“IN THOSE DAYS, IT WAS CONSIDERED ‘CRUNCHY’ TO TO BE A NATURAL BRAND,” SAYS NATUROPATHICA FOUNDER BARBARA CLOSE OF THE EARLY PERIOD WHEN SHE FOUNDED HER BELOVED HERITAGE BRAND IN 1995 BEFORE “CLEAN BEAUTY” WAS SYNONYMOUS WITH AN OVAL BAR OF WHITE SOAP. “As an esthetician and herbalist I was really disgusted with the common practice of “greenwashing” formulas with cheap and irritating base materials that pretended to be good for the skin. Instead, I focused on choosing ingredients that truly benefit the skin—nourishing botanicals like aloe, oats and seed oils, as well as innovative active ingredients or “clean cosmeceuticals” like plant stem cells, retinols and glycolics to deliver results.” For over two decades, Naturopathica has quietly remained a cult favorite, drawing fans to Close’s spa and apothecary in East Hampton and more recently in a hidden haven in Chelsea. Most recently, the brand launched its holistic facial, a tailored program fit to each client’s lifestyle, skin needs and diet. Below we caught up with Close to talk the trend of clean beauty, her own approach to nourishment and what she considers the best mode of self-care.
Clean beauty is very on trend right now. Are you happy about the mass-marketing on nontoxic beauty and where would you like to see it go?
After years and years of throwing known irritants and toxins into their products, it’s refreshing to see mass brands held accountable for their ingredients. The surge of interest in ingredient safety and integrity over the past decade underscores everything we’ve stood for for over 20 years. Now that consumers are becoming more educated about ingredients and products, I hope that we will evolve beyond toxicity to focus on clean, skin-friendly ingredients that do not cause irritation to the skin mircobiome. You don’t have to sacrifice the efficacy of Vitamin C, Retinol or Glycolic Acid in your skin care, but you do have to deliver these ingredients with clean base materials and preservative systems that work in harmony with the skin’s natural processes.
What are your top 3 favorite hero products from your line that you’ve depended on for years?
As a product formulator, I am always eager to add our newer products to my routine. That said, I do have a few tried-and-true standbys. The Oat Cleansing Facial Polish is such a versatile product, acting as a cleanser, exfoliator and treatment mask all in one. Rich in Oat Beta Glucan, Oats not only calm inflammation, they’re also deeply hydrating and restore the skin barrier with moisture and nutrients.
Over the years, I’ve seen people spend a lot of money on serums and miracle creams without understanding how those products penetrate the skin. Regular exfoliation is critical and helps prime the skin to receive essential nutrients, which is why our Pumpkin, Sweet Cherry or Pear Fig Enzyme Peels are an essential part of any Naturopathica facial and home care regimen.
Finally, the Calendula Essential Hydrating Cream, one of my longest love affairs. I first discovered the herb Calendula when I visited French herboristeries with my aunt who lived outside of Paris. Calendula is a wound-healing herb, and one of the most effective ingredients for dry or inflamed skin. In this formula, it’s blended with nourishing Borage Seed Oil to form a rich, golden-colored cream that feels like velvet on your skin.
Your holistic facial incorporates as much what you put inside your body as it does outside. How would you describe your approach to your own diet? Do you not eat certain things, if so, what are they and why?
Like Oscar Wilde, my credo is, “Everything in moderation—even moderation.” I’m the last to discourage anyone from a glass of wine or an apple butterscotch tart, so I’ve come to forgive and enjoy my excesses within a larger context of eating healthy. My diet is primarily plant-based and I limit sugar, which is like gasoline for inflammation and premature aging of the skin. This brings me to my second motto, “Drink something wild every day.” Plants contain an abundance of antioxidants and prebiotics, so I drink herbal teas with tinctures twice a day. Plants have evolved on this planet for thousands by learning to adapt to their environment, which is why I am a big believer in taking herbal remedies to help improve the body’s resilience to stress.
Take us through a day in the life of meals and drinks from morning to bedtime.
Since the skin is over 60% water, I drink at least 6 8-ounce cups of water a day, starting first thing in the morning with lemon water. Lemon is great for the skin and body because it’s alkaline-forming and helps to neutralize acidity.
I try to fill my diet with beauty foods: veggies, good fats and probiotics. I’ll start with leafy greens, then add essential fatty acids that help keep me full and satisfied, like salmon, free-range eggs and avocado. At snack times, I reach for fermented foods like pickles, kimchi, miso and kombucha that help regulate digestion and fine tune the immune system.
What would you say are the top three aging factors for skin, be it food, products or environmental?
I’ve always said that inflammation is the primary cause of premature aging in the skin, and there are a variety of internal and external factors that can cause it. Poor nutrition, high levels of stress and irritants in skin care products can all initiate an inflammatory response on the inside. Externally, the sun and pollution are the primary age accelerators.
How can someone incorporate the spirit of the holistic facial in their day to day skin regimen and life?
Our goal is to evolve how people think about their skin. It isn’t as one dimensional as “oily” or “dry” skin. We start with Skin Personalities, our alternative to skin types (explained here), then use our toolkit of skin care, herbal remedies and lifestyle tips to help improve skin health over time. If you always break out around your period, you may have Hormone Reactive Skin, or if you’re always red and sensitized, you may have Stress Reactive Skin. When you start thinking about your skin as a dynamic organ, you can also start to identify the foods, herbal remedies and lifestyle factors that will help you look and feel your best.
What is your favorite method of self-care that you do on a daily basis?
Laughter is the best medicine, and with my husband and two dachshunds, I’m never at a loss for laughs. They’re a riot and remind me to chill out and not take things too seriously. Wellness is a dynamic process of realizing human potential. It’s a joyous process that celebrates nourishment–not deprivation.