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Beyond organic: regenerative skincare

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By Susana Gago

· 4 min read


Growing agricultural demand from an ever-increasing population has put a strain on our natural resources, which has degraded soil, created a lack of biodiversity and turned many forested areas into barren land.

Agricultural methods are one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gases that are causing climate change yet at the same time one of the most powerful tools we have to potentially reverse climate change. In conventional industrial farming practices like mono-cropping, deep tilling, and overuse of pesticides, the erosion of vital topsoil is sped up, killing off the microorganisms that help build soil carbon and allow the soil to serve as a natural 'carbon sink' by drawing carbon released into the atmosphere back into the Earth.

It's all about balance: carbon is the building block of life, but human activity has severely disrupted this balance, heating up our planet, and causing severe climate damage. Regenerative agriculture allows us to put this carbon back into the ground. More carbon in the ground is good for us it creates healthier soil that is full of diverse micro-organisms, creating a more bio-diverse ecosystem around us, and is able to store more water creating plants that are most nutrient dense and more resistant to droughts.

What is regenerative skincare?

Regenerative skincare defines a set of traditional farming and agroforestry methods that work with nature instead of against it. It seeks to reverse deforestation, restore degraded soil, increase biodiversity, improve water cycles and strengthen the health and vitality of an area, returning it back to its original, thriving state.

The truth is that plants, flowers, and herbs can nourish and heal from the inside and out. Skincare herbs contain natural antioxidants, vitamins, and emollients that make their way to your skin and your system, as 60% of everything we apply to our skin travels through the bloodstream. Making clean skincare products with these powerful botanicals can offer different environmental and social health benefits.

Benefits of regenerative farming

Regenerative farming is more than just organic. While organic farming focus on doing “less bad”, regenerative practices go further, aiming for resilient landscapes and working with the land in a restorative way. One of the most important markers for a regenerative farm is diversity. Grown crops are diverse, not simply in the number of species, but also in the number of variations for the same plant. Variation within species ensures genetic diversity, which helps plants adapt to change and fight pests while building soil health, crop resilience, and nutrient density. These efforts translate into more stable and higher grade produce with lower input costs.

With the integration of livestock, regenerative farming makes nutrient cycles robust and helps create a closed-loop system that facilitates the main goal: biologically active soil.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), half of the topsoil in the world has been damaged in the last 150 years. Decarbonisation, erosion, desertification, and chemical pollution have depleted our soils greatly.

The herbal industry has an important role to play in supporting biological diversity preservation and regenerative ecosystems. It’s important because when cultivating and harvesting high-quality raw materials in a responsible way, the industry can be part of regenerating the ecological, economical, and cultural systems of communities, bringing wellness not just to the consumer of the finished product but to all of the communities—human and ecological—involved.

Regenerative farming also aims to return to ancient practices by following the rhythms of nature, such as planting and harvesting according to the moon cycles. These practices help to revive the local ecosystems carbon sequestration and improve water and soil conditions, ultimately impacting the health of our global ecosystem.

Building ethical businesses that can grow ingredients with 100 percent transparency through regenerative farming becomes a pathway to revitalizing land and supporting communities far beyond the land that we own. We want these projects to be far-reaching and demonstrate that this kind of long-term, regenerative view of running a business is the way forward; where we’re protecting the environment, paying fair prices to workers and still thriving, so people, communities and the earth all benefit.

illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Susana Gago is the founder of UNAKTI, a female-led ecosystem dedicated to cultivating high-value medicinal and aromatic plants, and transforming them into pure raw materials for the Cosmetic, Health & Wellness industries. As part of her job at UNAKTI, she collaborates with local women farmers and communities, empowering them through regenerative medicinal forest cultivation to step up into leadership roles within their families and communities. 

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