While exploring a craft fair in Jerusalem a few years ago, I stumbled upon a booth selling skin care products that my Crapola radar told me were pure and authentic. I had been looking for a face cream to stave off the inevitable wrinkles of time, but only wanted something that was nourishing and healthy for my skin. And here it was. EstherSkincare.
What’s so special about this brand?
Mind you, there’s a lot on the market, and I’ve done my research. I always ignore the front label with it’s alluring marketing copy and search for the ingredients. My original intent, when I decided to travel to Israel, was to buy Dead Sea products because the famous mud is known to have all kinds of medicinal qualities. Unfortunately, it’s become a big business, and with big business comes food scientists who can create flavors and aromas in a lab for much less money. So all the Dead Sea products were out, although I did take a dip in the Dead Sea and enjoyed the luxurious mud. My son, on the other hand, ran out screaming when the water–the saltiest on earth–got in his eyes.
Back to Esther
Esther combines innovative plant research with her knowledge of ancient beauty secrets, and this unique combination is the foundation of all her creations. She carefully picks the purest organic materials, using herbs and essential oils to formulate really exquisite cosmetic products. She is inspired by the herbs and flowers that have been growing in the Galilee area of the Holy Land for milenia. She also has a friend—an aromatherapy guru—who travels all over the world buying direct from farmers, including in Somalia and Ethiopia where the best frankincense comes from. Esther’s products are 100% free of chemicals, synthetics or mineral oils. The result is homemade skin care products of the highest possible quality that are as authentic as could possibly be. Any product can claim to “restore and revitalize” your skin—but these ingredients have a thousand + year track record.
The Esther Organic Skin Care products
Esther’s signature product contains rare and precious oils that you have to work hard to extract: Rose and Frankincense.
It takes tens of thousands of rose blossoms, picked at dawn as they are unfolding, to produce a single ounce of rose essential oil. This video shows how it’s is made (harvesting at Enio Bonchev’s rose fields in the heart of the Bulgarian Rose Valley). In the ancient times of Queen Esther of Israel, these essential oils were only available to nobility. Today, rose oil costs $600 an ounce, so every drop is like gold. (Not to be confused with rosewater, which is a byproduct of the process.) Rose oil has all kinds of health and beauty enhancing properties—it refines skin texture and controls skin diseases like psoriasis and dermatitis. Rose oil contains a myriad of natural chemical compounds that bring wellness and healing to the body—vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Besides being an excellent emollient (moisturizier), it is also used to treat depression, eczema, frigidity, mature skin, menopause, and stress. It improves skin tone by strengthening the capillaries, which is especially good for sensitive skin. It also has strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, and, of course, it has a long tradition as an aphrodisiac. Rosehips—oil from small fruits on the rose plant— has rich oils and proteins which keep skin soft and help prevention pigmentation (age spots/sunspots). All this in one tiny bottle.
Frankincense has historically been so valuable that it was transported by camel caravan thousands of years ago along the Silk Road from Somalia to Eurasia along with silk and horses. It was a grueling and dangerous journey across the desert but worth it because these goods fetched a high price. It is believed that Frankincense was burned as incense in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. Its strong scent is said to “uplift the soul” and it also helps clean and purify the air. Frankincense is a powerful astringent, so it protects skin cells. It also reduces acne and the appearance of large pores, it prevents wrinkles and lifts and tightens skin. Frankincense essential oil has many health benefits, too, ranging from a stress-reliever to a pain-reliever.
This is the Real Thing, people—potent and nourishing, full of anti-oxidants with absolutely no fillers, dyes, synthetics, or preservatives. It will rehydrate and rejuvenate skin and smooth wrinkles. Best as a night application on a cleanly washed face and massaged in.
Contains Jojoba oil, Primrose oil, Rose hip oil, Pomegranate seed oil, Sea buckthorn oil, Essential oils Damask Rose and pure Frankincense.
Galilee Herbs Soap
Esther creates all soaps by hand in micro-batches to ensure the highest quality. All soaps are vegan, chemical free, glycerine free and 100% natural. All raw ingredients are sourced locally, while herbs, honey, and olive oil are harvested from her own gardens and surrounding nature, in the beautiful Galilee Hills. She uses a high proportion of essential oils to make a luxurious super fatty Castile style soap.
Contains: wild harvest herbs of: Rosemary, Zaatar, White Mint and Sage, with Organic local Olive Oil and essential oils of Lavender and Rosemary.
Shea butter, used in many of Esther’s products, is sourced from a small operation in Ghana much like this one.
Lavender body oil
The most precious things in life are the most simple. From the finest Organic Bulgarian Lavender and Organic Sweet Almond Oils , Esther has created a luxurious all-over body oil that will soothe the skin and awaken the senses. It makes a wonderful massage oil. Best applied after a warm shower on clean dry skin.
Contains: Organic Bulgarian Lavender, Organic Sweet Almond Oil
Esther Henderson, the heart, mind and hands behind Esther Organic Skin Care, is a mother of 6 and lives in Jerusalem. Each of Esther’s products are handmade and the result of a deep study, attention, knowledge, education, thought and soul. She works from her studio in Jerusalem and produces all her products in a small workshop in the Galilee in the North of Israel where she grows herbs. Esther believes that we all deserve to enjoy what nature has to offer and is passionate about offering a holistic body and soul experience.
In Esther’s words: “The ritual of taking a few moments for yourself, using our aromatic treats to pamper your beautiful skin, is what I want every woman to have. Every woman is a queen and deserves our royal skincare to make her feel beautiful! All of the products’ fragrances, produced from flowers and herbs, are a mystical experience for body and soul—they lift the heart and inspire you from within.
Now, just for fun, let’s look at some popular brands in the US.
—just what my skin has been thirsting for. NOT. Check out the ingredient lists below. Keep in mind that not all ridiculously unpronounceable chemicals are toxic, and some are actually benign. But most are not great, some are known carcinogens, and a lot are hormone disruptors or have reproductive toxicity. Conversely, some really herby-sounding ingredients are actually toxic, like Geraniol and Limonene, found in another “100% natural and nontoxic” skincare line. So do your research and shop carefully. Remember that real essential oils are expensive so they are often watered down or cheaper substitutes are used. The Environmental Working Group is a great resource: just enter a product you like and see how it’s ranked.
Where oh where can I get the Good Stuff?
I know I won’t find these at the Dollar Store, but will I have to mortgage my house?
Luckily, I have two pieces of good news:
- I have negotiated a discount for my readers for all Esther’s products. Free shipping ($15 off in the U.S.) for orders over $75 (it’ll be converted from shekels so will change slightly from day to day). Orders under $75 will receive a free gift, and
- The tiny bottle of face serum that I bought from her lasted me two years. Granted, I didn’t bathe in it or slather it down my legs, but you don’t need to. Just for the face, and primarily around the eyes.
Unfortunately you won’t find a comparable product at your local Body Shop or mall. Two reasonably good brands are Tata Harper and Herbivore Botanicals. Many of their skin care products are natural, although pesky synthetic ingredients do sneak into them. They are both large companies, and large companies make things in a lab with ingredients that sit on shelves because using a little workshop with a garden in the Galilee hills of Israel is just not an option. Whole Foods and Wheatsville Co-op carry several herbal face creams that look delightfully natural, but they use sunflower seed—a moderately hydrating, comparatively cheap oil—as one of the first ingredients. So the question is: what is your goal? If you like the way something smells and it feels okay on your skin, that may be enough. But if you want a deeply nourishing, healing, healthy product, you may want to go the extra mile. You get what you pay for.
Check out your local farmers’ market for products being made honestly in small batches from fresh local ingredients. I found a goats milk cream that way, and I slather it on dry, sun-exposed arms and legs.
Anyone have a skin care product they love that is pure and organic? I’m always interested in my readers’ experiences and finds, so please share!