Wild Hill Botanicals

On a rainy Thursday night, huddled under a small tent listening to a knowledgable man passionately explain the process of making natural skin care and beauty products, I quickly found myself becoming more and more intrigued by a collection of jars and bottles sitting in front of me. Sure the products looked pretty, and they smelled pretty great too, but after listening to him, I knew that Wild Hill Botanicals products were so much more than just “skin care products.”

The serums, scrubs, cleansers and, oils made by Teague and Sarah, the couple behind Wild Hill Botanicals, are creations born of passion, tradition, and a melding of old and new technologies.  Created with the intent to provide people with natural products that help to restore and replenish skin that’s been rubbed, scrubbed, and slathered with products filled with chemicals and preservatives, Wild Hill products are made with the finest and most healing herbs grown right in an East Sooke greenhouse. To tell you a little bit more about their products and their process, I present to you an interview with Sarah, one half of the incredible duo that is Wild Hill Botanicals.

Because you grow your own herbs and flowers, do you have to change up your stock throughout the year or are you able to keep the same products year round?

I’m really glad you asked this question, because we are constantly dealing with this issue. The truth is, once you are working with something wild and not commodified, the supply is always a finite thing, as your window for harvesting determines your supply. Add to this principles of sustainability, and you can see the challenges of offering a wild product. As artisan skincare crafters we are ok with that, and the beneifts of offering our wild floral waters outweigh these issues as we see it.

The Nootka Rose toner, for instance, is made from distilled wild rose that we handpick here on the South Island. As you might imagine, picking wild rose involves walking around inside trailing rose brambles. Not easy pickings! The accessible areas close enough to home and our distillery limit what we can produce as well- everything has to be very fresh at time of distillation. All of this means that we produce what we can, and when that sells out, it remains so until the next season.

For the cultivated herbs that we use, what we can’t grow ourselves, we source locally. We are blessed with some really great suppliers here in the Northwest. For still other ingredients, like our local seaweeds, which are a total skincare jewel, we use only local licensed harvesters who are restricted by the tide and season.

How long does it take (roughly) to make each product?

They pretty much all take three to seven hours per batch, including the mise-en-place, prep time, sterilizing jars and labelling. The cream takes much longer as it is our most complex product. Between everything else we do, I can usually make a batch of one of our products per day.

Which is your favourite product to make?

I love working with hydrosols and am a misting addict in general, so I would say the distillation process and making the hydrosols that become our toners is my favourite process.

Which is your favourite one to use?

In these summer months the Rose Geranium toner and Blackberry Serum are my go-to’s. I mist with toner in the mornings to wake up and cleanse, then use a touch of cream. Because most days I don’t wear any makeup, at night I mist again and then use a pump or two of Serum to boost skin repair while I sleep.

Where does your inspiration come from?

We find beauty in simplicity, great ingredients and studying the history of skincare approaches from the classical European herbalist tradition, as well as our local First Nations use of plants.

Recently I have been inspired by beauty rituals of ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome. These civilizations had whole apothecary neighbourhoods in their cities and complex beauty rituals rooted in the use of botanically scented oils

What would you say is the first change people should make when starting the journey of clean beauty?

The first step is to become very curious about what is in your skin care products. (This also applies to laundry soap, dish soap, cleaning supplies and hand soap.)

Clean out your vanity and makeup bag, then replace your items through a trusted source, like Carly at the Green Kiss here in Victoria, who is all about helping people make the switch. In general, we are thrilled with all the new green beauty bars and shops that are opening everywhere these days, and we encourage you to find one near you, because they make this process stress free. Health Food stores are another great resource. For very good info on ingredients to avoid, The David Suzuki Foundation has a great pdf on the subject called “What’s Inside? That Counts.” We refer people to this document frequently.

In general, begin looking for products that are made with herbs and truly natural ingredients, such as organic hydrosols, organic aloe, clays, organic herbs, and organic nut and seed oils. Sorry, but pesticide contamination IS a thing, and it matters, especially in oils and hydrosols. Choose products that use essential oils (preferably organic as well) instead of fragrance or parfum.

I can’t say thank you enough to Teague and Sarah for all of the time and effort they’ve taken to help make this post come together. Without the time they took to explain some of their processes, the reasons behind their selection of ingredients, and their overall knowledge of natural products, this post would have just been a “look at this neat stuff” kind of thing. Instead, I get to feel excited about sharing an informative post about beautiful products that I really, truly love. Now go check them out here!

Product photos by me
Wild Hill photos by Alana Parsons

TGIF

Happy birthday Picot! Last night, on the final nightmarket of the season, Picot celebrated their one year anniversary. I, for one, am so happy that it's around. It's such a great store, the people who work there are pretty freakin' fabulous, and the community supporting it is just amazing! So here's to you, Picot (and Britt!) - wishing you many more years of wonderful unknowns!

Best part of the week: The weather has been incredible the last few days. So. Hot. So. Great. Except for when the fan doesn't quite cut it at night...

Worst part of the week: I found out on Monday that one of my oldest friends is moving to Ontario. He got offered a job there and while I'm super excited and happy for him, he is going to be missed on the West Coast.

Something I'm grateful for: therapists. They're just so great and so helpful and the work they do is so important. I feel very lucky to have had such amazing ones in my life (including, but not limited to, my momma)

Something I'm excited for: I'm going home on Sunday for the day to say goodbye to my friend. It's going to be a whirlwind day trip but I'm so looking forward to seeing him, as well as a few other people I haven't seen in ages, and giving him a proper send off.

93) What is your most essential appliance? I'd say it's a tie between the fridge and the coffee machine. But probably the fridge because coffee can be made without a machine. But, at the same time, I could probably live without a fridge because I'd just buy things that I needed on the day of... I could also say the microwave, but could go without if need be. I guess I like them all but know that I could survive without them. So, for frivolity's sake, I'm saying the coffee machine.

Happy weekending everybody!

TGIF

**Last night was the second of three markets being hosted by Picot in the Fernwood Square. It was another smashing success! You can see week one right here**

Best part of the week: I had lots of great little moments this week. I went stargazing on Saturday, I beach lounged on Sunday, Tuesday night I lay in bed listening to my favourite tunes, Wednesday night I knit in bed with my friend, Thursday night was the Picot night market, and today is Friday sooooo weekend!

Worst part of the week: We have so. many. fruit flies. They’re taking over our apartment and I am about to lose my mind.

Something I’m grateful for: The ability to think about the concept of grateful. I love that I have the brain power that allows me to think about all the things I love and am so lucky to have. Brains are pretty neat!

Something I’m excited for: I’m looking forward to going to the Etsy Island Makers Market on Sunday. I love the community of makers here in Victoria and supporting all their hard, beautiful work.  

324) Do you talk to yourself? All. The. Time. I can’t help it. I just have so many things to say and sometimes I’m the only one around so I end up bouncing ideas off myself and just nattering about whatever is going on. But, as a wise man (who went by the name of Albus Dumbledore) once said, “I often talk aloud to myself. I find it extraordinarily useful.” So it’s fine. Nothing to worry about.