By Fern Gavelek
Photography by Mieko Horikoshi
Made-in-Hawai‘i skin care products boast ingredients from near and far. The use of some, like ‘alaea (iron-oxide red clay), are steeped in the practices of the traditional Hawaiian physician, the kahuna la‘au lapa‘au. Others are botanicals and products known for their healing and fragrant attributes, often grown in the islands or imported from around the world.
Coldwater Tea Farm
By way of Japan, a Minnesota native is growing tea, milking goats and creating soap on the North end of Kaua‘i. Michelle Rose combines her 100 percent estate-grown tea, goat milk and carefully sourced ingredients to fashion bars of creamy White Tea-Infused Goat Milk Soap.
Michelle got introduced to the world of tea as a food science college student studying in Japan. “I was enveloped in it,” she describes. Tea filled the fields around her—and she got to drink lots of it.
After visiting Hawai‘i, Michelle “made a promise” she’d live here. With a lifelong passion for agriculture, she came to Kaua‘i in 1998 and bought a 10-acre parcel so dense with vegetation that she couldn’t walk through it. Michelle harvested Cloudwater Farm’s first commercial tea in 2009— producing 5 percent of the state’s crop.
It was serendipity that got Michelle into soap making. She was gifted with a goat—she now has a herd of 27—and enjoyed using a friend’s homemade goat milk soap. With the encouragement of her husband, Michelle went into the soap making business.
“I wanted to make an honest bar of soap with the highest quality ingredients,” shares the Midwestern native.
The oils and butters used in Cloudwater Tea Farm’s soaps are chosen “from growers with integrity.” Her current formulation includes cold-pressed sunflower oil from Minnesota, coconut oil and cocoa butter from the Philippines, sweet almond oil from Italy, shea butter from Africa and kukui nut oil from Indonesia.
“This soap is food for your skin,” Michelle emphasizes. “The tea has a cleansing quality and the other ingredients maintain your skin mantle.” An imperceptible viscous fluid, the skin’s acid mantle maintains and protects skin’s overall health.
Michelle has used bamboo charcoal—she grows bamboo, too—to add a decorative element to the soap but it’s basically available in unscented and lavender-scented. Order online and find a list of retailers at www.cloudwatertea.com.
Queen Bee Productions
Queen Bee Productions of Maui combines honey with the medicinal value of herbs to create body products. At the helm are two gals who rely on the benefits of wild-crafted honey: Tiare Rietow, herbalist and Kether Quinlan, aesthetician/beekeeper.
Certified by the California School of Herbal Studies, Rietow harvests and dries the herbs used in QB products. Quinlan is a graduate of Spa Luna Holistic Aesthetics School and is a licensed holistic aesthetician on Maui. A beekeeper-in-training, Kether also has a background in growing plants and herbs.
“At Queen Bee we believe less is more and to keep it simple by pulling nature into skin care,” shares Quinlan.
The Maui residents formulate all their products using raw honey, beeswax and other organic ingredients; no synthetic fillers, parabens or petroleums are used.
Honey, which is naturally antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and has antibiotic properties, is at the heart of Queen Bee’s line of cleansers, body butters, oils, exfoliants and scrubs. The company operates an apiary to produce a third of its own liquid gold and purchases the rest from other Maui beekeepers. Green papaya powder, noni, lokelani rose petals, lavender, lemon balm and chamomile are also found on-island.
Other ingredients are obtained from Mainland distributors, like the alkanet root, which is used to naturally tint the Cherry Bomb lip balm a pretty magenta hue. The popular rose varieties of creams, cleansers and toners are crafted using authentic Bulgarian rose otto—the oil is the essence of rose and has the plant’s soothing and healing capabilities. Client testimonials at www.queenbee.maui.com rave about the fragrance and effectiveness of the rose products.
“Rose is so soothing and healing,” notes Quinlan, who adds the bloom is good for the heart—both physically and emotionally. “It constricts the skin’s capillaries to keep down redness and helps with hot flashes.”
Kona Natural Soap Company
Created on the leeward mountain slopes of Hualalai on the Big Island, Kona Natural Soap blends natural oils and exfoliants with essential oils and filtered Hawaiian rainwater to create individually hand-cut bars. Local ingredients like cacao, coffee and kukui nut oil are used; there are no artificial or synthetic materials.
“Or philosophy is simple,” states co-owner Greg Colden. “We create the best quality product with reasonable cost considerations and make certain customers feel our soaps are a necessary indulgence.”
Kona Natural Soap is the result of a dozen years of research that started with instruction by California soap maker and environmentalist Alyson Kipplinger. After learning the importance of using aromatherapy grade essential oils, Greg delved into the properties of fatty acids and vegan oils to find sustainable ingredients that are best for the body.
“After attempting to procure oils that had a smaller carbon footprint, we found an expeller who sells us first-pressed extra virgin olive oil; it makes a creamier, natural glycerin soap as the oil is denser,” details Colden. He says experimenting with farm- grown products has enabled Kona Natural to understand “what makes us unique.”
Farm finds include coffee, which is grown on site at Kokoleka Lani Farms and added to the exfoliant soaps, along with cacao— the chocolate bean— and lime and Calamondin seeds.
Colden and partner Marty Corrigan craft their soaps in a customized, solar-powered facility. There are nearly 25 different varieties—each sports its own hue and Hawaiian name. Po Hau, Greg’s fave, boasts the essence of rosemary, an antiseptic, and wintergreen, a coagulant. Marty likes to wake up to a scrub using Luakaha, as it contains invigorating orange and lemongrass. Find all the choices, with pictures, at www.konanaturalsoapcompany.com.