Self-Care: Curious Nature Apothecary

Now that I'm (officially) in my thirties, I decided to start taking better care of my skin. A year ago, I decided to get healthy and fit...and spent the year eating clean, whole foods, establishing a yoga practice, lifting, and running. About a month before my 30th birthday, I started noticing changes in my subtle changes in my skin and took note that I'm actually visibly aging - and I wondered - hey, if I didn't notice these taking place, am I going to wake up in five years and really regret not drinking more water and slathering on that sunscreen and not even recognize my own skin? The answer? Absolutely, but more so, I realized it was time to do more to moisturize and nourish my skin. That's where this fun collaboration with Curious Nature Apothecary, a line of organic and natural goods for your body, skin, and senses, comes in.

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Curious Nature Apothecary is run by Gina Browning and Jill Sarmento, two best friends from the tender age of nine, who took a perfumery class together when Gina couldn't find a perfume she loved. They began to have conversations that stemmed from the class - and their vision for creating products that are free of synthetic ingredients, are responsibly packaged, and safe - products their clients can feel good about using, was born.

I found Curious Nature Apothecary via Instagram one day...their packaging, designed by Christina at Wild Hart Paper Co., was so stunning, I stopped scrolling and clicked over to their pretty gallery and was immediately smitten. Actually trying the products was even better! These sweet ladies sent over the Hello Honey (honeyed salt scrub), Latte Foam (a whipped shea butter that smells like coffee), a varied assortment of their Lip Balm (my favorite is the avocado and lime), and their Essential Care Body & Bath Oil, which is created by doing a Calendula infusion, taking locally grown Calendula flowers and placing in olive oil, waiting six weeks, and then straining through cheesecloth. The infusion is then blended with other carrier oils and essential oils to create the final product.

I can't say enough about how just a few dedicated, simple products can do serious work for your skin. I live with moderate plaque psoriasis and winters are especially hard on my fragile skin. Many lotions and potions I've tried in the past leave me with harsher breakouts, but the combination of whipped shea butter (so light), the oil, and the salt scrub have given my skin a much-needed break this winter. I am seeing a major difference in my skin after starting a regular skincare practice with these products. I'm certainly not going to complain about having dewy cheeks at age thirty - and after many years of stress, too much sun, and not enough water to boot.

I asked the ladies to tell me a little bit about their process and the apothecary itself, and they were kind enough to share some snippets of their lives and work. Currently, Gina is living in England with her husband and twin daughters, off for a year of adventure, but even from afar handles things like packaging, wholesale orders, taxes, licenses - basically anything she can manage from online, but she says she misses the day-to-day work in the studio and is looking forward to getting more hands-on when she returns to the States. Jill is a massage therapist by day, but spends one to two days a week at the apothecary, filling orders, tracking inventory, filling bottles and jars, staying on top of infusions they have in process, and takes photos for the website and Instagram. Jill and Gina both love that the apothecary is set in a beautiful location for creating, in the fern-filled woods at Gina's Rhode Island residence, and the proximity to nature provides plenty of regular inspiration for the duo.

Gina and Jill have received some accolades for their work, including a spot on Rhode Island Monthly's Best of Rhode Island, as well as a recent article in the local Providence paper, and a spot on the Rhode Island Holiday Gift Guide curated by State x State and The Dean Hotel, who summed up the products perfectly when they said "two young ladies have crafted a ridiculous lineup of goods with ingredients that are ethically sourced and expertly crafted. We are talking perfumery-level training here. Latte foam body butter? Absolutely." I couldn't agree more with these sentiments and can't praise them enough for their attention to detail and adherence to organic principles while staying modern, fresh, and accessible.

On where they're going next? Eventually they hope to have a studio more accessible to visitors, but for now, they have two local stockists, Facing Thayer and Evolve Apothecary, and all of their products are available through their online shop right here.