L'ERBOLARIO was founded in Lodi in 1978 by Franco Bergamaschi and his wife Daniela Villa as a small artisan herbalists. Franco Bergamaschi and Daniela Villa have always shared their passion for the world of medicinal plants, and spent days on end in the country fields of Lodi searching for wild herbs.
The first phytocosmetics came to life by initially retracing family recipes handed down by Franco’s father. This was then combined with knowledge acquired during herbalist, phytocosmetics and phytopreparation courses. Step by step L'ERBOLARIO products went beyond the doors of the Lodi shop to become widespread on the shelves of herbalists all over Italy.
Without neglecting its vocation as a family business, it embarked on a path of constant growth that lead L'ERBOLARIO to become a renowned and affirmed international company, a leader in the Italian market of plant-based cosmetics and an increasingly appreciated brand also overseas.
With 4.800 sales points throughout Italy and 168 single-brand shops, 14 of which overseas, L'ERBOLARIO has entered the homes of over 10 million Italian families and has been successfully exported to 45 countries around the world; L'ERBOLARIO is the name of an unmistakeable style that represents natural beauty.
THE ORGANIC BOTANIC GARDEN
Marsh Mallow, Absinthium, Marigold, Tarragon, Echinacea purpurea, Iris, Hyssop, Lavender, Mallow, Lemon Balm, Mint, Rosemary, Sage: here are just a few plants from L'ERBOLARIO's botanical garden!
The Garden, located in the natural South Adda River Park, which extends over 200,000 m2, is loved and “nursed” by three passionate gardeners.
All herbs, ornamental species, fruit and vegetables, in the large plot of land surrounding the L'ERBOLARIO production site, are grown according to the strict standards of organic farming, using only natural fertilisers and remedies without using any pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilisers, with a sustainable agriculture approach.
Since 2005, all farming activities have been certified by ICEA (Istituto per la Certificazione Etica Ambientale - Institute for Ethical Environmental Certification) for AIAB (Associazione Italiana per l’Agricoltura Biologica – Italian Association for Organic Agriculture).
BEAUTY FROM NATURE
L'ERBOLARIO stems from a story of love and passion for nature. From the first courageous steps, their path has been very long and brings us to today: a production business in which modern technology has simply updated what represents the core of our activity: a love for nature, the desire for “natural beauty”, the willpower to make “plant cosmetics” and “green beauty” an accessible, sober luxury.
They started with a dream: to make beauty accessible to everyone. L'ERBOLARIO is proud to still be committed to formulating very high quality products from plants at excellent value for money.
The intrinsic appeal of the L'ERBOLARIO product, which represents the true challenge of natural cosmetics, is one of the constant focuses of their research.
L'ERBOLARIO are constantly committed to offering cosmetics that are effective, while also featuring an appealing consistency. The delicate fragrances of our products and their sophisticated packaging, inspired by ancient herbariums, are their signature trademark!
OUR SUSTAINABILITY MISSION
Environmental sustainability is one of the principles that – for over 40 years - have guided their business. Implicit sustainability in their “plant cosmetics” is obtained by the fact that they are created from plant raw materials and are therefore renewable. Raw materials that are more often cultivated by following the strict principles of Environmentally Sustainable Organic Agriculture.
The term “green chemistry” was coined in 1991 by a lecturer, Paul Anastas, at the University of Berkeley, and indicates a new technological approach that applies the innovative principles in designing industrial chemical processes. Green Chemistry is the use of renewable raw materials and eco-friendly production processes, an increase in the selection and yield of chemical reactions and a replacement of obsolete compounds with new alternatives that maintain their functional efficiency whilst reducing toxic properties to man and the environment. Its advantages are to monitor, improve and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the environment; a reduction in the quantity of raw materials and energy used in chemical reactions and a reduction in the development of by-products and consequent disposal in the environment.
For years L'ERBOLARIO have implemented every means necessary to prevent, reduce and, whenever possible, eliminate every form of pollution or unjustified consumption of a resource deriving from their work. All phytocosmetics are formulated and prepared in Lodi, in their production site, which, since 2002, has been equipped with an Environmental Management System (UNI EN ISO 14001 certificate) and was awarded in 2013 with a note of merit by the certifying body DNV with the following motivation: “for commitment in investing in cutting edge plant engineering solutions to contain emissions in the environment and treatment of groundwater that guarantee quality and quantity standards well below the limits set forth by law”.
L'ERBOLARIO uses self-produced energy for their production activities from a 977 kWp photovoltaic array. With this choice, every year, in average weather conditions, they avoid the emission of more than 500,000 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of a forest of 3500 trees. During the months in which they must purchase energy, they rely on their partner Lifegate, a company whose mission is to provide companies with energy from 100% renewable sources and to compensate for the extremely modest emission of carbon dioxide via the Zero Impact® project.
L'ERBOLARIO uses the best packaging in environmentally sustainable material, for example; Green PE and Green PET derivatives of sugar cane respectively at 100% and 30%. For all paper items, they only use FSC® certified paper, according to the strict environmental and social standards of the Forest Stewardship Council® supporting the correct and responsible management of forest resources. They have also have implemented a bottle tag system: Maximum product protection = Less use of preservatives. L'ERBOLARIO is constantly in search of more sustainable packaging, always preferring single material packages or easily separated by their recyclable components.
L'ERBOLARIO is also committed to protecting the local landscape and wildlife and plant species that characterise the area of its production site. Special attention has been paid to protecting biodiversity by introducing, also for educational purposes, ancient fruits at risk of extinction, as well as actively protecting the local flora and fauna, creating “green corridors” that ensure protected mobility for animals, planting over 30,000 trees and shrubs that provide nourishment to wildlife, installing more than 100 artificial nests for birds, and administering, in the winter, quintals of grains to distressed species in Italy.
The Logistic Hub launched in 2012 is a gem of environmental sustainability. A rare example of an energy class B industrial building is 27,000 m2 of energy saving thanks to heating and air conditioning via geothermal energy, floor cooling system using groundwater and electrical energy from our photovoltaic array. The Logistic hub is energetically self-sufficient during the summer months.
L'ERBOLARIO has always refused to carry out cosmetic testing on animals. Their determination to refuse every form of animal experimentation began with their very first phytocosmetic, but a simple refusal never seemed to be quite enough. For years they have fought alongside LAV (Lega Anti Vivisezione - Anti-Vivisection Society) in the fight against cosmetic testing on animals. Together with LAV, in 1992, with the participation of thousands of Italian herbalist shops, they sent more than 20,000 postcards to the European Parliament asking for the ban on animal testing.
In September 2004, testing finished products on animals was banned, however, having reached this goal, there was a contradiction: the on-going possibility of testing raw materials on animals. In 2006, L'ERBOLARIO adhered to the International Ban Animal Testing Standard, committing not to use raw materials tested on animals for cosmetic, chemical or pharmaceutical purposes. Once again, along with many cruelty-free supporters, they decided to join the LAV in a new battle. A new battle, a new victory. On 11 March 2013, the total ban on testing cosmetic ingredients on animals was implemented in the EU!
100% MADE IN ITALY
L'ERBOLARIO has never outsourced any phase of production to third-party countries, or where human rights and fundamental workers’ rights are violated or child labour or conditions of semi-slavery exist.
Naturally, we sometimes turn to the “southern areas of the world” but only to find new raw materials, preferably purchased in a fair and ethical manner.
Each production phase is carried out in our South Adda River Park production site just outside Lodi: here, the Extracts Laboratory and Research and Development Laboratory select the best ingredients to make highly effective products. The Production and Packaging departments then transform the raw material into the finished product and the Logistic Hub ships the goods to our retailers worldwide.
FROM THE GARDEN TO THE LABORATORY
In the Extracts Laboratory, L'ERBOLARIO produces the plant extracts that make their cosmetics unique and special. The Extracts Production and Research Laboratory has been the pride and joy of L'ERBOLARIO since 2006. This is where a team of technicians with high professionalism and extensive expertise makes the most of the ability to concentrate “the quintessence of the soul” of plants and, from the inert matrix, extract the active principles that make our cosmetics unique and special.
They only select the best plants, which are ideally organic and strictly not GMO, preferring those from their botanical garden and from the organic cultivations of Erbamea, their sister company in Alta Valtiberina, Umbria.
In the laboratories, L'ERBOLARIO mainly uses the same preservatives as the food industry (for example, sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate). They carefully select plant-based emulsifiers and surfactants (from oat, barley, rice, etc.) and plant-based thickening and gelling agents (from cellulose, algae, guar gum, etc.), butters and waxes.
To produce their extracts, they only use environmentally safe solvents, such as water, glycerine and organic vegetable oils. They often use fresh fruit, such as cucumbers, tangerines, lemons, and mango: all strictly cut by hand. All extracts are made in their Laboratory, without outsourcing any production phase.
All raw materials undergo strict analyses to verify the absence of over 300 pesticides.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT LABORATORY
L'ERBOLARIO is modern technology that merges with a strong artisan background.
They are constantly committed in product (with approximately 40 new products each year), process innovation (to obtain impeccable cosmetics that limit environmental impact and costs) and service.
Using over 1400 raw materials, L'ERBOLARIO's products come to life in the laboratory, where a select pool of experts and qualified professionals in chemistry, biology, biotechnology, microbiology and toxicology work to study and develop efficient, safe, innovative and environmentally friendly formulations in Extracts Research and Research and Development Laboratory.
Before being approved, all formulas undergo a series of tests in order to guarantee Safety, Efficiency and Appeal.
Strict quality control in the form of microbiological tests and chemical-physical analyses are carried out to monitor the presence of seven heavy metals (nickel, chromium, cadmium, lead, mercury, arsenic, antimony, cobalt) in order to guarantee product stability and safety and in order to minimise the risk of allergies and thus protect even the most sensitive skins. In all products, the content of heavy metals is well below the limits reported in the three most authoritative guidelines available today.
The product is kept at different temperatures and monitored for six months in order to assess its ability to adapt and withstand thermal shocks.
The formula is exposed to high microbiological stress to check the efficiency of the preserving system.
All of products are rigorously tested in vitro and on healthy volunteers to assess tolerability, efficacy and pleasantness. The tests are carried out at the multimedical Dermo-Clinical Research Institute in Milan, Italy, in collaboration with the Department of Biology and Biotechnology of the University of Pavia.
L'ERBOLARIO provides their colleagues with samples of the formulas being studied so that, after two weeks of use, they can fill in an assessment form regarding the product’s appeal.
If the product passes all of these tests, it is promoted to a L'ERBOLARIO cosmetic!
A SHORT PRODUCTION & PACKAGING CHAIN
Technology is an essential partner in guaranteeing consistent high quality standards. The extraordinary machinery having capacities of 3000, 5000 or 12000kg to assist in repeating, on a larger scale, the operations carried out by the researchers on the lab table with 1 kg of product.
After strict controls, the loose product goes to Packaging. Here modern technology merges with the exquisitely on-going focus on craftsmanship: large machinery is not used to replace, but to assist and optimise the indispensable human labour.
All our packages, which are distinguished by their unique taste, are eco-compatible, preferably made of a single material or easily separated into their recyclable components.
The products are then ready to be shipped to each of the 5,500 shops throughout Italy and in the 42 countries they proudly export to! L'ERBOLARIO personally takes care of international shipping, keeping a very short chain in order to guarantee impeccable quality as well as excellent value for money.
ISO 14001 certification
It is not obligatory to be certified ISO 14001, however, it represents a voluntary and responsible choice that L'ERBOLARIO wanted to fulfil in 2002, one of the first in Italy, in order to demonstrate its sensitivity in wanting, first and foremost, to identify all aspects of its activities that have an impact on the environment, to then periodically define the objectives of continuous improvement and a management program to pursue them. In 2013, the certifying body, DNV, decided to award L'ERBOLARIO's long-lasting commitment to improve their environmental performance with a note of merit.
LifeGate is a company that provides companies with energy from 100% renewable sources, which is certified by an authoritative European certification system: RECS "Renewable Energy Certificate System". LifeGate has created the Zero Impact® project which quantifies the extremely modest emissions of carbon dioxide from renewable energy production activities and compensate them with contributing to creating and protecting new forests in Italy and around the world that are able to re-absorb them. Therefore, by adhering to this project, L'ERBOLARIO does not only use energy from renewable sources, but energy from renewable sources with zero impact®.
Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC)
The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) is an international organisation whose aim is to support the correct and responsible management of forest resources. To make all the paper items (packaging, calendars, agendas, brochures, pamphlets), L'ERBOLARIO only uses certified paper obtained from responsibly-managed sources. L'ERBOLARIO was the first cosmetic company in Italy to care about the prestigious brand of Forest Stewardship Council®.
L'ERBOLARIO has been committed to the International Ban Animal Testing Standard, which was prepared and shared by the major animal rights associations in both Europe and America. This Standard requires adhering companies to agree not to use raw materials that have been tested on animals after they have adhered to this Standard. For this reason, documentation of all raw materials that form part of their formulas is accurately examined by ICEA (Istituto per la Certificazione Etica Ambientale - Institute for Ethical Environmental Certification) on behalf of LAV.
ICEA certification for Organic Agriculture
All medicinal herbs, ornamental species, fruit and vegetables, in the large plot of land surrounding the L'ERBOLARIO production site, are grown according to the strict standards of organic farming, using only natural fertilisers and remedies, without using any pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilisers, with a sustainable agriculture approach. Since 2005, all L'ERBOLARIO's agricultural activities have been certified by ICEA (Istituto per la Certificazione Etica Ambientale - Institute for Ethical Environmental Certification) for AIAB (Associazione Italiana per l’Agricoltura Biologica – Italian Association for Organic Agriculture).
ICEA certification for Eco-organic cosmetics
L'ERBOLARIO has obtained an “organic” certificate from ICEA for the Bio-ecocosmetics line.
L'ERBOLARIO has obtained an “organic” certificate from COSMO-ORGANIC for the Goji and Delicalma lines.
L'ERBOLARIO is GMP certified according to standard ISO22716 in accordance with the guidelines of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
L'ERBOLARIO IS A BENEFIT CORPORATION
Since L'ERBOLARIO's origins in 1978, they have chosen to promote cosmetics that focus on respect for people, animals and the environment. This principle comes before profit and, 45 years later, it continues to be the beacon that guides all L'ERBOLARIO'S activities, in every area, from the selection of the raw materials that characterise their cosmetics to the sales network and Customer Service. That is why in 2021 they decided to become a Benefit Corporation, an entity that allows them to highlight, also in articles of association, their model of a responsible, sustainable, inclusive and transparent company, based on four purposes of common benefit:
Making beauty a quality commodity accessible to everyone
Good for the planet
Developing products by promoting the preservation and regeneration of fauna and flora
Good for people
Promoting well-being and a serene, pleasant and stimulating
work environment with friendly and transparent relations
Good for the community
Generating value and positive impacts for the local community