Farmers market veggies and pinot noir aren't the only things that grow around here! A handful of wellness-minded apothecary and skincare lines are using local botanicals, essential oils, and plant-based ingredients to offer artful alternatives to chemical-laden room sprays, body products, bug repellents, household cleaners, and hand sanitizers. Here, we explore ten local lines blooming in the Portland area.
The Story: This new line makes bath and beauty products for people "who want the crunchy without sacrificing the chic," according to founder Cynthia Cortina. After burning out in a demanding career in advertising, Cortina searched the globe for new experiences, inspiring people, and a wide variety of tastes, sounds, sights, textures, and scents to inspire her vegan and organic line of salt baths, milk baths, lip treatments, facial clays, and floral sprays. "I realized that the best antidote for exhaustion was a regular and consistent ritual of self-care."
Our Picks: Radiance Incarnate Facial Nectar packed with premium oils; Calma Terra Complexion Clay scented with clary sage; and the forest-scented Drift Salt Bath combining cedar wood and juniper berry.
The Story: Charise Weller draws inspiration from her four kids—"her tribe"—and all of their well-earned cuts, bruises, sleep issues, rashes stinky sports equipment, and even stinkier bathrooms that launched her line of alternative first aid and household cleaning/purifying products. "I got into this line of work because I could not find exactly what I was looking for for my family so I became a mom on a mission," shares Weller. She realized that the benefits her family was experiencing from her homemade products was just too good not to share, so she unveiled a retail line of serums and sprays.
Our Picks: The natural hand sanitizer uses essential oils like lavender, wild orange, lime, and eucalyptus, known for their anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-virus properties; the Boo Boo Ouchice spray is a go-to for minor cuts, wounds, skin rashes/irritations, and bug bites; the Don't Bug Me repellent; and the Dream Catcher calming spray, which Weller says is a favorite of all of her kids, who use it "on their pillows, stuffed animals, and in the air around them to help them fall asleep, get rid of bad dreams, monsters in the closet, and any bad mojo in the bedrooms."
The Story: Karina Brown began making skin care products, herbal teas, and tinctures for herself and friends in high school, and believes "we are always in nature. It's not a hippie thing. It's just part of being human." For her line of handmade body butters, face scrubs, toning mists, and oils, Brown is inspired by the interface between the forest and urban life. "I want to cultivate the awareness that we are in nature at all times," she explains, "even as we go about our daily city lives, and increase appreciation for the natural beauty that is part of our lives with every breath we take."
Our picks: Windblown sea salt spray for natural surfer waves, and Velvet dry body oil—perfect for skin recovering from fun in the summer sun—made with skin-quenching avocado oil, sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, macadamia nut oil, meadowfoam seed oil, vitamin e, and essential oils of vanilla, sandalwood, bergamot, and grapefruit. Also be sure to follow Brown on Instagram at @astraluxpdx to see more of her natural inspiration!
The Story: Jewelie Randall, creative director or Wolf's Apothecary, Flora, and Topaz, is inspired by generations past and future. She's been making herbal products since her first daughter was an infant and needed a natural diaper cream, and focuses on ingredients her grandparents would have used at the turn of the century: "My ancestors were hard-working, hard-scrabble folk who did with what they had to with what they had on hand." Wolf's line of beard oils, lip and hand balms, perfumes, room sprays, candles, and bath products are crafted for men and women alike, with a woodsy aesthetic and approach to scents.
Our Picks: Lip Salve-ation balm made with cedar, cardamom, jojoba oil, and beeswax; unisex Parfum des Garcon No 38 with notes of "saffron and lumberjack"; Mineral soak beauty bath with mint, fir, and cedarwood; Strong as a Tree Hand Balm for shaving cuts, chapped skin, and hard-working hands; Paul Bunyan's Beard Oil with a blend of fir and cedar scents.
The Story: Sherry Okamura Leonard, licensed empathic esthetician, salon director of Urbaca Salon, and creator of primarily organic beauty line Okamura Farmacopia, is passionate about supporting people with sensitive and compromised immune systems—as well as anyone with a skincare challenge. "I was inspired to train with the American Cancer Society's Look Good Feel Better program by my mother in law, who just finished her fifth battle with cancer," shares Okamura Leonard. "I wanted products that were safe enough for her to use throughout chemo/radiation and that would support her healing."
Our Picks: The Facial Tonic Oil, a blend of antioxidant oils used for facial oil cleansing, moisture, and mask (which also contains oils beneficial for stretch marks); Aromatherapy Beard Oils, which Okamura Leonard calls a "multitasking tool for men", because it conditions facial hair and skin. "Men need more natural skin care too!"
The Story: This 100% natural skincare line was created by a husband-and-wife team who relocated to Portland in 2008 after leaving film careers in California. The pair created Valentina's Home Brewed—a beloved line of 60+ different bath salts and body washes found in Whole Foods markets and hotels across the country—and debuted their latest project, Kensington Apothecary, in early 2015. The diverse line of facial cleansers, oils, tonics, and serums harnesses the power of organic, raw, and wild-crafted materials like rose hydrosol, virgin coconut oil, kombucha, chamomile, cactus pear extract, figs, and more.
Our Picks: Skin Serum #1 Ageless Beauty formulates with aloe vera, marine bioactives, and fig extract, Pure Clarifying facial oil with pumpkin seed oil to help unclog pores, the Rose Milk cleanser with organic rose hydrosol, vegetable glycerin, and pure plant oils, and the Sake Skin Detox tonic with organic brown rice vinegar, chamomile hydrosol infused with mimosa bark, and olive leaf extracts.
Vicki Seabrook: Bar Wonder Herbal Deodorants
The Story: Bodywork expert and perfume enthusiast Vicki Seabrook never meant to be a maker of all-natural deodorant: "I got into this quite by accident—I have always loved creating but especially found great satisfaction in formulating healing products for fun. I tried my hand at making custom products for people who had common ailments such as headaches, muscle pain, cramps, eczema—some worked and some didn’t." Then she found an old family recipe for a solid lotion bar, and tinkered with the recipe to create a natural deodorant for her husband. "I thought if it works for a man like him, it has to work, right? I tested it in the warmest weather, right before a workout…the reception was really enthusiastic and Bar Wonder Natural Deodorant was born."
The Story: Offering CSH (Community Supported Herbalism) shares, aromatherapy oils, immune-supporting elixirs, tattoo balms, bath salts, tea blends, herbal first-aid kits, the seasonally-influenced Portland Apothecary uses recipes inspired by nature and traditional cultures. Owners Elie Barausky and Kristen Dilley combine backgrounds in biodynamic farming, Western Clinical Herbalism, and acupuncture to infuse their line with time-honed wisdom and holistic health care for busy daily routines. According to Dilley, "We love working with people who are looking to be more in touch with the seasons—there is simple beauty and magic in plants that is accessible to everyone."
Our Picks: Mountain Ritual Mister for protection, strength, and courage; Blossom Tea, a nutrient-dense blend of linden, rose, hibiscus, chamomile, and other herbs; and Community Supported Herbalism Shares that is available seasonally for season-specific herbal wellness.
The Story: Urban Oreganics's vegan and organic bath and beauty products are made in small batches with whole ingredients that read more like a menu than a beauty regimen, from beet root coloring buttery lip balm to a facial cleanser rich with organic gluten-free oats, matcha green tea, and quinoa. Founder, vegan, and new mother Emily Silverstein stocks the line's Etsy shop with a huge variety of practical essentials, each with an explanation of the power behind the products' ingredients, like how the kaolin clay in the line's dry shampoo absorbs dirt and bacteria or how candelilla wax can battle acne and inflamation.
Our Picks: Baby essentials (like organic bamboo teething rings and coconut and shea baby butter for sore bottoms), skin-clearing activated charcoal face soal, and even dry shampoo powered by kaolin clay and arrowroot powder.
The Story: Ursula Wurster finds inspirations in the raw materials that go into this line's botanical soaps, lunar-infused glacial water with flower essences, and high-mineral content soaking salts. "I get joy from experimenting with curious combinations of natural elements, and I’m constantly amazed by their power to awaken the senses, activate the imagination, and transform otherwise ordinary experiences." I also find inspiration in the textures of nature, art and design, people I love, and dreams. Wurster has studied the power of herbalism for nearly a decade, and has been making her own natural beauty products and fragrances for even longer. "I used to daydream about being a full-time artist and maker, and one day simply took the leap. Quite literally—I celebrated by jumping off a waterfall!"
Our Picks: Palo santo and cedarwood essential water, pink clay and sea salt or cedarwood and moss botanical soaps, and spanish lemon and vanilla soaking salt. Every product in the line is free of palm oil and made with only organic, wild-crafted, and fairly traded botanicals.