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Burt’s Bees answers the call for precision and data around natural skincare solutions.

With so many people searching for natural skincare solutions, many companies are marketing products as ‘natural’ based on the assumption that it makes them somehow superior — without adequate data to back that up. Burt’s Bees, a skincare company with a focus on ingredients from nature, wants to change that. Hemali Gunt, the company’s head of clinical and scientific affairs, says the brand tests its products with the same rigor as industry-leading cosmetics to demonstrate safety and efficacy, adhering to international standards, to allow dermatologists to evaluate them consistently.

What are some of the misperceptions about natural ingredients?

There’s a notion that natural ingredients are simple. It’s often forgotten that they are a matrix of several bioactive components. One common natural ingredient in skincare products is shea butter, for example, which has triglycerides, fatty acids, tocopherols, and phenols, each component contributing different properties, like anti-inflammatory activity, or antioxidant activity.

These complex, nature-based ingredients have the power to reinforce the skin’s epidermal barrier, improve hydration and elasticity, protect against oxidative stress, and prevent photo-aging.

In fact, with environmental factors often undermining skin health, many natural ingredients endure similar challenges, and can be powerful in nurturing skin.

How do you counter these misperceptions?

We take effective skincare seriously, with data from more than 500 rigorous clinical studies that demonstrate the benefits of our natural products. Our primary focus is to understand the safety profile of the ingredient. We repeatedly hear from dermatologists that being natural isn’t enough; they want to see the safety data and the efficacy data. So, we rigorously test all of our products for both.

To prove efficacy, we continue to push boundaries through scientific innovation, research and formulation. For example, we recently evaluated bakuchiol, a natural ingredient that comes from plant seeds, as an alternative to retinol. In published clinical studies, bakuchiol has not only been shown to be comparable to retinol in its ability to reduce the signs of photoaging, but has also shown to be well tolerated.

What do those tests entail?

Before a product is launched, it is evaluated extensively across an array of tests designed to measure its safety and efficacy. For our Sensitive skincare line, a double-blind, randomized controlled study evaluated the regimen against a leading dermatologist-recommended synthetic brand. We found the nature-based regimen is not only as safe as that product, it also outperformed it on a variety of clinical parameters for improvement in skin condition. The regimen did not cause any burning, stinging or itching, which are typically caused by irritants, and improved the skin barrier’s function as measured by the amount of trans-epidermal water loss.

What about safety?

For more than a decade, Burt’s Bees has had a clinical testing facility on site, testing the safety and tolerability of our skincare products against the leading industry benchmarks.

We measure tolerance over time, to make sure a formula won’t cause redness, swelling, drying or peeling. We also conduct phototoxicity and photosensitization tests to make sure the product doesn’t undergo chemical changes when exposed to sunlight, and that it does not cause any allergic reactions.

Do you share your findings?

With so many people seeking natural skincare products, we think it is imperative to share the clinical data behind Burt’s Bees in order for dermatologists to provide evidence-based solutions. In recent years, we’ve begun proactively disseminating and publishing our clinical and scientific data in peer-reviewed journals, trade publications and news articles. We published the sensitive skincare product study in the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology. We attend and share data at leading dermatological conferences, such as the American Academy of Dermatology, the Integrative Dermatology Symposium, and the World Congress of Dermatology.

Are there regulations for natural ingredients?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates cosmetic products under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and essentially that means the product must not be adulterated or mis-labelled, but the FDA does not define the term ‘natural’. We’ve proactively adopted the International Standards Organization index for natural origin, ISO 16128, which is the only international consensus-based guideline for natural and organic cosmetic ingredients and products. We continue to closely monitor emerging studies and evolving safety standards set by the scientific and regulatory communities to ensure the quality and efficacy of our products. We are setting new standards for natural skincare that meet and exceed industry gold standards.

To learn more about the clinical science behind nature skincare products, visit Burt’s Bees.

This content was produced by Nature Research Custom Media for Burt’s Bees and originally ran on