When I first pumped a couple of drops of Province Apothecary’s Moisturizing Cleanser + Makeup Remover into my hand and applied the clear oil to my face, I felt an immediate comforting sensation. It’s one of those things that’s hard to describe but comes through clearly in a purely sensorial way.
Lately, I like to exercise my intuition when testing a new product before reading the enclosed information about it. I could tell that I wanted to take my time with this cleansing oil—the way I’d enjoy wrapping myself in a cozy blanket.
I slowly massaged it into my skin, dislodging dirt and makeup, sure, but mainly for the feel-good state that it put me in. It was only later that I read the lovely ingredients list and saw the description: “This essential oil blend calms, reduces stress, and relaxes your parasympathetic nervous system.” Oh, indeed it does!
You can expect the same synchronicity between product description and actual effect on the skin from the rest of this results-driven line too. As mentioned in my edited daytime routine (here), I easily gravitate to Province Apothecary’s Protecting + Restoring Face Balm as well. It turns out, there’s a good reason it is made without coconut oil, which is an ingredient that doesn’t do well on my skin. You’ll find out what the founder has to say about that in a moment.
From kitchen blends to ANFGB
Province Apothecary (PA) was developed by Julie Clark, a certified holistic esthetician and aromatherapist. Her own bout with eczema and allergies led her to crafting formulas in her apartment in Hell’s Kitchen to help soothe her struggling skin.
Years later and after moving to Toronto, Julie still creates her products in small batches to retain freshness and potency. She also makes it a point to source ingredients from local organic Canadian farms in order to support them.
But there’s nothing small about PA’s product performance—nor where the company is headed. Province Apothecary will feature prominently alongside other green beauty greats at A Night for Green Beauty (ANFGB) in Chicago on August 6th—less than one month away!
The product line consists of a wide range of aromatherapeutic treatments including face and body care, a perfume collection, a Lover’s Kit, a headache therapeutic roll-on, and a hangover remedy, to give you an idea of the variety. While not yet under certification (she’s working towards it!), the raw ingredients are organic.
I was fortunate enough to interview Julie on behalf of ANFGB and asked all about her line that truly takes an apothecary’s approach to well-being. I love her clever tips on using her products and her heartfelt approach to beauty.
What were your goals when creating your product line? What was missing from the beauty scene at that time?
I wanted to create an active and gentle line that worked for the most sensitive skin. I also wanted it to work for congested and mature skin.
My goal was to make products that were simple and powerful, using all-natural ingredients that everyone recognized. I actually developed two lines before launching PA’s current line. I learned so much experimenting with various raw ingredients, herbs and oils during facials and eventually settled on the most effective formulas.
When I started making products, there weren’t really any organic Toronto/Canadian brands that were making a complete line for facials. I worked at a spa and knew of a few American + European brands, but those products still contained a lot of synthetic ingredients. Since starting PA, it’s been interesting to see how many amazing brands have popped up!
What sets Province Apothecary apart?
Our custom products, our treatments and the amazing results we have seen in all of our clients. Our active + gentle line will work for all skin types. Adjusting your products to the seasons and your lifestyle shifts will give you beautiful, radiant skin that is healthy and balanced.
You see clients as part of your holistic esthetician practice (oh! I’ve got to add you to this list. What’s your contact info?) What are some skincare mistakes that you repeatedly see and how can they be remedied?
Your list is amazing! I wish I had known about it when I went to NYC! [Take note Canadians: Province Apothecary]
Giving facials is definitely one of my favorite parts of my job. Everyone’s skin is so different and I love figuring out what they need and watching their skin improve!
The two biggest ‘mistakes’ I come across often are: using soap as a cleanser, and not exfoliating at all or only once in a while.
I have found that soap-based cleansers throw off the natural pH of your skin which can cause more dryness or oiliness. When you wash your face with soap, you strip it of all its natural oil and the skin tries to balance itself by overproducing oil, or feeling dry and stripped raw.
Exfoliating with a gentle exfoliator every three days is the best anti-aging and decongestion practice EVER! It stimulates the skin, increasing blood flow which feeds the skin cells and helps boost them. Dead skin on the surface also make wrinkles more noticeable and can clog pores, preventing the absorption of products. Exfoliating also helps reduce the appearance of scars.
LOVE YOUR SKIN! Tell your skin how much you love it and how beautiful you are. Try it for a week and see if you notice anything; you will! The power of the mind is amazing and I think we all need to give ourselves more love. This has been my experiment this year, and I have noticed a difference in my skin and in my self confidence!
STOP PICKING YOUR SKIN! Pimples only last a few days (sometimes a few weeks), but scars can last for years! I remind my clients about this often and tell them to remind themselves this when they want to pick. It is not worth it. Use a spot treatment like our CLEAR SKIN on your pimples and leave them be. They will go away, I promise. [Clear Skin smells fabulous—unlike many other blemish treatments—and it works!]
You source ingredients from local Canadian farms. Why was that important to you?
I love eating and buying local produce from my farmers market and it got me thinking about what grows around me, what is native to Canada and what are its benefits to the skin? As an aromatherapist I was aware of local producers of essential oils and it made me so happy to use their ingredients in my products. I want to support our smaller farmers, in Canada, the US, and around the world. We support the Canadian Organic Growers because one of the biggest challenges I came across was finding organic Canadian raw materials, like oils and herbs. It is very expensive to become an organic farm, and often some amazing, smaller farms cannot afford to get the certification.
With so many organic and natural skincare lines now, what are some important questions consumers need to ask before buying into a particular brand? What do you consider first before using?
The most important questions to ask are: what are the quality of the ingredients, and what skin issue does the line address? You want to ensure you are using the best ingredients and they are right for your skin type and issues. Example: I advise my acne prone/congested clients to avoid coconut oil in all products, including make up.
What does your beauty routine look like? (Cosmetics too, if any!)
My routine is very simple! In the morning I rinse my face with water and a face cloth, exfoliate with our REGENERATING + STIMULATING EXFOLIATOR (I do this every three days), shampoo + condition with Rahua and exfoliate my body with a Turkish hand mitt.
Once I’m out of the shower, I apply a custom serum and sunscreen on my face and our RADIANT SKIN BODY OIL (which we will be launching in the fall). Right now my custom serum is a blend of argan, grapeseed, black cumin, and sea buckthorn oils with rose otto, frankincense, turmeric and sandalwood essential oils. I am using Keys SPF that I bought from CAP Beauty. If I have any pimples, I will use our spot treatment, CLEAR SKIN, at this point.
I don’t wear any make up. I like to keep thing simple and natural.
At night, I cleanse with our oil cleanser: MOISTURIZING CLEANSER + MAKE UP REMOVER, tone with our INVIGORATING + BALANCING TONER, apply my custom serum and CLEAR SKIN on my blemishes, brush my teeth and go to bed.
- I combine our cleanser and exfoliator together to make a cleaning exfoliator that hydrates the skin. I like to do this at night after a long stressful day when my skin feels very dry.
- I spray our toner into my serum (instead of adding water to the serum). This way I get the active properties of the toner’s hydrosols and water to help the serum oils penetrate deeper into my skin.
- I use our CLEAR SKIN to sooth and reduce itching of bug bites.
- I use our HEALING ECZEMA BALM to heal pimples. Red, raw, swollen pimples love the zinc in our eczema balm. It helps calm the skin and promotes healing. [OMG! I need to get this!]
I LOVE oil cleansing! I have formulated our MOISTURIZING CLEANSER + MAKE UP REMOVER in a way that helps remove make up, dirt, and dead skin and leaves your skin feeling hydrated. The essential oils of lavender, bergamot and frankincense will also relieve stress and calm you down at night, helping you have a better sleep.
Don’t I know it! Thank you, Julie, for taking the time to answer the questions and for your willingness to share your products with me! My skin is grateful.
This brand is clinical therapeutic skin care meets organic plant medicine at its best! But what my sensory experience of Province Apothecary deduces is that it’s nothing short of a work of art.