I am Tired. Thank you.

I’ve never been okay with not expressing my opinion. I’ve wanted to be okay with it, but all of my efforts to control the stubborn, often preemptive, voice inside of me have given way under the pressure of my curiosity to know what, both, you and I think about everything right now all at once and what we can do about it. I know that, as I age, I will become more patient. I am waiting until then.

I didn’t want to make skincare, but I didn’t not want to; I just wanted to do something so that I didn’t pace so much and also do something that would Band-Aid my poor genetics and anxious insomniac-induced circles under my eyes.

I am ascetically aware, like most people, but I admit it and I also admit that it is not the only thing—in fact I’d rather witness your mind in language expressed in your own particular parole and find the beauty there—but we are not without it, and we shouldn’t be; it is one of many facets of our existence that I absolutely love and know to be crucial.

We are not without our visual, sensual memories of the fog of morning dissipating over the mountains in Lake Louise, or of the sleeping giant resting within the expansive lake Superior at dusk, or of a full moon on a clear night on a day that we’ve decided we are okay, finally, and everything seems to agree.

We need these beautiful, visual confirmations of our humanness; we honor them and share them on instagram and facebook and call these visuals euphoric, life-changing, beautiful, self-identifiable, and yet we fuss so much over calling our personal visual identity by similar words.

I admit, the commercial idea of beauty has provided much insecurity for those who want a visual identity, but I just want everyone to know that you have one, and you should honor it and call it by its name. Make it the beautiful that you understand from the same part of you that thinks the moon is beautiful which is not the same part of you that wonders why you don’t look like X or Y.

Find the things that support this self-fulfilled concept of beautiful and honor it, but don’t pretend your visual, ascetic identity doesn’t matter. It does, by your own terms, but it does. I am tired, because you guys have been buying up my products like crazy and I can’t keep up and I love that and it makes me feel beautiful, and I finally love the circles under my eyes because I understand what they mean.

Cambio Market thinks we're alright.

The Willow's Bark was recently featured on Cambio Market's Blog as one of the 7 ethical brands in Canada that they support! Cambio Market is "a curated collection of thoughtful, responsible goods that empower artisans around the world." They source responsibly produced work from artisans through trade, and look for additional ways to give back locally and globally as well.

Thanks for the mention guys!

FLORA - REPAIR

FIX IT BEFORE IT'S BROKEN

We're welcoming some new additions to the skincare regimen.

FLORA REPAIR is a full body repair cream and lip balm made with wild-harvested yarrow, willow bark, plantain, and comfrey. These locally sourced plant extracts are blended with rich and absorbent organic, cold-pressed babassu oil; a natural emollient with restorative properties for dry or flakey skin. 
We also used local wildflower beeswax to add a layer of protection to the skin, and nutritionally dense oils such as organic cold-pressed rosehip & helichrysum oils. These oils immediately soften skin, heal & renew skin cells, and provide a heavy dose of antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene, vitamins E, & C, and healthy omegas 3, 6, & 9.  

FLORA LIP REPAIR BALM will cure your dry, lipsticked lips, providing immediate softness and reveal a natural, naked suppleness that you only, ever needed. 

FLORA full body repair cream will help you get a head start on the cold weather skin sadness, it'll soften sandal feet and bike handle hands, and it'll fix those dark circles under your eyes from all the late summer nights you've spent living your life. 

TORONTO GREEN MARKET

Join us for the first Toronto Green Market on Sunday the 28th!
The theme of the event is eco, handcrafted, sustainable, and local.
we are just one of the many creative, and ecoficient vendors making an appearance, so come browse the future of Toronto's indpendant makers who are creating beauty, not waste.

Toronto Green Market's Instagram & Facebook

FLOWER & FRUIT FACIAL SERUM -- And Why I Ditched the Commercial Crap

 

My youth was a mess of allergic reactions, eczema outbreaks, and facial acne. Feeling beautiful on the inside wasn't my goal; I was determined to do something about it, but nothing I bought from Shoppers or chain "Boutiques" improved my itchy, inflammed skin; rather, they only made my situation worse.
I would find out later that the influx of teen hormones and the addition of birth control play a huge role in skin appearance. I would also find out that my genetics guaranteed me allergies to preservatives like potassium sorbate and polysorbate, to artificial perfumes and sodium laureth sulfate, to soy and most metals among a long list of other things.

I realized that I might be the real life full-spectrum version of the Princess and the Pea and decided that it was up to me to do some research, clean up my diet, and throw away every bit of skincare product I'd been praying with and hording like it could be the cure for most of my teenage years.


I started with the basics, using pure rosehip oil on my skin morning and night, washing my skin with grapeseed oil and a hot cloth, and eating a plant based diet. I had conqured most of my skin issues with these remedies, as well as figuring out what I was allergic to, getting off of birth control, and doing a few herbal cleanses.
But I wanted to know more. I decided to go to school for Nutrition so that I could further understand the relationship that we have with the food we eat and the toxins in our environment, in everyday skincare, and household products.
I started researching local wild medicinal plants and then scavenged the surrounding forests, trails, and wetlands of my hometown.
I dried and infused these plants in simple carrier oils and tested them over and over again to see the difference and effects they would have on my skin, and singled out the ones that made noticeable changes in my appearance. It was walking these trails, looking for and identifying herbs, understanding why they are powerful, and then harrnessing those powers that changed me.

Today, after years of research and personal testing, I think I've found something that not only works better than anything I've bought from the store, but really improves the appearance and health of my skin in a noticeable way.

The Fruit & Flower Facial Serum is my baby. I have spent a long time crafting this little wonder with the right amounts of what I consider some of the best cold-pressed organic carrier oils mixed with the best local wild and organic herbal extracts. I, by no means, think it is the end-all-be-all for skincare and in fact I have been developing a more potent formula, and have also found some other informed local companies who are making great stuff too, but that being said, I know that my little baby works, and on some of the most sensitive skin I’ve ever met.


Here's a little break down of what I’ve used and why:

Rosehip Oil
Extracted from the hip of the rose, rosehip oil is a rich, highly absorbent reddish oil packed with free-radical fighting vitamins E & C, and is a source of essential fatty acids 3, 6 & 9, as well as antioxidants like lycopene & beta-carotene which fight the signs of aging. It's great for dry, sensitive, aging skin, scars, acne, pigmentation, and stretch marks.

Camellia Oil
Cold-pressed, organic camellia seed oil comes from the seed of the same plant that we get green, black, and oolong tea from. It has to be cold-pressed in order to preserve its sensitive, potent benefits. It is a very light, highly absorbent, odorless oil that blends into the skin upon contact leaving no oily residue. It is rich in oleic acid, as well as fatty acids 3, 6, & 9, and contains a high concentration of vitamin E and polyphenols. It has been praised for its ability to improve the moisture retention of the skin, which will reduce lines and wrinkles, improve the elasticity of the skin, and improve complexion and tone. Did I mention that it also blocks harmful UV rays?

Raspberry Seed Oil
right from the seed of the raspberry, raspberry seed oil is rich in a long list of antioxidants. It’s packed with fatty acids 3 & 6 (making up 86% of its whole), as well as vitamin E & vitamin A. With a natural SPF of 50, raspberry oil is better than your average sunscreen as it utilizes the benefits of elegiac acid. It’s also known to have a high concentration of linoleic acid & phytosterols, both of which combat the signs of aging by encouraging collagen production, regenerating skin cells, and retaining moisture in the skin.

Evening Primrose Oil
This pretty wildflower can be found in dry sunny meadows across America and despite being a delicious root, a fragrant flower, and lovely tea it contains a whole lot of good in its seeds. Outside of being a useful remedy for hormonal imbalances and PMS symptoms in women, its topical benefits range from acne, to psoriasis, to eczema to arthritis to breast tenderness. Rich in Omega-6, linoleic acid, and gamma linoleic acid, it’ll help the skin retain its moisture and elasticity while its anti-inflammatory properties fight free radicals and restore even tone to the skin.

Jojoba Oil
A liquid wax extracted from the nut of the wild native American shrub, jojoba oil is unique in that it closely resembles the sebum that our own body produces via our skin glands. It revolutionized the skincare industry years ago by singlehandedly replacing animal fats, most notably whale oil, and its no wonder; jojoba oil has an extrodinary ability to protect the skin from the elements by creating a natural moisture barrier without clogging pores or irritating the skin because of its close resemblance to human sebum. Jojoba oil is also anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and packed with minerals like copper, zinc, selenium, iodine & chromium.

Avocado Oil
a rich source of mono-saturated oleic acid, vitamin E, potassium, and lethicin, the avocado produces a light, rich oil with quick and high absorbability. It helps the skin retain water-- nurturing away those dry and itchy spells-- boosts collagen production, and reduces redness and inflammation caused by external sources like city air and UV exposure as well as internal ones like diet and hormonal changes.

Lavender Oil
With over 150 active constituents, the oil from the lavender plant is used as the remedy for all types of internal and external issues. Lavender oil is rich in esters making is a wonderful calming, antispasmodic oil. Due to its high concentrations of germicidal compounds like linalyl acetate and linalool—which prevent the growth of bacteria—its anti-inflammatory properties, and its ability to improve circulation it prevents acne & eczema breakouts, reduces the appearance of scars & wrinkles, and treats everything from burns, to wounds, to insect bites.

Yarrow Oil
A pretty perennial herb with tiny flowers, yarrow grows wild all over Canada. You can find it along paths, at the edge of forests, and lining meadows and colors range from white, to pink, to purple. It’s too-many-to-list constituents mean that it is an anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, cicatrisant, emollient, and astringent. Its astringency means that it contracts blood vessels and tightens aging skin. Its cicatrisant properties mean that it reduces the signs of scarring left by acne, and its emollient properties mean that it helps the skin retain moisture reducing dryness, the appearance of scars, and wrinkles.

Frankincense Oil
Made from the sap of the Boswellia tree native to Somalia, frankincense, like yarrow, is an astringent and cicatrisant reducing the appearance of acne, wrinkles, scars and large pores, while tightening and lifting the skin. It also promotes the regeneration of healthy cells, and keeps existent cells healthy.

Chamomile Oil (German Blue)
Chamomile contains compounds that are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, reducing the signs of aging, redness and irritation caused by external toxins or eczema-related issues, and blemishes caused by the infiltration of bacteria. Blue Chamomile is known for promoting tissue regeneration, and is generally called upon for topical applications for this reason. It promotes healthy skin cell renewal, and contributes the overall healthy appearance of your skin.

Willow Bark
known for it's anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, willow bark is a wonderful tool for combating red, itchy, inflammed skin. If it wasn't for willow bark (and its salicylic acid content), we wouldn't have aspirin. If it wasn't for willow bark, we wouldn't have The Willow's Bark. Salicin in its purest form and applied to the skin reduces the sign of wrinkles, cracks, dryness, roughness and pore size. It also imporves the overall radiance of the skin by evening skintone and tightening and shrinking pores. Salicylic acid is used in over the counter acne products but the real source contained within willow bark works the same, if not better, by reducing acne breakouts and improving the health of the skin without all of those drying fillers like alcohol.


Harvesting in the Minesing Wetlands

The Minesing Wetlands is my favourite place to spend an afternoon, and it is the primary source of inspiration for The Willow's Bark.

This protected area is considered one of the largest intact wetlands in southern Ontario. With a habitat similar to boreal forests, coniferous swamps, and meadow marshes, it's a breading ground for over 220 bird species and more than 20 mammal species such as black bear, moose and white-tailed deer. 

The wetlands are shaped by beavers whose leaky dams filter and affect the flow of water, creating breeding grounds for other wildlife. Bisected by 4 rivers: the Nottawasaga River, Mad River, Willow Creek and Coates Creek, the Wetlands are a corridor for over 30 species of fish, amphibians,  and a rich resource of native medicinal plants and flowers. 

Today, I biked along the paths in search of Yarrow and the last of the St. John's wort. 

Yarrow (Achillia Milifolium) has been used for over 3000 years to treat external wounds, cuts and abrasions by cleansing and controlling bleeding.
It is also used internally to lessen menstrual cramps, menstrual bleeding, to heal gastrointestinal problems, improve circulation and, most notably, to lift a fever. 
You can make a tea out of the flowers and leaves, apply a cold compress to your forehead soaked in the same tea. Drawing a bath with yarrow tea will also relieve a fever. 
It is a decongestant, an expectorant, anti-inflammatory, astringent, and it fights bacteria. Yarrow promotes digestion by aiding the secretion of digestive juices and enzymes while also increasing appetite, making it a sufficient cure for digestive upsets. 
To harvest yarrow, you collect the flowering tops and leaves. I cut the stem low to the ground, remove the flowering tops, and then run my fingers down the stem to remove the leaves in one swift motion. I will be drying all of my yarrow and infusing it in oil that will later turn into a healing salve for wounds.