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The "Wellness Pioneer": Interview with Barbara Close, Founder & CEO of Naturopathica

LCC: First, introduce yourself! Who are you and what do you do?

With a touch of humor, I call myself a “wellness pioneer” because I’ve been passionate about the healing arts since long before “self-care” was a household term. To be more specific, I’m an herbalist, esthetician, author and Founder of Naturopathica—and I’ve been dedicated to wellness education for over 20 years.

I founded Naturopathica in 1995 to help people discover and understand the benefits of a holistic approach to skin health. Today, we do this through our skin, body and herbal remedies, paired with rituals and treatments that play an active role in everyday health and well-being.

LCC: What did you see in the beauty industry that made you want to change it?

The irony is that I never set out to create a beauty brand—I wanted to teach people about the tools that they could use to take charge of their health and healing. Skincare came as a result of this mission because it’s such a central part of our daily well-care.

When I started Naturopathica, the industry was so focused on “hope in a jar” claims that the basics of skin health were being neglected. You can’t address the symptoms of a skin imbalance like acne or rosacea without looking for the root cause, which could be a combination of factors like stress, diet, lifestyle and irritating ingredients. To better address these factors, we developed skincare that works in harmony with the skin’s natural processes and paired our topical remedies with diet and lifestyle tips—an approach that we still practice today.

LCC: What was the pivotal moment that led you to create Naturopathica?

When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I saw the healing potential of remedies like lemon-balm tea to ease her anxiety, a calendula salve to help with radiation burns and dry skin, peppermint inhalations to quell nausea, and weekly aromatherapy massages to soothe her muscle pains and stave off headaches. I became determined to create a place where other people could learn about self-care rituals and three years later, I opened Naturopathica East Hampton.

LCC: What is "The Naturopathica Effect"?

The Naturopathica effect is where clean living, thoughtful skin and body care, and proven results meet.

In my latest book, The Naturopathica Effect: A Holistic Approach to Skin Care, I tried to assemble a thorough, enlightening, and entertaining owner’s manual of skin tips, beauty foods, and remedies. I hope it makes looking after yourself simpler and more pleasurable throughout every stage of your life.

LCC: Tell us about your wellness evolution. How has your approach to skincare changed over time?

No matter how expert I’ve become on a topic, I will never stop being a student. As I continue to learn, my approach to skin health and wellness evolves.  

One of the things I’ve found most exciting is the progress we’ve made with green technology. Although the industry is stuck on toxicity, I’m focused on eliminating irritants in skin care—which could be natural or synthetically derived—and finding ways to use botanicals without compromising our natural resources. We’ve invested in green ingredient technology like plant stem cells, which are extracted from the wound-healing tissue of a plant and deliver more potency, without harming the plant. We’ve also introduced “clean cosmeceuticals,” familiar ingredients like Vitamin C, Retinol and Glycolic Acid used with clean base materials, delivery systems, and preservative systems to enhance skin health.

We’ve also learned more about the skin microbiome and the impact of stress on the skin. We’ve reinforced our holistic approach to skin health with herbal remedies that help the body to adapt and manage the effects of stress like insomnia, sensitivity and premature aging. We’ve also reinforced our skin care with prebiotics—herbs that feed the good bacteria—and probiotics like Lactobacillus Ferment. You can find these in the Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm and Kombucha Bio-Cellulose Mask.

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LCC: Tell our readers about your approach to keeping the microbiome healthy, and how they can do the same.

For a healthy skin microbiome, use the following tips:

1. Cleanse, Don't Strip: Over-cleansing and the use of antimicrobial irritants, like sulfates and parabens, wipes out all bacteria, leaving your skin exposed to irritants and pathogens. Resist over-washing your face and consider a cleansing balm to enhance the skin barrier.

2. Rebalance the Skin's pH: Even gentle cleansing can disrupt the skin's pH balance. Cleansers are alkalizing by nature, but for beneficial bacteria to thrive, our skin microbiome prefers a more acid environment, around a 5. Use a hydrating plant mist to bind moisture to the skin and restore the skin's pH after cleansing.

3. Exfoliate to Prime the Skin: Over time, dead skin cells can build up on the surface of the skin, making it more difficult for the skin microbiome to do its job. Apply a gentle enzyme peel once or twice a week to sweep away dead skin cells.

4. Promote Good Bacteria with Prebiotics & Probiotics: Probiotics produce acidic compounds and reduce the pH of skin, creating a healthy environment for the skin microbiome. Use prebiotics from botanicals, like Aloe Vera, to help nourish and strengthen good bacteria, and probiotics like Lactobacillus Ferment to improve hydration and reduce irritation.

5. Protect with SPF: Swap chemical sunscreen for a mineral-based SPF, which creates a physical barrier to shield the skin from UVA and UVB rays, while also helping to calm inflammation in the skin.

LCC: What’s your current skincare routine?

Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm, an ultra-nourishing balm with probiotics and peptides.

(Editor’s note: I use this cleansing balm myself, and it’s the best for removing the day’s buildup without leaving a greasy feeling or stripping the skin.)

Rose Geranium Soothing Mist, a soothing and toning prebiotic mist for a balanced pH.

For daytime:

Bio-Energy Lift Serum, which helps to energize and replenish city-stressed skin.

Lavender Protective Moisturizer SPF 17, which protects against UVA and UVB damage.

For nighttime:

AHA Refining Night Serum and Argan & Retinol Wrinkle Repair Night Cream, because when you get older, you need a little more gunpowder. This duo helps to stimulate cellular turnover and smooth fine lines.

Want to see how your skincare routine is working for you? Preorder the Stardust Kit today!

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