Odds are, you’ve seen the Olivia Wilde ads that show the actress and producer rubbing her clear, angel face with serums and letting us in on her little secret. She, along with Laura Dern and Zazie Beetz, serve as ambassadors for the organic skin-care brand, and I can’t argue with the fact that all three women are clearly onto something when it comes to skin care—but is that because of True Botanicals? Can the luxe natural skin-care brand really be that good?
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Similarly to how I tested out La Mer Crème de la Mer and Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Face Oil, I went on a week-long, fully-immersive trial period, using True Botanicals Clear Pure Radiance Oil (not Renew Pure Radiance Oil, which only targets fine lines and wrinkles) every morning and night for a week to fine out. For $110 a bottle, I had high expectations.
What is the brand’s deal?
Before I dive into the results of my experiment, I want to unpack what makes True Botanicals stand out in the sea of face oils and buzzy skin-care brands. True Botanicals was founded by Hillary Peterson, an entrepreneur with a background in advertising and business (she’s held senior positions at Levi Strauss before she went on to be the CEO of Marie Veronique Organics). However, at 32, and shortly after giving birth to her twins, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. This, according to the brand’s site, led to a “wake up call” that inspired her to create True Botanicals, a brand that focuses on how the benefits of nature can applied to skin.
True Botanicals claims it ethically sources its vegan ingredients, relying on concentrates from plant actives naturally infused with vitamins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and more. The brand also points out that it relies on clinical studies from universities like Carnegie Mellon and Cornell that solidify its formulas are data- and research-informed. “Our products are clinically proven to outperform leading anti-aging skin-care brands,” the site says.
What does a dermatologist say?
I spoke with New York City-based dermatologist Cybele Fishman, MD, and asked her what she thinks makes Clear Pure Radiance Oil special in regards to tackling issues like acne and fine lines. “It certainly has a ton of antioxidants in it, which would be good for both anti-aging and any inflammatory disease like acne. I would be curious to try it, she says. “I don’t have acne, but love facial oils because they tend not to have preservatives or artificial fragrances or artificial colors [which can irritate skin and exacerbate the problem].”
Taking a glance at the lengthy ingredient list that makes up the Clear Pure Radiance Oil, Dr. Fishman says key ingredients like rosemary oil and nigella sativa (black cumin seed) oil stand out the most as particularly potent ingredients. “Rosemary oil has been found to reduce cutibacterium acnes (formerly known as p. acnes). While this bacteria is present on the skin of both people with and without acne, it seems to behave differently in those with acne in the way it interacts with other bacteria on the skin and how it is pro-inflammatory,” she says.
Compared with popular blemish treatments on the market, this one is also a gentler alternative, thanks to the black cumin seed oil. “A small study showed black cumin seed oil was as effective and less irritating than five percent benzoyl peroxide,” she explains.
What is the Clear Pure Radiance Oil supposed to do?
It’s meant to tackle breakouts, uneven skin tone and texture, and fine lines. After using it regularly, customers claim they see smoother, brighter skin with dramatically-reduced blemishes. It’s also an effective hydrator and tackles dull, dry skin by offering a natural barrier to lock in that moisture.
What are the results?
Pure Radiance Oil had a big job to do. The day before I started my trial, my period had brought with it an entourage of zits that made themselves at home around my chin with a couple settling down on my forehead. For a little background: I have combo-oily skin that can be skittish around too-thick oils and any greasy formulas. There have been oils that have completely broken me out, so I tend to be wary of them. Knowing this, Pure Radiance Oil and I got to work. I used my gentle Fresh Soy Cleanser to wash the day and night off my face, but completely forwent all serums and moisturizers and solely used the oil—that’s what Wilde says she does in one of her ads, so that’s what I did.
The first thing I noticed was that the oil is a vibrant orange, so if you used too much (which I did the first couple times, oops), your face might have a bit of an orange tint until you massage it all the way in (don’t worry, you will not stay orange). I quickly pivoted to using three-to-four drops and using my hands to rub the oil in, spending a little extra time on my cheeks, which tend to be a little blotchy. Unlike some other face oils, this one is lightweight, and it left my skin feeling velvety-smooth and looking glazed and glistening, as though I was just leaving from a facial appointment. The next day, after applying both morning and night, my skin felt smoother. Unfortunately, the zits were still there—but luckily, I’m a realist. Good things come to those who wait.
Three days later, blemishes were still around, but they’d shrunk down, considerably. Normally, my period zits stick around all week long, so this was a nice change. I continued to wake up in the morning to a brighter, more even canvas (less ruddy cheeks!), and luckily, no new blemishes even though I kept absent-mindedly touching my zits throughout the day (bad habits die hard).
By the seventh day, my zits were nearly gone (would they have gone down on their own? It’s possible—but the only skin-care products I was using were my one cleanser and the Pure Radiance Oil), but most noticeably, my skin was unusually soft and my skin tone was more even. When I did apply my favorite skin tint, it blended in seamlessly instead of immediately sinking into my pores or caking around my eyes or around my nose. It really does seem like after using the oil for a week it’s helped even out the texture of my skin.
But was it really working? I got a second opinion without even asking for one. After posting a selfie to Instagram Stories, a friend DMed me, telling me “Whatever you’re doing is making you glow!”.
The DM was the validation I needed. Because truth be told, the change was somewhat subtle. Substantial enough to me, since I have to look at my face every day, but I did wonder if others would notice my clearer, healthier-looking skin. Apparently they can.
A few more small (but important) details: The oil is gentle (it’s hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic), doesn’t clog pores, and also smells really nice, thanks to natural sandalwood, cypress, and helichrysum scents, which reminds me of camping in the woods.
Is it worth the price tag?
So, is Clear Pure Radiance worth $110? On one hand, I’ve paid more for skin care, and I’m willing to invest in products that keep my skin healthy, so while the price is steep, it’s one I’m willing to shell out for quality. On the other hand, I have several drugstore go-tos that are easier on the wallet, more accessible, and prove their worth in many radiant skin days. As far as luxury face oils go, I think this one is worth investing in if you can (and if you want to). The ingredients check out, as does True Botanical’s overarching ethos, to our knowledge—unfortunately transparency isn’t something you always get from a lot of beauty brands, so for that True Botanicals deserves some credit.
I’ll likely swipe another bottle as soon as I get to the bottom of mine. Luckily, these face oils last a long time.
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