We’re in a beauty schism of sorts: On one end of the spectrum, modern advances in science and technology have made supercharged skincare ubiquitous (especially in Asian beauty markets). On the other hand, we’re seeing a proliferation of brands popping up in the States that focus entirely on ingredients born from the Earth—not a test tube. This new generation of natural beauty products look and feel uber-luxe and—dare we say it—chic.
There are a lot of reasons to get behind botanical brands; first and foremost, beauty is quite literally more than skin deep. “I think a lot of people are moving towards the fact that what you put on your skin also gets in your body—and your skin is the largest organ in your body,” points out Mark Veeder, co-founder of Farmacy Beauty. “In the past, a lot of natural skincare [brands], weren’t really efficacious, so we made it clear that we wanted to make a line where science is used to get the best out of the plant. I think the woman that buys natural or naturally-derived skincare wants to make sure it works.” (True story.)
The range sources ingredients from their farm in upstate New York—including their patented Echinacea GreenEnvy (a variant of Echinacea Purpurea), which contains the highest known concentration of cichoric acid (a potent natural antioxidant)—along with a lineup of other plant extracts that read more like the menu at Sweetgreen than a face mask label (think broccoli, kale, celery, etc.). “With the whole local and farm-to-table movement, people are really sitting up and learning about the commercial farming industry and where our food comes from,” says Veeder. “People are much more educated and they know how to look at things and say, ‘I really don’t want these things on my skin.’”
Another local purveyor who embodies the natural beauty movement is Tanwi Islam, founder of small-batch, Brooklyn-based fragrance brand Hi Wildflower Botanica. “I’m part of the generation that grew up learning about mass market goods produced abroad—and the connection to the maker or founder of a brand is lost,” she says. For Islam, beauty extends well beyond what you slather on your skin. “We want to connect to the entire story of a product: where it was conceived, blended, produced, and in some ways, to support an ‘indie’ beauty brand is to be a part of a lifestyle.” The brand combines years of research and an extensive “library of botanicals” which comprise her range of perfumes, candles, and body care. In her words, ”The harshness of living in a city requires self-care, ritual and meditation.” For all the urban warriors out there, consider the latest crop of beauty products your new pathway to zen
Click through the slideshow above for a selection of our favorite fragrance, hair, body, and face products, all made with natural ingredients that you can actually pronounce.