What are we putting on our skin? I know you want to know, in fact maybe it’s how you found me - searching everywhere for safe, effective NATURAL skin and hair care products for you and those you cherish!

I’ve access to a wide variety of safe ingredients to formulate with, some I purchase and other things I collect from the forest or grow in my garden. I craft just about everything you will find in my line from scratch and source my ingredients from trusted suppliers.  

I harbor a passion for nourishing skin care routines, practices and products. I strive to provide knowledge and information you need to make informed choices and ask you to reach out to me with questions about your skin care needs. I will suggest some changes to your routine, and some safe natural things to try at home, along with some suggestions for which products of mine you would likely get good results with.

ALLERGIES:  There is no such thing as hypo-allergenic, it is a marketing term with no basis in reality. If you are prone to allergies, or have very sensitive, reactive skin, you should always perform a complete and thorough patch test on all your skin care products. including mine! 

LEARN HOW TO PERFORM A PATCH TEST. 


MADE products are made WITH:

ORGANIC INGREDIENTS

BEYOND ORGANIC INGREDIENTS

ECOCERT INGREDIENTS

100% BIODEGRADABLE PRESERVATIVES

COLD-PRESSED, VIRGIN ORGANIC SEED BUTTERS, WAXES & OILS (fixed oils)

LOCALLY HARVESTED FRESH WILD PLANTS

MY GARDEN HERBS

ESSENTIAL OILS & PLANT EXTRACTS

RAW LOCAL AND MEDICINAL HONEY

ALWAYS EWG RATINGS 0-1: every ingredient in My creations: Everything I offer is made with biodegradable, plant-based natural, whole ingredients and/or with the addition of ECOCERT ingredients derived from plants, and those approved for use in organic formulations.  WHAT IS ECOCERT

EWG Environmental Working Group’s Skindeep Database - I include safety ratings for each individual ingredient reviewed here. Ingredients are rated on many criteria on a scale of 0-7.

The Environmental Working Group is just one source of information. Some professional formulators do hold out however that their ratings are not always entirely accurate due, in part, to lack of data. That said, it is a good starting point when researching ingredients.  For more information check out I hope you will investigate on your own if you have concerns about an ingredient.


ALL of my products are made with mostly USDA certified organic ingredients.

Since I infused my creations with wild plants which are not USDA Organic - I can not make that claim.

Locally garden grown, but not USDA Organic

  • Many of the market growers from whom I purchase herbs and fruit at the Crested Butte Farmers Market are not certified “organic”. Many participate instead in the Certified Naturally Grown program. I know my farmers, not only do I trust them, but our farmer’s market standards are some of the highest in the country.

  • When choosing ingredients I need to have shipped to me, I always choose the 100% Organic option.

Grown by ME: Medicinal Herbs

  • I grow loads of herbs to include in my creations. Plantago Major, Calendula, Yarrow, Thyme, Rosemary, mint, hops and more.

  • I also have friends who grow for me. None of us use any synthetic chemical treatments of any sort.

Wildcrafted - Plants collected from the wild

  • As a naturalist and self taught herbalist, and having been exploring my natural environment for almost 30, I’ve amassed some knowledge of wild plants. I’m extremely blessed to live in a place where the air, soil and water are very clean. I also have know many exceptionally pristine places to forage in the Colorado high country wilderness.

  • The majority of what I harvest is extremely prolific (cottonwood bud, evergreen needles and resin, plantago major, rose petals, cottonwood buds, alder catkins, juniper berries, rose hips, arnica blossoms.

  • All parts of plants can be infused in natural solvents; my primary solvents are honey, seed oils, waxes and butters, and glycerin.

Fresh Ingredients: From just-picked Rose petals (not dried) to cold pressed, virgin organic seed oils, butters and waxes, and everything in between, the foundation of effective skin care is FRESH INGREDIENTS.

  • Most of the wild plants I use are infused FRESH or slightly wilted - medicinal plants are much more vibrant and alive than dried material - but it is tricky to work with and takes lots of experience to handle properly. I perform in house microbial tests on my oils to ensure they are fresh and include anti-rancidity factors to prevent oxidative damage during storage.

  • Batch Dates: If the product you purchase from me has a short shelf life (less than 2 years) you will find an expiration and/or use by date on the label.

  • Seed Butter, Waxes and Oils: Everything I need to purchase to formulate with which has a shelf life, I purchase in very small quantities, handle them very carefully, and formulate with them quickly. Once I have made and bottled a batch of something fragile, I keep it refrigerated, often until the moment it is sold.


LET'S TALK (briefly) ABOUT SYNTHETIC INGREDIENTS

 

Sometimes when we are not familiar with a scientific name we might wrongly avoid ingredients which not only perform vital functions (like preservatives) but which are actually beneficial to skin and are nontoxic. Take Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSA) for instance, you might see that on a label and frown, “this must be very similar to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) right? That harsh chemical that irritates skin, causing a state of "dis-ease", possibly leading to more serious skin problems, sounds almost the same, maybe it's even worse". So you put the bottle down and decide to try using castile soap, or baking soda and lemon juice next time you wash your hair - maybe not such a great idea. Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfoacetate are two completely different things.

IT ISN'T JUST ABOUT ME AND YOU AND OUR PEEPS!

What happens downstream of manufacturing plants is everyone's concern.  A modest reduction of our consumption of non-biodegradable, synthetic chemical based products in our home and food reduces the downstream impacts of the production of those chemicals and the exposure to the people working with them during manufacture.

Without spending hours of research learning all of the potential ingredients you might find in safe, well made products but which often sound bad, or vice versa, it’s easy to go overboard in our quest for truly “natural” alternatives

Join me here in learning a bit more about this confusing topic - it’ll help you in your search for safe, effective, carefully crafted skin care!

SCROLL DOWN TO SEE A LIST OF INGREDIENTS YOU WILL FIND IN MY PRODUCTS WHICH YOU MAY NOT BE FAMILIAR WITH OR ARE CONFUSED ABOUT.


LET'S TALK (briefly) ABOUT PRESERVATIVES

 

Some things we eat, and some we put on our skin, MUST be properly preserved or they can make us sick. Fear of preservatives has led to the increase in the popularity of unpreserved skin care and using ethanol alcohol as the preservative Ethanol alcohol is totally natural - it can say 100% natural on the label now, but ethanol alcohol is very very drying and will damage your skin and hair over time.

Oils, salves and balms crafted from just seed butters, natural waxes, fixed and essential oils do not require a broad based preservative. My products which contain NO free water also contain NO preservative. These creations benefit from the inclusion of anti-rancidity and antioxidative factors - vitamin E, Rosemary Extract and Rosemary essential oil are included to protect oils from oxidative stress and provide additional skin benefits.

PRODUCTS CONTAINING FREE WATER, ALOE JUICE, HYDROSOL WATERS, DISTILLED/BOILED WATER must be properly preserved - or kept in the refrigerator and used within a 1 -2 weeks.

If not carefully preserved these formulations WILL host and grow bad bacteria, yeasts, molds, and/or become rancid rather quickly and without notice (you just can NOT trust your nose) without proper preservation. 

Water based products which have gone bad can cause allergic reactions, skin sensitivities, rashes, redness, itching and worse. Conventional product makers, and most commercial botanical skincare companies will add more  preservatives than is required based on the composition of the product. They do this to ensure it is protected from user contamination with wet fingers, water droplets and steam, and exposure to air especially when products are left open or not closed properly.  I also put my products in containers which in theory will help reduce the chance of contamination, but this is not always possible. Furthermore, how it is handled once it leaves my hands is unknown. That said, I choose safe preservatives and add just what is required, then just a bit more, and that's it. No it's up to you to be careful. 

TAKE A MORE IN DEPTH LOOK: preservative free skin care, what we need to know


 

INGREDIENTS YOU WILL FIND IN MY PRODUCTS WHICH YOU MAY NOT BE FAMILIAR WITH OR ARE CONFUSED ABOUT.


 

Hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC)

THICKENING INGREDIENT FROM PINE & SPRUCE TREES

What the heck is HEC - The quick answer? Veggie cellulose. Hydroxyethylcellulose is one of those ingredients that you may think sounds like some sort of synthetic, harsh chemical. But just because this ingredient has a name that looks suspicious and difficult to pronounce, doesn’t mean it’s harmful or unnatural. In fact, many common ingredients have suspicious-sounding names. Two examples are: sodium chloride, better known by its common name; salt, or sodium bicarbonate; better known by its common name; baking soda. Both of these are common ingredients found in both food and body care products and most of us consider these ingredients to be pretty harmless as far as toxicity is concerned. So what about hydroxyethylcellulose?

It is a natural gum derived from the cellulose of pine and spruce tree trunks (debarked logs) Cellulose is a natural polysaccharide, the primary structural component of plants located in the cell wall.  Trees grown and harvested for HEC are from plantations in the United States, France, Norway, and Canada. Hydroxyethylcellulose is an excellent thickening agent and is known to make formulations more mild.  My supplier has both land and forest management programs to ensure the protection of waterways and the preservation of wildlife. Additionally, they support local Sustainable Forestry Initiatives (Forest Stewardship Council, American Forest & Paper Association Sustainable Forestry Initiative).

FOUND IN:

SHAVE CREAM

Skin Deep Database rating: ONE


Glyceryl Stearate

Derived from vegetables (but not palm!) it blends oil & water together and conditions skin.

I love this ingredient because it is the natural glyceryl ester derived from stearic acid (glycerin & stearic acid). Stearic acid is a naturally occurring saturated fatty acid in fats and oils. It helps skin and hair to retain moisture. On the skin's surface is function as a lubricant helping achieve soft, smooth appearance. It also slows the loss of water from the skin surface by forming a moisture barrier. An added bonus, it has been shown to protect against free-radical damage.  (Here is an image of the actual ingredient I use)

Glycerine is everywhere in the plant kingdom, but it is bound up in the fatty acids of fats and oils.  When soap is made, the salts added to fats and oils, a chemical reaction occurs releases the glycerine and turns the oils into soap. My source of Glyceryl Stearate is organic, and derived from vegetables (but not palm oil!).

Skin Deep Database rating: ONE


L-Carnitine

A naturally occurring Amino acid building block for protein synthesis

A naturally occurring, low ph Beta Hydroxy amino acid (or BHA), necessary for the cellular metabolism of glucose, fat and related compounds.  It is involved in skin cell proliferation, collagen synthesis and skin cell turnover.  It has exfoliating properties

L-Carnitine has been shown to reduce skin tissue death and increase the formation of new blood vessels and improve skin tone.  It is able to reduce sebum secretion and skin oiliness, increases cellular energy production, restore barrier function, and assist in wound & scar healing. 

L-Carnitine has a significant moisturizing effect in lotions and creams.  A controlled study revealed that L-Carnitine prevents and alleviates skin conditions such as scarring, wrinkle formation and sunburn peeling.

L-Carnitine is hygroscopic, helping skin feel, smooth and moisturized. A human test panel using a placebo formulation and one containing 2% L-Carnitine clearly showed an increased skin hydration level of 26.4%! That's a lot! 

FOUND IN:

SHAVE CREAM

Skin Deep Database rating: ONE


Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate  (ECOmulse)

ECOmulse is an ECOcert approved emulsifier used to combine oil and water together to produce a creamy lotion. It moisturizes the skin while leaving a soft, non-greasy feeling.  It is approved for use in certified organic skincare.

Skin Deep Database rating: ONE


MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

Don't be alarmed by this hard to pronounce scary sounding long name ! MSM is a unique biological sulfur found in the soil, all plants, and animals!  Including humans. Big Chemical name, but a totally natural compound.

MSM for skin? Turns out when applied topically it is able to penetrate skin tissue to help encourage hydration. It also has a natural anti-inflammatory effect, so it can benefit irritated and sensitive skin.

Skin Deep Database rating: ONE

 


Caprylyl Capryl Glucoside (and/or Lauryl Glucoside)

Whew! Talk about a long, chemical name. But never fear - this one won’t hurt you. This is a surfactant formed blending a mixture of alcohols with simple sugars. My raw material comes from coconut.   Surfactants are the ingredient which make the shampoos & cleansers foam up. (Real, natural old fashion soap is foamy due to the naturally produced surfactant resulting from saponification, and is not part of this discussion)

Lauryl Glucoside is one of the top safe alternatives to harsh sulfates surfactants known as SLS or Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfates, which are thought to be the cause of numerous skin issues.  It is found in just about every natural shampoo, cleansers and body wash shampoo health food store shelves. 

Skin Deep Database rating: ZERO


Sodium Alginate

Naturally derived from brown seaweeds which grow in cold water regions. Sodium Alginate is a natural, water-soluble polysaccharide that produces a gel when hydrated. Sodium Alginate has been used in the medical field, in the food industry, and more recently in natural cosmetics and hair care products. It acts as an emulsifier, helping to keep ingredients mixed together. 

Skin Deep Database rating: ZERO (application)


Propanediol (ETHYLHEXYLGLYCERIN)

There are 2 types of Propylene glycol, the one found in my formulas is Propanediol, 100% naturally derived from renewable corn sugar fermentation - NOT from petroleum (like propylene glycol). Ethylhexylglycerin serves as a gentle, mild surfactant and preservative enhancer and a safe preservative in minute amounts. It's often used instead of controversial parabens.  It works to inhibit spoilage and has shown to have possible fungicide and anti-microbial.  Not only does it perform as a preservative enhancer, it is a humectant & emollient - very desirable in our formulas!  

If you are looking for information about Propanediol you are likely to come across some nasty stuff!  Yet you will find Propylene glycol in pharmacies, in 50% solution or lotions with up to 20%, for treatment of eczema. YES! it can be found in antifreeze  - ALL glycols (including all natural vegetable derived glycerin) are able to reduce the freezing point of water, but being a possible ingredient in antifreeze doesn't make propylene glycol a toxic nasty thing. In fact, you could use glycerin in antifreeze for the same reason but it would gunk up the engine!  You may also find references to this being a skin irritant, those studies tested very high concentrations.

Skin Deep Database rating: ONE


CETYL ALCOHOL

NOT related to  ethyl or rubbing alcohol!  Cetyl Alcohol is considered an emollient, emulsifier, and thickener. It is found in food like salad dressing. Cetyl Alcohol is well known to be absolutely non-irritating and can be exceptionally beneficial for conditioning and softening your hair and skin. Unlike ethyl or rubbing alcohol it will not dry your out! I use a plant derived version in my products. There may be still a small number of people who are sensitive to it and those folks should perform a patch test to check. 

Skin Deep Database rating: ONE


NeoDefend - Broad spectrum ECOCERT approved preservative

Derived from ingredients granted GRAS status (Generally Regarded As Safe), All ingredients are accepted by ECOCERT as preservatives in certified organic cosmetics. Consisting of a blend of gluconolactone, sodium benzoate and calcium gluconate, it offers broad spectrum protection in cosmetic and personal care formulations. 

Gluconolactone: A fermented food starch derived from non -gmo corn via a fermentation process with non-gmo bacteria. It is food safe and gluten-free. In skincare products, its a moisturizer and antioxidant! It is generally considered suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and is non-irritating. It even conditions and hydrates!  There is also evidence that smooths skin texture and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It has another interesting property, it's considered to be a next generation Alpha Hydroxy Acid (skin's BFF). Interesting also is Gluconolactone is found in it's final state in bee’s honey and in wine! 

Sodium Benzoate: Sodium Benzoate is a naturally occuring sodium salt in apples, cranberries, plums, ripe cloves, and cinnamon. In this preservative blend, it acts has bactericidal and fungicidal properties.

Calcium Gluconate: Calcium is an essential mineral for the body. A small amount of research shows calcium it may be a good skin-soothing and restorative agent when applied topically. It NeoDefend just a tiny bit is used to help the product flow.

Found in: Hydrosol Waters

Skin Deep Database rating: ONE


Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSA) & Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI)

DO NOT CONFUSE WITH SODIUM LAURYL SULFATES THESE ARE BIODEGRADABLE. SAFE ALTERNATIVES. 

SLSA and SCI are both derived from the fatty acids in coconuts. They are very similar and blended together they are a mild, effective cleanser with luxurious, silky lather,  rinse easily, and leaves your skin all silky smooth! They are deemed to be safe, biodegradable skin friendly cleansers. Both have been studied and shown to be unlikely to cause skin irritation, and safe to use in baby soap products, 100% Biodegradable.  

Skin Deep Database rating: ONE


My journey into natural products for me, my family, pets and home started with a disorder called Brachioradial pruritus . I suffered from this painful condition for 6 years starting in 2003.

Before I knew what was causing it, I had tossed every last cleaning and personal product in the entire household and began my DIY projects. The journey started with laundry detergents, bar an liquid soaps, cleaning products, lotions and salves, and essential oils for fragrance. As I was learning how to formulate safe, effective creations, my adventures took me deep into cosmetic chemistry, chemicals, and foraging for wild food and medicinal herbs

These many years later, and 3 years of 100% holistic therapy, the condition has completely resolved - no more waking up at night bleeding from scratching my arms in my sleep!  Soon after that I started offering my creations, experience and knowledge to those who want to join me on the journey into natural solutions to life's challenges.