You try to buy food from your local farmers’ market and support local businesses as much as you can, so why not do the same with your beauty products? All you need to do is follow the lead of spas across the country. Borrowing from the 100-mile diet, which eschews faraway foods to spare the carbon cost of transport, they’ve started to use ingredients from their immediate surroundings to create out-of-this-world skin savers.
“When we created our spa treatments, we wanted to be resourceful and lessen our environmental footprint by using what was around us,” explains Tara Duarte, guest services manager at Sundara Spa in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. “By using local ingredients, we stay true to ourselves and offer an authentic experience of our location.”
That’s not to say exotic favorites like argan oil and green tea can’t have a place in your beauty routine, but it’s easier than you think to embrace the many glow-enhancing substances that grow closer to home.
With its ancient mountain ranges and dense, deciduous forests, the Northeast keeps its beauty secrets hidden from plain view. The untrained eye might miss candytuft, for instance, a tiny, white flower that herbalists have used for centuries to relieve muscle tension. “The flower only grows in two counties in all of New Hampshire,” explains Libby Staples, spa director at Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. While all the products created for the resort contain candytuft, this flower is especially beneficial in the massage oil where it helps relieve tight muscles.
Try: Related to candytuft, mustard also has a well earned reputation for soothing sore muscles and works its magic in Von Natur Immune Boost Mustard Bath Soak.($23.50, 12 oz; vonnatur.com).
Stinging nettle is another diminutive, but powerful, herb that Staples relies on to soothe skin conditions. Packed with healing vitamin E and antioxidants, this common plant has long been used to treat eczema and psoriasis.
Try: Aubrey Organics Oil Balancing Moisturizer ($14, 2 oz; aubrey-organics.com) uses nettles to help tone and normalize oily skin.
Guests at the Bedford Springs Resort enjoy the cooling sensation of Indian cucumber root on their skin after a warm dip in the hot springs, says Veronique Paquet, director of Springs Eternal Spa at the resort. “The Indian variety, which thrives in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania, has a calming fragrance that’s gender-neutral,” says Paquet, who uses the scent as an undertone in every Springs Eternal product. One of her other favorite locally inspired treatments combines crushed black walnut shells with warming wild gingerroot for a stimulating body scrub.
Try: Devita Cooling Cucumber Toner ($16, 6 oz; devita.net) refreshes any skin type with its soothing cucumber scent, while Springs Eternal Black Walnut Ginger Body Scrub ($36, 6.3 oz; 814.624.5633) whisks away dead skin cells with crushed walnut shells and increases circulation with wild gingerroot.
If you look beyond the endless fields of corn, the Midwest actually offers a bounty of unusual beauty ingredients, perhaps none more unexpected than the sandstone found in the Wisconsin Dells. When Sundara excavated their land to build the spa, rather than discard the red sand all around them, they incorporated it in the structure of the building and added it to their beauty treatments. “We sent the sand to the lab and found the texture was perfect for exfoliating skin,” explains Duarte, who helped Sundara create its signature sandstone polish. “Since it’s sand, you might automatically think ‘heavy and dense,’ but it’s actually very fine and fluffy.” The treatment also gives guests an emotional connection to the land that they can take home with them, explains Duarte.
To boost the benefits of the sand scrub, Duarte blends in fragrant, indigenous strawberries, which help clear away dead skin cells with their alpha-hydroxy acids.
Try: Bring the sun-kissed Midwest home with the Sundara Sandstone Body Polish ($29, 6 oz; sundaraspa.com).
Looking for an even more unconventional way to uncover glowing new skin? If you live in the lager-loving Chicago area, you could sign up for a beer facial. Long touted as a shampoo that bestows shiny hair, beer has taken top billing as the hallmark facial treatment at Exsalonce Spa in Chicago. Aestheticians apply an exfoliating, lager-infused cream; the enzymes from the hops help reveal brighter, younger-looking skin.
Try: For the benefits of beer without the brewery smell, use Organoderm Fresh Foaming Cleanser ($22, 8.5 oz; organoderm.com) with organic hops.
The warm, humid air of the South verges on tropical when you venture into Texas and Florida, where fruits of all kinds thrive. When used in spa treatments, these beauty foods can bolster the skin’s defenses against the free radicals that contribute to aging. None may be quite so effective as pomegranate, used at the Spa at Lake Austin in Texas. “Pomegranate does more than reverse the effects of aging by fighting free radicals,” explains Lynne Vertrees, director of treatment development. “The juices also stimulate the metabolism of cells to improve skin texture.”
Try: Reap the antiaging benefits of pomegranate oil in Pomega5 Healing Cream ($60, 50 ml; pomega5.com).
Just across the Gulf in Florida, sugarcane is the skin scrubber of choice. Sugar dissolves quickly in water, so it makes a good exfoliant for more sensitive skin. At the Aquanox Spa in Miami, spa director Lori Lynch decided to infuse the sugar with a little of the city’s Cuban influence, creating a mojito-themed body scrub with lime and mint. “With its rich content of vitamin C, lime helps keep the skin bright and toned, while the mint refreshes with its tingling sensation,” explains Lynch. “The scrub is great for sloughing away the sun-dried, salty skin you’re left with after a day at the beach.”
Try: Have your own spa happy hour with lime- and mint-infused Sweet Beauty Mojito Sugar Scrub ($22, 6 oz; spiritbeautylounge.com).
The dry air and desert-like conditions of this region mean only the hardiest plants survive, but the concentrated blend of vitamins and minerals in those same plants can make troubled skin blossom. People living in the region need extra exfoliation and hydration, and the blue corn and Anasazi bean cleanse at Nidah Spa in Santa Fe, New Mexico, offers both. “The blue cornmeal provides a gentle exfoliation while the creamy beans hydrate and cool the skin,” explains spa director Wendy Katzman. Blue corn, notable for its saturated hue, has more antioxidants and amino acids than the standard yellow variety and grows almost exclusively in the Southwest.
Try: Slough off dull skin with Haven Scent Blue Cornmeal Facial Scrub ($10, 4 oz; havenscentsoaps.com).
For a stimulating winter treatment, sign up for Nidah’s body wrap made from Chimayó chili pepper and
locally harvested honey. “The warming of the chili helps increase circulation and improve lymphatic drainage,” says Katzman. As a heat-of-the-summer alternative, try Katzman’s cooling creamy avocado treatment to quench your parched skin.
Try: Can’t find chili powder to warm your skin and amp circulation? Look for spice-filled substitutes like Pangea Malagasy Cinnamon Cassia With Cloves soap ($8, 3.75 oz; pangeaorganics.com) to do the job. To lower the temp, opt for Sundari Neem & Avocado Balancing Moisturizer ($52, 1.7 oz; skinstore.com)—it cools down skin with nourishing avocado oil.
The tough-as-nails herbs that grow in the West include arnica and sage, both of which win acclaim for their anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. “Sage helps the body recover soft tissue, and arnica really helps relieve soreness and stiffness when you apply it topically,” explains Charity Greene, who uses both local herbs at the spa at Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Colorado. “This nourishing blend combats high altitude’s dehydrating effects on the skin. We use it on tired, wind-burned skin after you’ve spent a long day in the outdoors.”
Try: Sore feet will love arnica-infused Talulah Nourishing Foot Balm ($24, 2.4 oz; talulahskincare.com). Rejuvenate dry-as-a-desert skin with Tara Spa Desert Sage Destination Rejuvenation Set ($28; taraspa.com), which comes with bath salts and body oil made with sage, cypress, and juniper essential oils.
From the rainy streets of Seattle to the sunny shores of San Diego, the mild climate of the West Coast supports year-round growing conditions for all kinds of spa-ready ingredients. Lavender, one of the most common additions to natural beauty products, especially thrives in the West Coast’s moisture. At the Glade Spring Spa in Suncadia, Washington, spa director Vanessa Henderson sources fresh lavender for the spa from a nearby farm committed to sustainability and has it ground fresh on demand for the spa’s signature treatments. “The climate here is very similar to that of France, which is famous for its lavender,” says Henderson. The best part about the flower is that “it’s good for you whether you’re young or 99 years old,” she adds, because its fragrant essential oil decreases inflammation and its antiseptic compounds fight bacteria.
Try: Generously spritz 100% Pure Organic Lavender Hydrosol Facial Mist ($13, 2 oz; 100percentpure.com) whenever your face feels dry or irritated.
Antiaging wine facials and scrubs have been a treatment staple for years in the many Northern California spas adjacent to Napa vineyards. While white wine offers skin-friendly nutrients, red wine’s powerful antioxidant, resveratrol, truly demolishes the free radicals that contribute to wrinkles and sagging skin.
Try: Reap the benefits of Napa Valley Cabernet in Aqua Dessa Wine Scrub ($33, 16 oz; aquadessa.com).
In the southern part of the state, fig has emerged as a popular beauty ingredient. The Pelican Spa in Newport Coast, California, uses native figs in indulgent body scrubs. With more minerals than any common fruit, rich, plumpy figs restore vital nutrients to depleted skin.
Try: The fig in Bella Luccè Silk & Honey Lotion ($17, 8 oz; bellalucce.com) rejuvenates skin.
These US companies are dedicated to sourcing local ingredients whenever possible, doing their part to nurture the planet.
Talulah. This Portland, Oregon–based company uses locally distilled rosewater in their products (validating Portland’s “Rose City” nickname). Talulah even composts extra plant material from their products in their on-site gardens. talulahskincare.com
Suki. A Massachusetts company, Suki sources its sunflower, rice bran, and rose hip oils from around the Northeast. sukipure.com
Terressentials. Dedicated to organic beauty, this company buys its witch hazel from a farm just an hour north of its Maryland location. What’s more, Terressentials just planted witch hazel trees on its land as part of an ongoing plan to grow more of the herbs for its products on-site. terressentials.com
Grateful Body. With most of its market in Northern California, Grateful Body’s products include more than a dozen ingredients from the Bay Area. gratefulbody.com