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Alba Botanica is a natural beauty brand sold at places from Target to CVS, the Vitamin Shoppe and Whole Foods. From their name—botanica, derived from the Ancient Greek word for pastures and greenery—to their product design, which features tropical plants, this brand presents itself as all-natural and healthy.
Alba Botanica describes itself as “a vibrant line of body-loving products that nourish the skin, hair, and of course, the soul.”
It’s exactly that kind of language that would make someone think its products were, you know, body-loving.
They advertise that their products are “100% vegetarian” and “overflow with botanical ingredients,” but leave out what else in included in their formulas. Hint: the other ingredients aren’t so wholesome.
I bought into their natural branding and bought a bunch of their products thinking they were better for me than the other, harmful-chemical-laden moisturizers and shampoos out there. So I felt a little betrayed when I realized that their products may actually be harming my body.
The Environmental Working Group, which ranks products' healthiness based on the chemicals within them, points out that 45 Alba Botanica products have fragrances. The term "fragrance" most often refers to undisclosed ingredients that add a specific, perfumed scent. The EWG ranks chemicals on a scale of 1 to 10 for harmfulness, 10 being the most harmful. Fragrances rank an 8 on this scale.
Fragrance has been associated with cancer, endocrine disruption, allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. Some common chemicals in fragrance are phthalates, acetone, benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, camphor, ethanol, ethyl acetate, limonene, linalool and methylene chloride.
Seven more Alba Botanica products have Retinyl Palmitate, ranked a 9/10 for harmfulness due to its link to cancer, reproductive harm, and biochemical and cellular-level changes. Nine products have Benzyl Salicylate, ranked 7/10 for harmfulness for its immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption, and ecotoxicity. (Yup, ecotoxicity. For a brand that sells itself as great for the environment, they probably shouldn't have chemicals in their products that disrupt ecosystems). 7 Alba Botanica products have Lilial, 10 have Amylcinnamaldehyde, 16 have Geraniol, 15 have Citral, 13 have Coumarin - all of these chemicals ranked 7/10 for harmfulness.
You get the picture.
I’m not saying Alba Botanica is the worst brand in the world. There are certainly brands that have a way worse impact on our bodies and the Earth.
Credit where credit is due: Alba Botanica is vegetarian and doesn't test any of their ingredients on animals. They don’t use harmful microbeads in their formulas. They also state on their website that many (read: not all) of their products are packaged in bottles made from 100% post-consumer resin.
All in all, they’re working harder to help the planet than most other brands.
Still, there's no way to get around the fact that this organization, which sells itself as plant-based and body-loving, is not actually all that good for you.
Don’t let the plant-based name and branding fool you. Chemicals used in Alba Botanica products can cause cancer, endocrine disruption, development and reproductive harm, biochemical changes at the cellular level, allergies, skin irritation and environmental harm.
Personally, when my Alba Botanica products are done, I’ll be restocking them with another brand.