Fifteen years ago, Barbara Close—a social worker turned herbalist, aromatherapist, massage therapist, and clinical esthetician—proved herself ahead of the beauty industry curve with the launch of Naturopathica, a line of effective products based on natural ingredients and ancient healing rituals. Now, she’s taking the brand to the next level with the introduction of several products that have been EcoCert-certified as natural and organic (an intense approval process that takes five years), as well as re-designed sustainable packaging and a new website that lets customers search by both ingredients and preferences like vegan and gluten-free. The goal, says Close, is to make “green” user-friendly.
“I think ‘organics’ and ‘naturals’ need to shift to another mindset,” she explains. “Those media images of models meditating on mountaintops or soaking in a tub with rose petals seem annoyingly surreal. People want things that work, but we don’t have a lot of time these days—we are working to just keep it together. So we should be going for what I call ‘attainable well-being.’”
With that in mind, Close’s products—which are used in spas across the country, as well as at her iconic (and just re-opened) East Hampton, New York healing arts center—focus mainly on achieving specific results with nutraceutical formulations. But straightforward relaxation is never out of mind. “I feel deeply from my heart that multi-tasking is the cancer of the twenty-first century,” Close says. “There are so many stress-related illnesses these days, we need to look at the mind-body connection and learn how to identify these symptoms.” We recently caught up with the expert (just back from a trip to a California lavender farm) for her take on how to chill out.
How do you approach relaxation?
To me, relaxation is a two-prong process: you first tune in, then tune out. So many people are trying to tune out from themselves, but you have to get attuned to your own pulse point and breathing. Listen to your body—it’s empowering! Find simple rituals to re-connect with yourself. Personally, I try to get up at five in the morning two or three times a week and do one hour of yoga and meditation, and I also like to write in a journal; you have to let stuff come up and percolate before you can let it go. Once you’ve done that, then you can tune out. Lose yourself in nature, a good book, swimming, or a long walk. On the weekends, I do a “time moratorium”—I take off my watch, turn all the clocks around, and just let things go blurry. It’s liberating to not be on a schedule. Sunday night is also a good time to recharge with a warm bath, or a meditation. I like to burn a calming oil blend, then put a few drops of the scent on a tissue to keep in my pocket or purse. You can smell it throughout the week to remind you of the ritual.
What are some natural tips for fighting stress?
We have lost our ancestral practices, that lineage to when the kitchen was the apothecary. You can find a lot of good remedies there! California poppy helps calm “chatty minds,” and valerian helps you fall asleep. For a relaxing bath, add in some chamomile, hops, or a tea infusion, or some anti-depressant “happy oils” like bergamot or balsam fir. Rosemary, arnica, and bay laurel are high in camphor content, so they are warming and good for sore muscles. Of course, massages are good, too! I like an in-depth myofascial massage, which is grounding and re-aligning. And foot massages are so restorative—you can take care of the whole body in five minutes. www.naturopathica.com