Your answer to healthy skin, when you're not really a skincare person 😎
Merging Modern Labs with Plant Power: Evonik's Role in Nation Botanics' Transparency

By Mercedes Pepper

Merging Modern Labs with Plant Power: Evonik's Role in Nation Botanics' Transparency

 

What, you're disclosing one of your suppliers!?! Yup!

But there isn’t a visible supply chain in the skincare industry.

Nation Botanics would like to help change that because you deserve to know the origin of the ingredients that you’re putting on your face.

Knowing WHAT ingredients are in a product is important. But you’re likely not a skincare chemist, so your eyes might glaze over reading ingredient labels, or you might be unsure what an ingredient is or does. 

Knowing WHERE these ingredients come from is easily understandable and just as important - if not more. Knowing what’s in your bottle is from this local area, state, or nearby countries. 

If you're buying locally grown, farmer-focused, organic, or fair-trade skincare, you deserve to know where it's from. I mean, if the farmer's market won't tell you where those juicy red tomatoes are grown, you’re rightfully skeptical… So why aren't we curious about the plant origins of farm-to-face sustainable skincare too?

It’s full transparency for ingredient traceability. 

Nation Botanics believes in traceable skincare. You deserve to understand not only what ingredients you're putting on your face, but also where they’re from.

And shockingly, this is pretty unheard of in the skincare industry... Even for the plant-based skincare and local hyped brands!

To learn more about this, read “Is Your Skincare Really Locally Grown?cause you should be able to find out where the ingredients come from.

Or, to find out more about creating Nation Botanics' visible supply chain, including background checks on ingredient suppliers, read or “Behind the Badass Botanicals: Supplier Transparency from Soil to Surf+Slope.”

That’s why I’m unveiling Evonik, a trusted supplier for Nation Botanics. And the first supplier to be revealed!

 

Evonik Made the Cut! 

Evonik passed my “background check” and makes three key ingredients in Surf+Slope (more below on this). 

Evonik has the resources and technologies to create top-notch plant-based ingredients and be sustainable.

Yes, Evonik is Nation Botanics’ biggest corporate supplier, but they're committed to sustainability. This includes their branch that creates and supplies cosmetic ingredients, which is what I focused on assessing for Nation Botanics.

One great element of Evonik is their approach to sourcing raw plant materials. They source them from farmers who cultivate/grow them, and then they process them in their labs to produce the ingredients. This is important because they aren't trying to own the land and farmers who grow the materials. Or buy raw plant materials from middlemen who inflate the price (which gives less profit to the farmers, too).

Note, that this isn't the situation for every ingredient they make, but for many of their botanical ingredients, it is.

Plus, they're willing to share where the raw plant materials are grown!

This is notable as some other ingredient suppliers I called or emailed either didn't know themselves or said they couldn't share due to "liability." Hmm…

Evonik also stood out as they have a new branch to help indie beauty brands, and their team is a dream to work with.

Ready to Help Smaller Brands - Indie Beauty Boutique 

Evonik is a major supplier to countless other skincare and beauty ingredient suppliers.

As a small indie beauty brand, I can’t meet Evonik's massive minimum order quantities, but thanks to their new Indie Beauty Boutique, I was able to purchase directly from them (yet for some of these ingredients they’re still large quantities for me!).

Evonik recently launched the Indie Beauty Boutique to help smaller brands get access to their ingredients.

This helps solve the problem of specific ingredients being inaccessible or more expensive for small brands. 

A small brand typically can’t afford the minimum order quantity (MOQ) required for many ingredients. Nor do we want a mass amount of an ingredient when we only need to use 1% of its MOQ! And with ingredient expiration dates, it’s not like we can use the rest of it year after year. This makes many high-quality ingredients inaccessible.

Or ingredients become too expensive for small brands when having to source from general or third-party suppliers. And ingredients are often not just once removed from the supplier, but sometimes many! A brand is lucky to find the ingredient they want being sold in smaller sizes, but often they’re much more expensive. And you’re unable to figure out the ingredients' true origins - who makes it and where the plants are grown. An ingredient manufacturer will not give you a list of their clients - who they sell to. Nor will these clients (general suppliers) share the source of each ingredient - who they buy from - rightfully for fear of losing a sale. 

This contributes to the perpetual lack of transparency in the skincare industry. And, it also leads to a lack of diversity among ingredients used by smaller brands.

I see the same ingredients being used over and over again across skincare brands. Some of them are great ingredients, but they're used because they're easier and cheaper to buy. Other ingredients might be superior, but they’re not used since they’re harder to source and/or more expensive.

These two scenarios make many great ingredients inaccessible or unaffordable for smaller brands. 

So it's fantastic that Evonik's opened up the Indie Beauty Boutique.

Smaller brands, such as Nation Botanics, can now get direct access to Evonik’s cutting-edge ingredients.

Evonik's Indie Beauty Boutique sells its ingredients in smaller sizes and at more affordable prices. They’re being sold directly from Evonik (the manufacturer), which results in a better price, a size you'll realistically use, and likely a bit fresher ingredients with later expiration dates. You can purchase online through their online portal which conveniently provides all ingredient documentation (the COA, SDS, etc).

(pictured are two ingredients that aren't in Surf+Slope, but I've formulated with) 

Beyond Simply a Supplier

I can say firsthand that Evonik takes an approach of being more of a partner than just a supplier. Evonik made the formula development, collaboration process, and ingredient sourcing a dream. 

They were a delight and easy to work with, and also incredibly helpful and knowledgeable about the ingredients they offer that’d suit my products best. They have an in-depth knowledge of their innovative ingredients and know how to formulate with them. Their expertise helped make Surf+Slope an even better formula.

I approached them looking for a few specific ingredients, and they highlighted a few others that would be beneficial and fit my product specs. Rather than offering a generic upsell pitch to consider other products, they shared relevant information based on my formulas and brand ethos. It felt as though they were a helpful partner each step of the way, sharing ingredient and formulation tips to help make my formula even better.

As a formulator myself, committed to making Surf+Slope perfect, their expert guidance was incredible. I'm so appreciative of their insight that helped enhance the efficacy and stability of Surf+Slope. 

I was blown away by this unexpected support. 

I’ve since learned that Evonik has a division that works with beauty brands to develop their formulas. Even though I was simply sourcing ingredients for my formula, I benefited from a similar feel and approach from a related, yet different Evonik department. 

I’m grateful for Evonik’s approach as I value people and relationships. We’re what make up this world!


Transparency: Breaking the Rules (again) by Highlighting the Ingredients from Evonik

Why is this breaking the rules? Well, the skincare industry doesn’t like to disclose their supply chain. It’s just how business is done.

You can learn more about it in this blog: “Is Your Skincare Really Locally Grown?

I’m sharing Evonik and the ingredients Nation Botanics gets from them because it’s honest and they’re a big company. They should have plenty of my ingredients in stock. So, I’m doubtful that another company can snatch all of it up so I don’t have any for my formulas… at least I hope not! 

Evonik supplies Nation Botanics with three active and functional ingredients.

While these three ingredients are from plants, they need a lab to make them. Essentially, a lab must process the raw plant material to derive the plant active ingredient and turn it into a substance one can put in a product.

In full ingredient transparency, these three ingredients are:

  1. Hyaluronic Acid - derived from native corn, Zea mays 
  2. Vitamin E - derived from native sunflower and rapeseed
  3. Sodium Phytate - derived from native corn

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid is an extraordinary ingredient for helping your skin retain moisture and look plumper (aka to fill those fine lines and wrinkles!).

Evonik’s version is a hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid. This type consists of smaller particles that can more easily penetrate the deeper layers of your skin. Going deeper can enhance your skin's hydration and the visible benefits hyaluronic acid gives. 

Hyaluronic acid is an active ingredient due to its incredible skin benefits. It’s fairly well-known in skincare these days because of its remarkable benefits of essentially plumping your skin with hydration which fills fine lines and wrinkles.

Evonik’s Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid is derived from corn. And corn, or Zea mays, is native to North America.

 

Vitamin E 

Vitamin E is widely known to be a powerhouse antioxidant that's good for your skin.

It helps moisturize dry skin, repair and nourish skin for a smoother feel, and reduce fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and scars. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that also helps revitalize your skin after UV rays.

Vitamin E is both an active ingredient and a functional ingredient. Meaning, its antioxidants benefit your skin and the formula to improve preservation. Yet, surprisingly, not all types of vitamin E can do both… 

I was shocked when I learned about this in an initial conversation with Evonik. The different forms and benefits of vitamin E aren’t well known, or at least I never encountered them in my courses and research! Yet, as natural formulators, we learn to use vitamin E for both purposes.

Let me explain. There are eight different chemical forms of vitamin E. There are two main chemical forms called Tocopherols and Tocotrienols, and within each, there are alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta forms. So for instance, there is both an Alpha-Tocopherol and an Alpha-Tocotrienol.  

Without going too in-depth, one form of vitamin E is best for the skin. Whereas, another form of vitamin E is best for the product. 

The majority of the vitamin Es available are the kind that only benefit your skin. This is alpha-tocopherol, and it typically comes from Sunflowers, or it can be synthetic. I know as I dug into this! 

Yes, we want skin benefits, so this is good, but we also want to keep the entire formula’s antioxidant levels high to keep the formula fresh, especially when you’re using precious oils and ingredients - like in Surf+Slope. So it makes sense to use the Vitamin E which also helps increase stability, shelf life, and freshness (prevent oxidation). 

It's rare for a vitamin E to do both.

This is why Nation Botanics loves the vitamin E from Evonik. It's a vitamin E that both nourishes the skin and enhances the stability of the product. This is because it has both types of vitamin E. It works as a multifunctional antioxidant offering product and skin protection at the same time. Evonik's vitamin E is great for your skin and after-sun products, but also great for protecting precious oils in a formula.

Evonik’s vitamin E is derived from non-GMO sunflower and rapeseed. The sunflower, or Helianthus annuus, is native to North America. And the rapeseed, Brassica napus, is naturalized to North America (meaning it's not native, but it was introduced ages ago and now grows wild here).

Nerd note: no matter what kind or composition of vitamin Es are used, they’re all listed on an ingredient label - or specifically the International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient (INCI) list - as simply vitamin E. So you can’t tell which one(s) it’s got! And not every supplier readily shares this info in their standard ingredient documents.

Sodium Phytate

Sodium Phytate is considered a functional ingredient as it basically helps prolong the shelf life and freshness of a product. It’s known as a chelator.

A chelating ingredient binds to trace metal ions in a water-based formula (essentially grabs hold of them). Plant-based ingredients tend to have traces of metal ions due to the soil, water, environment, etc. they’re grown in. But adding a chelating ingredient, like sodium phytate, helps counteract their presence.

A chelator is important for a few reasons in skincare.

Mainly it helps boost preservative efficacy to keep the product microbe-free.

To put it simply, a chelator supports the antioxidant system by working with it to enhance it. This is because chelators deactivate traces of metal ions present. Otherwise, they interfere with a preservation system. If the metal ions aren’t bonded to a chelator (AKA deactivated), they can accelerate the growth of microbes and bacteria and can spoil a product sooner. 

Think of a chelator almost like a babysitter for a drunk friend... They make sure the friend doesn’t do something bad or ruin the night… Things stay fun and good cause everybody’s safe.

Not only do chelators help extend the shelf life of a product (keep it fresh and active for longer) but research also shows how they have benefits for your skin.

They can help brighten and even skin tone and help improve the delivery of skin nutrients.

This is because some metal ions your skin comes into contact with can cause hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. Note, that there are metal ions in the air and more so in areas with high pollution. Some metal ions can almost act as a shield on your skin, interfering with its ability to absorb what you put on it. The deeper layers of your skin don't absorb. Yet, a chelator deactivates both of these scenarios. It can help with brightening skin and the skin's ability to absorb skin nutrients to the deeper layers. More research is needed, but so far chelators are also promising to help enhance and maximize the effectiveness of a product. 

And when Sodium Phytate is paired with Vitamin E, it enhances the abilities of both and makes a product even more protected!

This is because, as mentioned above, a chelator works to enhance and support the antioxidant system. These two ingredients are synergetic or stronger together, improving the overall antioxidant and preservative system of a product to keep it active, fresh, and stable longer.  

Evonik’s Sodium Phytate is also derived from corn which is native to North America.

Summary

Evonik's three ingredients and insight elevate the effectiveness and quality of Surf+Slope’s formulas. Their team is a pleasure to work with; their partnership and insight exceeded my expectations. Nation Botanics prioritizes sourcing from local farmers and small businesses, yet Evonik is an exception due to their commitment to sustainability and the production of high-quality plant-based ingredients. They stand out among the many others. 

You deserve to know that we work with Evonik for the three kickass ingredients highlighted above.

Cause they make Surf+Slope even better for your skin and help keep its plant actives fresh! 

Surf+Slope leverages and blends native plant power and modern labs together, so you can get your healthiest skin.

Try Surf+Slope now to see for yourself.


*This is not a paid promotion. The above piece is written based on my personal experience working with Evonik. The country origins listed are based on the specific batches of ingredients Nation Botanics purchased. Kindly note that the country of origin may change in the future as it can vary from batch to batch.