Locavore dinner menu or product label? Foraged and wild-harvested ingredients make it hard to tell the difference.

Appetite for foraged ingredients is expanding beyond the culinary industry. Personal care brands are bringing foraging from the table to the shelf, bottling wild-harvested plants that deliver potent results—and ushering in the newest iteration of clean beauty.

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Alpyn Beauty, courtesy of Instagram
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Alpyn Beauty, which launched at Sephora in February 2020, features ingredients such as mountain-grown huckleberry and chokecherry in its masks and moisturizers. When founder Kendra Kolb Butler moved to Wyoming after a 20-year stint in New York City working for skincare brands including Clarins and Dr Dennis Gross, she was inspired by the resilience of the mountain wildlife. “I was sitting in my backyard one day, which backed up to the Grand Teton National Park, and I was looking at these flowers and they were all Jurassic Park-sized,” Butler told the Financial Times. “I thought, ‘How have these plants found a way to flourish in a climate that makes my skin feel like it’s going to fall off my face?’”

The observation is an astute one. Citing research by Urban Ecosystems, the Financial Times added that plants which are wild-grown, rather than farmed, have had to adapt to their environment, making them more resilient and nutrient-dense—and therefore more potent and effective as skincare ingredients.  

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Wild Beauty skincare, courtesy of Rhug Estate.

Launched in 2020, North Wales-based Wild Beauty forages ingredients such as nettle leaf and herb robert from founder Lord Newborough’s personal estate. The estate had previously supplied their hand-foraged herbs to restaurants before pivoting into the beauty category. “For a number of years, we supplied wild herbs picked by Richard, our forager, to chefs,” Lord Newborough told the Financial Times. “I had been intrigued through many conversations with him about the beneficial properties these plants and herbs could have for the skin.”

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Nature First
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Nature First is taking a page from heritage beauty traditions. The company launched their laundry pods in June 2020, which are made from soap berries wild-harvested from the Sapindus mukorossi tree in the foothills of the Himalayas. In addition to being powerful cleaning agents for the home, the berries have been used for centuries to treat skin conditions in Ayurvedic, Chinese, and Greek medicine. Nature First pods will be launching within the next month on the popular natural and organic site Thrive Market.

“Wild-harvesting encompasses almost everything we seek out today as conscious consumers: natural, organic, healthy, ethical and fair trade,” Nature First founder and CEO Justine Potashnik tells Wunderman Thompson Intelligence. “By harvesting what’s native in nature with the local inhabitants, we’re able to help boost their livelihoods and create a circular economy.”

Furtuna Skin is also looking to the past. Their skincare products are made using ingredients foraged from a private, organic-certified estate in Sicily that hasn’t been harvested in over 400 years. The volcanic soil, which is fed by mineral-rich waters, enriches plants for a nutrient-dense product. The brand, which first launched at the end of 2019, has since been picked up by luxury retailers like Goop, Bluemercury and Neiman Marcus, and saw 10% growth month over month in 2020, WWD reported. 

“The ingredients on this farm make things possible that haven’t been possible before,” Furtuna Skin cofounder Kim Walls told WWD. “This is the next generation of clean beauty.”

Main image courtesy of Nature First