If you thought that food was the only thing you could find fresh, organic, locally sourced ingredients for, your worldview is severely limited. Dr. Cindy Jones of Colorado Aromatics Cultivated Skin Care is taking the farm-to-table trend to a new lotion-y level.
Dr. Jones, along with her husband, have been steadily advocating for locally grown ingredients to make it to medicine cabinets across the country. Working hard on their 10-acre farm in Longmont, Dr. Jones has been harvesting more than 30 different fresh herbs for use in lotions, scrubs, lip balms, and other wonderful skin-care products.
We spoke to Dr. Jones for more insight on this innovative new trend.
Innovators Peak: Tell me about Colorado Aromatics, how did it get started?
Dr. Cindy Jones: Well, it’s something that grew out of a hobby. It just was an intersection of all my passions. I love science, I love herbs, and I love growing things. I learned that I could grow some really good skincare products having my background in science and understanding what the skin needs and understanding about very sophisticated ingredients.
How did you get interested in organic skincare?
It grew out of these passions that I had. I had done it for a few years as a hobby and I realized that I really had a knack for it and could really help people, especially people in Colorado, who all have skin damage because we love to be outside. My husband and I decided to buy a farm about eight years ago so we would have the space to grow herbs. That’s when we really kind of switched over from a hobby to a business. We had enough space to grow the herbs and support the business.
How much land is there on the farm?
Our total acreage is about 10 acres. But currently we’re only farming on about two acres, so we still have room to expand.
You have about 30 different herbs growing on the farm, is that correct?
Yes. But the main herbs are lavender, calendula, lemon balm, and chamomile.
What is the process from farming to final product?
Well, summers are very busy. During the summer we’re growing the herbs. We grow the herbs, harvest them, and then dry them on the farm. We then put them away for storage so that we have these dried herbs available to us all year long. From the dried herbs we make the herb extracts in a variety of ways.
During the summer when the herbs are fresh we distill some of them. We make aromatic water by distilling (this is really nice for the skin) and we use these as spritzers and toners on the skin. We make water extracts, oil extracts, alcohol extracts, and then we have a production facility in town where we make the products. We take those herb extracts that we made and those go in all of our products.
What separates organic, fresh ingredient skincare from other run-of-the-mill skincare products?
Well, in this day and age it’s hard to say what your standard, run-of-the-mill products are, but I think one important thing about using herbs in products (a lot of natural companies don’t use herbs) is that herbs add a lot of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories that really help to repair skin. A lot of times dry skin is misunderstood as sensitive skin, so these anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories are great for repairing the damage that we get from being outside so much.
That’s one big difference in using the herbs. Another big difference with Colorado Aromatics is the fact that my background as a chemist has allowed me to use some more sophisticated ingredients that are still natural ingredients. We use some peptides in our line that help promote collagen production. Stimulating the collagen is a really important aspect of skincare. Collagen is the foundation of the skin. We always look for natural ingredients that can help promote collagen.
From a consumer standpoint, how can you tell the difference between a corporate skincare product and a natural, organic skincare product without looking at the label? Would there be a difference in smell or sensation?
Boy, that’s a good question. I don’t know that there’s an obvious way. Possibly smell. A lot of the big brand products are scented with various perfume-y type things that are over-scented and kind of stinky to a certain extent. We use essential oils in our products and not necessarily to scent the product, but we use them for their therapeutic activity.
We’ll use various essential oils that are just healthy for the skin and then the byproduct of that I guess is that it gives the product a pleasant scent. But I know a lot of the big brands have extremely sweet smells and ours are a more earthy, herbal smell.
This has been described as relating to the “farm-to-table” trend in that it’s called “farm-to-face” or “farm-to-skin.” What led you to believe that your products would meld with this trend?
Partly because we’re in Boulder County and “farm-to-table” is a big movement here; one of our big outlets for our products is the farmer’s market. That’s where people are talking about the farm-to-table. So being at the farmer’s market gives us an opportunity to let consumers know that we are a farm, we are growing these herbs to use in the products, and that we have better products because of that. It’s more sustainable and it’s healthier for the skin.
Do you find that people have a better reaction to knowing that your product is farm fresh than opposed to chemical? Have you noticed a difference? Are they more excited about it?
I think that the bottom line for most women is that they want a skincare product that really works. That’s the primary thing that people want, they want a product that works. I think that they’re very happy to know that they can get a product that really works and that is natural, sustainable, and comes from a farm.
How does the price of manufacturing compare with bigger skincare companies? Is it less or more expensive to use fresh ingredients?
It’s slightly more expensive because we do everything ourselves so we can follow the process from seed to skin. We’re growing the product, harvesting it, and then making the final product and selling it. The process is slightly more expensive; however, our company does not charge the high profit margins that you see in the larger skincare lines because we’re not paying spokesmodels to do commercials for us.
It’s harder to get the word out there I guess because we’re not doing that, but at the same time a lot of brands promote themselves as being a luxury brand and I never wanted to be associated as a luxury brand. I don’t think skincare is a luxury. I think it’s something you have to have. It’s a requirement to have good skin care. So to consider it a luxury and to mark the price up tenfold is just not who I am.
Do you see natural skincare products making a bigger impact in the market for years to come?
Yes, definitely. There have been organizations that have done studies and they’ve seen it grow year to year and project that it will continue to grow. As long as the consumer knows that they can get a good, high-quality product that uses natural ingredients I think that it will continue to grow.
If you’re interested in some natural, organic, and local skincare products, be sure to check out Colorado Aromatics website, their store in Longmont, and a few other wholesale markets all around Colorado. Farm-to-skin is the next big trend, my friends. And it’s starting right here in Colorado.