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