Earth Month is a time when we’re all encouraged to take a closer look at our lifestyles and all the choices we make on a daily basis. That includes our beauty and grooming routines. For most of us, that means checking that we can chuck empty bottles in the recycling bin once they’re empty or switching to refillable packaging. But it’s what’s on the inside that counts, too. Of course, the packaging is important, but so is the formula itself, and we’re not just talking about clean ingredients. Ingredient sourcing has a huge impact not just on your skin, but on the planet. That’s why True Botanicals is taking a greater stance behind regenerative farming.
“Regenerative farming within the beauty industry is a new topic,” says True Botanicals Founder Hillary Peterson. “It’s something that I became aware of through conversations around how farming can continue to evolve to best support the health of people and the planet. As a company, we were really focused on organic and wild harvested ingredients. I did a lot of research to understand how regenerative farming is specifically different. What is it that we’re trying to accomplish with regenerative farming that’s taking our efforts to the next level? Why is it something we should prioritize? What I learned is that putting carbon back into the soil through regenerative farming is a real way for us to reverse climate change, and it also makes for healthier soil.”
Dating back to Native American farming practices, regenerative farming is actually an ancient technique. Regenerative farming is a conservation and rehabilitation approach to farming that uses practices to reverse climate change by rebuilding organic soil mater and restoring degraded soil biodiversity, which also increases biodiversity and improves the water cycle. Though True Botanicals can’t source that many ingredients from regenerative farms, they are prioritizing it and doing as much as they can, especially after Peterson learned that if every farm today globally was a regenerative farm, we would be carbon neutral. “We’re encouraging farms to adopt the practices, and we want to source and support their efforts as much as possible,” she says. “A lot of other farmers are understanding this and wanting to make the shift as well. But it takes time and energy and in the end for us to create demand for those ingredients is very supportive of that shift.”
True Botanicals started working with regenerative farms about a year and a half ago and they’re in talks with several farms who are in the midst of shifting their practices. “It’s pretty exciting to be not only supporting existing regenerative farmers, but also encouraging farmers that are looking at transitions,” Peterson says. Currently, their calendula is sourced via regenerative farming, which is in their Calm Pure Radiance Oil and Chebula Extreme Cream. Additional ingredients from regenerative farms are already in the works for both new and existing product offerings from True Botanicals.
Ultimately, this ties into the larger ethos of the brand. “It’s so exciting how synergistic it all is because our mission is to help people take the best care of themselves and the people they love and the planet—that’s what we’re about,” Peterson says. “It’s very clear to us that people don’t need to risk unnecessary exposure to toxins in order to get results. We found a million ways to prove that, whether it’s testimonials from celebrities who actually use and love our products, or the clinical trials that show that our products outperform some of the leading conventional brands. Our mission is to help people understand that sacrifice isn’t necessary. To extend that mission to how our ingredients are sourced was a logical step for us. In the beauty industry, we talk about the importance of sustainable packaging and I consider it as equally important. That’s why our products are packaged in glass bottles. I’m really excited to shine a spotlight on ingredient sourcing, because when you think about how much we as an industry spend on ingredients, we can have a really meaningful impact.”
As the need to fight the climate crisis becomes more dire than ever, regenerative farming can make an enormous impact. “It’s critical to assure the health of the beauty industry going forward because without immediate changes to our farming practices, the majority of our farmland could be devoid of topsoil within 60 years,” Peterson says. “A somebody who’s grown up amidst most of the farmland that feeds our country in California, when you drive from San Francisco down to Los Angeles, you see a lot of dry, dusty dirt. We think it’s normal for farms to look dry and dusty, but it’s not. That dry and dusty soil is damaged soil, and it releases carbon into the atmosphere and makes for less healthy plants. There’s a series of impacts all related to nutrient dense, biodiverse soil stores.”
The beauty industry, particularly clean brands, is heavily reliant on plant-based ingredients, making it inextricably linked to farming practices and their future access to these potent ingredients. In the simplest terms, regenerative farming creates healthier soil, leading to healthier plants. In turn, those healthier plants give us more powerful and nutritive skincare ingredients.
“The beauty industry is really shifting toward a greater interest in these gorgeous plant actives and so taking care of our soil is really essential,” Peterson says. “It’s been exciting to look at studies about the difference between the nutrient makeup of organic farmed ingredients. There aren’t as many studies at this point with regenerative farming, but the separation between regenerative and organic farming is not significant. Regenerative farming is really just taking it to the next level. Studies are showing that it really makes a difference in terms of the nutrient makeup of an ingredient as to whether or not it’s farmed in a way that builds nutrient dense soil.”
Since sourcing the right kinds of ingredients with the right methods is a priority for the brand, it ultimately shapes their formulas, since it sets parameters around how they work. “Ultimately, that’s where a lot of innovation comes from,” Peterson says. “We’re not only encouraging our team at True Botanicals, but the beauty industry as a whole to think about how sourcing decisions can have a positive impact on the planet and future generations. It all can get pretty overwhelming, but when you see a solution like this, and you see people working so hard toward that solution, it’s very encouraging.”