The essential oils found in the leaves of the Sweet Gale plant, has been more commonly used for flavouring beer, porridge and vinegar whilst also functioning as a natural insect repellant.
However, after many years of research and development, Boots has discovered that the oils of the plant, also known as Bog Myrtle, have a high anti-oxidant content, which efficiently combats the bacteria known to cause, blemish prone skin.
Likewise the plant extract has been heralded as a significant breakthrough for the skin care market due to previously unknown properties that will help prevent outbreaks for people with sensitive skin.It is also said to have far fewer irritants than similar plant extracts whilst also having anti-bacterial properties that aid acne prone and oily skin complexions.
The new Botanics range, comprising of a cleansing mousse, skin serum, cleansing lotion, moisturiser and facemask, is innovative on the beauty market due to the short supply of the Sweet Gale plant, which grows in the Scottish Highlands.
However, in order to bring the skin care benefits of the extract to the mass market, Boots worked alongside a leading university to discover a harvesting method that would fit in with its natural ethics policy and also be beneficial to the environment, wildlife, and local communities that inhabit the area, as well as the skin care range.
The skin care range also incorporates the marshmallow plant, making use of the soothing and protective properties it holds. Rich in natural sugars, the plant extract is said to moisturise whilst also helping to soothe and protect sensitive skin.
Currently the naturals cosmetic market was set to hit the €1bn mark in Europe during 2006 and is following similar patterns in the US market, as consumers seek out products with ingredients they perceive to be healthier and more environmentally friendly in nature.
The increase in spend means that the European market is growing by an average of 20 per cent a year, according to market researcher Organic Monitor, significantly above that of most other cosmetics categories where activity has remained largely stagnant in recent years.
The latest move by Boots aims to consolidate the company's aim to become the leading beauty retailer in Europe and around the globe, following a recent move into the Middle Eastern cosmetics market last year.
The company is hoping to profit from the expected development in this market with the opening of four stores in Dubai that follows its expansion into the lucrative US market that also took place last year.