Botanicals are plant extracts that are popular additives to skin care products. Botanicals formed the basis of all medical treatment when European settlers first came to America. These Europeans learned that the American Indians had an extensive pharmacopeia, based on native plants, that was passed from generation to generation through the wisdom of the medicine man in each community. These plant concoctions were mastered by the settlers, transported back to England, and incorporated into some of the earliest books on medical treatment. When the new English settlers were learning about North American plant extracts, a large body of knowledge utilizing plants from the Orient was also being developed. The richness of plant material in the tropical Orient led to different plant extracts of great diversity that were used in Oriental medicine and religious practices. Today, cosmetic formulators have access to plant materials worldwide for incorporation into topical preparations.
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