Review: Organic Botanical Skin Care from MÁDARA

We gravitate to all things natural and organic and that is no less true when it comes to skin care. Until now when it comes to the products we use on our skin we have made it a habit to choose those with few ingredients. In the interests of health and purity, this has made sense but we’ve noticed that some of the healthiest people with the brightest, clearest skin use products with, what we viewed until now as, a too-long ingredients list that has left us feeling dubious.

Curious to see what would happen if we tried a more complex approach to skin care, we started a morning and night time regime using organic vegan products from Latvian skin care company MÁDARA. Their online ingredients glossary meant that we were able to look up ingredients we’d previously been unsure of and the sheer number of health advocates who count themselves fans of these botanical products (Gwyneth Paltrow to name one) gave us added reassurance. So did they benefit our skin? Yes and quickly. Within two weeks skin was smoother, plump and dewy looking and long standing issues were significantly reduced.

Although MÁDARA do have a recommended protocol per skin type we chose a range of products to suit combination skin and were not at all disappointed with our selections. We were left with baby soft skin, even tone and noticeably reduced pores. Our conclusion is that with products this high quality, you can’t really go wrong.

We started our MÁDARA regime with the Brightening AHA Peel Mask. Previously we had been apprehensive about ostensibly burning off a layer of our skin in the name of beauty but this gentle mask based on fruit acids from quince and containing soothing elderflower caused no pain or redness and worked like a deep exfoliation. Skin was bright and soft afterwards and we have been able to use this peel twice a week with visible benefits.

We chose the Micellar Water as a cleanser and found that it worked best after make up had been removed. Designed to be hydrating as well as cleansing, it provides a deep clean that tingles as it penetrates skin surface and purifies, closing pores and providing an extra level of cleanliness we couldn’t have gained from a cream or wash off cleanser alone. We would definitely like to try this alongside a MÁDARA cleanser such as the Purifying Foam.

We used the Comforting Toner to prep our skin for moisturising. Designed to tone and hydrate using ‘skin identical’ moisturising ingredients of chamomile, cornflower and rose, we found that this soothing liquid stopped all tingling and left skin calm and dry without dehydrating.

In the mornings we then used the Deep Moisture Gel with aloe vera and plantain, designed to soothe irritated skin, absorb easily, reduce sebum production and pore visibility. This is an extremely hydrating moisture rich application with a light, refreshing scent that can be used throughout the day on dry areas with long lasting effectiveness. We found this especially good on dry lips, dry hands and sunburn.

At night we used the Regenerating Night Cream for overnight rejuvenation. Substantial and moisture rich without being heavy, this beautifully fragrant cream is more like a thick lotion that absorbs quickly whilst hydrating deeply. Made from chamomile, rose, shea butter and avocado oil, it is deeply soothing and nourishes skin beyond the surface.

Our favourite product was the Soothing Hydration Facial Oil. Added to moisturiser to provide an extra boost or used alone all over the face, or to target wrinkles or dry areas, this oil feels like an extremely high end product, is long lasting and leaves skin plump, soft and glowing. Made up of omega rich oils from the seeds of black currant, cranberry, sea buckthorn, broccoli, avocado, oat, rosehip and evening primrose, this nourishing oil smells divine and might well be as good for us inside as out.

Our conclusion? These are luxurious products that perform well whilst making caring for skin feel like pampering.

We spoke to MÁDARA founder Lotte about her passion for healthy skincare.

Why botanicals?

At MÁDARA we use plants that originate from Northern and Arctic regions. Over thousands of years, the harsh climate has evolved plants with extraordinary properties, able to survive temperatures as cold as -40oC, giving us rejuvenating birch water, vitamin-rich arctic berries, antioxidant-packed herbs and omega-rich seeds. Those deep roots, bitter leaves and gnarled barks have healed wounds and saved lives.

Our products are made from pure and precious essences of Northern herbs, Arctic berries and unique seed oils, packed with powerful antioxidants, essential omegas and strong anti-aging actives.

Scrutinising the powerful Northern healing herbs in high-tech cellular research and clinical studies, we select innovative and fully natural ingredients to correct wrinkles, maximise hydration and give skin a boost. I was surprised to see in the cellular tests that skin recognises plant-based ingredients better than chemical molecules.

Human cells are rather similar to plant cells, belonging to the same type of cells. Many popular ingredients like vitamins, antioxidants, peptides, amino acids, hyaluronic acid etc. are derived from nature. After 10 years in skincare I am convinced of a simple formulation rule: the more original natural ingredients a product has, the more effective it becomes on skin.

When did you first become aware of the power of plants?

I grew up in Riga city but from an early age I spent my summers living at my grandmother’s countryside house, surrounded by forests. My grandmother taught me that forests and meadows are full of healing herbs. My grandmother told me a lot about plants when I was a child. When I started creating MÁDARA I found a lot of inspiration in her knowledge. I realised that there is amazing heritage of ethno medical tradition in Latvia, which is still alive and widely used. I think Latvians are second to the Chinese in the extent of traditional medical plants used.

We insist on truly effective ingredients, honest claims, environmentally friendly packaging, care, passion and respect.

Years later I went to study in Japan and this is where I became addicted to skin care. I could spend hours on cosmetic floors of Tokyo department stores, enjoying the perfectly textured creams and fluids. My disappointment was big when I experienced allergies from the products I loved so much. After examining the labels and understanding the list of synthetic ingredients that they hide, I set my skin on a totally organic “diet” but could not find anything close to the deeply hydrating yet lightweight and awesome textures. This inspired me to create MÁDARA – organic products that work as botox but are safe enough to eat.

Now at MÁDARA we scrutinise legends about northern healing herbs to understand why exactly they are so active, which molecules we need to extract and what concentrations are the best and safest for the skin. Scientific validation is a must for every one of our selected ingredients.

Why organic?

MÁDARA products have been certified by ECOCERT standard for natural and organic cosmetics and from 2017 by COSMOS standard. Whenever we want to label cosmetics with “natural” or “organic”
claims, certification is a must. Unlike the food industry where organic product manufacturing and retail is strictly regulated by the European Union Organic Farming, the legal framework of cosmetics does not distinguish between synthetic (conventional) and natural/ organic products.

Certification is the only way to differentiate organic from conventional.

What synthetic ingredients do you always avoid and why?

I try to avoid as many chemicals as possible. If there is one problem what people will face in
the next decade it is sensitive and allergies caused by too many chemicals. Allergies are becoming extraordinarily “trendy”. Skin care uses more than 9000 ingredients and the vast majority are chemical. Too many ingredients have been put into skin care products without sufficient safety testing. For example parabens bind to oestrogen receptors thus interfering with the endocrine (hormonal) system.

Skin care should be good enough to eat.

Very low concentrations of parabens are needed to evoke a biochemical response. They penetrate the skin instantly and scientific studies show a strong correlation between lipstick use and paraben levels in blood serum. Another study detected high levels of free parabens in blood plasma shortly after whole-body topical application of a cosmetic product (rapid skin absorption with peak levels in serum only 3 hours after application to the whole body). Parabens have also been detected in breast milk.

Where are your products made? Are they fairtrade?

All products are manufactured at MÁDARA’s own production and warehousing facilities, enabling us to have 100% control of all processes. With 10 years of experience in production, MÁDARA opened its new organic skincare factory in Riga in 2016. Being sustainable, human, trustworthy and transparent are very important values at MÁDARA, therefore, the new factory is built with transparent production rooms and is open to the general public.

In our unending quest to discover more of what nature still hides, scientific validation is a must for every one of our selected ingredients and final creations.

During working hours the factory welcomes visitors offering guided tours and workshops, creating a place where everyone can see and experience how organic and natural ingredients are being refined into luxurious cosmetic textures.

We use more than 400 different natural raw materials and 97% of our plants come from organic
farming. We source our raw materials from certified organic, sustainable or fairtrade farms.

Is your packaging recyclable?

All MÁDARA packaging is 100% recyclable and over 35% of bottles come from post consumer recycled material. Paper used for making the boxes is environmentally friendly and we avoid layering the paper with plastic laminates (or similar processing) which reduces biodegradability.

How can an awareness of the ingredients in our cosmetics impact total health?

If our skin is 100% natural, why should anyone use synthetic ingredients on it? It is a fact that skin care goes deeper than skin; it has systemic impact on the body, it influences unborn babies, it leaves an environmental footprint. If we recognise all of this, I believe it really changes the mindset.

We scrutinise legends about northern healing herbs under the penetrating gaze of doctors in the fierce light of scientific labs.

‘Deeper than skin’ is the philosophy of MÁDARA, meaning that beauty is not just about making skin surface look great. Ingredients penetrate deeper: sourcing, production and packaging processes all have their impacts. When producers and consumers realise how deep and wide is the impact, it helps to make more mindful decisions and choices on both sides of the “counter”.

Why do some of your products include animal products?

More than 95% of MÁDARA products are vegan. Some special formulations require the use of beeswax or lanoling as occlusives (mostuire-catchers) or stabilisers. For example or lip balm or Daily Defence Ultra-Rich Balm aren’t vegan.

You use palm oil derivatives in some of your products, are they sourced from sustainable palm oil plantations?

All of our ingredients, their origins and their extraction processes are ECOCERT certified. This ensures that the oils we use are deforestation-free and no rainforests are harmed in their farming. Where any ingredients are derived from palm oil the manufacturers of these ingredients are required by ECOCERT to show an RSPO certificate or equivalent (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) to authenticate the use of sustainable palm oils.