The Beauty 100 - 2017 - Insider's Guide to SPAS

The Rise of Beauty Farms

More small farms and gardens grow organic foods to slather on 

By Shelley Lotz

The farm-to-table foodie movement helped to reawaken our taste for fresh, ripe, locally sourced foods right from the garden, and now the farm-to-skin beauty movement is coming into its own with fresh, local, artisan-crafted, small-batch formulas for everything from basic cleansers to body oils. Once again moms, chemists, and farmers are serving skincare directly from the fields, gardens, and orchards. Many farm-to-skin products were born out of personal health needs of the creators or from the joys of creating products by experimenting in the kitchen with homegrown food, herbs, flowers, and fruits. 

Courtesy Twin Mill Farms / Driven Studios

While farmers’ markets have long offered popular items, such as lavender oils, tinctures, and goat soaps, these farm-to-skin brands are becoming much more sophisticated. Made in small batches, ingredients are typically fresh, pure, and raw. The purity and freshness of the ingredients means you are getting a concentrated, active product that is generally less watered down than the standard mass-produced products. While not always edible, these products are essentially food for the skin without synthetic perfumes or harmful chemicals. They feel good going on, and you can also feel good about supporting a family that puts its heart and soul into its handcrafted products.

The disadvantages to authentic farm-to-skin products are typically cost and shelf life. It is expensive to source and produce small quantities, but the products are meant to be savored—not left on the shelf. Use it or lose it. Another consideration is the absence of performance ingredients such as peptides, which are not typically added to home-crafted products. 
Most homemade products sold commercially adhere to health regulations, labeling standards, and a high level of sanitation, but small vendors may not have the same quality controls or the knowledge of the larger brands. The product consistency may also vary from one batch to another, as it is hard to blend the components in exactly the same way with smaller batches and less controlled supply lines. Farm-to-skin is about the customized experience, not just about buying a product. These artisans want you to feel the love that has gone into creating their products directly from their home to yours. 

Here’s a sampling of noteworthy companies: 

A Wholesome Glow is a modern body-care line straight from Twin Mill Farms in upstate New York, owned by the Gendebien family. It’s a dairy farm known for an award-winning Cabot cheese, and Blake and Carmen moved back home to help expand the business. Meanwhile, Carmen followed her other passion and became an esthetician and opened Glow Skincare and Spa in Canton, New York. From their combined farm and skincare expertise, the couple now makes skincare products handcrafted with ingredients like milk, alfalfa, blueberries, apples, and wildflowers.

Lily Farm Fresh Skin Care in Henderson, Colorado, was “born out of sustainable agriculture.” Lily is a seventh-generation American farmer who sows, nurtures, and harvests her ingredients by hand, and every batch of skincare is made fresh in the laboratory on the farm. Says Lily, “We are the only skincare company on the planet that has all three USDA certifications” (USDA certified organic farm, laboratory, and products). 

Smith Farm Products was created in 2008, when Julia Smith made her first batch of body lotion in the food processor. Growing up on the farm in Quebec, Canada, was a big influence in the founder’s life, and Smith Farms continues to use “pure, naturally derived organic plant oils, butters, and extracts and never use any synthetic fragrances, colors, or fillers. Ingredients are simple and identifiable.”

Zagorska Oasis products, made in southern Oregon by Michele Zagorska, were created to purify and detox the body. She was inspired to concoct them because of a genetic flaw she has “that inhibits my body’s ability to detox.” When formulating, Zagorska chooses the purest organic, wild-crafted, Ecocert certified, or natural ingredients available. In 2016, she opened Zagorska Oasis in Ashland, Oregon, a spa and apothecary focused on detoxification and salt therapy.

Pure Mana Credit Lesley Gourley
Photo: Lesley Gourley

6 More Artisan-Crafted Skincare Finds

Curious and want to learn more? Here are half a dozen more farm-to-skin lines that are worth exploring. Your skin will thank you for it.

1. Bambu Earth Founded in 2009, and handmade in Southern California, bestsellers in this line include Dry Shampoo (in Lighter and Darker options) and Everything Balm.

2. Colorado Aromatics Founded by a biochemist and herbalist, this line is especially good for outdoor enthusiasts and aims to “soothe even the driest of skin.” Parsley Eye Serum, Sole Pleasure Foot Butter, and Herbal Relief Lip Balm are just a few herbal options.

3. Earth Tonics Skincare Crafted in Ojai, California, by Daron Hope, holistic esthetician and owner of Earth Tonics Herbal Apothecary, aromatic elixirs include floral waters and a Cardamom Cream Cleanser.

4. Earth Tu Face Created by two herbalists and based out of Oakland, California, this handcrafted brand features face and body products, including Coconut Body Butter and Botanical Perfume Balms.

5. Farm to Girl This extensive brand is all about supporting communities of women and growers, and it partners with beekeepers and growers from Austin, Texas, to the Solomon Islands. Founded by an environmental scientist, the company donates 20 percent of its profits  to women’s health and education in developing communities.

6. Pure Mana Hawaii “From our soil to your soul” is the founders’ mantra at this small-batch brand. Macadamia nut oil, grown and pressed on their Mahina Mele Farm on the Big Island, is the star ingredient in this lovingly crafted line. The Travel Essentials kit is a good intro.

Shelley Lotz Vios Spa Group

Shelley Lotz has over 25 years of experience in the spa industry as an esthetician, educator, and entrepreneur. She is the author of Green Spas and Salons: How to Make Your Business Truly Sustainable, and a major contributing author of Milady’s Standard Esthetics Fundamentals, a textbook for estheticians.