Wednesday, January 29, 2014News

Active fraction or plant total extract: the debate (Part I)

© Thinkstock-L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques

Are you more fractal or global? Isolated molecule or total plant extract? Since the green movement is trendy these days, there is an ongoing debate within the leading cosmetic industry, whether organic or conventional. Indeed, as far as plant extracts are concerned, one often favours organic ingredients only, or synthetic ingredients only, which should not be the case, since both “factions” would benefit from being complementary… Here are their assets and drawbacks, starting with total extracts, the first part of our special report.

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Let’s face it, the trend is more about isolating active fractions of a plant (some even develop their own plant molecules off-ground), to the detriment of our good old total extract, which is still used in organic-certified cosmetics though (but not only), to our own delight! The debate is complex, especially since it is impossible for consumers to know what lies behind the “extract” INCI name (which reveals the limits of regulations).

“Simple ones” are complex…

Plant total extracts – the term comes from phytotherapy – contain all the compounds in the plant. Their complexity and diversity make them rich because, on the one hand, molecules protect each other, and on the other hand they provide beneficial synergy which optimizes plants’ activity. This “community” of active molecules reproduces the balance of the living. It will never be possible to recreate Mother Nature’s wonderful alchemy in laboratory, and many complex plant molecules cannot be synthesized. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, Avicenna already claimed in the 11th century! Total extracts exhibit a broader spectrum of action when obtained with an appropriate extraction method. They contain a patchwork of multifunctional actives which restore the skin homeostasis and guarantee …

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