Published in the Winnipeg Free Press: Renovation & Design, December 16, 2017.
Never a better time to shop local
Manitoba gifts should be on top of your list
This holiday season, change the conversation with distinctly Manitoban gifts. Savour the flavours harvested in the wild forest. Surprise that special someone not once, not twice, but three times or more with a flower subscription delivered to their home or office.
And don’t forget yourself. Give the gift of indulgence and look your radiant best with scientifically formulated products from the garden. Consider these three award-winning local entrepreneurs for an authentic gift experience.
Handcrafted natural skincare
“People want to look their best, especially during the holidays,” says Heather Urquhart, founder of Huna Apothecary. Yet, getting ourselves ready is often the last thing we do before company arrives. In the rush of the holiday season, skin concerns can be magnified, resulting in dry, dehydrated skin that lacks radiance and is in need of nourishment.
“Plants make powerful ingredients,” Urquhart says.
Recently named the first international Power Woman in Green for her green beauty brand, Urquhart grows her own organic, botanical ingredients for her luxury skin-care brand at the Huna Homestead near Piney, Manitoba. A botanist, chartered herbalist and cosmetic formulator, Urquhart develops her scientifically based product at the University of Manitoba’s Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals. She is also working with the Food Development Centre at Portage, where she can obtain pure plant (C02) extracts, hydrosols (herbal distillates) and essential-oil extractions.
Urquhart is resurrecting many traditional plant uses that have been used for centuries. There are so many plant varieties, she says, that pose an opportunity for the future. Urquhart grows 30 different plant species, which make up the active ingredients in the Huna line.
“We grow the exact species that have been documented for skin care,” Urquhart says. There are different skin-care purposes, for example, for either Echinacea purpurea or Echinacea angustifolia. Only certified organic seeds are planted in the garden at Piney.
Timing matters when plants are harvested — whether it is before flowers bloom or at the exact time they first bloom — so that the desired properties are best achieved. “There’s a kind of science and magic to it,” Urquhart says.
Borago officinalis (borage) is nature’s richest source of gamma-linolenic acid. GLA is an essential fatty acid found in the seed of borage. Urquhart says GLA holds moisture in the skin and prevents transepidermal water loss.
“It is the perfect skin-care ingredient,” she says, “for an extreme climate like ours, which robs the skin of moisture.”
It is also beneficial for inflammatory skin conditions.
Calendula has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It’s a fantastic skin botanical that promotes rapid healing, says Urquhart, who grows this plant species more than any other.
Rumex acetosella is a native prairie plant that has been studied extensively, and is proven to lighten hyperpigmentation or sun damage in the skin. In comparison to hydroquinone cream, which is traditionally used by the medical community to lighten dark patches on the skin, rumex lightens to the same extent, Urquhart says — but without any of the negative side effects.
Urquhart says rumex is a beautiful Manitoba story, and that only one other skin-care company in the world uses it as an active ingredient. It is an ingredient in Huna’s top-selling product, Revitalize Age-Grace serum, which also includes rosehip and sea buckthorn berry.
Non-local ingredients, including seaweed, clays, mango and shea butters, are ethically sourced from fair-trade suppliers.
In Winnipeg, Huna is available at Portia-ella at Outlet Collection. Huna products are sold in other Canadian cities and, in January, will launch in the U.S.
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