Sourcing locally and domestically is at the very foundation of Laurel Skin. It all dates back to our farmer’s market days. In the early mornings, before most people would arrive, I would leave my booth to buy Honey, Almonds, Nettles, and Olive Oil. Eventually, famers got to know me and asked me what types of ingredients I used and needed so they could grow for us. I saw that the ingredients grown for us by these local farmers looked and behaved completely differently than the herbs and ingredients I would buy from distributors. My sommelier nose kicked in, and there was no question that to create a high quality product, I needed to start with the farm. This all led to strong relationships with these farmers that still remain, many of them still growing our ingredients today.
This practice that I call slow farmed beauty is a painstaking one. It begins in the winter with a broad sweeping estimate of how much of each plant we might need for the year ahead, taking into account possible crop losses and how much our brand can afford to grow. We have close to 150 plants, so you can start to imagine the time and effort involved! Additionally, we closely examine what plants did well for our farmers the year prior, and we try to incorporate that into new formulas which we feel better support the Earth, the farmers, and ourselves.
Slow farmed beauty leads to an obvious and immediate reduction in our carbon footprint and an empowerment and enabling of local farmers to be profitable. It has allowed us to take quality control to an extreme and to ensure every harvesting hand is treated with equity and care. The building of these relationships also brings a sense of humanity and reverence to the Laurel Skin brand that can be felt. Working with as many local, organic, regenerative, and biodynamic farmers as possible is what we can do to participate and make a tangible difference in the health of both people and planet.
Aside from what our local sourcing practices can do for the planet and our communities, it is also about the integrity of our herbs, plants, and flowers. The closer our ingredients are to us, the more potent and fresh they are overall. Meaning we get to bring you the most potent blends of nourishing skincare possible.
Follow along below with each of the ingredients in our Almond Rose Exfoliant, to see how their slow farmed beauty journey impacted either a) planetary health, b) people in the community or c) the efficacy of our formulas. Hint: for most of our 150 ingredients, it’s all of the above!
ALMONDS – Our Almonds are biodynamic certified, organic and regeneratively farmed, raw, and unpasteurized. They come from a Central Valley California farm about 200 miles southeast from our Petaluma Barn. This particular source is one I think is highly impactful for the planet and this weighs heavily on my mind and heart. Anyone who has driven through the Eastern and Central Valley of California, along the Interstate 5 highway, is no stranger to planetary destruction. It is hours upon hours of huge mining operations, large-scale industrial cattle feedlots, electric power plants, oil drilling, and last but not least the mono-cropping and mass pesticide spraying of Almond orchards. Our biodynamic Almond farm is an outlier, a beacon of hope of what we could be doing differently in this long stretch of active harm being done. This farm does not use pesticides and chemical fertilizers, but rather animal compost and plant-based teas to help protect and nourish crops and soils. Their farm is diverse with a wide circle of life of both plants and animals that exist harmoniously as one ecosystem supporting itself. Biodynamic farms are also more responsible during the California drought; they are self-sustainable and have their own renewable energy sources, as well as their own water source and reserve.
From an efficacy perspective, Almonds are very delicate, and they can easily go rancid. Once Almonds are rancid, they no longer have an abundance of antioxidants, but instead become free radicals which are harmful to our skin and bodies. Because of this, how the almonds are treated after harvest is incredibly important. They must be stored properly, not heated or cooked, and so on. We mill our own Almonds in-house after they arrive to us to ensure they stay as fresh as possible for your skin. CALIFORNIA SOURCED
OATS – This nourishing and hydrating grain has been a tricky one for us to source because of the many factors that must be considered. Since so many are concerned about wheat contamination during the processing of oats, it is important to us that we work with an Oat mill that ensures they do not also process wheat. Additionally, despite the efforts of many organic farms, unintended glyphosate contamination – especially in grains – is all too common. We work with a mill that does glyphosate testing and are committed to keeping their partnering farms and their product glyphosate free. Our Oat mill and their partnering farms are in Wyoming. WYOMING SOURCED
ROSES, CHAMOMILE + MARSHMALLOW – These plants are from a coastal farm just 20 miles from our Petaluma Barn. The farm is owned by a married couple who have been farming the same land for decades. They pick each delicate heirloom Rose themselves by hand, all in a rainbow of colors. They focus on regenerative agriculture, a practice that is reciprocal in supporting their land and Nature. At this point, their farming efforts are built on what has naturalized and wants to grow effortlessly on their land. Their love for the land comes through in the vibrancy of these petals. Freshness is again very important with these particular ingredients. With a freshly dried aromatic Rose petal, you can still feel the rich oils in it to the touch. The Chamomile has a vitality and quality that just is not seen on a commercial scale, and its aroma fills our whole space the day it arrives. This Marshmallow ends up being much more mucilagenous (hydrating) and rich in vitamins than its bulk counterparts; it arrives to us as a twisty-turny root which we process ourselves. Getting this root from our local farm partner is a beautiful thing because they take great care to keep the plant healthy and thriving, and only rationing off part of the root for us. When done in this way it can be healthy for the plant, instead of just killing the plant for the root, which is often how it is done in mass-produced farming. This harvesting style also makes the medicine more potent since the plant is more mature through the years. CALIFORNIA SOURCED
NETTLE – This nutrient dense spring leaf grows wild and abundant all over the Northern California area. Because we don’t support commercial wildcrafting at Laurel Skin, we prefer to get this from regenerative farming methods. We get some from a farming co-op just 10 miles from our Petaluma Barn, but most of it comes from an organic herb farm in Vermont. While this might seem far, it is good to keep in mind that most Nettle are not sourced domestically at all and typically comes from Eastern Europe. Our Nettle farmer is a family I have a strong personal connection to, and they have really paved the way in making herbal farming possible in the US by helping many other small herb farms follow a similar path. This relates to quality in how we see our Nettle – it is a deep forest green on large leafy stems. Nettle in bulk is in tiny pieces and much more pale green. Nettle shows its oxidation very clearly, and bulk Nettle is lacking these important nutrients due to mass bulk farming and oxidation. CALIFORNIA + VERMONT SOURCED
RED CLOVER – This is one of our newest partnering farms, going on 3 years, right in our very own home of Petaluma. This is another case of us getting to know a farmer and then us working closely with them step by step to grow what we need. The Red Clover buds are truly of stunning quality. The farm is, of course, organic and regenerative – and we even pop out as a team every so often to check on the farm and harvest the beautiful Red Clover blossoms ourselves! CALIFORNIA SOURCED
ROSE GERANIUM – This essential oil is farmed and distilled by one of our very first partnering farms, a biodynamic farm, just 15 miles from our Petaluma Barn. The farmer here is truly an angel and is a hovering white light of protection over her land. The plants we get from this farm are always our favorite; they sing with vibrancy and life. This particular farm even has an education element, where schools and classes often visit her to learn the importance of biodynamic farming. Getting domestically farmed and distilled essential oils is an incredibly rare thing. This is because of the amount of plant material it takes to make an essential oil, which just is not profitable for domestic farmers. We have to pay a much higher rate for our domestically farmed/distilled essential oils to ensure that our farmers are paid fairly for their labor. The result is well worth it for this one-of-a-kind biodynamic gem – Rose Geranium Essential Oil, distilled fresh for us each season. CALIFORNIA SOURCED