Activist Botanical Cleansing Oil

overall rating:



Sana Jayaswal
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The Botanical Cleansing Oil is luxe oil cleanser priced at $42 and one the most popular rated products from Activist Skincare. This company excels in providing safe and plant-based products for consumers.They should be commended for their unique refill program, which reveals the internalization rather than externalization of sustainability as many other companies do. However, they have significant improvements to make in packaging, transparency about supply and worker rights, and an overall a stronger commitment to the process of sustainability.

What it's made of:


This oil is 100% vegan and plant-based. There are not any third-party certifications, which are critical for the verification of any of these claims. As a small artisanal company, it may be out of their financial capacity to. However, they made no statements towards their lack of certification or gave no indication that they are working on it or other alternatives.

All ingredients: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Di-PPG-2 Myreth-10 Adipate, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Flower Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Oil, Tocopherol.

The main ingredient is Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride is a non-comodenigic combination of coconut oil and glycerin. EWG, a non-profit dedicated to providing accessible profiles of common chemicals used in beauty products, gave this chemical a rating of 1 meaning it is not harmful. The i-PPG-2 Myreth-10 Adipate is an emulsifier that allows the oil to rinse away without heat or another cleanse. It also has an EWG rating of 1. The rest of the main ingredients are natural, plant-based products. However, a caveat to keep into consideration is that just because a product is naturally-derived does not mean it is necessarily safe for the consumer. A future direction for Activist Skin Care is being transparent about the safeness of the naturally occurring ingredients as well.

How it's made:


Activist has limited information regarding their suppliers. They state, “each ingredient is sourced from a variety of individual producers for sustainability, ethics and quality” and continue to give examples. For example, the cucumber and calendula hydrosols are organically grown by small farmers and distilled by a zero-waste-certified business in Oregon. However, these statements are unbacked and they need to provide concrete evidence for these statements. 

However, the special part of this company is that they have addressed their internal product life cycle by selling refill pouches. According to Activist, buying the refill pouches are more environmentally-friendly and are provided at a 10-15% discount from the original product price. 

The refill pouches are made from mylar, a lightweight, durable type of plastic that counterintuitively saves “115% less greenhouse gas emissions compared to recycling a new glass bottle”. However, I’m quite hesitant to believe this statistic since Activist provided no reference and no references came up after I conducted a quick Google search.

The refill pouches contain 3g of plastic while the lid of regular containers can contain up to 9g of plastic. Although it is good to have refill pouches with less plastic, a better direction would be to begin looking into alternatives for the plastic lids of the orgiangla glass containers themselves. 

The pouches are not curbside-recyclable unless performed via Terraform, a specialized recycling company. Activist makes an refreshing reminder regarding the irrectylablity of the pouches: 

“Before you get bummed about not being able to recycle the pouches easily, remember that the point of recycling is to reduce the waste of materials and energy, both of which you're already doing by refilling your containers with pouches that use less resources than glass packaging!
Recycling is an imperfect, resource-intensive process.” 

As a sustainability-minded consumer, it is easy to get demoralized over the seemingly inescapable unsustainability of certain needed products and materials. That said, this still should not be an excuse for the inability of the packages to be recyclable or compostable. Other competitors are using biodegradable pouches like Kraft Stand up Pouches.

Since there is no information about the suppliers and manufacturing process along with the the needed improvements in the refill system, Activist earns 0.25 of a planet. 

Who makes it:


Activist is a 100% vegan, luxury skincare brand. Activist skin care is a smaller artisanal company that is based out of California.

Although their products are on the higher side, they have some initiatives such as a referral program or buying discounted products with “misfit” packaging, to offer a slight discount on their products. Although this discount isn’t very effective, the sheer act of having initiatives to make their products more affordable reveal their seemingly good intentions. 

They also claim to donate 5% to hand-selected environmental NGOs such as Communities for a Better Environment, Cultural Survival, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund, Rainforest Trust. A 5% donation for a smaller indie may be acceptable but we should be cautious about their intention since many companies, especially larger ones, use this tactic for tax-write offs. 

Activist Skincare does not have any information on worker rights either. Although they are a smaller artistinal company, this doesn’t take them off the hook for being transparent about their worker’s rights.

Due to the lack on information on their company ethics and worker rights, Activist earns a 0 planet in this category.