Canada’s green beauty scene is blooming, and Smith Farms is a fine example of this. We talked to Julia and Becky, two sisters who create non-toxic skincare straight from the family farm they grew up on. With a no-compromise attitude, they have formulated soon-to-be cult favourites like their Marshmallow Face Cream and Vitamin Rich Hand Cream without the use of synthetic fragrances, colours or fillers. Upholding a standard of high quality and high performing natural skincare is no small feat, but these two sisters are excelling and loving the process while they’re at it. Read on to learn how Smith Farms came to be and what’s to come.
Well TO Do: Please introduce yourself to WTD Readers.
Julia and Becky Sinclair-Smith: Hi WTD, we are Julia and Becky Sinclair-Smith, sisters and co-founders of Smith Farms! Smith Farms is a line of 100% natural skincare products, that we manufacture and ship out of our family farm in Saint-Polycarpe, Quebec. We use only natural ingredients and add scent with essential oils, so our products are not only pure, natural and effective, but are also great for sensitive skin.
WTD: What inspired you to start Smith Farms?
J&B: I (Julia) have always loved using personal care products, namely body lotion, hand cream etc. and about nine years ago I started to think more and more about what I was slathering on myself every day. Although I became so used to the list of unpronounceable ingredients on the back of a typical beauty product, I kept thinking about how these ingredients were such a departure from how skincare was made decades ago. With this in mind, I thought of my grandmother’s generation, and generations before her, and the fewer, simpler ingredients they would have used and started to do some research!
After my research, using a selection of ingredients I purchased from health food stores, the pharmacy and a nearby apiary, I came up with a formula for a lip balm and a body lotion. I made the body lotion in our kitchen food processor for the family, and everyone was immediately impressed with the results. It looked, smelled and felt like body lotion, and best of all it worked perfectly! Becky was on maternity leave at the time, so it gave us the opportunity to begin working together. She came up with our branding, our labels and created our website!
J&B: It’s special, to say the least! When I look out my office window I see trees, hear the birds chirping and if things get stressful I’m steps away from our barn where I can get some kitty therapy with our many barn cat rescues. It made so much sense to locate the business here, as there is plenty of space, and it belongs to our father, so we get a good deal on rent ;). It’s always been a hobby farm, not a working farm, so we really like the idea of growing the business here and keeping it in the family.
WTD: Your packaging and website are quite impressive! They’re full of information about which chemicals aren’t present in the products and the values that Smith Farms sticks by. Why do you feel transparency and education are important when it comes to skincare?
J&B: What you put on your body is as important as what you put in it, as ultimately, what you apply topically makes its way to your bloodstream. We set out to make alternative skincare because we started to distrust what was going into conventional products. We know not everyone has the time or interest to research each and every ingredient that goes into all of the products they use, so we try and make it easy for people. We vigorously research any ingredient we consider using (by the way, the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a great resource: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/), and avoid anything with any associated hazard or question mark. We keep our ingredients simple so that when consumers read our labels, they quickly understand and recognize what’s inside. We’re really proud of our ingredients so we’re as transparent as it gets!
WTD: What led to the decision to make your products gluten-free?
J&B: It was a fairly easy one. We were often asked if our products were gluten-free, so we realized it was important to many people. The ingredients we use don’t contain gluten, so it was just a matter of ensuring our Vitamin E was derived from soy and not wheat germ.
WTD: There’s often a perception that natural skincare isn’t as well-performing as conventional options. What would you say to someone who has this belief?
J&B: We are the converted! We had the same perception, and that’s sort of what drove us to come up with “no compromise” products. We wanted a line of products that smelled great, absorbed quickly and most importantly moisturized and made our skin glow! We spent a year, just working and reworking our formula and testing out different ingredients, until we felt each product was better than anything we had tried.
For example, the key to our face cream was adding in marshmallow root. It made the difference between a cream that was nice and moisturized well, to one that gave us that dewey “J-Lo Glow” that we really needed in the middle of a Canadian February! In the case of our hand cream, I was on a mission to make one that absorbed quickly, as my (Julia) pet peeve is greasy hands. The aha moment was using castor oil (in another product), that I found gave the cream a thick consistency, with the ability to smooth and coat the hands without any residual oily feel.
WTD: What advice would you give to someone who is just getting into natural skincare?
I’d say, like any other product, it always helps to do a bit of research, which is so easy nowadays! Read non-partial reviews, and speak to store staff as they can be very knowledgeable. You may need to try out a few different brands to find what works for you, the same as with non-natural brands.
WTD: Skincare isn’t just for the face! Smith Farms has incredible formulations for body care as well. What routines would you recommend for overall hydration and self-care?
J&B: Speaking for myself (Julia), I’m a big fan of exfoliation. I use exfoliating bath gloves at least once a week for my body, and a super fine pumice scrub I created with our Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser, several times a week on my face. I moisturize religiously with our Daily Moisture Body Lotion after getting out of the shower and if I have a bath, I add a bit of our Nourishing Hair and Body Oil to the bath water, which gives you satiny moisturized skin. Beyond that, drink lots of water, eat lots of fruit and veggies and get some form of regular exercise – even if it’s just a walk every morning to stretch your legs and clear your head for the day.
WTD: What’s in the future for Smith Farms?
J&B: More products, available at more retail locations, expanding our facility at the farm, and growing the SF team!
WTD: What excites you about the Canadian wellness and green beauty scene?
J&B: I think what’s most exciting is that brands like ours are becoming more prevalent, more accessible and hopefully more of the norm. With such a wide range, more shoppers can find products that suit their skin and their budget. The increasing preference for natural skincare means conventional brands have to respond, paying closer attention to their products, removing controversial and potentially hazardous ingredients and ultimately moving towards a better quality product.
Smith Farms makes a variety of natural lip, face and body care products, as well as introductory kits for those wanting to experience the line. See the full range and in-depth info on ingredients here.