Ingredient sourcing is everything. As we learn more about the toll fast beauty, fast fashion and fast food has on our environment, the full life cycle of the ingredients that make up our Hero products must come into more focus. Most Beauty Heroes brands begin with an ingredient story, and that story includes the growers, the location, the season and the conditions. You can tell instantly when a brand is close to their ingredients, they take pride in the painstaking care placed in acquiring the perfect botanical or safe synthetic. Botanical ingredients, however are more interesting, often coming from a local farm or far away co-op that specializes in that specific ingredient. The price paid for that ingredient may support a family, a tribe or a region. Many brands know their ingredient growers personally and work hard at finding, maintaining and strengthening the connection to their ingredient source. Some even invest in their businesses as a part of their relationship.
As we look deeper into ingredient sourcing, we hear of brands sourcing ingredients from regenerative farms. It sounds good, but what does it mean? While there is no official definition of regenerative agriculture, it describes a movement to grow ingredients in a manner that can make a net positive or social impact. That can mean that the farming practices can restore land or topsoil, revive or boost biodiversity, improve water systems or make a positive social impact. While the terms Regenerative Farming/Agriculture/Ingredient Sourcing may be broad, it is a big part of the sourcing journey for many of our brands.
Here’s what it means to a few of our brand founders:
“The ability to build a business with limited industrial impact was something that was very important to ACTIVIST. In essence we are simply letting Mother Nature, the seasonal cycles, symbiotic relationships, and microclimates, cultivate the basis of our products. It is our role to present these to the world in their highest and unadulterated form with as little human interference and corporate shortcomings as possible. Our hives are located in unique, pristine and isolated regions of New Zealand, which is typically a great start for the bee’s health as these locations are free of GMOs and urban toxins. We keep our hives at lower numbers in these dense locations as it’s thoughtful not to overpopulate locations with many hives. This encourages the bees to flourish and pollinate for ethical harvesting and productivity, but most importantly bee health. After all, bees are our local heroes, and they are truly environmental indicators for what is living and flourishing in the world. Mānuka itself is a highly sustainable tree and plays a key role in the grand scheme of New Zealand’s native foliage and important plant layers. The Mānuka tree helps to rejuvenate the soil with minerals while working as a natural purifier for waterways and preventing soil erosion. Bees flourish while happily pollinating Mānuka flowers and the tree self-seeds producing rapid new undergrowth year after year.”
Founder, Alpyn Beauty
At Alpyn Beauty, we define regenerative ingredient sourcing as wildcrafting.
That means our products are packed with plant-based ingredients sourced straight from the earth. We sustainably harvest them through a process called wildcrafting (aka “foraging”), where only the fruit, flowers or pieces of the branches are removed.
This method leaves the plant healthy and intact, allowing it to thrive in the wild for years to come.
Founder, Honua Skincare
Regenerative ingredient sourcing for Honua means partnering with farms and ingredient sources that help to restore and improve our land, soil and eco-system while keeping the plant regenerating for centuries to come. Our Sandalwood partner Hāloa ‘Āina is a perfect example. They have restored hundreds of acres of native Hawaiian dryland forest while helping to reverse damage that had been done to our land and eco-system. Their regenerative practices have brought back the natural water source and healthy soil, along with native plants and birds that now thrive there. They are just one of the many partners of ours that farm this way.
Founder, Earthwise Beauty
The practices used in regenerative agriculture are about bringing back the original local state of the ecosystem, especially the soil composition, soil ecosystem, and soil quality. When we source herbs for skincare or teas at Earthwise, we look for small farms that are committed to respectful use of the land and the soil. When we grow herbs ourselves, we work with what nature provided in terms of terrain, rainfall, and sunshine. We focus on using compost as a main fertilizer, and we use raised beds or pots to limit soil erosion and to conserve soil moisture. We grow only herbs that can thrive in our gardening zone. Our practices are manual and ages old, and they work well for the herbs we focus on, and this type of gardening gives us many rewarding moments whether watering with a hose or picking chamomile flowers by hand. Most of our employees come to us with minimal or no experience gardening or foraging, and one thing I always hope for is that get a taste of this work and will take it with them, maybe begin to grow things themselves.