It’s official, the month of love has arrived and we couldn’t be more in love with our limited edition, The Blue Tansy Collection. This carefully edited collection was developed as an homage to the blue tansy flower and all of its joys and benefits. We know many of our customers are curious about our process and we always enjoy sharing information about our ingredients. This is why it’s such a pleasure to highlight the blue tansy flower. Our latest batches of blue tansy essential oil has been the most amazing quality we’ve ever had, which made us reach out to our supplier, Eden Botanicals and ask a few questions about production. It was a joy to sit down with the California team and learn more about the excellent standards our suppliers have set forth to guarantee we receive quality productions every time.
Sadly, Blue Tansy, although now popular in the beauty world is experiencing an alarming disappearance in the wild. This makes wild blue tansy a non-sustainable resource material. Luckily, our supplier is working with growers to cultivate production and continue making this beloved ingredient available to the standards of formulators like La Bella Figura. We hope you enjoy this special interview with Eden Botanicals and their teams based in Italy and California.
Photo credit: Lorenzo Bonaventura
La Bella Figura: It is such a pleasure to speak to the people that are essentially our eyes and ears. Our most recent production of Blue Tansy is so vibrant we had customers and retailers contacting us wondering if our formulas had changed. We actually love explaining the unique characteristics of natural ingredients and how they’re prone to changing on us due to a great or even bad growing season. Can you tell us about the latest production of Blue Tansy from Morocco?
Eden Botanicals: Due to high demand and scarcity of wild material, our supplier has developed a plan to directly cultivate Blue Tansy on farms. The un-regulated collection has been damaging the environment and rapidly eliminating what Blue Tansy is left in the wild. Wild Tansy has almost disappeared in Morocco due to this problem. This is ironic, as before the popularizing of Blue Tansy oil, the plant was considered an invasive weed! When wild collected, Blue Tansy is distilled on site with very rudimentary distillation equipment, which you can see in the attached pictures. The steam is produced with direct fire using wood, and the condensed waters are usually discharged on the soil or into the same river from where they take the necessary water for distillation. This is a very eco-unfriendly process! On the other hand, the cultivated Tansy is processed in a facility with far more sophisticated and less environmentally damaging procedures. Our supplier has been very pleased with the success of their project, and the yield so far has been quite good. I hope you will agree with us that the quality is excellent!
LBF: We do indeed! You were recently on a visit to your producers. What were the conditions and what did you learn?
EB: We travel extensively every year to visit suppliers in various countries, from the large (and often older) companies with a thorough experience and knowledge of the art of distillation, to small scale farmers and distillers very rooted in their land and confident in their basic and traditional machinery, and even the most recent companies entering the business in response to market demand. Our trip to Morocco gave us a chance to visit with all of these types of potential (and existing) suppliers. Because of the diverse ecological and climactic conditions, the country offers an incredible variety of plants and products: from aromatic herbs to the citrus fruits, from the delicate rose to the giant Cedarwood Atlas. And of course, there is the Blue Tansy or Blue Moroccan Chamomile, another native plant so valued for its properties. The landscape can be barren, and at times rugged. The land is dry and you will often be driving in rural areas with poorly maintained roads. The predominant color is brown, varying in intensity. The Blue Tansy in rural areas is mostly found on the edges of cultivated fields, besides the roads and in ditches, as the farmers suppress its growth as much as possible. This reality is why you must be careful in selecting your supplier, as the most accessible Blue Tansy can easily be the most contaminated with pesticides! This reality is one of the reasons why cultivated Blue Tansy is preferable to wild.
LBF: It might be surprising to our customers know that blue tansy flowers are predominately yellow and a part of the chamomile family? What makes these plants turn into a liquid blue when steam distilled?
EB: Tanacetum vulgare has small yellow flowers and belongs to the Asteraceae family of German Chamomile and Roman Chamomile. The common name Blue Tansy comes from the fact that the essential oil produced by steam distillation has a high content of a compound called Chamazulene. This compound gives the oil its distinctive blue color. Chamazulene is biosynthesized from Matricin, a colorless sesquiterpene present in the upper parts of the plant. It reacts when it comes in contact with the high temperature of the steam and the result is the blue Chamazulene.
LBF: What are important elements for you to partner with suppliers and producers?
EB: Every oil has its own story and also different elements to consider when you choose a supplier. Is the oil conventional or organic? What is the country of origin (with its peculiar environmental, social and economic situation)? Our regular supplier visits help us to verify (when it is possible) that we have reliable partners who have direct access to all the essential oil production steps: from the farm and the harvest to the distillation process and proper storage of the final product. Analysis and tests of the lots are also of top importance. Of course, in addition to the chemical composition and aromatic profile of the oil we think it is an added value to have a supplier showing environmental awareness and an ethical code (socially responsible). These are important elements especially for manufacturers located in countries with a complex social reality (as India and Africa).
LBF: How do you determine your Certificate of Analysis or contraindications for each product you bring into your business?
EB: Our Certificate of Analysis is based on a combination of data sources. We begin with the botanical (precise Latin name), agricultural (cultivation method) and chemical (GCMS) information provided by the supplier, and these are validated by accompanying documents/certifications. A comparative GCMS analysis is performed by our own in-house lab and/or third party testing to verify that of the supplier. Organoleptic (sensory) assessments are made by our experienced staff aromatherapist and natural perfumer.
Contraindications are primarily referenced from Robert Tisserand's Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Edition. This manual references most of the existing as well as current, published research done on each oil and specific constituents. Safety information as well as recommended dilution ratios based on EU Regulations (IFRA) and Tisserand himself are also listed.
LBF: There are a lot of theories about essential oils and their safety. Some say they should be avoided in skincare products and in natural perfumes others believe they’re safe with proper use. What are your thoughts on that?
EB: With the increased use and popularity of Essential oils comes a lot of misinformation. Not everything you read online is true! We spend a large amount of time re-educating and dispelling myths; however, we are lucky to have very discerning clients who are looking for a better education. Firstly, we would like to discuss the issue of quality. Not all oils on the market are created equal. It is true that old and oxidized essential oils should not appear in skin care (or any) product because they are potentially harmful and sensitizing. It is also imperative to know that you are purchasing a true and authentic product and not a construct of synthetic aroma chemicals. For example, a lavender essential oil constructed of only two isolates (40% Linalool and 42% Linalyl Acetate) does not offer the same complexity and nuance as a lavender essential oil distilled from nature. They simply do not function in the same way. It is always necessary to learn the safety considerations of any oil before applying it to the skin, even if it is from a trusted source. There are some essential oils that should never be used on particular types of skin, while other essential oils are not suitable for topical application at all, on the face in particular. Secondly, many people who are new to essential oils are unfamiliar with proper dilution ratios. Essential oils are potent and highly concentrated extracts derived from plants. As a frame of reference, a moderately high-producing plant like Lavender can yield up to 1 kg of essential oil from about 200 kg of flowers, while it takes roughly 60 roses to yield just ONE drop of pure essential oil. Thus, whether they are used for aromatherapy or natural perfumery, these extracts must be used with a great deal of respect and care. ALL essential oils, absolutes and CO2 extracts (collectively referred to as aromatics), should be properly diluted before application to the skin. Using undiluted (neat) essential oils repeatedly on the skin may lead to irritation and sensitization. Not only are essential oils safer in dilution, it has long been observed that aromatics in general and essential oils in particular are more highly active in low concentrations. Lastly, always remember to perform a patch test in case of a more individual sensitivity. As a raw ingredient supplier, it is not our responsibility to address formulations. Instead, we want to make sure our clients receive as much information about our ingredients to make an informed decision when formulating. With the right raw ingredients and proper dilution ratio, essential oils are an amazing addition to skincare and perfume.
LBF: Have you seen sales grow with green beauty formulators in the last 5 years? What percentage of your business comes from brands that formulate their own products? Are they remaining consistent with buying or do they waiver based on increased pricing or sourcing cheaper materials?
EB: The original focus of our company was providing high quality essential oils for the aromatherapy and natural perfumery industry. That focus has expanded to include body & skincare which has since become our primary business. Customer service and education has always been the backbone of Eden Botanicals and we are constantly engaging with our highly knowledgeable clients. We have listened very closely to the needs of our clients and friends in the blossoming natural beauty industry and we have grown with and supported the success of many natural brands. In the last 5 years Eden Botanicals has experienced tremendous growth in our wholesale sector which has since surpassed our online retail sales. More and more people are entering the world of skincare and perfume formulation. The majority of our business comes from product formulators (including labs) and brand owners. However, this isn’t to say that the novice won’t be producing a line of their own in the near future. We are committed to selling sustainable quality ingredients and our clients recognize this, no matter the size of their business. The majority of our clients are like minded in that they will not compromise their products by sourcing subpar ingredients. We set our quality standards very high and spend a large amount of time sourcing (visiting suppliers), testing raw materials, offering detailed regulatory documents, educating our clients and providing well researched descriptions of our products online. It is an honor to work with so many talented brands, many of which have grown with us and continue to be lifelong clients. The clients who find us are not interested in cutting corners, they are producing quality products with fresh ingredients.
Contributing authors: Josh Kloepping, Lorenzo Bonaventura, Camilla Previato, Angela Gembrin, Julia Fischer and Kyanne Goelz
Photo credit: Lorenzo Bonaventura