Farm-to-Skin Beauty

Some would say the awareness of the natural beauty movement is growing, when in fact, it’s just a refined return to the way beauty products were crafted before the Industrial Revolution.  Farm-to-skin, a seemingly new movement, is a remembering of traditional beauty formulation.  For many of the formulators and founders of skincare brands who pay the utmost attention to ingredient sourcing, being able to grow your own ingredients is synonymous to ‘living the dream’.  Most natural beauty brands develop close ties to their ingredient growers, and many form a symbiotic relationship to ensure their crops are fair-trade sourced.  Some brands like Osmia Organics, have started growing some key ingredients, while others like UMA Oils and Bottega Organica grow all or virtually all of their own ingredients.

One can imagine the enormous undertaking of not only growing and harvesting but using customized extraction methods specific to the plant material. It takes an immense level of commitment, skill, experience and resources.  But that’s not all, relying on your self-harvested ingredients means that at times, things may not go as planned.  If soil, environmental or climate conditions are out of balance, you risk losing a harvest. Which means, you can’t just make another batch of the ingredient, or sourced from another supplier. If the company’s commitment is strong, they must patiently wait for the next season’s harvest.

But there are huge advantages to being a farm-to-skin company.  The first is that you don’t need to source your own natural ingredients, which is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive.  Natural beauty brands tend to guard their ingredient sources for fear of them being exploited or becoming unavailable.  By harvesting your own ingredients, you ensure, absent of natural factors, that the ingredient will be available.

Ingredient Intel - Farm to Skin Beauty

Another advantage is that you are certain the ingredient is unadulterated.  I have heard the essential oil trade can be as nefarious as the gemstone trade.  Making sure you are buying an ingredient that is what you think it is, isn’t as easy as it seems.  When I asked Mary Ahern, formulator for Bottega Organica, about this she replied, “As the movement of returning to the land grows increasingly mainstream, it is of the utmost importance that we come from a place of commitment and integrity. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to progress on many fronts from farming and wildcrafting to extraction methods through the appropriate use of science and history, including ethnobiology. These practices require not only knowledge but also a presence of mind and respect for nature, as many factors are in balance.” As you can see, Ahern takes the highest regards to responsibly, properly and sustainably use the plant kingdom which in turn produces pure and potent ingredients for her products.

The final, and possibly most important, the benefit to growing your own ingredients is the quality of the ingredient is at its freshest, most potent and active state.  The shorter the time from farm-to-skin and the closer to whole the plant active is, the more effective it is on the skin.

Ingredient Intel - Farm to Skin Beauty

If we look at prawn sage extract, a key anti-aging and cell-repairing ingredient in Bottega Organica’s formulas as an example, Ahern shares that,“…through careful observation, on a molecular level, Dr. Alimonti was able to select plants with powerful effects on the lifespan of human cells. This discovery was made while observing whole plants. We believe whole plant-based extractions are more effective as they encompass complex mixtures of thousands of distinct molecules. This degree of complexity cannot be reproduced with highly refined molecular extracts and synthetic ingredients produced in labs. Because of our use of traditional methods of extraction and dedication to organic farming we are able to produce our line scientifically yet naturally and organically.”

Ingredient Intel - Farm to Skin Beauty

With these farm-to-skin brands taking the risks they do to ensure their consumers benefit from the purity and integrity of the ingredients that go into their products, it’s no wonder their prices tend to reflect a higher cost. But for me, it’s a justified expense knowing I’m purchasing a sustainably grown product, that’s expertly harvested, extracted and crafted without compromise.  Thus, despite the risk, time and financial investment for a farm-to-skin product, I expect we will see an increasing number of skin care brands return to growing and harvesting their own ingredients. It is quickly becoming the only way brands will be able to guarantee availability and quality of their raw ingredients.

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