I remember the first time I came across Bottega Organica. Walking through NYC’s West Village, I saw a store that seemed tailor-made for my favorite downtown cool/blindingly expensive neighborhood: a light-filled, airy space; all warm, blond wood and luxurious-looking glass bottles lining the narrow shelves. It looked sexy and chic and expensive and, frankly, it kind of pissed me off. No way the products sold in this luxe-looking haven could actually be well and truly organic. Green beauty brands, as we all know, don’t have sexy, standalone storefronts in Manhattan. No, this was clearly some fancy Eurotrash export, using the Italicized (and thus more glamorous) version of the word “organic” to peddle its green-washed wares. And yes: I do often think the worst. I am Russian after all. So imagine my shock when, after being selected as an event ambassador for A Night For Green Beauty, I was introduced to Bottega Organica as one of participants in ANFGB. Turns out that this brand is not only impeccably and thoroughly clean, but also sophisticated, luxurious, smart and focused on marrying cutting edge science with the best of nature’s offerings. What’s more, that sexy, fancy-looking store is built entirely from reclaimed, recycled and organic materials. In short, it represents everything I love about this new age of green beauty.
One way in which Bottega Organica resembles certain conventional, luxury skincare lines is in its focus on a single “star ingredient”. This particular superstar is prawn sage, a type of sage so called because it’s pretty, bright red flowers are said to resemble the heads of shrimp (botanists are weird!), and it can be found in Bottega Organica’s entire line of products. The story behind the discovery of this ingredient’s anti-aging properties is pretty much catnip to an ingredient geek like myself. Here I must give a disclaimer: my regular readers must know that I am usually loath to regurgitate a brand’s promotional information, preferring instead to do my own research and give my own opinions. In Bottega Organica’s case, however, I find the story and the science so interesting and compelling that I wanted to give it its due.
As often happens with cool new ingredients, the discovery of the anti-aging benefits of prawn sage was something of a lucky accident. Dr. Andrea Alimonti, one of the brand’s founders, is a cancer researcher who was conducting research on cell senescence (aging) as it relates to finding a treatment for cancer. In the process identified certain natural compounds that appear to have significant impact on delaying the natural aging of cells. Where Bottega Organica’s origin story differs from those of conventional brands is in its founders choice to create a skincare line around their “miracle” ingredient by not only focusing on purity and efficacy, but also making a commitment to use 100% natural ingredients. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview the brilliant and insanely lovely Mary Ahern, another partner in and one of the chief formulators for Bottega Organica and we will cover more of the science behind the brand in an interview that I will publish next week, but you can learn more about Dr. Alimonti and his research here.
Bottega Organica’s product offerings are extensive and all of them contain the star ingredient prawn sage. Many of them also use a base of organic olive oil, grown and pressed on the brand’s own farm in Italy. In fact, quite a few of the ingredients used in Bottega Organica products are grown on its farms either in Italy or Upstate New York. I kind of love how the brand’s products happen to be both global and hyper-local (at least to me). In fact, there are a lot of things I love about this brand. First, there is its food-skincare connection: the brand has an organic restaurant in NYC, which uses the same olive oil used in making the skincare products. In fact, this olive oil, as well as the olives it’s pressed from and a selection of herbal teas, is sold in the store.
I also like Bottega Organica’s clever approach to formulating its products. I will talk more about the brand’s use of ingredients in the next week’s post, but some of the products are crafted in a way I have not seen in any other brand. One of such products is its Dual Action body spray: a mix of plant hydrosols, olive oil and actives that gets shaken prior to application to make a light emulsion – a sort of an instant body lotion. Speaking of clever products, I had the opportunity to test three of them and, as usual, I have a lot of thoughts on each one.
Multi-active Face Serum (Lemon Balm & Rosemary)
This is one of the more unusual serums I have used in some time. It contains a number of plant extracts (aside from the aforementioned lemon balm and rosemary, as well as the ever-present prawn sage, it also contains the extracts of olive leaf, French lilac and regular sage) in a base of glycerin and water and is incredibly watery and light, absorbing almost immediately upon application. This isn’t a product to use on its own. Rather, it is meant as a powerful booster to other products, providing a concentrated dose of plant actives. And man, this is definitely active stuff! In fact, the first couple of times I used it, I was concerned about potential sensitivity, but my skin acclimatized to it very quickly and I had no reaction since I started using it about a month ago. If your skin is particularly sensitive, you might want to start slowly, using this every other night (I use the serum only at night, but there is no reason why you couldn’t use it in the daytime) or, perhaps, a couple of times a week until your skin adjusts to the actives.
Nourishing Face Oil (Lavender)
Bottega Organica has quite a selection of face oils, each targeted towards a specific concern. I obviously chose the Nourishing oil, geared towards dry skin, which combines a base of olive and lavender oils with some more serious plant actives. I found that it pairs perfectly with the serum because it too contains the extracts of lemon balm and French lilac. Despite its name, I found this oil to be incredibly light. In fact, this could be the lightest-feeling oil I have ever used. It has a gorgeously silky texture and feels both nourishing and comforting on the skin (Bottega Organica recommends it for sensitive skins). I also loved the smell: a light, herby lavender. As for the anti-aging effects of the oil and the serum, I cannot be sure whether my fine and expression lines appearing slightly more shallow and less noticeable is the result of using these products or simply a factor of having just come back from a relaxing holiday and the weather becoming less bone-dry. What I do know is after a week of being back in New York and the attendant sleep deprivation and dehydration caused by airplane travel, aforementioned lack of sleep and the continuing cold misery, my skin still looks fresh, firm and luminous.
Extra Nourishing Hand Formula (Orange)
If you like balms, then you will quite likely love this luxurious hand product. It’s a rich, thick, orange-scented balm that feels massively hydrating and cosseting. A small amount will absorb quickly, though because it’s a balm you shouldn’t expect your hands to be 100% grease-free after application. I prefer slathering it on before bed and waking up with soft, nourished hands. As always, I should mention that this balm does contain beeswax, an ingredient that I personally happen to love, but which means that this particular product is not for you if you are a strict vegan. Speaking of which, all of Bottega Organica’s oils, serums, mists and soaps are vegan, but its balms and creams do contain beeswax.
One of the things I love about being a beauty blogger is the constant process of discovery inherent in what I do, especially since most of the brands in the green beauty world have a great deal of passion and wonderful stories to tell. I think it’s safe to say that Bottega Organica ticks all of those boxes and is probably one of my top beauty discoveries. I am hugely excited for my upcoming interview with Mary Ahern: I loved learning about the brand’s ingredient philosophy, methods and approach directly from the woman responsible for creating its products and I hope you will enjoy it as well. Also coming up: some brand spanking new, farm fresh offerings from Bottega Organica. It’s all very exciting!
Disclaimer: the products reviewed have been generously provided by Bottega Organica. I love them and I will both be repurchasing these products and trying some other things from the line.