What is “Wild Harvested & Sustainably Sourced” Skincare and Why Should You Care?

By Charlene Bollinger January 13, 2024

By now, you may have noticed that all CHARLíS products have specific labels on them to indicate their purity, such as gluten free, vegan, and ToxicFree ©. (Be sure to check out my other articles on this website to learn about those labels!)

Two more labels that you will find on every CHARLíS bottle are “Wild Harvested” and “Sustainably Sourced.” Ever wondered what these labels mean? Keep reading to get the 411 and also learn why here at CHARLíS we are so proud to stand by these two concepts for every product we create! 

What Does “Wild Harvested” Mean Exactly? 

Other names for “wild harvesting” are “wild crafting” or even “foraging.” In general, these terms refer to the practice of gathering plants in their natural environment (i.e., in the “wild”). Plants can be wild harvested for food, for medicine, or to be placed in naturally based skin formulas like those at CHARLíS. (1) 

Plants that are wild harvested are uncultivated and are gathered where they are found, which can often be in forested areas, but also in other types of terrain, depending on where the plant is growing naturally, i.e., without the help of agriculture. 

When choosing skincare products, it’s important to look for certifications or labels that indicate wild harvesting as much as possible, like the ones you will find on all CHARLíS products. By choosing products that prioritize ethical practices like wild harvesting (and sustainable sourcing, which I will talk about next), you can contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly world while also enjoying the benefits of the highest quality.

“Sustainably Sourced” Defined 

Wild harvesting and sustainability often go hand in hand, or at least they should if a company is truly being ethical in their practices. That being said, a particular plant or plant-based substance can technically be “sustainably sourced” and not necessarily be wild harvested. Let me explain. 

The barebones definition of sustainable sourcing is “the inclusion of social, environmental, and economic criteria in the sourcing process.” (2) That being said, there is a lot more that goes into the process of actually implementing sustainable practices at the source.  First of all, the cultivation of a substance cannot deplete the surrounding ecosystem. For example, the ground that a plant is grown on cannot be not tilled and produced to the point where it strips the land overall of nutrients. Nor can it be cultivated using harmful pesticides that would endanger the surrounding plant and animal life or the environment in general (such as polluting nearby waterways that would then affect wildlife and even human beings downstream). 

The same sustainability rubric would apply for  “wild harvested” plants as well. A plant is wild harvested sustainably if measures were taken, for example, to assure that the plant is not gathered to the point that it or another species which relies on it is completely depleted from the area. In addition, gathering and replenishing techniques cannot harm the soil, animals, or plants in the surrounding area, nor can these practices upset the natural balance of an ecosystem.

An example of the devastation that can occur when wild harvesting is not done sustainably can be found by looking at the plant arnica montana. Arnica can be found growing wild around much of Europe and has been used for centuries in pain relieving and anti-inflammatory tonics, lotions, and creams. Demand for Arnica worldwide has significantly increased over the last decade or so, however — so much so that now the supply of wild harvestable arnica montana does not meet the demand. Until recently, arnica was foraged almost to the point of depletion in Europe. Today, there are operations that have begun to cultivate arnica for the natural health market globally. Wild arnica montana was on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as of 2012 while some varieties have sadly disappeared altogether. (3)(4)

“Sustainably Sourced” is for Humans Too 

The term “sustainably sourced” also indicates that human beings are treated with care too when they are on the job, whether it be for gathering wild harvested substances, working a plow in a field, or working in a warehouse with ready-to-be-shipped materials. These employees are given a livable wage and are not subject to unsafe conditions. Sustainability in business also means that no child labor/ slave labor is used in any aspect of the operation. 

As a side note, according to business experts and academics, the human factor is, in large part, what fueled the trend towards sustainable sourcing in the first place. Sustainable sourcing as a modern movement and later as a common practice for forward thinking businesses began in the 1970’s with the concept of “Corporate Social Responsibility.” It flourished again in the 1990’s and 2000’s amidst well-known scandals having to do with child labor in Nike plants and unhealthy chemicals (including lead) in toys made by Mattel. Today, it is common practice for even the largest corporations to have guidelines of sustainability within their mission statements, although whether or not the “big boys” follow through with them is another story. (5) 

Sandalwood Seed Oil: An Example of Sustainable Partnership 

At CHARLíS, we go to the source to gather ingredients that will eventually make their way into our one-of-a-kind formulas. This often means tracking down herbs, roots, and plants here in the U.S. and also abroad and connecting directly with suppliers who practice sustainable sourcing in these regions. These suppliers can include family-run operations, co-ops, regenerative farmers, and companies who make it a big part of their mission to contribute back to their local economy and environment. 

A great example of how CHARLíS obtains both wild harvested and sustainably sourced ingredients amongst an increasingly precarious global economy can be found in one of our star ingredients – sandalwood seed oil.  

Sandalwood seed oil is a beautifully light substance. Best of all, it is great for sensitive skin and helps to moisturize as well as restore the skin’s natural moisture barriers– and it does all this without feeling oily at all. It also contains high levels of Omega-9 Oleic acid, a fatty acid also found in olive oil that contains amazing regenerative properties. (6) 

All this is exactly why we chose sandalwood seed oil as a “superstar substance” in the CHARLíS Revitalizing Daily Moisturizer, which is part of the CHARLíS Face Collection

Sandalwood oil comes from trees and shrubs that are part of the Santalum genus. The dozens of varieties of Santalum grow naturally (and, at one time, prolifically) in many parts of Asia and India as well as Hawaii, Chile and Australia.  Similar to arnica in Europe, because of  high demand and over-harvesting in the wild, sandalwood trees are now a disappearing commodity in many parts of the world. As you may have discovered for yourself if you have attempted to buy sandalwood essential oil as of late, prices for sandalwood in any form currently reflect its disappearing status. 

To overcome these hurdles and continue to be in alignment with our commitment to sustainable wild harvesting for all of our 100% natural formulas, we obtain our sandalwood from Australia in the form of Western Australian Sandalwood seed oil. Western Australian sandalwood is amongst the most sustainable in the world, with operations both small and large maintaining a commitment to sustainable sourcing that began in the 1920’s. Today, the regeneration of native Western Australian Sandalwood trees is a collaborative effort involving the Australian government, regional academic institutions such as Murdoch University, aboriginal businesses, and projects such as the Regeneration Program for Wild Western Australian Sandalwood and Operation Woylie (a woylie is a native Australian gerbil-like mammal whose endangered status and restoration is connected to that of sandalwood). (7) 

In total, over 5 million sandalwood seeds are planted each year, which can ensure that available trees and tree parts for both human use and environmental stability will grow exponentially as the years go by. And because of the impressive commitment for restoration on all fronts in Australia, sandalwood resources in that country are still wild harvested from both “green wood” (i.e., living wood) and deadwood (debris and fallen trees that occur naturally) within the roughly 1 million square miles that sandalwood grows. 

How Does All This Affect the Quality of My Skincare?

That all sounds great, you may say, but how does that translate into a product that can help me?  I am so glad you asked that! 

At CHARLíS, we stand strong in the belief that a business must practice ethically across the board, not just in one area. This means it is our responsibility to also make sure that all of our wild harvesting sourcing partners practice sustainability in all ways. How this commitment on both sides is passed on to you through CHARLíS is in a luxury skincare product whose quality is simply like no other. Not only can you have peace of mind and a sense of trust in a company that stands for health both personally and for the planet, but you can also feel the difference every time you use our products. 

My aim from the beginning – and still to this day! – is to create luxury skincare for real women (and men too!). Because YOU are so worth it!

References: 

(1) Learn How to Forage: A Beginner’s Guide
(2) THINKING DIFFERENTLY ABOUT PURCHASING PORTFOLIOS: AN ASSESSMENT OF SUSTAINABLE SOURCING
(3) Conservation of Eastern European Medicinal Plants Arnica Montana in Romania Case Study Garda de Sus
(4) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
(5) A literature review of the history and evolution of corporate social responsibility
(6) Oleic acid modulation of the immune response in wound healing: A new approach for skin repair
(7) Western Australian sandalwood 

By now, you may have noticed that all CHARLíS products have specific labels on them to indicate their purity, such as gluten free, vegan, and ToxicFree ©. (Be sure to check out my other articles on this website to learn about those labels!)

Two more labels that you will find on every CHARLíS bottle are “Wild Harvested” and “Sustainably Sourced.” Ever wondered what these labels mean? Keep reading to get the 411 and also learn why here at CHARLíS we are so proud to stand by these two concepts for every product we create! 

What Does “Wild Harvested” Mean Exactly? 

Other names for “wild harvesting” are “wild crafting” or even “foraging.” In general, these terms refer to the practice of gathering plants in their natural environment (i.e., in the “wild”). Plants can be wild harvested for food, for medicine, or to be placed in naturally based skin formulas like those at CHARLíS. (1) 

Plants that are wild harvested are uncultivated and are gathered where they are found, which can often be in forested areas, but also in other types of terrain, depending on where the plant is growing naturally, i.e., without the help of agriculture. 

When choosing skincare products, it’s important to look for certifications or labels that indicate wild harvesting as much as possible, like the ones you will find on all CHARLíS products. By choosing products that prioritize ethical practices like wild harvesting (and sustainable sourcing, which I will talk about next), you can contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly world while also enjoying the benefits of the highest quality.

“Sustainably Sourced” Defined 

Wild harvesting and sustainability often go hand in hand, or at least they should if a company is truly being ethical in their practices. That being said, a particular plant or plant-based substance can technically be “sustainably sourced” and not necessarily be wild harvested. Let me explain. 

The barebones definition of sustainable sourcing is “the inclusion of social, environmental, and economic criteria in the sourcing process.” (2) That being said, there is a lot more that goes into the process of actually implementing sustainable practices at the source.  First of all, the cultivation of a substance cannot deplete the surrounding ecosystem. For example, the ground that a plant is grown on cannot be not tilled and produced to the point where it strips the land overall of nutrients. Nor can it be cultivated using harmful pesticides that would endanger the surrounding plant and animal life or the environment in general (such as polluting nearby waterways that would then affect wildlife and even human beings downstream). 

The same sustainability rubric would apply for  “wild harvested” plants as well. A plant is wild harvested sustainably if measures were taken, for example, to assure that the plant is not gathered to the point that it or another species which relies on it is completely depleted from the area. In addition, gathering and replenishing techniques cannot harm the soil, animals, or plants in the surrounding area, nor can these practices upset the natural balance of an ecosystem.

An example of the devastation that can occur when wild harvesting is not done sustainably can be found by looking at the plant arnica montana. Arnica can be found growing wild around much of Europe and has been used for centuries in pain relieving and anti-inflammatory tonics, lotions, and creams. Demand for Arnica worldwide has significantly increased over the last decade or so, however — so much so that now the supply of wild harvestable arnica montana does not meet the demand. Until recently, arnica was foraged almost to the point of depletion in Europe. Today, there are operations that have begun to cultivate arnica for the natural health market globally. Wild arnica montana was on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as of 2012 while some varieties have sadly disappeared altogether. (3)(4)

“Sustainably Sourced” is for Humans Too 

The term “sustainably sourced” also indicates that human beings are treated with care too when they are on the job, whether it be for gathering wild harvested substances, working a plow in a field, or working in a warehouse with ready-to-be-shipped materials. These employees are given a livable wage and are not subject to unsafe conditions. Sustainability in business also means that no child labor/ slave labor is used in any aspect of the operation. 

As a side note, according to business experts and academics, the human factor is, in large part, what fueled the trend towards sustainable sourcing in the first place. Sustainable sourcing as a modern movement and later as a common practice for forward thinking businesses began in the 1970’s with the concept of “Corporate Social Responsibility.” It flourished again in the 1990’s and 2000’s amidst well-known scandals having to do with child labor in Nike plants and unhealthy chemicals (including lead) in toys made by Mattel. Today, it is common practice for even the largest corporations to have guidelines of sustainability within their mission statements, although whether or not the “big boys” follow through with them is another story. (5) 

Sandalwood Seed Oil: An Example of Sustainable Partnership 

At CHARLíS, we go to the source to gather ingredients that will eventually make their way into our one-of-a-kind formulas. This often means tracking down herbs, roots, and plants here in the U.S. and also abroad and connecting directly with suppliers who practice sustainable sourcing in these regions. These suppliers can include family-run operations, co-ops, regenerative farmers, and companies who make it a big part of their mission to contribute back to their local economy and environment. 

A great example of how CHARLíS obtains both wild harvested and sustainably sourced ingredients amongst an increasingly precarious global economy can be found in one of our star ingredients – sandalwood seed oil.  

Sandalwood seed oil is a beautifully light substance. Best of all, it is great for sensitive skin and helps to moisturize as well as restore the skin’s natural moisture barriers– and it does all this without feeling oily at all. It also contains high levels of Omega-9 Oleic acid, a fatty acid also found in olive oil that contains amazing regenerative properties. (6) 

All this is exactly why we chose sandalwood seed oil as a “superstar substance” in the CHARLíS Revitalizing Daily Moisturizer, which is part of the CHARLíS Face Collection

Sandalwood oil comes from trees and shrubs that are part of the Santalum genus. The dozens of varieties of Santalum grow naturally (and, at one time, prolifically) in many parts of Asia and India as well as Hawaii, Chile and Australia.  Similar to arnica in Europe, because of  high demand and over-harvesting in the wild, sandalwood trees are now a disappearing commodity in many parts of the world. As you may have discovered for yourself if you have attempted to buy sandalwood essential oil as of late, prices for sandalwood in any form currently reflect its disappearing status. 

To overcome these hurdles and continue to be in alignment with our commitment to sustainable wild harvesting for all of our 100% natural formulas, we obtain our sandalwood from Australia in the form of Western Australian Sandalwood seed oil. Western Australian sandalwood is amongst the most sustainable in the world, with operations both small and large maintaining a commitment to sustainable sourcing that began in the 1920’s. Today, the regeneration of native Western Australian Sandalwood trees is a collaborative effort involving the Australian government, regional academic institutions such as Murdoch University, aboriginal businesses, and projects such as the Regeneration Program for Wild Western Australian Sandalwood and Operation Woylie (a woylie is a native Australian gerbil-like mammal whose endangered status and restoration is connected to that of sandalwood). (7) 

In total, over 5 million sandalwood seeds are planted each year, which can ensure that available trees and tree parts for both human use and environmental stability will grow exponentially as the years go by. And because of the impressive commitment for restoration on all fronts in Australia, sandalwood resources in that country are still wild harvested from both “green wood” (i.e., living wood) and deadwood (debris and fallen trees that occur naturally) within the roughly 1 million square miles that sandalwood grows. 

How Does All This Affect the Quality of My Skincare?

That all sounds great, you may say, but how does that translate into a product that can help me?  I am so glad you asked that! 

At CHARLíS, we stand strong in the belief that a business must practice ethically across the board, not just in one area. This means it is our responsibility to also make sure that all of our wild harvesting sourcing partners practice sustainability in all ways. How this commitment on both sides is passed on to you through CHARLíS is in a luxury skincare product whose quality is simply like no other. Not only can you have peace of mind and a sense of trust in a company that stands for health both personally and for the planet, but you can also feel the difference every time you use our products. 

My aim from the beginning – and still to this day! – is to create luxury skincare for real women (and men too!). Because YOU are so worth it!

References: 

(1) Learn How to Forage: A Beginner’s Guide
(2) THINKING DIFFERENTLY ABOUT PURCHASING PORTFOLIOS: AN ASSESSMENT OF SUSTAINABLE SOURCING
(3) Conservation of Eastern European Medicinal Plants Arnica Montana in Romania Case Study Garda de Sus
(4) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
(5) A literature review of the history and evolution of corporate social responsibility
(6) Oleic acid modulation of the immune response in wound healing: A new approach for skin repair
(7) Western Australian sandalwood 

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