With help from ethnobotanists and chefs, these innovators are using pristine garden ingredients for their wildly popular skin-care lines.
Natural Ingredients from English Farms
At her organic farm in Wiltshire, England, Liz Earle has just finished planting a field of rosemary and eucalyptus, which she plans to use in Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare. The beauty line is a cult favorite on both sides of the Atlantic, sold in boutiques like Studio at Fred Segal in Santa Monica, California. “I want to look out the window and see the crops that will go into the creams I’m putting on my skin,” says Earle, whose products contain superhigh concentrations of more than 100 plant oils, herbal extracts and other botanicals.
Like a quality-obsessed chef, Earle searches for the best purveyors and growers of ingredients, like the geraniums for her new energizing body scrub and the manuka honey for her cleansing mask. “The bottom line is always great ingredients,” she says. “It’s a bit like cooking.” Earle tries to use local ingredients when possible, and she has cultivated relationships with regional farmers: The hops in her popular facial cleanser are harvested from farms in Kent that also sell to top British breweries. In addition, Earle works with sustainable partners overseas. Her in-house ethnobotanist, for instance, helped find a women’s co-op in Morocco to supply the vitamin E–rich argan oil for Earle’s signature Superskin Concentrate. And Earle brings her passion for sustainability home: Her family grows much of the food they eat, and they raise heritage-breed lambs and pigs to sell to local restaurants. lizearle.com.
Top Liz Earle Products
1. Body Scrub with geranium essential oil ($10 for 1.6 oz).
2. Superskin Concentrate with argan oil ($10 for .06 oz).
3. Cleanse & Polish with hops extract ($21.50 for 3.3 oz).
Affordable Vegan Skin-Care Line
Florence Sender, founder of the beauty company Be Fine Food Skin Care, insists that she works in the food business. After 15 years of running artisanal food shops and a packaged-snacks company, Sender was intrigued by the idea of using edible ingredients in beauty products; she launched the vegan Be Fine skin-care line in 2006. “A huge percentage of what you put on your skin is absorbed into the body, so why would you want to apply a chemical-based cream?” she asks.
While other beauty companies tout the use of edible ingredients, their products usually also include chemicals to boost effectiveness. In contrast, Be Fine’s active ingredients are entirely food-derived. Cocoa, a main ingredient in the company’s night cream, contains circulation-enhancing caffeine, Sender says, while the cardamom in the warming clay mask has anti-inflammatory properties to help even out the complexion. To emphasize the importance of food in the products, Sender asked Erica Wides, a chef at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, to develop recipes for befine.com based on a scrub or moisturizer’s active ingredients. For example, the sweet almond oil and brown sugar in the exfoliating cleanser inspired an almond-shortbread recipe.
High-quality ingredients often come with high price tags, but Sender has ensured that the line is accessible: Nothing costs more than $30, and the products are sold at drugstore chains like CVS and Rite Aid. “We’re more than a skin-care company,” she says. “We’re teaching people about the power of nutritious foods.” befine.com.
Be Fine’s Menu
On befine.com, products are presented as a three-course meal for the skin.
Gentle Cleanser with mint ($16 for 3.4 oz).
Night Cream with Cocoa ($20 for 1.7 oz).
Warming Clay Mask with pomegranate ($16 for 5 oz).
Biodynamic and Stylish Products
The Australian beauty company Jurlique has been quietly pioneering the use of biodynamic ingredients for the skin for the last 20-odd years. But with the arrival of Eli Halliwell, Jurlique’s new American chief executive, the brand is redesigning its products and shops to look more hip and less hippie. Biodynamics—a method of farming that combines organics with a bit of spirituality—“is really a very forward-thinking and environmentally friendly concept,” Halliwell says. “But for a long time, people associated it with health nuts or witch doctors.” Jurlique makes creams, lotions and shampoos using mostly ingredients grown on its biodynamic farms in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills, as well as ingredients from organic, fair-trade cooperatives like the Moroccan bitter-orange oil in the Moisture Replenishing Mask.
Halliwell is remodeling Jurlique’s stores to look like greenhouses, with shelves that will hold potted soils for customers to touch: “Studies suggest getting your hands dirty raises serotonin levels,” he explains. Halliwell has also updated the look of the products, packaging skin-care sets in playful cardboard egg cartons, and introduced new lines, like the anti-aging Biodynamic Beauty collection.
To better understand the importance of eco-friendly ingredients, Jurlique’s U.S. employees attend chef-led workshops at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York—a leader in the local and sustainable food movement—where they learn to prepare salad dressings as an analogy to making Jurlique’s citrus hand cream. “The point is that to create something of the highest quality, you need to start with the best ingredients,” Halliwell says. jurlique.com.
Top Jurlique products
1. Biodynamic Beauty night lotion ($55 for 1.3 oz).
2. Moisture Replenishing Mask ($45 for 1.6 oz).
3. Five-piece Rebalance Dryness introductory set ($52).