Weleda Logo Superimposed on a Lavendar Field
Brand Reviews

Weleda | A 100 Year Old Brand’s Still Got It & Best Products

100 year old Weleda’s got some funky, way before their time founders, and really historic products all at an accessible price. A bit of the company’s history, what I think about their formulations, and their Best Products.

Weleda Table of Contents

Weleda Quick Facts | The company’s commitment to ingredients, the environment, ethics and its EWG and Good Guide Standing

Weleda’s Got History | 100 year old brand has founders far ahead of their time

Mainstay Products and Sheer Grit Keeps Weleda Going | Weleda Survives even when Natural isn’t popular

Weleda’s Understandable Formulations | Very transparent formulations and easy to understand ingredient choices

Best of Weleda | Products and Reviews

Weleda Quick Facts

Ingredients | Vegetarian, Natrue Certified, GMO free, Free Of List, Paraben Free, Preservative-Free, Sodium-Laurel-Sulfate-Free (SLS), Synthetic Fragrance-Free, Phthalate-Free, GMO-Free.

Eco-Friendly | Focus on continually reducing packaging and investigation into more environmentally friendly packaging with targets set in their annual report

Ethical | Fair Trade Sourcing, Cruelty Free

Good Guide | 4.3 over 70 products

EWG | 1-7 over 53 products

Weleda’s Got History

Bee pollinating an Arnica field. Biodynamic gardening does not rely on chemical fertilizers but instead treats each farm as a system that can effectively care for itself.
Weleda’s founders started biodynamic gardening which is the first organic farming movement. It treats each farm as a unified system of interrelated tasks that can effectively care for itself. As such, it excludes chemical preparations and uses natural fertilizers.

Weleda interest in biodynamic gardening, naturopathic medicines, and natural beauty products since 1921 put the company massively ahead of its time.

In many ways, this is due to its founders.

Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman were pioneers.

He was a philosopher who believed in viewing man as a whole and deeply connected to nature. A natural outcrop of this was a deep respect for natural farming techniques and holistic remedies.

A picture of Robert Steiner.
Rudolf Steiner was a philosopher who viewed man as a total system of mind, body and spirit. Inextricably bound to nature, nature was also the obvious source of healing. Via Biodynamics NZ.

In the field of medicine, Ita was one of the first women doctors and developed an extract from Mistletoe following Steiner’s advice.

Today, the company continues to be involved both in medicine and in cosmetics while maintaining the founders’ philosophies with regard to natural healing.

They have biodynamic gardens in Germany and a network of people throughout the world dedicated to organic farming. Their cosmetics have become increasingly prominent and are now two thirds of the company’s revenue.

Mainstay Products and Sheer Grit Keeps Weleda Going

Weleda's survived a Nazi decree to close them down, WWII, economic crises and decades of consumers not understanding the Weleda philosophy. A WWII picture of the Russian flag over the Reichstag.
Weleda’s survived a Nazi decree to close them down, WWII, economic crises and decades of consumers not understanding the Weleda philosophy.

In the early days the user…had to remember how much they loved natural: the colour of the creams was a bit muddy, they felt a little greasy, they would go very runny in summer and set firm in winter – but they were good for the skin and the environment! Now we have become so adept at formulating totally natural creams they are as attractive and easy to use as any conventional cream.

Loraine Murry, Weleda Natural Beauty Consultant

Weleda’s survived almost 100 years through sheer grit and determination.

WWII, economic crises, and a lack of understanding of the company’s natural offering all made Weleda a fairly small enterprise until the 90’s.

Then, things changed.

Consumers started to demand natural products and Weleda poured more effort into marketing.

The public exposure drove awareness and interest. Celebrities like Adele, Victoria Beckham and Julia Roberts started carrying Weleda’s signature Skin Food in their purses and magazines and publications gave them hundreds of awards.

The long and short of it was that the public rediscovered Weleda’s historic products. Skin Food is from 1926. Massage Balm with Arnica and the Rosemary Hair Lotion are also from the 1920’s. People started to appreciate their history and understand their offerings and sales grew.

Weleda’s Understandable Formulations

Weleda uses logical ingredient choices such as sunflower oil that has proven hydration and skin barrier repair functions.
Weleda uses logical ingredient choices such as sunflower oil that has proven hydration and skin barrier repair functions.

Looking through Weleda’s formulations, I’ve generally agreed with their ingredients and their choices.

Skin similar ingredient lanolin is used in their Skin Food and Diaper Care Cream. Humectant glycerin and occlusive beeswax attract and maintain moisture for dry skin creams.

They use a mix of proven science and new ingredients, but even when they choose a unique item, I can follow along with their thinking.

Weleda has logical choices or uses traditional herbs and I like that they keep their claims not to far beyond the realm of possibility.

Science hasn’t quite caught up with all the skin care ingredients out there. A lot are used based on marketing or belief, and very few are well researched or proven. And their interactions between each other are not entirely known.

So, when I look at Weleda’s ingredient list on a per product basis, I take that all into account. I see which ones are good with scientific evidence, have a strong history of use, and those which the company includes to stabilize the formula.

In addition to generally agreeing on their ingredient choices, I like that they have essential oil fragranced or unscented options.

Personally, I am not a fan of essential oil fragrances although I don’t go and ban them outright. Some have been shown to provide anti-microbial, anti-bacterial or other beneficial effects, but I’m sensitive to all scent and prefer them out of my beauty products altogether.

And their packaging is nice, not just professional looking but also thoughtful enough to preserve their ingredients.

All in all, I’d say this is a nice, responsible brand with solid products that work well.

Best of Weleda | Products and Reviews

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A group of Nourish Organic's best selling products
Brand Reviews

Nourish Organics | Why This Company was Ahead of the Curve and Fave Products

Nourish Organic Table of Contents

Nourish Organic Quick Facts | The brand’s stance on ingredients, eco-friendliness and ethical commitments

Mom and Pop Start It Up | Nourish Organic’s humble beginnings

Rob Robilliard Steps In and Marsha Brady Gets Involved | A beauty veteran shakes things up

Formulation and Final Thoughts | Mainstay carrier oils, additives, and wrapping it up

Best of Nourish Organic | Products and Reviews

Nourish Organic Quick Facts

Ingredients | Gluten Free, Vegan, Certified Organic by the USDA, No parabens, No phthalates, No sulfates, petrochemicals, synthetic dyes or silicones, No propylene glycol, mineral oils, synthetic dyes, triclosan, EDTA or aluminum. No artificial fragrances or preservatives.

Eco-friendly | Recyclable and packaging is at least 25% post-consumer recycled

Ethical | Cruelty Free, Supports the Women’s Center, Association for the Blind, City Rescue Mission, Meals on Wheels, and others.

EWG | 1-4 on 14 products

The Good Guide | 5.5 on 40 products

Mom and Pop Start it Up

Nourish Organic is located in Beaver Falls, PA as the original owners wanted to be near family. A picture of Beaver Falls.
Nourish Organic is located in Beaver Falls, PA as the original owners wanted to be near family.

This is the story of a mom and pop business that was way ahead of its time, a marketing exec who saw potential and a Brady’s Bunch’s Marsha Marsha Marsha.

Founders Lynn and Tom Betz founded Nourish Organics as Sensibility Soaps in 1996.

Originally the company manufactured products for others in a small facility that they expanded with a $175,000 from the Beaver County Corporation for Economic Development.

“It was [a] nontraditional loan for us, but it worked out. The Betzes were organic before organic was cool. They were well ahead of the curve.”
Bob Rice, vice president of the Beaver County Agency

Red Barn on a field, symbolizing Nourish Organic's commitment to USDA certified organic standards.
Nourish Organics was the first beauty company to receive USDA Certified status and complies to strict organic standards.

They lived in the facility while they ran they business, and oversaw all aspects of its production. They were already including organic ingredients when ever they could, and in 2003, they made the then unprecedented step of certifying the production processes with the USDA.

The USDA requires companies to comply with the below requirements before they are allowed to label their products organic.
100% Organic all ingredients are organic.

Organic means that 95% of ingredients must be organic.

Made with Organic ingredients means that 70% of ingredients must be organic.

They were the first beauty company to do so which paved the way for the launch of their own brand Nourish Organics in 2005.

By 2011, they had over 400 certified organic formulas. The business had grown and caught Rob Robilliard’s eye.

Rob Robilliard Steps In and Marsha Brady Gets Involved

Rob Robilliard is a beauty and consumer products veteran that describes himself as having "Beauty in his blood." A stint at L'Oreal is in his resume. Makeup brushes.
Rob Robilliard is a beauty and consumer products veteran that describes himself as having “Beauty in his blood.” A stint at L’Oreal is in his resume.

Rob Robilliard describes himself as having “beauty in his blood”.

His resume includes a long history of working with consumer brands. He was CEO of Living Proof for 4 years, and had stints at Ben and Jerry’s and L’Oreal.

In 2011, he and a group of investers became interested n Nourish Organics. He tried a few formulations and realized that this was the next thing he wanted to do.

Together with a group of investors, he bought the business and started a revamp.

Rob wanted products that looked professional and polished or, in his words, "Not crunchy." A picture of a cosmetics and fragrance counter.
Rob wanted products that looked professional and polished or, in his words, “Not crunchy.”

He instituted a brand redesign with pretty, brighter colors and a new logo and name. He wanted it to be more feminine because most natural products “don’t look pretty, they look crunchy.”

(Funny how most new brands call their precursors crunchy…it seems to be a common description of the older all-natural space. I first heard it from Naturopathica founder Barbara Close.)

Along with the new investors came celebrity couple Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor, better known as Marsha Brady.

The company hadn’t been looking for celebrity endorsers but an investor knew someone from the couple’s staff. She tried the samples and loved them and decided to become an investor alongside her husband.

Formulation and Final Thoughts

Nourish Organics uses a lot of very popular mainstay oils.

You’ll often find coconut, jojoba, shea butter sunflower and sesame. The benefits of these oils to skin has mostly been backed up by science. [ 1 ]

Plant Oils Skin Barrier Repair Anti Bacterial Anti Inflammatory Antioxidant Wound Healing Skin Aging Skin Cancer
Sunflower Y ? Y ? Maybe ? Yes
Coconut Y Y Y Y Y Y ?
Safflower ? ? Y ? ? ? ?
Jojoba Y Maybe Y Y Y Y ?
Shea Maybe ? Y Y ? ? ?
Sesame Maybe ? Y Y ? Y Y

Of course, when you deal with natural oils variations occur as things as disparate as time of harvest and maturity will have an effect on the actual product. Even the mode of preparation – i.e. steam distilled vs cold pressed – has an effect.

Along with the oils are some things like guar gum, xantham gum, tocopherol, botanical extracts, and SD Alcohol 38B. There is also natural fragrance.

Here’s where label scrutiny only takes you so far.

There is a myriad of ways things can be processed. Extracts can be placed in any carrier with some preservatives. Natural fragrance should really be broken down into its myriad components.

The company has banned chemicals of concern and is USDA certified. Chemical in a bottle.
The company has banned chemicals of concern and is USDA certified.

Still, these are relatively minor complaints and the certified USDA seal provides some protection, despite not being perfect.

In addition, the company bans chemicals of concern such as parabens, sulfates, pthaltes and synthetic dyes and fragrances among others. This is borne out by the ingredient list for the products that I checked.

As I’ve gone through more and more brands, I see who is really doing what’s possible within the limitations imposed by natural ingredients.

This is not a bad brand at all.

Best of Nourish Organic | Products and Reviews

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Footnote:

[ 1 ] Tzu-Kai Lin, Zhong L. , Santiago J. 2017, ‘Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils’, International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Pubmed. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29280987 [Accessed on: Jan 16, 2018]

 

100% Pures Foundation Product Group
Brand Reviews

100% Pure | Brand Info and Ingredient Writeup

100% Pure Brand Review

Interested in 100% Pure? Ever wondered about their ingredients and how they make things work? Well, here are the cliff notes and a little bit about the company’s background.

100% Pure Table of Contents

100% Pure Quick Facts | Summary of commitments to being natural, safe, ethical and eco-friendly

Company Background | How the company started

100% Pure’s Ingredients | Overview of 100% Pure’s formulation tendencies

100% Pure’s Favorite Ingredients are Extracts and Hydrosols | What extracts and hydrosols are and if they are beneficial

100% Pure Avoids Common Irritants and Works with All-Naturals | The brand’s commitment to be as natural as possible

Questions about their Formulation and Final Thoughts | More details needed as to the components in their extracts and some formulas but kudos to them for avoiding ingredients in their “No” list.

Best of 100% Pure | Products and Reviews

100% Pure Quick Facts

Ingredients | 54 banned items on their “No List” including SLS, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Parabens, Pthalates, Synthetic colors or fragrances, chemical sunscreens, PEGs, Petroleum & its derivatives among others.

Eco-friendly | 100% solar powered headquarters, recycled/recyclable packaging, soy ink, biodegradable packing material without BPA or pthalates

Ethical | Supports several organizations, many for animals such as the Humane Society, PETA, Leaping Bunny, etc. Cruelty Free

EWG | 1-6

The Good Guide | 7 for 253 products

Company Background

100% Pure Cofounder Susie Wang putting on some of 100% Pure's makeup.
100% Pure Cofounder Susie Wang started 100% Pure after an eye cream ingredient warped her lab table.

When a lab table eroded because an eye cream ingredient spilled, cosmetics formulator Susie Wang decided that there had to be a way to incorporate gentler ingredients to use on your skin.

She quit her job as a cosmetics formulator consultant for 3 large cosmetics brands and founded 100% Pure with her brother James Wang and then-boyfriend Ric Kostick.

She had a lot of knowledge to draw on.

As an undergraduate in Berkeley she had discovered a way to stabilize natural ingredients from oxidation and filed a patent for it.

Susie found a way to prevent oxidation and filed a patent for it as a undergraduate in Berkeley. Laboratory measuring equipment.
Susie found a way to prevent oxidation and filed a patent for it as a undergraduate in Berkeley.

Big cosmetics brands soon came knocking, and she spent the next 5 years working on formulations for them.

All of this came in handy when 100% Pure was founded in 2005.

She became their chief formulator and was also involved in quality control. She does their due diligence for their main suppliers and goes to inspects their manufacturing process. The company also requires updated organic and non-GMO certification every year.

100% Pure also tests individual ingredients and has occasionally asked for soil samples from their farmers.

To make sure that the products formulated are safe and effective, the company also goes through 9 steps.

100 Pure has a 9 step testing process to ensure that a product is up to standard. It even tests packaging. Here, a picture of 6 different packaging types in black are shown.
100 Pure has a 9 step testing process to ensure that a product is up to standard. It even tests packaging.

First, they test the ingredients to ensure no pesticides or chemicals were used on the raw material. They then check if the ingredients work well together and whether it performs as expected.

Two sensitivity tests, then two packaging tests and finally two stability tests are done.

While this is a lot of work, it does reassure that the company does its best to ensure high quality.

The company grew gradually but it was when they were featured in QVC and won the 2015 Beauty Pitch Competition that things started to take off.

These days, they have 200 employees and 12 retail locations and continue to grow.

100 Pure has expanded and now has 12 stores and 200 employees.
100 Pure has expanded and now has 12 stores and 200 employees.

100% Pure’s Ingredients

Whenever I review a product, I look at each ingredient through the EWG database to see what their functions and safety rating is.

It gives me a pretty good insight into what a company believes and what they really put into their cosmetics. It also helps me understand a lot about formulations – what works and what doesn’t

For 100% Pure, I looked at 8 products and listed down all their ingredients.

And this is what the ingredients list tells me about them:

  • They rely a lot of botanical extracts.
  • They like their hydrosols.
  • They abstain from a lot of common irritants that they promised to and published on their “No” List.
  • This is a natural brand. Only a few organic ingredients are present.
  • There are a couple of small mysteries that leave me stumped.
  • I think that they do try to deliver the best that a natural brand can.

100% Favorite Ingredients are Extracts and Hydrosols

100 Pure uses hydrosols in a lot of their products. Here is a picture of the hydrosol process, which is a by product of essential oil distillation.
100 Pure uses hydrosols in a lot of their products, which is a by product of essential oil distillation.

There are a lot of extracts and hydrosols in 100% Pure.

100% Pure defines a hydrosol as a byproduct of essential oil creation. Through distillation, an herb is transferred to oil or water.

The water is the hydrosol and it’s kind of like the tea that you and I drink at home.

Meanwhile, an extract is:

An extract is a substance made by extracting a part of a raw material, often by using a solvent such as ethanol or water.

Wikipedia

Essentially, it’s any part of the plant that is dissolved in any carrier. The most popular are water and alcohol, but it really could be anything. In addition, I understand that many extracts have added preservatives.

Botanical extracts are often used. A picture of dried Rose leaves.
Botanical extracts are often used.

When you look at 100% Pure’s ingredients, extracts and hydrosols are often mentioned.

But are they effective?

If concentrated essential oils in lotions have a hard time affecting your skin, the more diluted hydrosols and extracts would have an even harder time.

There aren’t many scientific studies on hydrosols. There are some for extracts, but they don’t specify the formulation.

So, there are marketing reasons behind some of these things. In addition, there seem to be other ingredients in the extracts beyond just the pure plant. I’d love to know the details.

100% Pure Avoids Common Irritants and Works with All-Natural Ingredients

100% Pure has a "No List" where they ban certain ingredients. A picture of a notebook with writing and a pen.
100% Pure has a “No List” where they ban certain ingredients.

If Beauty Counter has their Never list, 100% Pure has their No List.

The No List lists 54 ingredients or ingredient families that have very notorious public profiles as being bad.

Are they really bad?

It’s complicated.

No-one can argue that modern life has pollutants and chemicals. In addition, certain diseases have much earlier onset. Still, proof is inconclusive.

As a consumer and mother, I’m happier avoiding them. However, I also want performance and great skin feel and fragrance. And I’d prefer not to have them spoil on my countertop.

Modern life with its pollution and chemicals has contributed to earlier onset of diseases. Smoke stacks.
Modern life with its pollution and chemicals has contributed to earlier onset of diseases.

So there are tradeoffs.

The No List is a pretty good starting place for banning items that may be linked to cancer and that may be incite contact dermatitis. However, it might be pushing us to alternatives that may be worse than the original (You remember the BPA scare? Well, the alternative turns out to be worse.)

You have to hand it to these guys.

By existing, they allow us to have options. They put pressure on traditional companies to look for alternatives.

If you are particularly sensitive to some common cosmetic ingredients this is helpful.

Remember though that natural doesn’t necessarily mean irritant free. Naturals can be irritating to be skin as well.

Questions about their Formulation and Final Thoughts

100 PURE Seafoam Lavender Cleanser foam on a beach.
I’d love to know a little bit more about how some of these product work.

I’d love to know what the preservatives in the Lavender Seafoam Facial Cleanser are. Currently none are listed and there should be some even if it was a hot process soap.

I also have the same question around the mascara. I suspect the preservatives are in the extracts, but I would like to know.

I would like some more visibility into this, but I do think that 100% Pure does try to present a more natural option than most.

There’s no doubt that it avoids many chemicals of concern among consumers. Additionally, their testing and scientific background is reassuring.

I’d buy and try – there is definitely something of value to get from the brand with the Lip Glazes and Coconut Body Scrub getting my vote.

They aren’t the most popular – the Fruit Pigmented Ultra Lengthening Mascara and the Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream are – but then I always never paid attention to what was the most popular.

Best of 100% Pure | Products and Reviews

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Wall lined with Naturopathica Products
Brand Reviews

Best Naturopathica Products | How Naturpathica’s Wellness Perspective Began and My Favorite Products

Naturopathica Table of Contents

Naturopathica Quick Facts | Naturopathica’s commitment regarding ingredients, the environment, ethics, and EWG and Good Guide Standing

I’ve just come from the Spa | How Naturopathica was Part of the Wellness Movement

Naturopathica Starts Simply | How Barbara Close Started Naturopathica

There’s Value in the Traditional, Too | How Traditional Remedies and Modern Medicine Compliment Each Other

Nature Plus Science | Science Still has a Place in Naturopathica’s Modern Formulations

Best Naturopathica Products | Products and Reviews

Naturopathica Quick Facts

Ingredients | Ecocert certified with 50% minimum natural ingredients; Free from Petroleum-derived products; Free from Synthetic polymers sunscreens, fragrances, colors; Free from Aluminum Zirconium and Silicone; Quaternary Ammonium Compounds and Hydroquinone; Free from Parabens, Phenoxyethanol, DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, BHA, BHT; Free from SLS, SLES, ALES, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Octoxynols; Free from 1,4-dioxane, Ethoxylated compounds, Nitrosamines, Animal Ingredients

Eco-Friendly | Glass bottles, 70% post-consumer recycled plastic, 100% post-consumer recycled boxes

Ethical | Leaping Bunny Certified Cruelty Free, American Botanical Council, the Green Spa and other non-profits in their area

The Good Guide | Not rated

EWG | 1-5

 

I’ve just come from the spa

Spa towels with lighted candles.
Barbara founded her East Hampton spa with the belief that holistic medicine or wellness should be part of our daily lives.

 

Naturopathica’s founder Barbara Close was well ahead of the current mainstream trend of holistic living when she founded her East Hampton spa in 1995.

Wellness and natural then was ‘sort of nut-and-granola back then’, she says, of the slightly hippie connotations that went with healthy living.

Still, the former social worker turned aromatherapist aesthetician persevered.

She founded Naturopathica’s East Hampton spa and lined the shelves with herbal tinctures and balms.

Not everybody got it.

People would try the herbal tinctures and say, “Ooh, these taste bitter,” and that would be the end of that.

Empty apothecary bottles used for holding tinctures and infusions.
Barbara Close lined the walls of her East Hampton spa with tinctures, infusions and herbal remedies.

But for every person who didn’t understand it, there were others who did.

Heidi Klum and Betsy Johnson became fans. Cousin and actress Glenn Close enjoys Ylang Ylang’s calming Bath Oil.

And in 1995, Martha Stewart booked a treatment out of the blue. Close and three assistants prepped frantically, tidying up and spraying the rooms to “make sure they smelled good”. It worked. She liked it so much that carried their $65 travel kit in her catalogue.

Today, Naturopathica’s an established brand carried in over 300 sites. In addition, they have a pretty solid reputation and people rate their products highly.

Naturopathica Starts Simply

Naturopathica Founder Barbara Close
Naturopathica Founder Barbara Close

 

Close hadn’t always wanted to be in the homeopathic business.

As the daughter of a D.C. estate lawyer and a home maker, she initially went into social work.

However, she soon found social work draining.

“It was hard not to feel depleted at the end of the day,” she says. She found stress relief in massages and she eventually decided to make it her career.

To ensure she had the right tools, she went back to school. She studied meditation, herbal medicine, aromatherapy and massage at the New Mexico Academy of Healing Arts.

Wellness isn’t a trend for Naturopathica. It’s an empowered approach to self-care.

Barbara Close

Eventually, she set up shop in Manhattan in 1991. Her spa followed four years later and she created the Naturopathica product line with $75,000 in capital and two investors.

A field of sunflowers grown at a farm. Barbara Close grew some herbs for her products at her family's Virginia farm.
Some of the herbs Naturopathica used were grown at her family’s 550 acre farm in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

Originally, some herbs for the products were grown at her family’s 550 acre farm in Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains. Products were blended at a former auto-body shop. People used stop by asking for an oil change before they realized that the oil being sold was a different type altogether.

Soon, the Naturopathica line expanded to other spas across the country. It is now widely available and is online, in spas, and in several high-end stores.

And recently, going back to her roots, Close opened a new Naturopathica spa in NY’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Juice smoothie with two open kiwis against the glass. One wall of her new NY Chelsea location is a vitality bar lined with tonics and juice blends.
One wall of her new NY Chelsea location is a vitality bar lined with tonics and juice blends.

While it has 6 treatment and massage rooms, it also incorporates other areas that reflect Close’s perspective on total health. One wall has an herbal remedy section with botanical cures and essential oils. Another has a vitality bar with health smoothies. And of course, the best Naturopathica products are everywhere.

It’s a place for total health, which is exactly how Close thinks about what she does.

Our spa was never about beauty and pampering. My real passion is the wellness industry. My real inspiration for the Naturopathica spa was the old European apothecary, where people come in and learn to blend treatments and that whole aspect of curing yourself with natural therapies.

Barbara Close

There’s Value in the Traditional, Too

Barbara believes their value in old-time remedies. The inside of a traditional drugstore or apothecary with walls lines with jars.
Barbara believes their value in old-time remedies.

 

Close believes that we need to bring back the kitchen apothecary.

The kitchen used to be the apothecary. In the home, there used to be a sense of nurturing. We need to bring back and embrace that.

Barbara Close

There are a lot of traditional cures that have fallen by the wayside in modern life. For centuries, people used natural methods to relieve common complaints and address health issues. They were forgotten for many years, but Naturopathica believes they can be used alongside Western medicine.

Traditional medicine bottles with herbs and plant based cures.
Close believes that traditional medicine should be used in addition to modern medicine.

In America, we have lost that whole ancestral knowledge of how to use these ancient healing arts because of the rise of antibiotics and quick fixes.

Barbara Close

However, she doesn’t eschew modern medicine and science. She will go to a doctor when she is sick and she understands what medicine has to offer.

It is just that she believes that there is value in the old remedies that were used for centuries. Cures that were handed down in a family for common aches and pains can help, and preventive care and maintenance in between doctor’s visits is also important.

Nature Plus Science

Naturopathica serum beside a beaker with a flower, symbolizing how Naturopathica takes the best of science and nature.
Naturopathica takes the best of science and nature.

 

I started in the natural space because I believe in clean beauty. I was looking for safer, less irritating ingredients and gentler alternatives.

What I don’t mean is to throw out the scientific cupboard.

I firmly believe science should be incorporated in every product. We’ve got to find things that work and are safer for us, and that’s what Naturopathica tries to do.

New-ingredient technology is constantly emerging, allowing us to push the envelope with formulas that have more powerful ingredients, such as peptides, stem cells, and retinols, but in clean, non-toxic formulas.

Barbara Close

It’s definitely got the organic credentials though. Certified by Ecocert, several products have gone through rigorous assessment to ensure providence.

 

And the EWG ratings speak to a generally safe ingredient selection. I’m generally seeing a group of ingredients that are in the 1-2 range. Ingredients that rank higher are retinol and botanical extracts.

Naturopathica believes in a balanced scientific and natural approach and uses scientific research to create their formulations.
Naturopathica believes in a balanced scientific and natural approach.

Also, the formulations stick to things that work. You’ve got xylitol and glycerin tackling skin dryness in the Aloe Cleansing Gel. You’ve got Vitamin E and Vitamin C working together in the Vitamin C Revitalizing Lotion, which is great. Vitamin A and E reinforce each other and help ingredients penetrate into skin.

I do have a few complaints. I’m firmly against jar packaging and even fragrances from essential oils, and would love to see less of each in the Naturopathica line.

However, Naturopathica is a great line. It’s got a very balanced approach to skincare by taking scientific knowledge and laboratory ingredients and pairing them with really lovely natural items.

Best of Naturopathica | Products and Reviews

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Herbivore Botanicals Pink Clay Group
Brand Reviews

Herbivore Botanicals is an Earnest Company with Truly All-Natural Products

Herbivore Botanicals Quick Facts

Ingredients | Free from Synthetic ingredients, parabens, sodium laurel sulfate, phthalates, chemicals, fillers, animal testing, mineral oils, petroleum; Natural; Vegan;

Eco-Friendly | Glass bottles

Ethical | Cruelty Free

The Good Guide | Not Rated

EWG | Not Rated

Herbivore Botanicals Table of Contents

A Husband Brings his Wife a Present | How Julia started it all from a simple soap making kit

Julia’s Soap and Alex’ Skin | How the brands natural focus came about

And it is Beautiful | Their beautiful packaging took some time to make

Herbivore Gets Really Big Really Fast and Alex and Julia Learn About Business | The founders learn about business

The Dynamic Duo Still Make Time for Each Other | Managing work and life and why I love Herbivore

 Best of Herbivore Botanicals | Products and Reviews

A Husband Brings his Wife a Present

Handmade soap with ingredients and bottles beside it.
Herbivore started from a handmade soap kit given by Alex to Julia.

I fall in love with brands.

I sometimes also fall in love with their products, but I always fall in love with the founders for their pluck, their fearlessness, and their sheer tenacity.

And I did the same with Herbivore Botanicals because they have a lovely story.

A husband brings home a soap making kit as a gift for his wife who promptly falls into the soap making lifestyle.

Incidentally, she’s also recently quit her job so she’s got lots of time to devote to her new hobby.

She makes soap. She makes so much soap that she starts to sell it on Etsy.

The Etsy shop explodes and soon they are everywhere.

It’s such a simple story but as anyone who has ever started a business knows, it’s never just that easy.

Julia’s Soap and Alex’ Skin

Herbivore Botanicals Founders Alex and Julia
Herbivore Botanicals Founders Alex and Julia

In the creation of a product line that marries tangible results to sensorial luxury, we hope to inspire women to appreciate the beauty of their own skin as well as the bounty of nature’s unparalleled remedies.

Herbivore Botanicals philosophy is mainly all natural because they believe that what worked for them will work for you.

Julia Wills – the wife in this story – produced her first bars of soap and tried them out on her husband.

Alex – the gift-bearing husband – had something like psoriasis or eczema that the doctors couldn’t figure out.

Julia’s product cleared it.

Their bars of soap are still handmade, only now it is Julia father who makes them all by hand.  In 2016, he made 50,000 bars of soap by himself.

From then on, the focus of the brand was set pretty much on natural ingredients. They have mainly stuck to that. They will occasionally add something to preserve or to make a product more useable, but this is really a very natural brand.

A picture of the Blue Tansy Flower in a field
A picture of the Blue Tansy Flower via Max Pixel

Case in point – Blue Tansy provides the beautiful blue hue of the Blue Tansy Mask while the powdered Indigo adds the purple to Moon Fruit.

No artificial color here at all.

Just a little segway – I know that many people are currently into the all-natural craze so as to avoid potentially toxic ingredients.

My personal stance is that all-natural products can’t hurt.

Still, I’d prefer not to throw out everything science has accomplished. There are some synthetics that are non-irritating and I think we should take the best of both.

What’s more important to me is that the products work and that the brand doesn’t mislead their customers, so that the customer always gets exactly what they’re looking for.

Herbivore is pretty straightforward in their philosophy and pretty true to it. I checked their ingredients for some of their products and they are pretty true to their message.

This is a pretty honest brand.

This I love.

And it is Beautiful

Herbivore Botanical Product Group Ultimate Skincare Collection with current packaging that took a year to refine.
Herbivore Botanical Product Group Ultimate Skincare Collection with current packaging that took a year to refine.

There are some aesthetics that take getting used to (hello Drunk Elephant, we’re good but your neon is a bit startling).

Herbivore’s is instantly ’grammable –  but it took a while to get there.

You might say, hey, it’s just a couple of lines and very plain font. Still, it took a year to fine tune.

It recalls vintage luxury purfumes with its glass bottles but manages to stay in the here and now with beautifully minimalist packaging.

Packaging Inspiration came from vintage perfume bottles.
Packaging Inspiration came from vintage perfume bottles.

As if they have just received a well curated treasure chest.

Alex Kummerow, on how people feel when they get their orders.

It wasn’t always that way.

In 2011, Herbivore Botanicals was lost among other makers on Etsy with an aesthetic that included twine, washi tape and craft paper.

But after being picked up by Urban Outfitters, they realized that they needed to reflect quality but still communicate their natural oriented focus.

And the packaging clearly does that.

The clean outside manages to echo the clean inside, and it makes people feel like they’ve just received a gift.

Herbivore Gets Really Big Really Fast and Alex and Julia Learn About Business

A picture of a Sephora store with the door open.
Big retailers including Sephora started knocking on their door.

A year after being sold online, Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie decided to stock them on their shelves.

And a few years later, Sephora told them they’d love to stock it. Target also called.

But they couldn’t supply both. They were still a closely held and managed company. They had neither the people nor the infrastructure to serve such large volumes.

So, they postponed Target.

The company has grown really organically. If they can’t handle the volume they won’t. If they don’t have the capital then they are willing to grow the company a bit slower.

Cardboard Boxes ready for shipping in a warehouse with a skylight.
Cardboard Boxes Ready for Shipping via Max Pixel.

The founders had to learn a lot about running a business.

We started from nothing and the founders were not necessarily in business. I think the brand has been lucky, we overcame many challenges. We don’t have a laboratory, everything is handmade, we are a very small company and starting in the field of business is a challenge, it’s really not easy.

The first year was tough. They were managing and producing everything mostly themselves. They eventually hired two close friends to give themselves time to simply relax.

Still, they’ve managed to make it in over 500 doors. Urban Outfitters, Sephora, Credo and Goop all carry them and they’re looking at expanding into Europe.

The Dynamic Duo Still Make Time for Each Other

In addition to managing a business, they learned to adjust to each other as business partners.

This is where some husband and wife partnerships go up in flames (Remember Sonny and Cher?).

I like Alex’ advice.

Respect each other’s roles in the business and understand that you have built the business together and it needs the two of you equally. Take trips together when possible – it seems like that provides the best separation from work and I know it really allows Julia and me to forget we are business partners for a few days and just be happy in love.

I also really like this brand.

What comes across is its earnestness.

This is a brand that checks out.

A small herb garden against a red wooden wall.
Herbivore believes all-natural ingredients are the way to go.

Their philosophy makes it all the way down to their ingredients. (I’ve checked).

Their founders really do seem to believe in what they are doing.

There’s a lot of transparency and less marketing hyperbole going on – this seems to be a brand that’s pretty straight with you.

It’s clever, it’s cute, and it’s honest. I love.

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