Beauty Uniform

Beauty Uniform: Shannon of Noel Herbal Skincare

By Mary, CN Body Care Buyer & The Naturalist Contributor

The secret is out: beauty really does come from within. What we choose to eat everyday affects our health internally, and will be displayed externally (#nofilter). Hydration levels, the liver’s ability to cleanse accumulated toxins, and especially increased levels of inflammation due to diet and lifestyle all affect skin conditions. And it’s safe to say that most of us are looking for youthful radiance and resilience when we talk about our skin needs.

Shannon of Noel Herbal Skincare is a local aesthetician and practicing herbalist. She uses her knowledge of plants to help her clients find balance with topical, hands on treatment in her studio, as well as take home advice to apply once they leave the comfort of the spa treatment they’ve received.

There’s something really magical about using the plants around us both internally and externally to treat our body holistically, and Shannon does just that. Below is a recent interview with the skincare maven herself, including some invaluable advice and insight into her personal and professional practice.

You’ve been a skincare therapist for over 10 years, what has been the biggest change in skin care during that time?

Good question!  The skincare world is constantly evolving, and often times can feel overwhelming. For me the biggest change has been the advancement of new technology & machines that perform various actions for the skin.  They have their benefits, but I believe a personal touch is much more beneficial to the overall well being of a person resulting in happy balanced skin. Nourishing ourselves from within reflects how we look on the outside. I like to take care of the person as a whole, and create a space of healing & connection. I feel that nature is all the science I need, and that true healing begins from within.  In a world where computers and machines are taking over I want to stay true to personal touch and connection.

As plant lovers, we have a deep understanding that health and beauty start from the inside with what we put in our bodies. Do you have a few foods or plant allies that you have a certain connection to in this sense that you could tell us more about?

Yes I could not agree more.  I eat lots of fresh veggies, fruits, fish, & healthy fats.  Learning more about my skin over the years, I have found the crucial importance of healthy fats. Omega 3’s help to balance the production of sebum which is the oil in your skin.  Avocados are wonderful for this and happen to be one of my favorite foods.  I could eat them with every meal :)

For my plant friends I really love burdock root & marshmallow for their affinity to the skin.  Burdock root is a wonderful blood cleanser, which helps to clear those unwanted toxins.  This is extremely beneficial for anyone who is struggling with chronic skin issues like acne, eczema & psoriasis.  It is also loaded with prebiotics helping our gut flora.  Our gut health is so important to our overall health so anything to help support this is highly recommended.

I see so many individuals whose skin is compromised due to a lack of hydration to the skin. I love marshmallow for its extreme moistening effect to the body.  It is a demulcent meaning that it can carry water into many types of tissue in the body.  Marshmallow is wonderful for anyone who doesn’t hold on to water very well, myself included.  They may drink a lot of water, but do not retain it.  Marshmallow helps the water stick because of its mucilage and mineral content. Also really great for anyone dealing with gut inflammation, which is an all too common issue.

What is the most common skin complaint you hear from your clients and how do you address it?

The most common complaint that I hear about is; clogged pores (acne) and aging skin that has lost its luster.  Clogged pores can be a result from improper use of products, diet, & dehydration or all of the above.  I help clients learn about healthy anti-inflammatory foods, and herbs that can help soothe & heal the gut, & clean out toxins that may be resulting in skin related issues, and also educate on healthy products to maintain their skin with at home.

Aging is inevitable and also a very personal experience. As we get older, the skin’s natural shedding process slows down which causes a buildup of dead skin cells resulting in a dry, dull, even sometimes flaky appearance. A good exfoliation is important for our skin’s health.  It allows for better product penetration and gives you a healthier more vibrant appearance.

Do you have any special self care or skin care rituals you make time for each day, or each week?

When I am not running back & forth to Cambridge Naturals :) … I always no matter how tired I am, will wash my skin before bed and when I wake up in the morning.  I include a combination of serums & a moisturizer.  I love using hyaluronic acid, it’s such a simple but amazing ingredient that I find it really helps my skin stay healthy and hydrated.  I also love using Niacinamide, which is vitamin b3; it’s great for cutting & working through sensitivity. Once a week I make a mask with herbal tea.  I love French green clay so that is usually the base, and the tea infusion with a bit of honey is the rest. It’s really nice because I get to enjoy a cup of tea and also see how the herbs work on the skin.

What has inspired or continues to inspire your own beauty uniform?

I think herbs have really inspired me to take my skincare practice to the next level.  I have always believed in a holistic practice, but now having the foundation of being a practicing herbalist I am better able to guide my clients on a healthy path. Plants and helping clients find their own personal “happy state” is what continues to inspire me.

If you could offer one piece of advice to those inspired to adopt a natural skincare routine, what would it be?

I would say to anyone wanting to adopt a healthy regimen to become aware of safe ingredients vs. toxic ingredients.  A product label can market itself as anything, but after reading more into the list of ingredients you may find something that says it’s “all natural” may in fact be harmful to our bodies.  Lots of ingredients that are on the product shelves in my opinion are outdated and not safe.  Really familiarize yourself with reading a list of ingredients and not the headliner of the product that gets your attention.  Make a commitment to yourself and keep it simple ☺

And lastly, what are your top three favorite Cambridge Naturals products?

Ahh there’s so many making this is extremely tough!  I love the Evan Healy Wild Carrot eye balm, Sun Potion (Reishi), & the Bach flower essences.  I also really love Heart Grown wild face serums; the ‘Veil of Love’ is magical

Thank you so much for sharing your beauty uniform with us, Shannon! Noel Herbal Skincare is located at 689 Somerville Ave in Somerville and Shannon is now offering 20% off new customers first treatment when you mention this post! For updates follow @noel_herbals on instagram.

Beauty Uniform: Julia Teren of Thesis Beauty

Julia Teren, founder of Thesis Beauty

Julia Teren, founder of Thesis Beauty

By Mary, The Naturalist Contributor & Body Care Buyer

Reading the label of a skincare product is like reading a nutrition label, except worse. There’s an ingredient list, common allergies, there are chemicals I know I want to avoid, chemicals that sound like I should avoid them but are really just a fancy name for Vitamin E which I don’t want to avoid, and there are ingredients I covet. There are oils we all know and love (Jojoba! Rosehip!) and oils we didn’t know about before we saw them bottled and prepared on the shelf (Moringa!). Then there are 4 different kinds of the same oil and 3 different moisturizers claiming to target sensitive skin. It reminds me of the first time I moved out of my parents house and had a panic attack, standing in the middle of the bread aisle at a supermarket in West Hollywood, overwhelmed at 18 years old by the sheer amount of options I had and wondering whether I should even be eating bread anyway.

Julia Teren, founder of Thesis Beauty and self proclaimed Beauty Purist, has created a line of incredibly pure and effective skin care while making sure labels are easy for consumers to digest. I discovered Thesis like many of you probably did: while longingly searching for non toxic skin care that actually worked. Thesis also became my first realization that skincare could be the next local food movement. By choosing Thesis I’m supporting a local family owned business that uses premium organic ingredients without charging me a premium price. By supporting Thesis, I’m helping grow the rich community of makers, artists, and healers that call New England their home.

Below, Julia shares her own experience with discovering pure beauty and how Thesis came to be.

Thesis is a local favorite among Cambridge Naturalists, what was the first product you created as a brand that led to the growth of the company?

First of all, we are so proud to be part of the awesome Camberville community and Cambridge Naturals and grateful for all the unbelievable support we are getting! Thank you so much!
The first product I came up with after months and months of extensive research was the serum Lullaby for Dry Skin. At the time I was struggling with skin dryness exacerbated by living in an urban area such as Los Angeles. The weirdest thing was that my skin was dry, but still breaking out. At times it would actually swing in the opposite direction and produce crazy amounts of sebum while still feeling awfully dehydrated, flaking, and just looked embarrassing. Nothing I got in stores (and at the time I was dead set on going organic and natural) could fix this, no matter the price. So it was my priority to make something soothing and moisturizing for the face first to alleviate dryness, clear flaking, and stop breakouts. Countless hours were spent to come up with this truly balanced, nutritious formula that was light, moisturizing, and smelling great.

They say you have to spend at least 10,000 hours to master a skill, I think I paid my dues beyond that. In the meantime I was also trying to formulate a good cream because my shins were so dry and itchy I was scratching myself to tears. Dozens of failed experiments later, a silky Lavender cream was born. Those two were my saviors and the formulas have experienced minimal changes since their debut because they were so successful.

Julia and Serge

Julia and Serge

How has Thesis changed since those beginnings?

Well, it's been a journey. We started back in 2009. We had a different name and very much homemade packaging, and the bottles and jars were blue. I had to master Photoshop and photography skills from scratch in order to come up with professional-looking labels. In fact, I had to re-design them at least 3 times. But from the very beginning, and to this day, we have been focusing on eco-friendly packaging, mostly glass with sun-protective qualities. So on the surface, the design has changed, but our organic-vegan-eco ethos is firmly rooted in all we do.

I love the term “beauty purist.” It sums up those of us searching for nontoxic and sustainable skincare products perfectly. When/how did you first become a self proclaimed “beauty purist?”
I think I have this perfectionist mentality where everything has to be done to the highest standards or it's not worth doing at all. So I can relate to how frustrating it can be to read skincare label. Say, as a beauty purist, you want to find a product that would be organic, vegan, and simple. What you find instead: asterisks on the labels with exceptions, or in-brackets explanations with the "derived from" theme, or with free-from list of ingredients while the ingredient panel would be plagued with a lot of other chemicals. So when I started Thesis I decided it must be the best or what's the point in wasting ingredients.

What’s your daily skincare routine? Does this change with the seasons or while traveling?

That is a very good question. My friend just asked me yesterday: "Which products in your line do you use?" and I replied "All of them!" - that's because I developed them originally to tackle my own skin issues. In summer, when it's hot and steamy my dry skin behaves more like combo type, so I use products intended for oily/combo skin to curb excessive sebum production and control pores. As heat subsides and we step into cooler, dryer months my skin swings back to its normal, dry self, so I begin to swap one product after another to gradually revert back to the dry skin routine. But regardless of the season, I am trying to be good about following simple steps: #1 Removing makeup, if necessary. I really only wear mineral mascara and occasionally mineral eye shadows. Lately I got obsessed with super bright lipsticks, so those may require makeup remover for sure. #2 Cleansing. I love Tender as Petals for its mildness, and it's also just very slightly scrubby and gives me a gentle massage. #3 Moisturizing - it's everything for me. The one thing that I can't forget while traveling or under any other circumstances is a moisturizer. #4 Scrubs and masks - whenever the life of a busy mom permits. I sometimes apply a mask even just for 5-10 minutes before little hands start knocking on the bathroom door, but it already makes me feel better, taken care of, and the skin is certainly very happy even with this effort. I am grateful that this routine liberated me from camouflaging my skin with foundations because there is usually nothing to camouflage anymore.

The Thesis Beauty Team (including Bjorn)!

The Thesis Beauty Team (including Bjorn)!

What has inspired or continues to inspire your beauty uniform?

The raw movement. Several years ago I got inspired by bloggers and recipe books describing raw, living foods - the dishes on those photographs looked better than what they were called to substitute! To that end, I feel like organizing my kitchen better played a very important role in improving cooking habits and transitioning to raw.

I try to apply raw principles to my skincare formulas as well - most ingredients are raw, unprocessed and food grade. It also made me look deeper into supplements and vitamins, so now I only use raw, organic vitamins, live probiotics, unprocessed proteins, etc. Raw and organic ingredients provide maximum benefit to the skin and the body which has been confirmed by a number of studies. I can attest to that with my own experience. I also used to get enough sleep, but with when our son came I haven't slept in probably 2 years. I attribute my energy and complexion to the beauty uniform that I am trying to uphold as best I can.

If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring beauty purists, what would it be?

Reading labels and understanding ingredients is essential, so it pretty much boils down to educating yourself about what should and shouldn't be on your plate, in your lotion, in your laundry, etc. Another aspect of it is the perceived beauty standard touted explicitly or subliminally by media, movies etc - they are forced upon us. Also at play are our inner unresolved issues, complexes that prevent us from loving and accepting ourselves as we deserve. I strongly believe that healthy is beautiful - the rest is passing trend.

Do you have a favorite Thesis product or one that is particularly special to you?

Serum for Dry Skin is my favorite moisturizer. It helped me normalize my skin, transition to a purist routine, and eventually drop camouflaging with everyday makeup.

Thank you so much for sharing your Beauty Uniform with us, Julia! For updates from Thesis follow them on instagram @thesisbeauty

Beauty Uniform: Jennifer Botto of Thorn + Bloom

By Mary, CN Body Care Buyer & The Naturalist Contributor

I remember when I discovered what I thought was my signature scent, and I remember clearly when I realized the effect it was truly having on me, which was what can only be described as “sensory assault.” The headaches, the skin irritation, all signs pointed to the designer perfume I insisted on spritzing myself with. Jennifer Botto, founder of the Somerville based perfume company Thorn + Bloom understands this experience all too well.

I first met Jennifer last summer at the annual Herbstalk event. The packaging and display of her products quickly reined me in and she gladly humored my eagerness to learn everything about her line. She patiently handed me sample card after sample card, walking me through the depth of each scent. There was finally a high quality non-toxic perfume on the market and I wanted to shout it from the rooftops of the Armory.

The “fragrance” that makes up synthetic perfumes is actually a combinations of hundreds of synthetic chemicals and are loaded with pthalates, known hormone disruptors. According to a 1991 EPA Analysis, 95% of those chemicals are derived from petrochemicals and are known to cause birth defects, cancer, asthma, and allergies. An alarming statistic we are privileged to be aware of. We at Cambridge Naturals are just as careful of what we put on our bodies as we are of what we put in them, and we want the same safety standard for you.

All scents in the growing Thorn + Bloom line are available for sale at Cambridge Naturals. I interviewed her this month to get the full scoop on how she got started in nontoxic perfumery and below she shares some tips from her own beauty uniform.

Scent is powerful in the sense that it can instantly flood you with specific memories and transport you to another time and place. As a perfumer, is there any scent or combination of scents that has that effect on you? Where does it take you?

My most nostalgic blend, Stranger in the Cherry Grove, reminds me of my father's cherry pipe tobacco. It is smoky, woody, leathery with the slightest hint of charred cherry wood and fruit. In a perfume, it's an unexpected and surprising combination (burnt cherries?) but it makes sense when you know the context behind it's creation. For me, it is one of my most favorite scents and memories.

You grew up on a farm in New York but now live in the city of Boston. Has the change of scents in the environment you work and live in had any effect on what you do?

Natural Perfumery has helped me reconnect to nature in the midst of a frenetic urban environment. Living in a city often robs people of natural aromas such as freshly cut grass, blooming flowers, tree bark, moss, animal manure, silage, wood fire, etc and replaces them with synthetic aromas such as exhaust, gasoline, industrial materials, car air fresheners and synthetic perfumes. The sense of smell is often underrated and neglected, especially in a city such as Boston.

Perfuming quickly became an obsession when I realized that botanical scents can rival the very best synthetic fragrances.

What initially drew you to natural perfumery?

I've always been very allergic to synthetic perfumes and could never find a natural perfume that met my expectations in terms of longevity, complexity and sophistication. I decided to experiment with a handful of essential oils and my passion grew into a collection of hundreds of rare natural essences. Perfuming quickly became an obsession when I realized that botanical scents can rival the very best synthetic fragrances.

Do you have a signature scent or do you change it up everyday?

I tend to wear perfume seasonally and developed the line with this in mind. I love wearing Bird of Paradise in the summer, as it evokes a luscious tropical paradise with night blooming Jasmine, lemon and ginger. During the colder months I choose Orange Blossom, as the cardamom, honey and cedarwood exude a sensual warmth.

What does your daily skincare routine from day to night look like?

Of course, Coconut Oil is a mainstay for full body and face hydration. I've recently discovered topical Magnesium oil which has been a godsend. I find it helps with lymphatic drainage and exfoliation, giving my skin a firmer texture and more rosy appearance. It also helps with aches and pains just as an epsom salt bath would. I love the idea that I can spray the Magnesium on my skin as a kind of mobile bath therapy.

Do you wear makeup?

When I wear makeup I tend to do a natural, minimalist face with Jane Iredale products. My favorite look is a neutral lip with bright rosy cheeks and a lot of lash. I recently discovered a fantastic new product called One Two Lash which relies on magnetic technology to attach false lashes effortlessly. I'm constantly on the go so the ability to apply lashes in a snap with no messy glue or expensive extensions has really upped my beauty game!

What has inspired or continues to inspire your beauty uniform?

The older I get, the more I try to look for ways to let my inner beauty shine through. This has meant clean eating and clean living, cutting down on synthetic chemical exposure and processed foods. I also rely heavily on drinking lots of water and getting a minimum of 7 full hours of sleep every night.

When do you feel most yourself?

I love spending time in rural settings, away from the maddening crowd. I tend to become overstimulated by all the sounds and movement of the city and so it's very refreshing to return to the countryside for reflection and slow living. It's also wonderful to be able to stargaze when the light pollution isn't so heavy!

Do you have a favorite scent in your collection or one that is particularly special to you?

My favorite is Evergreen. I grew up in norther NY surrounded by beautifully fragrant forests of pine, spruce and fir trees. My family makes maple syrup so the combination of sweet boiling sap and cool fresh evergreen needles always brings back fond memories of childhood.

Thank you so much, Jennifer! Visit us in store to try  Thorn + Bloom. To learn more about Jennifer and the line of perfumes you can follow them on instagram @thornandbloom for updates!

Beauty Uniform: Tom Groves

By Mary, CN Body Care Buyer + The Naturalist Contributor

I discovered the benefits of herbal medicine and green juice during a few formative years in Los Angeles, land of the macrobiotic diet and home to soul cycle devotees. My skin was glowing and my moods were balanced, all without harsh chemicals or prescriptions. It’s what led me all the way back to New England to work towards a degree in Nutrition. I didn’t expect a passion for food based medicine to lead to cleaning out my makeup bag and bathroom cabinet, but you can’t un-know all the things your skin is absorbing every day.

We live in a society that has unrealistic beauty standards and the skin care and cosmetic industry certainly targets women more than men. But we all have skin that needs love and attention regardless of gender. So this month I decided to get a different perspective on skin care.

Tom Groves, co-founder of Heart Grown Wild, had a similar indirect introduction to natural skincare. His background in wildlife biology and botany has given the line of organic, plant-based, skin and hair care products an edge on what often feels like a saturated market.

Below, Tom shares more about his background, his work with Heart Grown Wild, as well his own favorite skin care rituals.


You have a background in wildlife biology, has co-founding Heart Grown Wild and working with plants in the context of beauty and body care changed anything about the way you interact with or study plants in your research?

I was academically trained as a wildlife biologist. I was introduced to botany through a professor at Framingham State University and eventually through the conservation department of the New England Wild Flower Society (NEWFS). My work with NEWFS began as a volunteer experience and continued as a conservation fellow. Generally, we performed rare, threatened and endangered species surveys, seed collections, habitat restoration and educational offerings for the public. This work was taxonomically species based. It was common to be carrying around 3 or 4 books for species identification in the wild. The knowledge of botanical diversity I learned while with NEWFS has given Heart Grown Wild a unique perspective on product constituents, habitat conservation, and sustainability. Currently, I work for a forestry company which allows me to be out in the woods on a daily basis. For Heart Grown Wild to provide a quality product, it was invaluable to be able to knowingly select particular plants for wild harvesting and product inclusion.

When/how did you first become interested in using more natural beauty/body care products?

My wife Lena had the most impact on my interest in plants for skin care. Like most guys, I was reluctant to be anything but a “shower and go” guy. It began with the In the Trees body oil which originally was a beard oil Lena formulated for me that piqued my interest in using plants as products. The beard oil was liked so much we decided to change its categorization to body oil. The scent is really why it’s a best seller. The facial expression on people makes my day every time, when they inhale dank conifer base oil mixed with just a hint of orange and patchouli. It’s made with wild-harvested red spruce and balsam fir tips, and our own home distilled spruce/fir essential oil. It’s something special. This was the first product that I used on a regular basis. It clicked for me when I realized that I had a specialized set of skills for helping Lena to create skin, hair and body products that were honestly unique, creative and rooted in Vermont. (See what I did there?)

Herbal skin and hair care products also just made sense to me – why use products that artificially scented or chemically based when I could use products that I know are entirely plant based and have low levels of essential oils. Through the process of making our own essential oils and hydrosols, Lena and I learned the amount of plant material to make 10 drops of essential oil was quite a bit. We try to impart this knowledge to our customers that essential oils should be used in sparing quantities due to their potency and for sustainability reasons. In today’s market it’s difficult to really know where our products are coming from. Our skin is the largest organ, so making products that Lena, myself, and our customers could rely on to be good on so many levels was a big part of what we wanted our business to be.

What’s your daily skincare routine? Does this change with the seasons?

I use three products consistently at the moment. I begin my day with a shower and post-shower I start with a spritz of the Tree Song toner, which is another more masculine scented product, made with our own black birch infused witch hazel and black birch hydrosol – an invigorating way to begin the day. I use a dime sized amount of In The Trees around my shoulders, with a little on my beard, and a dime size amount of Sol Nectar hair serum I run through my hair before I comb it. I don’t use a mask on a regular basis, but I do try these products when Lena formulates them and they are quite the experience. I haven’t quite crossed into that level of skin care as part of my routine yet, but who knows…

How do your self care or body care rituals change while traveling?

Prior to my introduction into Heart Grown Wild and plant-based skin care I had no skin care routine. Since the beginning of my use of skin care/body care products, the biggest change to me when traveling is that I actually take skin care products on the plane. Lena and I recently traveled to North Carolina and we were able to take all of our individual products through the security checks in our carry-ons. I never check a bag and I like to travel light. This made continuing my daily routine, which I’ve come to love, easy to take with me.

What has inspired or continues to inspire your beauty uniform?

The thing that has inspired me and continues to inspire me in regard to my beauty uniform is Heart Grown Wild products and the use of more and more Vermont grown herbaceous and woody plants, whether that be from a farm or the wild. I also am excited about the substitution of related non-native species of plants for sustainably, locally grown, or wild-harvested plant based products. In my free time I’m researching the evolutionary connection between related genera of evolutionarily divergent plants in an attempt to find comparable skin care compounds that could be present in Vermont’s native plants which could be used in skincare products. At the moment I’m looking into a substitution for the Mediterranean native, Helichrysum italicum, for a New England native, commonly called Pearly Everlasting or Anaphalis margaritacea. I’m also looking into using Populus grandidentata and Populus tremuloides extract, commonly known as big-tooth and quaking aspen, as a natural skin care product preservative. Very exciting!

Tree Song .png

When do you feel most yourself?

I feel the most like myself when I’m traipsing through the woods hunting for plants I’ve never seen in the wild.

Last but certainly not least, do you have a favorite Heart Grown Wild product?

This might be the most difficult question. I’d have to say for an overall score, where the criteria was simplicity, improvement to my life, and it’s botanical cool factor, is the Birch Wisdom body oil. Betula lenta was historically used by native and early settlers to treat headaches and fevers and eventually it was used to make salicylic acid for aspirin. Many New Englanders are familiar with chewing a twig as a child and the sweet, minty taste. What many New Englanders don’t know is that black birch can be tapped like maple trees and the sap can then be brewed into birch beer, although authentic birch beer is difficult to find these days. During the early 1900s this species was pushed to the brink of scarcity for the extraction of methyl salicylate for flavoring of soaps, chewing gum and sodas. When it was possible to create the compound synthetically, the harvesting of the species dropped off and the species rebounded. Black birch will likely be the tree of the future here in Vermont. It proves to not have sap as sweet as sugar maples, or to grow as tall and stout as a red oak, and it is surely not as straight grained as the white pine, but it does show resistance to disease, warming climate, and out competes thick, regeneration-killing fern. The Birch Wisdom body oil for me mixes resilient botanical qualities, native wisdom and childlike nostalgia together to create the feeling I love each time I put it on.

Thank you so much for sharing your beauty uniform with us, Tom! And look out for Tom’s wife, Lena, who will be featured as this month’s Muse! To learn more about Heart Grown Wild you can come visit us at Cambridge Naturals to try the line yourself in store, or follow them on instagram (@heartgrownwild)


Beauty Uniform: Emily Cunningham of True Moringa

By Mary, CN Body Care Buyer & The Naturalist Contributor

If there’s one thing I can’t live without it’s oils. Maybe I’m exaggerating, maybe I’m not. Be it olive oil on all of my food, argan oil on tired hair, or rosehip oil on my face, I require lots of this silky goodness. Even more so during the harsh New England winter, when the wind off the Charles wants to whip away all the moisture on my face with each harsh gust.

Earlier this month, I interviewed Emily Cunningham, co-founder of True Moringa, an award-winning clean beauty brand powered by cold-pressed moringa oil. Moringa oil can penetrate very deep into the skin to support moisture retention and strengthen hair health.

True Moringa works directly with over 2300 farming families in Ghana to increase incomes by 10x, and has planted over 270,000 trees to prevent deforestation and malnutrition. Read on to learn more about Emily’s beauty rituals and the start of this amazing company.

How did you first become interested in using more natural beauty/body care products?

My co-founder Kwami Williams and I first learned about the moringa tree when we traveled to Brong-Ahafo, Ghana in 2012 through a program at MIT called D-Lab. NGOs had encouraged farmers to plant the moringa tree for its nutritional value (gram-for-gram, the dried leaves have more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk, and more protein than eggs!). However, there wasn't really an economic incentive to cultivate the tree, so communities were losing interest. I studied development economics, and my co-founder Kwami had studied aerospace engineering, and together with the farming families in the community we worked to turn the oil seeds (rich in antioxidants and moisturizing fatty acids) into an all-purpose hair and skincare oil that we could introduce to the global market. To be honest, we didn't know much about the world of natural beauty and body care until then! Once I was back in the states learning more about the industry and the properties of natural oils and natural ingredients, I learned how harmful common beauty and body care products can be, and how backward our thinking is about oils. It completely transformed my skincare routine.

What’s your daily skincare routine? Does this change with the seasons?

I try to keep it fairly simple - I wash my face with True Moringa Simplicity All-Purpose Facial & Body Oil (no soap or cleanser) and apply a few extra drops of oil to seal in moisture before patting my face dry. My skin tends to stay the same throughout the seasons, but many of our customers will apply our oil more frequently to drier skin and add our toners to their facial routines in warmer weather.  

Do you wear makeup?

Almost never!

How do you typically style your hair?

I have curly hair, so I usually just wash it and let it air dry. I love Alaffia shampoo and Deva Curl Conditioner followed by (surprise!) moringa oil.

Do you have a nighttime routine?

I keep the same facial care routine at night, but when I have time for extra long showers, I love Organic Bath Co's Drenched Body Butter after shaving!

How do your self care and beauty rituals change while traveling?

The great thing about a dry natural oil like moringa is its versatility - I bring a 2oz bottle of moringa oil with me while traveling and it serves as my facial cleanser, moisturizer, hair conditioner, cuticle oil, and makeup remover.  

Emily and her business partner Kwami Williams

Emily and her business partner Kwami Williams

What has inspired or continues to inspire your beauty uniform?

Simplicity and being kind to my hair and skin! I try to keep both moisturized and healthy to prevent premature aging.

When do you feel most beautiful?

When I'm well-rested and have been consistently exercising and drinking water! We tend to underestimate the importance of all of those things in our skincare routines.

What are your top three Cambridge Naturals products?

I love Ajiri Tea - for the taste, the amazing packaging and the social mission, Dr. Bronner's Castile soap (the structure of their company is a huge inspiration), and our sister brand Minga Food's Peppermint Moringa Tea!

Thank you so much for sharing your story and your beauty uniform with us! For more, follow @truemoringa on instagram.


Beauty Uniform: Maura McGovern

By Mary, The Naturalist Contributor

The frenzy of October seemed to end just as quickly as it began, and November’s beginnings have left many of us feeling somber and exhausted in a way we didn’t think possible. It seems now, more than ever, we need a reminder of self care. Years ago, when I frequented yoga workshops, my teacher shared a valuable lesson that remains universal. She taught me that neglecting to care for ourselves will only allow us to give to others from an empty place. When we need to unite and hold each other up, we must be able to give fully and honestly so our energy is doubled, not depleted.

I noticed Maura McGovern shortly after I began working at Cambridge Naturals during one of her weekly shopping trips. Her glowing skin, calm demeanor, and shining brown hair covered by that signature hat were proof enough that she was someone I could learn a thing or two from. Everyone else seemed to know Maura and enjoy her company and inviting conversation. I was eager to learn more about who she was and she did to emanate such confidence in her own beauty and knowledge. Read on for an interview with Maura to learn about her life, her work, and her self care rituals.

All photos courtesy of Maura McGovern. Follow her on Instagram at: @mauramcgovern

When did you first become interested in natural beauty and self care?

Natural beauty is part of my daily self-care practice; a practice that’s rooted in family lessons, and a reverence for bath time. I was born with gills. 

Soaking in the tub is great way to honor the body in its most natural and beautiful state. There are definitely times when I don’t appreciate the way my body looks, but a good soak — even on those less than beautiful days — always feels like comfort food.

Along those lines, self-care is (or at least it should be) a recognized food group. The body craves this kind of nourishment; it send clues when too many hours or days pass without proper care. When I ignore signs to take better care of myself, my body demands a Full Stop in the form of Depression. Depression, for me, is rooted in regret. Wishing things happened differently then, so I can feel better now. 

Self-care is a return to Now; it’s a homecoming. Because when I focus on the breath; when I consume foods or use products prepared close the earth; when I soak my feet in a basin filled with salty water; when I fill a roasting pan with local root vegetables — I know what Now feels like. It feels good and honest. Self-care is about showing up and believing, instead of saying I don’t have time (for myself).

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.
— Pema Chödrön

Before moving on to the next question, I would love to share a few family lessons collected during my growing up years.

I was a quiet and curious child; constantly experimenting in the kitchen, and taking note of how others moved through their lives. This is how I learned. Observation —  instead of running up and down a field — was my preferred sport. The guidance to trust a slower pace came from my Nana (Helen), my mother, my father. Their lessons were rooted in all things whole and wholesome.

Helen (pictured above) was a bright lipstick all the time kind of woman. That was her daily beauty indulgence. Her favorite color clothing was red, which she reserved for special occasions. Even if sad, it was certainly a special occasion to deliver her eulogy while wearing red in her honor. But no lipstick for me because I am not that kind of woman. We’re all similar but not the same. 

Helen and my mother showed me that beauty can be simple. It took a few decades to embrace my love for simple, instead of chasing Shoulds (should wear red lipstick, should wear heels). My father always encouraged me to do things differently. They all showed me that posture and attitude matter; stand tall and have Faith.

I see you every day wanting to be beautiful to impress others. Be beautiful to impress yourself.
— Yogi Bhajan

My first paying job included pulling weeds from Helen’s garden, kneading dough for handmade tortellini, and perfecting the art of brownie-making without a measuring cup. She taught me to work (with) the land, to lean in when things get stuck (in pasta maker), and to trust my hands to say a little more or that’s enough.

Every night after supper my mother would retreat to the bathroom to wash before bedtime. She was a Clinique 3-step devotee and I was often the lucky recipient of the gift with purchase. Such magic in those small zip pouches. Her approach to her evening routine was methodical and her bare face was beautiful to me; it was simple. This routine was her version of self-care and now a legacy shared between us.

When it came to mealtime, my father insisted on things like brown rice and lentil stew. Nothing refined or processed was allowed. His approach was considered progressive because when he became a father, he was only 19 years old; a child himself. I often complained about his choices because all I wanted was a package of Oreos instead of fruit leather (gross). This is laughable now because I visit three farmers markets every week.

What’s your daily skincare routine? Does this change with the seasons?

My skincare routine is mostly simple and enjoyable; it shifts weekly and seasonally depending on hormones and weather. Below is an ideal day, but I don’t get overly excited about missing some of the steps and sometimes I add a few more. The only rule is No Rules.


When lived slowly, the morning hours are my favorite. Since I live on the top floor with a mostly sky view, I like to watch the sunrise. It’s such a good feeling to witness the new day waking up. It’s faith in action.

And I thought how the sun blazes for everyone just so joyfully as it rises under the lashes of my own eyes.
— Mary Oliver

The first thing I reach for is a bottle of Evan Healy HydroSoul* — the smell is such a sweet beginning. After a few sprays, while standing in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to warm, I move through a tapping ritual to get the energy flowing. It’s a self-created hybrid of Qi Gong Tapping and Donna Eden’s Energy Medicine. I also love jade rolling!

For whatever reason, on its own, I don’t enjoy drinking water. But I crave mineral-rich teas, especially Just Herbals Women’s Blend*. Taking various tinctures diluted in a few ounces of water is a swear-by part of the morning. A few favorites: Herbal Moonshine Bitters* before breakfast, Gaia Nettle Leaf* for grounding throughout the day, Good Mood feels for Fall/Winter, and I’m wild about Host Defense extracts*. Because mushrooms; so smart. 

This next step doesn’t happen daily; however, on overly anxious mornings, sesame oil-pulling is a mood-changer, among other things.

What happens daily without fail is this: a run or a walk to a park for morning prayer aka yoga shapes. Sure, I love the glow of flushed cheeks. But more than that, the lymphatic system needs to be moved. The lymphatic system is tasked with removing toxins and waste from the body; unlike blood, the lymphatic system does not have a built-in pump. So, by moving our bodies, we help to remove unwanted matter. A two-for-one: radiant skin and a cleaner body. Yes, please.

Save for the shower water, I don’t wash my face in the morning. Post shower, I massage a few drops Evan Healy Blue Cactus Elixir* into my face. Once the elixir is absorbed, it’s all about Mother Dirt from head to toe. Mother Dirt has changed the texture and tone of my skin for the better and an added bonus, I stopped using deodorant. Do you know about Mother Dirt? The AO+ mist* will convince you Rethink Clean, as they say.

My nighttime routine is similar but not the same as the morning; in addition to tea and tinctures, it’s the time of day for cleansing and sometimes a mask or a foot soak. I am totally hooked on Marie Veronique Replenishing Oil Cleanser and and once a week I use May Lindstrom Clean Dirt or a homemade mask. The mask is often a spoonful of honey mixed with chlorella and rose essential oil. A friend recently gifted me a sample of Marie Veronique Gentle Retinol Serum — wow, baby soft skin. But when I make time for a guided meditation with Tara Brach, it’s definitely a good night. Tara’s Living Presence with Body Scan is definitely a loyal companion.

Do you wear makeup?

I really love the idea of makeup, especially blush, but when it comes down to it, my routine is simple and applied in a barely-there kind of way. Friends and acquaintances often ask: Do you wear makeup? Sometimes it sounds like a compliment but sometimes I wonder, wait, was that a suggestion?!

My entire collection of makeup fits inside of a small canvas zip pouch: RMS “un” cover-up truly does cover-up night owl tendencies, w3ll Narcissist Foundation Stick because the cult following is on to something, Tata Harper Lip & Cheek Tint is cheerful and easy to apply, Mineral Fusion Blush doubles as a cheek color and bronzer, Tarte Eyeliner is foolproof thank goodness, Hurraw SPF 15 Sun* and Moon balms* are also stashed in every coat pocket, and Plant Makeup Unicorn Balm because when all else fails — unicorns.

How do you typically style your hair?

A secret to most, my hair is thick and curly but I prefer to wear it straight so I straighten it with a wooden paddle brush, a hearty squeeze of Living Proof Nourish Cream, and a hair dryer. It’s a morning meditation of sorts. 

During the workweek, I like to get my entire head wet in the shower; it’s the official wake-up call. I don’t use shampoo daily but I always use conditioner. For both, I like John Masters* and recently Josh Rosebrook* (the hair mask especially, wow). A few times a month I massage homemade nettle infused oil into my scalp, followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse. 

How do your self care and beauty rituals change while traveling?

Not much, actually. Thankfully most of my favorite products are packaged in small glass containers and I try remember to blend a single serving mask with raw honey or chickpea flour as the base. As much as I love to travel and take photos, it’s often overstimulating in a way that’s not so beautiful. Slowing down at the end of the day with a cup of tea and a mask feels like home.

What has inspired or continues to inspire your beauty uniform?

I am inspired by the spirited women in my life, walking everywhere because I don’t have a car, sitting in sunny spots while watching passersby, but most of all — the intelligence of the land. The land offers everything we need to take care of our bodies. I can imagine, it only asks or hopes that we listen for the clues, follow our instincts, and tread lightly. 

Plants know how to make food and medicine from light and water, and then they give it away.
— Braiding Sweetgrass

What are your top three Cambridge Naturals products?

Even though I cheated by adding an asterisk* next to all products found on the shelves at Cambridge Naturals, it’s worth noting three more just in case you’re hungry: Full Moon Ghee* because it’s pure gold on everything these days — especially Dan’s Brick Oven Bread.* Pro tip: grab a fresh loaf on Saturday mornings because it always sells out. And then wash it down with tea made with Mountain Valley Spring Water; it tastes better, no contest.

But it’s not just the products, it’s the staff and the shoppers. The community is a nourishing one. Some days I move through life as quietly as possible. This is definitely a version of self-care. Some days it’s comforting to have a place to go to talk about products and self-care practices. I’ve been shopping at Cambridge Naturals for 17 years. A home away from home.

To follow Maura on Instagram: @mauramcgovern

Put yourself in the way of beauty.
— Cheryl Strayed

Beauty Uniform: Emma Bartolini of Shamanuti

By Mary, Body Care Buyer and CN Blog Contributor

Given than Cambridge is such a wellness and culture hub, the Cambridge Naturals team has found that many of our customers have more tricks up their sleeves than the potions lining the shelves in our body care department. From DIY face masks and body scrubs to herbal foot soaks and breathing practices, we can all learn a little more about taking care of ourselves from our friends and neighbors. We’d like to introduce a new monthly series highlighting locals that inspire us to bathe ourselves in beauty, mentally and physically, every day.

As our environment begins to show signs of fall’s impending arrival, I feel a profound change in energy throughout the city. A change that always reminds me of F. Scott Fitzgerald when he famously said, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” Students return, new apartment leases are signed, wardrobes are updated, and the produce section gets sprinkled with pumpkins in place of citrus. New beginnings such as these often require much of our time and energy to be poured outward, leaving us hard pressed to find spare time for the extra TLC we need.

It’s not hard, though, to notice the radiance of someone who does find time for self care. Our physical bodies, and the force of nature that they are, are as various in size and shape as they are in their needs. Getting to know those ever changing needs our physical form demands, non-judgmentally, can be a lifelong journey. But we’re here to help you along the way.

I first met Emma Bartolini, VP of Sales and Education at Shamanuti, back in July when she paid Cambridge Naturals a visit to teach a few of us about the brand. I’ve since become an avid worshipper of the Activated Charcoal Cleanser.

A Rhode Island Native, Emma now lives in Massachusetts with her husband and daughter, Isabella. I realized quickly that she was a wealth of skincare knowledge and self-care inspiration. It was Emma, after all,  who taught me to treat my hands just as I would my face: exfoliators, serums, moisturizers and all. Read on to learn how this passionate plant advocate and super mom incorporates self care and beauty into her daily life.

How did you first become interested in natural beauty and self care?

I always had an affinity for eyeliner. It really started with my Mother. I grew up in a natural home, using natural products and eating natural food. She was elegant, and had very simple self-care routines. Baths, massages, tea, acupuncture, cooking and music were regarded necessary for self-care. Over time I included my own practices but always stayed true to her rituals as my own.

I found an accidental and successful career in natural beauty, health and wellness in 2001 and stayed impassioned by it ever since. I love real and honest ingredients and discovering what my skin craves and reacts well to. The exploration of scent, and touch of natural beauty products and how they make you FEEL is what is so engaging to me. That is ultimately what led me to Shamanuti, honest ingredients that transform your senses and skin!

What’s your daily skincare routine? Does this change with the seasons?

I would like to say that I wake up fresh and do yoga for an hour before greeting my day… but I have a toddler. My morning routine has shifted gears since Belle was born. It has to be quick, but it still has to be great.

I spend some time as I cleanse, allowing the Activated Charcoal Cleanser to really do its magic. I use a pea size amount in my palm, warm water and will use fingertips in small circles for about 5 minutes. Cleansing is so important for circulation, the longer I leave this cleanser on the happier my skin is. I rinse off with warm water, and then follow with the Seaweed Toner. The sea algae, hyaluronic acid and willow bark always bring my skin back to balance. While my skin is still tacky I finish with the Golden Light Crème, which leaves my skin dewy and radiant. Throughout the day I will use the Seaweed Toner or Organic Mist to freshen and hydrate my skin.

In the Summer I simplify my routine to Cleanser and Toner, and will use the Chamomile Cucumber Eye Gel or Sun Butter all over my face after being in the sun.

In the autumn, winter and spring I need the rich moisture of the Golden Light Crème.

Do you wear makeup?

Heck YES! I love makeup! Mineral Fusion Pressed Foundation and either the Espresso Gold or Sultry eyeshadow trios. I’m currently loving Aisling Organics black eyeliner and cork foundation and Shamanuti mascara. My usual daily go-to is a dramatic eye, and clean lip. But autumn has me craving bright and bold red lips!

How do you typically style your hair?

Is a Momma bun a hairstyle?

What is your nighttime routine?

I start powering down pretty early, and have a cup of Organic India Tulsi Sleep tea. I do another thorough cleanse with ACC, followed by Seaweed Toner and then incorporate a small drop of Essential Serum. Since your skin detoxes and regenerates at night, supporting it to do its own organic healing process is important. Allowing your skin to breathe and not hinder the healing. I rub Belle’s feet with Weleda Lavender oil and do the same for myself to help with relaxation and sweet dreams.

How do your self care and beauty rituals change while traveling?

I try to limit my travel bag to the essentials that I know bring my skin back to balance, and items that are multi-purposeful. Activated Charcoal Cleanser goes with me everywhere; I use it to take off my makeup, cleanse my face, as my body wash and my husband uses it as his shaving gel as well. I usually simplify my routine, and make sure I always bring my own pillowcase!

What has inspired or continues to inspire your beauty uniform?

I am a very visual person, and find inspiration anywhere from a walk outside in the garden to the produce section surrounded by exotic flowers and fruits. Pinterest and Instagram are amazing resources for visuals and tutorials. The only problem is realizing I just spent an hour scrolling looking at crystal mandalas or Grace Kelly photographs and should have gone to bed for beauty sleep! Events like Natural Products Expo West, the W.E.L.L. Summit or Indie Beauty Expo are the best outlets for all that the natural beauty industry has to offer. Our culture is so rich with inspiring, and brilliant people and the BEST products!

When do you feel most beautiful?

When I look at my gorgeous daughter. Everyone tells me that she looks just like me, and when I soak in how intoxicating and angelic she is, I really feel my own beauty.

What are your top three Cambridge Naturals products?

OMG. Three?!

Well, after spending a long time in each aisle looking at all of the cool, new, on trend, local, awesome, products Cambridge Naturals has to offer I usually will choose a new lip balm because I can never have too many. My last purchase was the Wild Rose Herbs Pear Blossom.

I stock up on Jarrow Formulas FemDophilus, for healthy digestion and especially incredible for supporting great skin! And John Masters zinc and sage shampoo.

Thank you so much for sharing your beauty uniform with us, Emma! All Shamanuti products are 20% in the store for the rest of October. Come in and stock up on your favorite local facial care now!