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Visions of Beauty

by Jennie Nunn

When it comes to clean beauty, there’s an overwhelming number of elegant and effective choices available right now. That wasn’t always the case. Fortunately, consumer education and demand have elevated standards across the board.

These innovative clean beauty pioneers share a fierce dedication to health and wellness, sourcing the finest natural ingredients and incorporating sustainability, and it puts them ahead of the pack. Here are their stories.

Brand: Osmia Organics
Founder: Sarah Villafranco, MD, Carbondale, Colorado

The Story Begins: “I was feeling unsettled after a decade as an emergency physician, especially about some of the standard healthcare practices that felt misaligned with my values. After having my second daughter and losing my mom to pancreatic cancer shortly afterwards, I was in a perfect storm of hormones and grief. In an out-of-character move, I signed up for a soap-making class at a local ranch, and it ended up being a life-changing event.”

The Name: “Anosmia is the inability to smell, which many thousands of people have experienced in the last two years thanks to Covid-19. Parosmia is an altered sense of smell, and hyperosmia is a heightened sense of smell, something many women experience during pregnancy. The word ‘osmia’ doesn’t exist in medicine, so I used it for the brand.”

Mission: “We create natural skincare products with better ingredients, beautiful results, and a softer impact on the planet.”

Top 3: Black Clay Facial Soap: “I’ve used this little bar every day for over 10 years, and it keeps my perioral dermatitis at bay”; Purely Simple Face Cream: “This light, nourishing face cream works for almost every skin type”; Hand creams: “We launched these last fall. I use Lavender Grapefruit when I need an energetic boost, Sandalwood Ginger when I want a feeling of comfort, and Naked when I’m working and just need instant relief for my dry hands.”

Thinking Clean: “Because it’s time for all of us to do better. Once we know better, our next responsibility—to ourselves, to our children, to the planet—is to do better. Osmia is our way of doing better, from ingredients to products to packaging to the tree we plant with every order.”

Brand: Flora Lee Naturals
Founder: Nia Baucke, Cincinnati, Ohio

The Story Begins: "After college, I began to suffer from hormonal acne and the subsequent hyperpigmentation that comes with it (cue the witch hazel, alcohol pads, oil-free moisturizers and acidic toners). Those harsh treatments caused my skin to become sensitive, dry and even more acne-prone. My grandmother and mother had always kept things simple, natural and moisturizing. I started researching ways to treat my skin using simple, gentle ingredients—think rose water, aloe vera, tea tree oil—and it worked wonders.”

The Name: “Flora Lee is homage not only to my grandmother with the same name, but all the beautiful women in my family who have helped me along my skincare and self-love journey.”

Mission: “At our core our mission is to inspire true confidence and well-being through offering consciously made, natural skincare and wellness products.”

Top 2: The Instant Glow Mask: “What I love most is how it removes dead surface skin cells without being harsh. The shea butter adds a pillowy-soft moisturizing element that leaves the skin feeling bouncy and moisturized”; Gardener’s Beauty Oil: “I’ve had so many customers mention how different their skin feels when they stop using it, which is why our reorder rate for this product is so high.”

Next Up: “We’re currently gearing up to launch our gel cleanser. We’re incredibly excited to offer a gentle, antioxidant rich cleanser to exfoliate and hydrate the skin.”

Community Impact: “Because we are an indie beauty brand, we have the incredible opportunity to build a small but mighty community online and in-person. Recently I had a woman come up to me and give me a hug at an event. She told me how much she loved not only our products but our brand, including all the tips and tricks we share on social media. It meant the world to me. At the end of the day, it’s all about supporting people’s confidence through incredible products and a great community experience.” 

Brand: Kahina Giving Beauty
Founders: Mother-daughter duo, Katharine and Grace L’Heureux, New York, New York

The Story Begins: “In 2007, while on vacation in Morocco with family, I was introduced to Argan oil and personally experienced its benefits on my own skin. Intrigued by the story of its unique production methods while recognizing a need in the marketplace for simple, yet elevated, organic skincare, I decided to create the skincare line I wanted to use with this ingredient at its core,” says Katharine. “Working with an experienced chemist, I set out to create a simple, effective and luxurious line of all-natural and organic skin and body care products, inspired by Morocco and made in the U.S. Kahina was officially launched in 2009.”

The Name: “Kahina is the name of a Berber queen who reigned in North Africa in the 17th Century. She was a warrior queen who pushed back the first Arab invasion and is a powerful representation of the Berber women. Giving Beauty signifies our mission to give back to the Berber women of Morocco while literally giving beauty to our customers.”

Mission: “To provide luxurious and effective clean and sustainable skincare while providing economic independence to the women who do the hard work of extracting our core ingredients: Argan and Prickly Pear Seed oils. For the Berber women who inhabit the Argan forest in the Southwest of Morocco, extracting Argan oil offers them their only means of financial and social independence. We pay fair wages and donate an additional percentage of our revenue to programs that improve the lives of these women and their families.”

Top 3: Prickly Pear Seed Oil: “Using an oil is a key step in my skincare routine,” says Grace. “The Prickly Pear Seed Oil is my favorite”; Restorative Serum: “This really addresses my major
concern, which is signs of aging,” says Katharine. “It helps to brighten, plump, nourish and strengthen my skin”; Eye Serum: “I use the Eye Serum around my eyes to depuff and strengthen the area,” adds Grace. “I am starting to be concerned about crow’s feet and am working now to keep them at bay.” 

Brand: Josh Rosebrook
Founder: Josh Rosebrook, Palm Desert, California

The Story Begins: “I have been fascinated with skincare since the early 1990s, starting with the Body Shop. I was experimenting with making my own skincare in 2002 and began sharing the products I made with my clients. The results were dramatic and my clients really inspired me to continue making products because they wanted them. I started sharing my formulations with cosmetic chemists and building the unique formulations that are available today. I launched my first product in 2009 with the Cacao Antioxidant Mask.”

Mission: “My mission has always been driven by our high standards, ethics and product performance. We work very hard to make informed, well-researched decisions that peer through a conscious lens always focused on the future.”

Top 3: Daily Acid Toner: “There’s nothing like it. Powerful, effective and gentle. Plumps and evens out skin tone incredibly”; C Bright Complex: “Brightens and protects visibly”; Nutrient Day Cream SPF: “This professionally formulated, broad spectrum SPF moisturizes and protects the skin and leaves a dewy glow. Finishes perfectly moisturized without being sticky or heavy.”

Next Up: “We have an exciting body collection we are launching on July 1. This collection is driven by bio-driven, face-worthy actives for the body. We are filling a much-needed space in body care to offer regenerating products that support skin repair and nourishment with a level of active nutrient density usually reserved for the face.”

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