I think everyone knows by now that I love good food and drink, but what you may not know is that some of my favorite skin care products are made from food and beverages. I try to be as attentive to what I put ON my body as to what goes inside it, so I’ve gathered an assortment of fabulous companies to pamper your outsides. These companies use natural plants, fruits and herbs to create wonderful “meals” for your skin. I’ve highlighted my favorites for each, but they all offer a veritable skincare smorgasbord.
THREE SISTERS APOTHECARY
Some of the best skin care products in the world (I’m not exaggerating) come from Sonoma County-based Three Sisters Apothecary (5400 Old Redwood Highway North, Penngrove, CA. Tel: 707-888-5659. www.soapcauldron.com), where soap artisan Emma Mann makes it a point to source ingredients locally. Case in point: their Gravenstein Apple/Clove line, from a swirly brown/green bar soap to a bath salt soak, body butter, and lip balm. All have a subtle hint of sweetness and a deeply spicy and refreshing feel, with the apple powder derived from local Gravenstein apples (before becoming famous as a wine region, Sonoma County was known for its apple orchards). Three Sisters offers a whole buffet of foodie products and another favorite is the California Mission Fig/Honey line, available in soap, bath salt, body butter, and lip soother. Dessert time? Black Licorice/Vanilla and Dark Chocolate/Mint fit the bill. In a citrus mood? Mexican Lime/Cilantro, Blood Orange Cardamom or Meyer Lemon Agave. You can find Three Sisters products in stores from Sonoma County to Berkeley, but I suggest going to see them make the soaps and pick out exactly what you want from their spot in Barn 5400, a converted artisans’ space in Penngrove. There’s no limit to Mann’s creativity and experimentation: she makes a new product for each solstice, and you can even get a Coconut/Lemon or Cedar/Pink Grapefruit soap for your dog from their Soapy Tails line. When I visit, she’s working on a chai soap using tea from a local producer (again, there’s that word “local”). “I want it to matter that I know what goes into making everything,” says Mann as she packs up my usual plethora of delights. Try this cornucopia of skin care pleasures, as familiar as your last meal but somehow always carrying a surprising twist, and you’ll see how much it does matter.
ESTRELLA SOAP COMPANY
Think of Seattle, and what’s the first food or drink that comes to mind? Any caffeine addict can tell you the answer to that one! So it’s not surprising that Estrella Soap Company (www.estrellasoap.com) makes a wonderful coffee body scrub. Just like choosing your coffee, you can choose your coffee scrub “pure” or fancied up, as they have three varieties: original, peppermint, and vanilla. Peppermint adds a refreshing note to the dusky coffee blend, while vanilla is extra spicy and aromatic. My favorite, though, is the original, where the coffee (organic and fair trade) is supplemented by organic sugar to make a perfectly exfoliating mix, while jojoba and coconut oils soothe your skin even while it’s being scrubbed. For those who prefer tea, Earl Grey sugar scrubs are just the ticket (Earl Grey is also used in hair and body oils, soap, and body butter). You might also try their lip balms flavored with essential oils, from Ginger/Orange or Lime to Pink Lemonade or (my personal favorite) Root Beer, or their Grapefruit/Vanilla or Citrus/Lemongrass bath fizzies. Each comes in jars of eight beautifully-designed little discs that you toss into your bath to dissolve into a skin-healing soak.
BEEKMAN’S COPA SOAPS
I remember years ago buying some of the cold-pressed soaps from Beekman’s COPA Soaps (Tel: 800-315-5690. www.copasoaps.com) at a street fair in the Philadelphia area, and I’ve been hooked ever since. My new favorite is the Ginger Carrot, which uses carrot juice and ginger juice, plus orange and cinnamon oils, in addition to the “big four” oils: coconut, olive, palm, and olive. (Clever readers will notice that the initials of these four oils, the stars of their soaps, form the word “COPA”!) The result is a slightly orange-tinged bar with a sweet/spicy scent that feels like pure indulgence when you coat your face in it. If you’re like me, you’ll choose their “spicy collection,” where you can select six soaps that include the Carrot/Ginger and might also contain Basil, Cider, Honey Oatmeal, Saffron, and Spice. The Oatmeal soaps, flecked with brown speckles, have a great exfoliating quality (in addition to honey, you can get plain or lavender-scented), while the Avocado adds the oil of this fruit along with rosemary, marjoram, and lavender oils for a refreshing and relaxing herbal sensation. Check their website to see if they’re resuming their street fair appearances, or order online to receive these substantial bars, subtly scented and oh-so-healthy.