Whether it's farm-to-table restaurants or furniture makers, upstate New York has long been known as a mecca for makers conscientiously practicing their craft.
In the last few years, the region has also become a magnet for enterprising folks looking to make waves in the clean beauty space. And given the bounty of locally grown herbs and botanicals that can be sourced direct from the region's many farms for use in their products, it's no wonder.
While the category of clean beauty can be a wide one, it's a unifying approach to sourcing philosophy that has emerged to set these brands apart: a commitment to making products with local ingredients where possible and without potentially toxic substances or harm to animals.
From soap to perfume to face and body care and more, here are eight upstate clean beauty brands you should know.
In 1982, Oswego chef Gary Austin set out to craft a simple soap that he and his wife could use for their first child, who was allergic to grocery store soap. Drawing on his culinary background, Austin came up with a simple, natural, olive oil-based version that would become the recipe for the gentle Castile soap bars that have made the family's company, SallyeAnder, a cult favorite for almost 40 years.
Many of the ingredients for the Beacon-based brand's 20-plus varieties of soap bars—plus its shampoos, lip balms, face scrubs, and fan-favorite DEET-free “No-Bite-Me” bug repellent—are sourced right from the Hudson Valley. And true to its origins, all of its products only feature pure essential oils, herbs, and an olive oil blended base instead of coconut or palm oil.
Products to try:
We love the original bar soaps (in Lakeshore, Milk & Mint, and Evergreen to name a few) but just a few swipes of the Nourish Under Eye Treatment stick—loaded with rich, soothing ingredients like orchid oil and cocoa butter—and you'll swear those lines around your eyes were just a figment of your imagination.
For those looking to add a little luxury to their everyday beauty routine, check out the Nectar Regenerative Oil, with hints of honied jasmine and rose geranium, or the calming Lavender + Squalane Daily Glow Oil.
The plant-based body and face care line is made with oils infused with botanicals that are wild-crafted or sustainably grown in the Catskills, and without the use of colorants and ingredients that harm people, water, and land.
The bar soaps in herby Rosemary Biochar—made with wood burned in very low oxygen that can help soothe insect-bitten or rash- or acne-prone skin—lusciously floral Frangipani Orange, and uplifting Juniper Tangerine will have your bathroom feeling like a spa in no time.
Shop Phoenicia Soap Co.
Products to try:
The hand-drawn designs on the compostable packaging alone is enough to make you want to scoop up a half dozen of Lovewild's products, but we especially love the Gleaming Glow Mask with antioxidant-rich rose-hip and pomegranate seed powders and the Rose Lip Balm, which gets its light, natural tint from alkanet root.
Hudson Valley Skincare founder Cathie Arpino started her career in the late '80s as a cosmetic chemist formulating products. In 2012, she found her way back to her passion through her husband, Glenn, a compounding pharmacist with a background in product formulation. The idea came to life when Glenn started to get requests for natural products, inspiring Arpino to get back in the lab and combine her love of science and nature to create Hudson Valley Skin Care, where indulgence meets affordability.
From soaps to lotions, lip balms, candles, and more, Hudson Valley Skincare's small-batch beauty and home products are handcrafted at their lab facility in Pleasant Valley and never tested on animals. The line features organic and locally sourced ingredients like goat milk from Coach Farms in Pine Plains.
Give your lips the gift of moisture with the Black Cherry Lip Treatment, made with locally sourced cold-pressed sunflower seed oil. Rich with shea butter, argan oil, sunflower oil, and cocoa butter yet lightweight enough for daily use, we love the line of Bodacious Body Lotions featuring single scents like patchouli, sandalwood, and lavender.
Shop Hudson Valley Skincare.
In 2004 Susan’s daughter Sarah and her partner Eric suggested a rebranding of the soap. SAIPUA (derived from the Finnish word for soap ‘saippua’ and a nod to Pentti’s heritage) was formed. For almost two decades, soap has served as a backbone for the myriad endeavors at SAIPUA and Worlds End Farm in Esperance, New York, which has expanded to include wool and sheep products, ceramics, seasonal pantry items, and tabletop decor.
In the Vetiver with French Green Clay bar, smoky, earthy vetiver (a favorite base note for many perfumers) really shines, and the French green clay works to gently draw out impurities and tighten the pores. Looking for extra nourishment? The luxurious Face and Body Oil features three hydrating oils that will help replenish your skin's moisture.
In addition to the many sustainability-focused organizations Gentleman Farmer donates to including the National Young Farmers Coalition and the NRDC, the company's commitment to green practices includes using easily recyclable materials like aluminum and glass, participation in Pact Collective, a nonprofit that collects hard-to-recycle items in an effort to keep them out of the ocean and landfills, and using responsibly sourced palm oil from South America. The brand is also certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny.
For minimalists just looking to level up their daily skin care game, the nourishing Shaving Cream and skin-brightening Daily Face Wash are an easy one-two punch that won't leave you feeling like you just adopted a nine-step self-care regime.