Most of us gain confidence when our skin looks and feels good, and this sometimes reflects how we hold ourselves in this life. Part of feeling good has to do with what we put onto our bodies, as well as what we put into our bodies.
The skin is an amazing organ. As the defensive barrier that protects our bodies from our external environments, it absorbs everything we come into contact with.
We are exposed to many toxins and chemical compounds in our day-to-day life. And, more than we know or even like to acknowledge, mainstream skin-care products are packed with ingredients that are potentially problematic or even harmful.
Fortunately, several Comox Valley-based businesses specialize in making beautiful, handcrafted products that are essentially food and medicine for our skin. Let me introduce you to a few brands made right here.
HERBA TERRA SKINCARE
After Krista Overwater began reading up on nutrition and herbal medicine in 2013 and learned what’s in most mass-produced body products, she decided to try making her own soap without any “nasty stuff” in it.
That was the beginning of Herba Terra Skincare, Overwater’s line of small-batch, handmade body products that now includes bar soap, sunscreen, lip balm, bug repellent, and dry shampoo.
Overwater uses organic, fair-trade, and eco-responsible ingredients in her products. She chooses oils that soothe and heal the skin (and produce a silky-soft lather). For scents and colour, she adds organic essential oils, botanicals, and clays, and she puts wax from her own bees into her lip balm and sunscreen.
“Many of the herbs I use I actually grow in my own garden,” she says. “Or I barter with local growers and farmers—trade some soap for some calendula!”
Overwater says the most fulfilling thing about Herba Terra is when people try her products and become customers for life. “The products I make do the job they are meant to do, without any toxic stuff added to our bodies.”
NAKED NATIVE NATURALS
Farrin Eva is from the traditional territories of the Gitxsan in Hazelton, British Columbia, and now makes her home in the Comox Valley, where she runs Naked Native Naturals. Her body- and beard-care oils are infused with healing medicines that deliver an all-natural glow and shine.
“My mother raised us knowing Mother Earth provides sacred plant medicine. Ancestral knowledge is what encouraged Naked Native into reality,” says Eva.
Simple, pure, and powerful ingredients are of the utmost importance to Eva, which is why she uses hand-harvested traditional plant medicines native to the Comox Valley and Hazelton. “We rotate our crop harvest locations every year, so each plot has time to revive and thrive for years to come. That is key to following my cultural laws,” she explains.
Naked Native’s products use devil’s club and self-heal, along with organic essential oils. Devil’s club is an adaptogen known for its anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties, and efficacy in relieving pain. Self-heal is an anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, antibacterial astringent, packed with thiamin and vitamins C and K, that tones and tightens tissues and helps heal wounds from acne and sun damage.
Eva is planning new additions to the product line for 2022, including a muscle rub, a face and body cream, lip balm, and a face serum.
TOTEM HEALING HOUSE
Erin Brillon, the Haida-Cree entrepreneur and owner of Totem Design House, began making natural skin-care and wellness products decades ago. “I mainly created them for my own personal use and as gifts for friends,” she says, then adds with a smile: “My friends began requesting that I start making the products for sale, because they wanted refills on the items I had made for them.” She eventually added a wellness line to her already thriving apparel and jewellery business.
Today, Totem Design House offers an array of wellness products with natural ingredients, including soothing pain-relief oil and facial products formulated and blended in small batches by Brillon under the Totem Healing House name. A healing joint cream is made by a Métis medicine keeper, Brillon’s friend Dianne Maclean.
Brillon’s latest collaboration is creating bath bombs, soaps, and candles with fellow Haida businesswoman Valerie Lamirande, owner of RavenSong Soap &Candle in Campbell River. The pair launched the Essential Elements Crystal Candle Collection in February 2022. These artisanal soy-wax candles, made with pure natural fragrances and imbued with healing fluorite crystals, are sold in keepsake glass jars with Northwest Coast art designs on their bamboo lids.
With a growing awareness of what we put into our bodies and the importance of supporting local businesses, it’s time to lean toward these kinds of personal-care goods for our overall well-being, as well as the health of our planet.
I hope you’re as inspired as I am to seek out these beneficial and nourishing local products. May you smell and shine so bright.