I had a casual conversation recently with someone who has PERFECT skin, and when I mentioned that I was hoping to overhaul my beauty routine, she instantly launched into an impassioned speech about how much she loves apothecary beauty. I nodded and smiled and seemed intrigued—and I was intrigued, because I had no idea what she was talking about.
The term "apothecary," which you no doubt recognize from your high school reading of Romeo and Juliet, refers to doctors and pharmacists who take a hyper-individual approach to prescribing remedies with natural and naturally derived ingredients. In simpler times, apothecaries even had their own gardens to grow these ingredients.
As a first-time apothecary user (apothecarian? apothecaryist?), I went straight to the most trusted brand I could think of: New York City's C.O. Bigelow, the "oldest apothecary in America."
And as I learned, there's nothing like a one-on-one experience with an apothecary expert who will discuss your lifestyle to find products that really fit in.
"Most people have done nothing for their skin their entire lives, and when they wake up they are looking for the magic bullet," explains C.O. Bigelow president Ian Ginsberg. "It doesn't exist, and that's why it's important to craft a basic skin care regimen with a specialist, then add products as your situation requires."
In addition to the custom service, apothecary skincare is on the rise because society at large is more aware of and conscientious about the ingredients in their skincare. More than ever, women are looking to all-natural solutions, especially for skin problems that are individual and sensitive.
"Apothecary skincare tends to be specific in treating a particular skin concern,"says Ginsberg. "All the working parts play a specific roll. There is no fairy dust."
Ginsberg recommends going to a specialty apothecary store and looking for a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer suited to your skin type. But if you don't live near an apothecary store (we know it's highly unlikely that you live near an apothecary store), Ginsberg suggests looking for products online that contain witch hazel (a well known acne fighter), rose extract (moisturizing for a youthful complexion), beeswax (super anti-inflammatory), and avocado oil (deeply hydrating). Here are a couple of my favorites:
1. Dr Hauschka Rose Body Oil, $28.95; bigelowchemists.com.
2. C.O. Bigelow Dr. Galen Herbal Skin Tonic, $12; bigelowchemists.com.
3. Antipodes Organic Avocado Oil & Rosehip Divine Face Oil, $34; amazon.com.
4. Great Barrier Island Bee Company Manuka Honey Beeswax Body Butter, $22; bigelowchemists.com.
Now that I'm on my apothecary beauty kick, I feel so much better about how I'm treating my skin. Will report back!
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