A 5-Step Prep to Get Your Skin Ready for Spring (and the Local Products You’ll Need to Execute It)

Soapwalla's Rachel Winard is just one of Brooklyn's skincare artisans, who believe beauty comes from all-natural, ethically produced, wholesome products. Photo: Phoenix Botanicals/Soapwalla

Soapwalla’s Rachel Winard is just one of Brooklyn’s skincare artisans, who believe beauty comes from all-natural, ethically produced, wholesome products. Photo: Phoenix Botanicals/Soapwalla

Even if there are a few stubborn patches of snow left, the weather will warm up in New York eventually, and this week’s balmy 50-degree forecast serves as a reminder that soon we will be shedding our sweaters and down coats for less layers— exposing our pasty, damaged, sun-starved skin in the process. Wintertime is brutal on our beauty regimens: bitter cold + radiator heat = SOS signals, but you still have a few weeks to give your body a top-to-bottom tune up—the kind that will make you feel like you just returned from the beaches of Bali, rather than just emerging out of a stifling hibernation hole.

Brooklyn is known for being at the forefront of the maker movement, and that is true even with skincare. Many local lines were started from a personal need for gentler and more humane products, as was the case for Rachel Winard, founder Soapwalla, who has systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). “Soapwalla was born one late night in my apartment kitchen, after months of unsuccessfully hunting for face and body products that wouldn’t aggravate my skin,” she says. Fellow Brooklyn skincare lines share similar origin stories: S.W. Basics was launched by Adina Grigore, who has sensitive skin, because she wanted something uncomplicated (“a skincare hybrid of homemade bread and a green juice”). All her products have less than five ingredients in them, with names you can actually pronounce. And Clara Williams started the brand skinnyskinny more then a decade ago, when she “couldn’t find products that actually worked” that didn’t include harsh ingredients. “People have the idea that gentle is lightweight, but it’s not,” she says. “It just means it’s doing its job the right way.”

So prolific is Brooklyn’s homegrown skincare industry at this point that secondary industries have now cropped up to support it. Twisted Lily is a modern-day apothecary in Boerum Hill, created by Stamatis Birsimijoglou and Eric Weiser, simply to sell these local products, and Emma Graves and Molly Watman founded the Brooklyn Herborium, a holistic spa located in Columbia Waterfront in 2013. In addition to offering services, the spa also sells their botanically based line Between You and The Moon, which Graves formulated in 2008 as a response to the unhealthy products she found when she was pregnant.

Given the abundance of choices, a starting place for your skin spring clean may prove difficult to pinpoint. S.W. Basics’ Adina Grigore offers this advice: “Changes in season can be really hard on the body and skin in general. You’ll be itchy, flaky, dry, and just more symptomatic. The best way to get through this is with extra love: baths, masks, exfoliants, rich moisturizers. You’re supporting your skin through the transition and helping to speed it up a bit.” To help you get started, we’ve sorted out a strategy to beat the winter blues away. Here are some Brooklyn centered beauty suggestions that won’t cost your whole paycheck and what you’ll want to do with them when you get them home.

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Step 1—Shed Your Skin. SkinnySkinny’s Clara Williams says, “Spring is the perfect time to exfoliate, in order to get rid of that layer of dry, dead skin that makes everyone’s skin look somewhat dull.” S.W. Basics says keeps it simple with an Exfoliant ($24) made entirely of organic ground oats and almonds paired with Maine sea salt for an all natural scrub. A healing and gentle exfoliating polish, like Soapwalla’s Almond Luxe Body Polish ($28), will slough away dead skin with almond oil and sugar and increase circulation with cardamom and ginger. You may want something a little more gentle for the face, and for that SkinnySkinny has a gentle but effective Organic Exfoliating Face Scrub ($24) that uses a water activated powder that won’t damage the skin.

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Step 2—Put Your Best Face Forward. After all that scrubbing, your face needs a little nourishment. The Boerum Hill apothecary, Twisted Lily, recommends nothing better than In Fiore Complexe De Fleur ($150), which is known as a healing wonder, as it brings a youthful glow to even the most damaged skin. Soapwalla’s Restorative Face Serum ($48) will replenish all the moisture you lost during winter, and even alleviates eczema, rosacea and skin rashes. Your go-to moisturizing cream this spring, should be the Edith Rose Cream ($42) by Between You and The Moon, which was influenced by the maker’s grandmother’s rose garden. It will keep your skin supple, while letting you smell like spring in bloom.

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Step 3—A Little Lip Service. After a winter like this one, lips are bloody and cracked. Your chapstick is down to a nub, and your lipstick just flakes right off. Meow Meow Tweet’s Rosemary Eucalyptus Vegan Lip Balm ($5) uses steam distilled essential oils and moisturizing butters and oils to deeply hydrate chapped lips. Winter-worn lips that need a little variety should look to S.W. Basics’ Organic Lip Balm ($4), which comes in four different flavors (peppermint, cocoa, citrus and cinnamon), so you can change your mind along with the weather. One stick just may not be enough, so Soapwalla’s Lip Locked Trio Gift Set ($28) is a package of three flavors that will shield your pout from the elements without leaving it sticky or shiny.

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Step 4—Lube Up With Lotion. The most momentous task for spring is getting rid of cracked, dry, itchy skin that accumulates during weeks of dry heat and cold weather. Guess what the secret ingredient is in Cow Fart Goo ($14) by Between You and The Moon? It doesn’t matter, because this herbal remedy will heal even the most extreme cases of cracked skin, plus the antibiotic and antibacterial elements will cure cold sores, fungal nail issues or even ringworm at the same time! For less severe cases, S.W. Basics’ Cream ($32) is a mixture of Ghana-sourced Shea butter and extra-virgin oils, that is totally free of water, for more moisture and protection.

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Step 5—Extreme Aid for the Extremities. Wrestling your feet out of the winter boots is a wonderful feeling, but before you slip into your new spring sandals, get rid of your feet funk with some Organic Rosemary Mint Foot Scrub by SkinnySkinny ($26). Containing pumice, sea salt and oats, this scrub will get the job done and reveal the radiant feet that have been forgotten since fall. Next, peel off your mittens, but keep your hands protected and revitalized with Between You and The Moon’s Limited Edition Honey Balm ($11). The small size makes it easy to carry in your bag, but a little goes a long way, so it should tide you over until next winter.

3 Comment

  • I’m definitely going to be trying some of these scrubs and lotions. And I’m excited about the exfoliating powder for the face.

  • best advice I ever gave myself in this area: make your own! I use a combo of shea or cocoa butter with coconut oil and beeswax. add essential oils as you wish–cardamom, lavender, bergamot, lemon are all favorites. cheap, edible (practically), and sooooo easy. great DIY gifts too.

  • Whoa! You missed SO many good Brooklyn skincare brands! What about Mullein and Sparrow, MSC Skincare, RICA bath and body, or Limegreen?!