of this product, I can say that whatever the formulation is, I like the results. It consists of hydrating ingredients, vitamins, minerals, as well as botanicals.
It is pricey, but considering how often you use it (which for me is quite spaced out) and how much you use it (a few pumps), it really won’t run out quickly. My skin feels soft, firmer, brighter, and deeply cleansed post application. If you’re scared to try it out because of how your skin may react, yet still want to incorporate it into your routine, perhaps try to offset the strength of the product by layering it on top of a product that’s hydrating.
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract, Lactic Acid, Mentha Leaf Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium (Yarrow)* Extract, Speedwell (Veronica Officinalis) Extract, Primula Veris Extract, Resveratrol, Arctostaphylos (Uva-Ursi) Leaf Extract, Glycolic Acid, Saccharide Isomerate, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Carica Papaya Extract, Bulbine Frutescens*, Xanthan Gum, Hyaluronic Acid, Fucus Vesiculosis (Sea Kelp) Extract, Myrothamus Flabellifolius (Resurrection)** Plant, Sorghum Bicolor Stalk Juice, Panicum Miliaceum (Millet) Seed Extract, Tannic Acid, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein (Di- and tripeptides), Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein, Superoxide Dismutase, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Aloe Ferox Leaf Extract*, Acetamide MEA, Panthenol (Pro Vitamin B5), Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Phytic Acid, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Linoleic Acid, Sommondsia Chinensis (Jojoba)* Seed Oil, Butylene Glycol, Sorbitol, D-alpha Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Ascorbyl Methylsilanol Pectinate, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail) Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Hydrocotyl (Centella Asiatica)* Extract, Chamomile Martricaria* Extract, Chlorella Vulgaris (Green Algae) Extract, Hydrolyzed Algin, Salix Alba (White Willow Bark), Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula)** Seed Oil, Magnesium Sulphate, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Citrillus Lanatus (Kalahari Melon)** Seed Oil, Copper Gluconate, Arnica Cordifolia (Arnica) Extract, Aspalathus Linearis (Green Rooibos)* Tea Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape)* Seed Oil, Ethanol, Jasmine Grandiflorum (Jasmine) Flower Oil, Rosa Mosqueta (Rosehip)* Seed Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol. *Organic, **Wild-Harvested Ingredients.
Resurrection Cell Recovery Serum ($160 for 30 ml / 1 oz)
This is hands down my favorite product from the line. I actually prefer the consistency of this gel formulation better than the Rose Soothing Essence, as it’s lighter but thicker. It smells very floral and fresh, a scent which I find energizing. You only need 1-2 pumps and it will spread very easily onto your skin. I personally alternated with this product, using it some nights, and foregoing it the next.
I purchased this product before the rest mentioned here, thus I can say that the most difference I saw in terms of more plump, elastic, and brighter skin came from this product. Once again, this product has an extensive ingredient list. What stands out to me is that it’s powered by by retinol and resveratrol, the latter of which is a fantastic ingredient to address aging skin. In addition, the brand claims this product “minimizes dark spots by 67% with Swiss Garden Cress Liposomes and green sea algae.” Swiss Garden Cress Liposomes are stated to inhibit melanin formation, thus this is how the effect is accomplished. I’m not sure which study or clinical trials are being referred to here by the 67%, but in the personal case of noticing brighter skin, I can buy that these stated ingredients make a difference.
Of all the products aforementioned, this is a definite winner. Although once again not a cheap option, especially with 30 ml of product, it’s one that I will recommend trying out the most in this review. Using only one-two pump the nights I did opt to use this product did help save how much product left I had in the bottle, but in the end it’s still an expensive option.
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Hamamelis Virginia (Witch Hazel) Distillate Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Arnica Cordifolia Extract, Aloe Ferox (Bitter Aloe) Leaf Extract*, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Extract, Myrothamnus Flabellifolius (Resurrection) Plant Extract, Sambucus Nigra (Elder) Flower Extract, Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract, Hedera Helix (Ivy) Extract, Anacyclus Pyrethrum (Pellitory) Extract, Panthenol, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid), Phytic Acid, Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula)* Seed Oil, Adansonia Digitata (Baobab)* Seed Oil, Linoleic Acid, Kigelia Africana Fruit Extract*, Sorbitol, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Ascorbyl Methylsilanol Pectinate, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail) Extract, Hydrocotyl (Centella Asiatica) Gotu Kola Extract, Chamomile Martricaria Extract*, Chlorella Vulgaris (Green Algae) Extract, Lepidium Sativum Sprout (Swiss Garden Cress) Extract, Lecithin, Aspalathus Linearis (Rooibos Tea) Extract, Pichia/Resveratrol Ferment Extract, Retinyl Palmitate, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Citrus Aurantium (Neroli) Essential Oil, Eriocephalus Punctulatus (Cape Chamomile)* Essential Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary)* Leaf Essential Oil. *Organic and Wild-Harvested
Three of the five products that I tried from African Botanics, although each are very unique in their formulations, ingredients, and textures as individual products, I feel can be substituted by other products from different brands with regards to their purpose and effect on the skin. The Resurfacing Mask and The Resurrection serum, on the other hand, I feel are more unique and effective in the beauty world, and due to the positive results I have seen from the two, are worth repurchasing. This being said, as I continue in my skincare journey and try to find the best product in each category, if I find a better acid exfoliant or a better anti-aging serum, these will end up being replaced as well- whether those alternatives prove to be cheaper or not. For now, however, these two are on top in their respective categories.
African Botanics is a brand that brings together different professionals (researchers, botanists, etc) in their quest to formulate luxe and unique products. I am very much looking forward to trying more products from this line in the future.