Science at the heart of the Linden tree

A unique tree of abundance, the linden tree has been dispensing its multiple virtues for thousands of years. A medicinal plant registered in the pharmacopoeia, it knows how to soothe and regenerate while smelling divinely good and being edible.

This is probably why this tree has been universal and venerated for thousands of years, sacred since Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt, in the center of Gallic villages, planted near hospitals in the Middle Ages and in all the communes during the Revolution, used by the kings’ doctors… So many empirical uses…

But at the heart of TiL, there is Science: plant biotechnology and neuroscience that prove what Pliny the Elder, a naturalist of the 1st century, wrote about the Linden tree, calling it “The Medicine Tree”.

A well-deserved name, but so much more than he thought… He was evoking the incredible benefits of the linden tree on the body and mind, and today TiL, with the Science of the 21st century, is revealing and objectifying its countless virtues on the skin too.

The process of creating Tiliactiv4®, an exclusive innovation:

The story began with the harvesting of the linden trees of the family estate in Dordogne, led by the leader of French biotechnology, Greentech.

The objective? To map the trees in order to identify their possible activity on the skin.

The two species of linden trees (tomentosa & cordata) present in the park were analyzed, and each time all the parts of the tree, i.e. the buds, branches, flowers and leaves, at two harvesting times, March and June.  Months of chemical and bio-chemical analyses followed.

One day, a call triggered this formidable scientific adventure that is TiL, beyond a story of trees and nature. The call came from the President of Greentech, Jean-Yves Berthon, who informed us that our linden trees were full of moisturizing, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant molecules, thus constituting a very complete anti-aging agent! Next steps: further analysis, choice of the silver linden (tilia tomentosa) which is much more active than the tilia cordata, harvesting in large quantities, and months of Research and Development to develop our own exclusive active ingredient, combining the 4 parts of the tree.

A very innovative and original approach in many ways, from the harvesting in the estate’s park to the potting of the formulas, according to the scientists who developed TiL.

Total control of an active ingredient:

As Lionel de Benetti, former Director of Research and Development for the Clarins Group for 35 years, who accompanied TiL from the beginning to the end of the scientific process, says, “Most of the time, we buy active ingredients from specialized suppliers, but we never master the entire gestation process from the harvesting of the plant to the manufacturing process. They are made from dried plants that sometimes come from the ends of the earth, and/or that have undergone more or less “soft” treatments, and we are never sure of what we are getting. However, the moment of the harvest plays a lot on the quality of the extract obtained. What is interesting is that the tree comes from the family estate, and from the picking under the guidance of a former ONF (French Forestry Commission), to the treatments done to extract the essence of the tree, TiL masters the whole process: the picking is done at the best period, while a few days away, we can have a different result with a picking: a linden blossom for example lasts 4 days, a bud must be picked at the precise moment when it is swollen but not burst, there it is a question of hours almost! “.

TiL’s difference is that it has studied linden thoroughly to make it the major carrier of the products’ activity, by scientifically demonstrating the broad spectrum of activities of the different fractions of linden, and by creating an active complex that is almost the entire linden in the product. 

Particularly active linden trees

Starting with a population of linden trees in a family property, very old, very well developed and well established on the land, they flourish in a totally natural environment, with a strength that has allowed them to resist and face all seasons, winters and droughts. We find all this strength of the tree in the bio-chemical profile of the different parts of the linden tree, and therefore in the active extracts developed.

The use of our own biological material, developed naturally in a preserved estate, without cultivation and without physiological forcing, is a very rare approach in cosmetics. What is important when working on a plant extract, says Lionel de Benetti, is to know where it comes from, how it grows and in what environment, because the composition of the plant depends on what it draws from the earth and absorbs from the atmosphere, so if we master this double environment, the quality of the extract that we will get from it is even more excellent.

The whole universe of the linden tree recreated for the first time

We work with different organs of the linden tree, flowers, leaves, buds, branches, each with a different bio-chemical composition, with large common families, proteins, polysaccharides, lipids….

For example, in the bud, there are many more polysaccharides and compounds that protect the bud during the winter, the flowers are very concentrated in sugars (moisturizing) and polyphenols (antioxidant) etc.

Linden, like most plants, is a combination of multiple molecules, several hundred in fact.

In the linden tree, there are of course specific molecules, including a specific flavonoid, tiliroside. It is in the linden tree that this molecule was found for the first time and that it is the most concentrated. Tiliroside is a very active anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant.

There are many other interesting molecules: catechin, quercetin, polysaccharides… They are not all present in each part of the tree and it is precisely by assembling the four different parts that we obtain the final extract, with the best possible concentration of each active molecule, from where an optimum effectiveness, scientifically demonstrated.

At TiL, we have recreated the world of the linden tree by extracting and purifying anti-inflammatory, protective and anti-oxidant molecules that act in synergy to protect the skin, making it more elastic, toned and smooth with fewer wrinkles and a more radiant complexion.

Fresh materials and cryo-extraction…nature and high tech

In general, brands buy dry plant extracts from suppliers of active cosmetic ingredients because they are obviously easier to manage. In this case, it’s not only a TiL-exclusive active ingredient, but one created from fresh materials. What’s the benefit? Preserving the tree’s native compounds, their integrity and therefore their activity. Indeed, during extraction, there is an oxidation phenomenon that degrades the molecules and the fact of losing water while drying deactivates certain active ingredients such as certain enzymes. By dehydrating the plant matter, we lose a good part of the interesting components.

Working with fresh material is obviously much more complicated in terms of logistics.

By freezing the harvest of the different organs, as soon as they are picked in the field, at -25/28°, we stop the degradation of molecules by the enzymes.

Then the extraction is carried out by great cold with liquid nitrogen, at -196°. The juice of each organ is extracted with all its native molecules, without any degradation or denaturation; the active ingredient thus keeps all its biological activity and we find the entirety of the plant’s activity, with a preserved structural and molecular integrity.

Our active complex is called Tiliactiv4® because 4 parts of the tree are used, each with its specificities. A complicated operation, because it was first necessary to find the right solvent to extract what is interesting in each of them: depending on whether the plant is put in water, oil or alcohol, the same molecules are not extracted. It took a long time to choose the best solvent and to obtain from each part of the plant the maximum concentration of interesting molecules. Then these 4 fractions were associated, with a particular dosage, and Tiliactiv4® is thus the quintessence of all the virtues of the linden tree.

A strong activity measured by scientific tests

Tiliactiv4® is a complete anti-aging active complex, thanks to its different actions.

  1. Antioxidant activity: oxidation is a major factor in skin aging, cells oxidize, the skin loses its tone and elasticity, which leads to wrinkles. An active anti-oxidant protects against the deleterious action of free radicals. There are two types of aging: intrinsic, because we spontaneously generate free radicals permanently through skin respiration, and environmental (light, pollution, etc.). We do not cancel the action of free radicals because they have their use, but we balance it.
  2. Anti-metallo protease activity: these are enzymes that degrade the fundamental fibers of the skin, collagen and elastin. They are useful because they are the garbage collectors of the skin, since they eliminate the fibers at the end of life, but when they are too active, they also nibble the good fibers, and thus make ageing… Tiliactiv4® limits the role of these enzymes to its right balance.
  3. Anti-inflammatory activity: inflammation is a pro-inflammatory phenomenon (due to stress, fatigue, diet …) that exists permanently in the skin and creates an internal inflammation, an important factor of aging.

After extraction, purification and concentration of the linden fractions, their effectiveness was objectified by bio-chemical tests in tubo, with enzymes which are markers of the reaction. Anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory tests were carried out, where we were able to measure the inhibiting activity of inflammation and oxidation with or without Tiliactiv4®.

– Inflammation: 64% inhibition of the inflammation marker

– Oxidation: 68.7% free radical scavenging capacity

Customized formulas

The cosmetic formulas integrating Tiliactiv4® were created by a powerful duo, Lionel de Benetti and Daniel Joutard of Laboratoire Savoir des Peuples, specialized in natural formulas. Here again, this represented a real scientific challenge, as Daniel Joutard explains:

– “With the creation of this chain and a particular ingredient, we are working on a raw ingredient, very rich in antioxidants. When we use ingredients from suppliers, everything is already marked out. It’s already difficult to make extremely natural products while preserving a high level of sensoriality, but with a raw material, there are issues of stabilization, volatility, variation and evolution over time that must be managed. The development of TiL was therefore demanding in order to master all these contradictions and Lionel de Benetti’s know-how in terms of galenics and sensoriality was a tremendous contribution. TiL’s formulas are both green and clean, which means that they are committed to preserving the skin and the environment, with a strong focus on plants, which is the essence of the formulation approach.”

  • At TiL, we were looking for the “5-legged sheep”.

    Very natural, very effective, very sensory! It was out of the question to use existing formulas “to customize” as it is often done, we wanted to start from a blank page!

    So we did a very thorough research with Lionel de Benetti to select other natural active ingredients that would enhance Tiliactiv4®: French active ingredients (plant active ingredients from plants grown exclusively in France): alfalfa, rose centifolia, nasturtium, ivy, horsetail… chosen for their synergy with the molecules of Tiliactiv4®, and all scientifically objectivated


    The galenic formulation was worked on for many months, with an impressive number of tests, and when it was completed, these formulas had to be combined with the delicate fragrance created by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. This was a real work of olfactory haute couture, as the TiL note was adapted to each cosmetic product and to the galenic formulas chosen. Of course, the same fragrance does not come out the same way in a night balm or a shower gel, that would be too simple!

It then took several months of tests to verify that the formulas behaved well over time… and clinical tests on women to validate their effectiveness, tolerance, degree of pleasure etc. For example, for the Baume Qui Ressource, our regenerating night balm, the clinical study revealed smoother skin for 95% of women, more moisturized and comfortable for 90%, and more rested for 80%.

The entire creation of TiL was guided by our linden trees and developed around them.

Four years of Research and Development were necessary to carry out the entire process, with exceptionally demanding specifications that are quite unique in cosmetics, since we started with trees from a family estate, to create from scratch an active ingredient composed for the first time in the world of 4 parts of linden, with exclusively custom-made formulas that we wanted to be natural, effective and sensory, an exceptional perfume by one of the greatest French perfumer, and a rigorous scientific objectification.

Only today’s science and the expertise of all the experts who have accompanied us, could allow us to concentrate, reveal and prove the incredible virtues of the tree on the skin, some of which were already assumed by grandmother’s recipes for centuries… The Medicine Tree has never worn its name so well!

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