Several times a year Sarah Higgins, founder of the small-batch wildcrafted natural skincare brand The Cedar Nook, heads out into the Canadian forest to forage for what some people might consider weeds. "Weedy" plants like Red Clover, Yarrow and Goldenrod can be found in abundance in dry meadows, along gravel roads, and in the disturbed soil of ditches and hydro cuts. But what might look like an ugly weed to some, Sarah sees as beneficial botanicals for our skin. Every product in The Cedar Nook line is infused with the “weedy” plants she hand-harvests, each delivering a unique blend of vitamins and nutrients to benefit the skin.
"I have become a lover of invasive weeds - controversial, I know! And once I started learning the medicinal properties of even the common dandelion, it made more sense to me to use the plants and herbs I see in the woods around me than to order them online from another country," Sarah told me.
Not only does this local approach help the environment by lowering the carbon footprint that comes with shipping and transporting ingredients from far off regions, but in wildcrafting her herbs regionally The Cedar Nook utilizes an herbal practice know as bioregional herbalism which aims to put people in greater connection to the natural world around them. Focusing specifically on time and place, bioregional herbalism prioritizes a connection to the plant species of your immediate local ecosystem to foster a deep bond between yourself and the land around you.
"I believe so deeply that it is important for us to understand where our herbs come from, and how they relate to the land and climate around us," Sarah explains. "Focusing on local plants is an easy way for us to get more familiar with our own region's plants, while also ensuring that we are using them in ways that are sustainable to our local ecosystems. This, inevitably, deepens our connection to the land so we can be more rooted in where we live."
In formulating her botanical products with plants and herbs from the Canadian landscape The Cedar Nook is working to minimize the impact her product line has on the environment - something that is a pervasive issue within the skincare industry. At the same time her products offer us a unique opportunity to connect with the land through the potent skin benefits of the abundant "weedy" plants found right in our own backyard.
Let's take a closer look at three of the "weedy" botanicals The Cedar Nook uses in her products and how they work to benefit your skin.
Traditionally, red clover has been used to treat minor skin irritations and inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. But it's the antioxidant properties of red clover that provide the most exciting skin benefits. Red clover contains high levels of isoflavones, a plant-based compound with antioxidant benefits that not only protects the skin against free-radical damage - which degrades the skin at a cellular level leading to premature skin aging, loss of firmness and elasticity, and fine lines and wrinkles - but also has an estrogen-like effect on the skin. Studies have shown that the isoflavones in red clover are effective in combating skin aging due to a loss in estrogen which naturally decreases as we get older, making this weedy herb particularly beneficial for aging and mature skin.
The Cedar Nook infuses red clover into the Moisturizing Meadow Oil, which combined with moisturizing meadowfoam seed oil and collagen-supporting avocado oil deeply nourishes the skin while helping to maintain firmness and elasticity.
Yarrow can be found growing wild in meadows, along roadsides, on dry sunny slopes, and throughout open forests across Canada. This flowering perennial flourishes in the heat and sun of the summer with its flowers blooming from July to August in Ontario. Yarrow flowers are typically white - although pale pink, purple, yellow and even blue flowers can be found and harvested - with small densely arranged petals in flattened clusters that sit atop a single stem with feather-like leaves.
Known for its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, analgesic and astringent benefits yarrow has been used as a powerful skin soother and wound healer for centuries. It calms sensitivity and irritation, minimizes skin redness, and combats acne-causing bacteria while soothing inflammatory acne. Its astringent properties work to balance oil production in the skin helping to minimize shine and keep pores clear.
Yarrow is the star ingredient in The Cedar Nook's Organic Yarrow Face Serum. A gentle oil serum to calm and soothe red, irritated and inflamed skin, balance oil production and combat breakouts.
Canadian goldenrod is a late blooming wildflower that can be found in abundance in the disturbed soil of ditches, gravel roads and along hydro cuts. An important fall nectar and pollen source, goldenrod is easily identified by its plumes of fluffy yellow flowers that bloom throughout August and September on leaf-covered stems that can grow up to six feet tall. Often blamed for many people’s seasonal allergies, goldenrod's pollen is actually too heavy to be dispersed by the air. Ragweed, which blooms at the same time, is the real culprit of your sniffling, sneezing and itchy eyes.
Naturally astringent, antimicrobial and rich in saponin, goldenrod works to deeply cleanse the skin and keep the pores clear. Saponins are naturally occurring compounds found in the stems, roots and leaves of many plants. In skincare saponins act as a natural cleanser, working to gently and effectively remove surface dirt and impurities without damaging the skin’s natural balance of protective oils.
The antimicrobial and astringent properties of goldenrod are especially beneficial for acne-prone skin, as it works to keep the skin free from bacteria that can lead to breakouts, while gently balancing oil production.
Goldenrod’s cleansing properties shine in The Cedar Nook Goldenrod Oil Cleanser, where it works alongside moisturizing meadowfoam seed oil and hydrating sweet almond oil to gently and effectively cleanse the skin without stripping it of its natural balance of protective oils.