Attractive and Sublime:
Beauty from Nature
Conceptions of beauty are bound up in place and time. Some of what passes for beautiful today is bound to elicit cringes tomorrow, making any definition of beauty more of a social and cultural snapshot than a stable notion. However, the German poet and philosopher Friedrich Schlegel was onto something with his take on the matter: “Beauty is that which is simultaneously attractive and sublime.” Nearly two hundred years later, his two-item checklist holds up, and points to the enduring appeal of natural wonders. Expanses of land, sea, and sky, made sublimely attractive by sharp ridges and broad basins, shifting sands, or a smattering of stars, have much in common with the human body, with its topography of pores, follicles, and protective layers..
Naturally derived ingredients are at the heart of a modern, effective approach to skincare that begins with deep cleaning. Paris-born biochemist-turned-star facialist Joëlle Ciocco’s Sensitive Cleansing Milk is powered by active ingredients that leave skin purified, protected, and glowing. For the body, Grown Alchemist Body Cleanser combines nourishing neroli, rosemary, and tangerine fruit oils with antioxidants contained in jojoba, macadamia, and essential fatty acid-packed rosehip.
The process of sloughing away dead skin cells to reveal the fresh layer beneath is an accelerated version of the polishing that occurs over weeks and years in nature, but skin can’t tolerate the grains of sand that leave rocks and shells smooth to the touch. Look to bamboo extract, the exfoliating secret in M.E. SkinLab’s Cleanser 27, or purifying Binchotan charcoal to gently draw out impurities. Formulated for the body, Grown Alchemist’s minty exfoliator relies upon pearl-derived aragonite and conchiolin proteins to decongest skin.
Skin keeps moisture in and toxins out. It functions best when balanced. A toning step restores skin’s natural equilibrium—a slightly acidic pH—with side benefits such as minimizing the appearance of pores. Streamlined solutions come in the form of a mineral-infused spritz of spring water or a splash of triple-distilled Italian rosewater. Ciocco offers a more comprehensive approach to toning with her moisturizing Lacteal Lotion and pore-tightening Aromatic Lotion, fueled by a potent blend of sage, rosemary, grapefruit, and marine extracts.
Following cleansing, exfoliation, and toning, skin is primed for moisture. Essential oils like those in Linda Rodin’s cult-favorite face oil and uka nail oil—hydrating but not greasy, freshly fragrant but not cloying—sink in quickly for long-lasting nourishment. Coconut oil, aloe vera, and lanolin are the soothing softeners at work in Mountain Ocean Skin Trip, ideal for daily use, and even the most parched palms, elbows, and knees are smoothed by Goe Oil, a fast-absorbing blend of 28 plant, fruit, and flower oils and butters.
For all its resonance with natural wonders, the body’s outermost layer can take a beating from the elements. A final protective step, even if it’s just a swipe of fragrant lip balm, keeps the damage to a minimum. Susanne Kaufmann’s version of sunblock is powered by plant-based active ingredients that not only prevent premature aging but also regenerate and repair damaged skin cells. Defending against the germs of the world once meant robbing skin of moisture—until the arrival of Jao Hand Refresher, which doubles as a facial astringent, body splash, after shave, or deodorant.