A Ghanaian Power Plant

June 19, 2011 — 4 Comments

Over the weekend, as a treat to myself, I went for a free mini facial at the Origins store on the Upper West Side in NYC. I’ve been traveling a whole lot lately, including back to Ghana for a few weeks for some much needed rest. In between rinsing and scrubbings, I told the saleslady doing my facial about my excursion to West Africa. She responded,  “Ghana..! Actually, one of our products contains plant bark sourced from Ghana. And its AMAZING!”


The product I’m talking about is Origins Plantscriptions Anti-Aging Serum. Priced at $55 cool ones a pop, it was a bit too pricey for me to take one home for my own trial run. But the serum was hailed in a recent article of InStyle as having the effects of retinol products minus the redness and irritation. I am not so much interested in reversing the aging process, but rather about this miracle African ingredient.

Origins Plantscription uses Anogeissus plant bark from Ghana

The star ingredient is Anogeissus Leiocarpa a shrub or small tree that grows in wooded bushlands in several African countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal, and of course, Ghana. According to CSR Europe, the raw material anogelline is harvested from the bark of the anogeissus plant and is starting to be used in cosmetic products. Well, high end cosmetic products that is. LVMH Group includes cosmetic products suc as Dior, Fendi, Fresh, and Benefit Cosmetics, just to name a few. According to the CSR website, LVMH has set up the Anogelline project in Koro, Burkina Faso which aims to plant 1500 anogeissus trees in the village and train villagers in harvesting and drying the tree bark.

Origins says that for “centuries, the leaves and bark have been used as a natural wound healer and anti-microbial”. Can any of my readers from West Africa comment on that?

Anogeissus Leiocarpus: Sourced from Africa, it can now be found in Western cosmetics

I’ve written a bit about shea butter from West Africa, and about DKNY using vanilla sourced from Uganda in their perfumes. I would like to see more from these companies about how their market supply strategy is benefitting local communities. Which local communities, and in what countries? So many companies just announce that their product is “organic”, or “sustainable”, and that seems to be enough to convince buyers that $55 is worth it if they can defeat poverty whilst defeating fine lines and wrinkles.

What do you all think? Do you have Plantscriptions and does it work for you? Does the fact that Origins is using plant ingredients from Africa convince you to buy?

4 responses to A Ghanaian Power Plant

    Kofi Ametewee July 24, 2011 at 3:39 AM

    Italian company also buys loads of a plant that contains some mental rejuvenation product from Ghana. Buyer makes a couple of visits a year, business is good enough for him to rent a chalet at the Tulip for weeks on end. I think we need to do more ourselves to make our mark in these markets.

    I don’t know if the plant you refer to is what is called ‘akyeampong’ around here, but my 70 something old aunt remembers its wound healing properties well.

    Bottom-line, we need to fund science better and give scientists a better way to profit from their work. [Personal experience]


    I agree that the terms “sustainably produced” and “organic” need to be clarified a bit more. As with shea butter, most often produced by women in villages, one has to wonder how much the large cosmetic companies are “benefitting” these people–or are they exploiting them by paying them pennies for a product they turn around and sell for $55 a pop. Are these companies adhering to Fair Trade and Fair For Life regulations?


    Yes, i also know more about ANOGEISSUS healling power and other uses of the leaves and the back.


    What is the longterm effect of growing these plants/trees on large scale? What are the extra transportcosts. So in the end, howmuch of this ingredient is needed to have effect.

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