Monique Simmonds is Deputy Director of Science, Kew Royal Botanical Gardens and Director of the Commercial Phytochemistry Unit.
In this interview series, she reveals insights into how natural sources can offer the next generation of botanical active ingredients. Find part I and part II.
Simmonds’ top tips to maximise on the potential of botanical actives
1. Go for quality extracts
2. Ask questions about the source of plant extracts
Why do you want to use a plant - it is the aroma or it is the functional benefits? If the latter, then does it contain the specific compounds that are associated with that benefit? Companies should check with their suppliers. Ask.
3. Check any sustainability / conservation story about the extracts
Where does it come from and are local people helping to produce the extracts? What conditions is the sourcing taking place in? If this is important, check.
Growing indigenous (local) plants by smallholding farmers can made a huge difference to their livelihoods.
Use of local species can also support the conservation of woodlands so the people gain income raised then loosing the land to growing commodity crops.
However, always check and see if the supply companies have long term contracts with these suppliers.
4. Get a holistic message across
Having a natural in a cosmetic means you need to look beyond the product to the life of the plant that is contributing to that product!
You are looking after yourself but can also be contributing to looking after the planet.