agricultural supplies

Leading the local farm-to-face skincare movement

In the Hudson Valley, surrounded by an array of diverse farms, eating farm-to-table has become second nature. Drinking farm-to-glass, with rye and hops grown locally, is common, too. Now, what you use to clean and beautify your face and body is following that trend.

In the Hudson Valley, a diverse range of farm-to-face producers have emerged with products featuring ingredients sourced right here. And for ingredients that can’t be grown locally ever or at least most of the year — avocados, coconuts, coffee, pineapple — it has increasingly become the norm to reach for food and drinks grown sustainably, or organically.

“The market for conscious beauty is enormous, and it’s growing,” says Mark Veeder, co-founder of the Hudson Valley’s Farmacy Beauty, and now, Sk*p. “It encompasses so many issues, from where the ingredients are sourced, to what types of ingredients are used and packaging. Sustainability in packaging is a big part of the movement.” 

A natural path to beauty

Consumer investment in a more natural approach to beauty and hygiene — broadly dubbed the Clean Beauty movement — is, as Veeder said, growing considerably. In 2020, the Clean Beauty market was worth $5.4 billion globally, and is expected to reach $11.6 billion by 2027, with a compound annual growth rate of 12 percent, according to market research firm Brandessence. 

Veeder did not have a background in the beauty business when he co-founded the indie beauty juggernaut Farmacy from the western Catskills in 2014, but in retrospect, he sees that as more of an asset than a hindrance.

“My background was in branding, but I also had an incredible space in Sullivan County where I gardened as often as I could,” he says. “In 2008, I discovered a green variant of Echinacea purpurea on our land, and I sensed how unique it was.”

Operating on a hunch, he sent a sample of the plant to a laboratory for testing, and found that it was an undiscovered mutation, containing 300 percent more cichoric acid — a potent antioxidant — than standard Echinacea.

He quickly patented the plant as GreenEnvy, and several years later, after consultations with beauty experts and agricultural expert and Cornell University retiree Robert Beyfuss, co-launched clean beauty brand Farmacy with David Chung, touting cichoric acid’s ability to naturally break down collagen and fight the signs of aging.

“We grew the Echinacea organically, and were focused on a very clear ingredient story from the beginning,” Veeder says. “There’s so much marketing speak in the beauty industry, and we wanted to just get past that and find a more natural route to beauty. And because we didn’t have the baggage so many in the industry have of what can and can’t be done, we were able to truly innovate packaging too.”

The response from consumers and the industry — Sephora and QVC signed on — was instantaneous, but Veeder became increasingly consumed by the idea of streamlining packaging. He left Farmacy in 2018 to pursue a new line that aims to lean into Hudson Valley’s natural bounty, while also changing the waste game.

“The basis of our entire line at Sk*p is our organic honey sourced at our farm here in the Hudson Valley,” Veeder explains. “We collect honey in August when the Echinacea is in full bloom.” The honey is boosted with the antioxidant GreenEnvy patented plant.

The Sk*p line of cleansers, moisturizers, shampoos and more are all produced with the Hudson Valley honey. 

“I’m also really excited about the packaging,” Veeder says, describing carton-based packaging that’s made primarily from paper that’s certified for promoting responsible management of forests. Sk*p is also endeavoring to become third-party certified for its social and environmental performance.

Sk*p is available online now, and is launching at Ulta Beauty in April at 750 stores, and nationwide in August.

Clean beauty, powered by community

Cathie Aprino founded Hudson Valley Skin Care in 2011 with the goal of utilizing her background in cosmetic chemistry and pharmacology, in collaboration with the thriving, diverse network of farmers and makers that populate the Hudson Valley.

Hudson Valley Skin Care

Cathie Aprino founded Hudson Valley Skin Care in 2011 with the goal of utilizing her background in cosmetic chemistry and pharmacology, in collaboration with the thriving, diverse network of farmers and makers that populate the Hudson Valley.

“She began her career formulating products at companies like Estee Lauder,” says Melissa Arpino, Cathie’s 23-year-old daughter who has joined the company as the head of advertising and marketing. “Later, she moved to Pleasant Valley in the Hudson Valley with my father, Glenn, a compounding pharmacist. They worked together, and became increasingly interested in natural products. She decided to bring those two worlds together in Hudson Valley Skin Care, with the goal of creating a line of locally sourced, natural products that are effective and indulgent, but also affordable.”

Cathie began sourcing ingredients by hitting up farmer’s markets and talking to producers. 

“She always created her formulations in a lab, and it was very science-based, but at the same time, the growth was very slow for the first six years,” Melissa says.

Ingredients include oats from Wildhive Farms, used for their antioxidative and anti-inflammatory powers; sunflower seed oil from HV Cold-Pressed Oils, used for the vitamins A, C and D, and regenerative fatty acids; goat milk from Coach Farms, to exfoliate and moisturize; and beer from Hyde Park Brewing, for the hops, which moisturize and soften skin, and the polyphenols, which reduce redness. 

In 2018, Cathie was ready to expand beyond the local mom-and-pop store circuit that they were dominating, and built Hudson Valley Skin Care’s first website. 

“When I joined a few years later, I redid it and we started wholesaling to different websites,” Melissa explains. “Our strongest customer base has always been in the Hudson Valley, but it’s really cool to see our products available at stores across the country now.”

Melissa plans to continue with Hudson Valley Skin Care, but has also launched her own line of less-is-more products, aptly named Stripped Beauty.  

“My goal with Stripped in transparency,” Melissa says. “I am focused on creating simple, affordable, but effective skincare that ignores trends and gimmicks. I use some locally sourced ingredients, and am really focused on vegan, cruelty free products and formulations.”

While natural beauty used to be anything but luxe — remember those skin-singeing DIY lemon juice masks and drain-clogging sugar scrubs? — that landscape is changing.

 “People of all ages are really embracing the natural beauty movement, and finding that not only can they get great results, they have fewer reactions to products because the ingredients are so pure,” says Melissa.

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