Aster & Bay has introduced some new products and is evolving as a young, successful skincare line. (Did you catch my recent review of the beautiful Serum Absolute and Rosewater Mist?) I caught up with Erin Hammond, Aster & Bay founder and formulator, to see what’s new and get the scoop on this stunning apothecary line. Get ready for a great mini-education on botanical oils and more!
Susannah: You’ve just launched some new products, and we’ve heard you’re discontinuing a few and perhaps have more on the way. What’s new at Aster & Bay?
Erin: This is our third year in business, and a lot of the products and formulations that we had going into 2015 were the exact same ones that we started our business with. Back in those early days, I was making products mostly for friends and family, and the random person who came across it online. And now, two and a half years in, we are selling to a much bigger audience, and our customers are all over the world. So it seemed like a natural progression to retire some of the original products and reformulate them based on what we have learned in these last few years and what our customers have asked for. There have been a handful of ingredients that I have become completely addicted to after a lot of experimentation, and I knew I had to incorporate them into the line somehow. 2015 just felt like the year where we knew exactly what we wanted the line to look like in terms of ingredients, packaging, and products, and we’re really excited to share what we have learned and fallen in love with since we started in 2012.
What’s special about the Serum Absolute and why did you create it?
Raw plant oils are really one of my favorite materials to work with—they are so versatile and can affect so much healing, so I have experimented a lot with different serums over the years. We have been able to get our hands on some really wonderful and exotic oils that weren’t really on the radar a few years ago, so when we sat down to redesign the product line, I wanted to create one facial serum that is formulated only with high-oleic oils, and one serum that is formulated with only high-linoleic oils. Every plant oils is composed of a unique fatty acid profile. It can be difficult to choose oils for your skin type if you aren’t familiar with these different types of fatty acids and how they interact with the skin.
Oleic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid and is great for people with drier skin or aging skin that need a lot of extra moisture. Oils that are high in oleic acid are going to be heavier and can penetrate the skin’s lipid barrier for lasting hydration. So we formulated our Serum Absolute with high-oleic acid oils for people with normal to dry skin. We also reformulated our Purify serum to have only high-linoleic acid oils, which is what people with oily or acne-prone skin want to look for. Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid and oils that are rich in it are going to be very light oils that won’t clog pores, but will provide just enough moisture to nourish the skin and fool it into producing less oil. Essentially by using a high-linoleic oil blend, people with oily and acne-prone skin can replace some of the “bad” oil that causes acne with the good plant oils that won’t clog pores. In addition to the carrier oil blend of oils like hemp seed, jojoba, and watermelon seed, we added some of the azulene-containing blue oils, such as blue tansy and blue chamomile, to help fight redness, inflammation, and irritation. And the great thing is that if you have a combination skin type, you can mix the serums together to get a little of each fatty acid, or alternate between them depending on seasonal changes in your skin.
What’s special about the Rosewater Mist and why did you create it?
The Rosewater Mist is very personal, because it is a combination of all my favorite things—hydrating salts, aloe vera, honeysuckle extract, and flower essences. It’s the ultimate healing elixir! I made a bottle of this for myself last year after purchasing some very special Bulgarian Rosewater. I was never a big fan of rose-scented products but this rosewater made me a convert. Plus, rosewater is one of the ancient remedies that has been used for beauty and skincare for hundreds of years, so you really can’t go wrong with it.
One special thing about this mist is that it contains two hydrating and healing ingredients: Epsom salt and Himalayan pink salt. What makes these salts different than any other kind of salt is that they are rich in many of the minerals that our bodies and skin need to function properly. When our skin’s mineral balance is lacking, we can have symptoms such as dryness, acne, and dull, tired looking skin. So incorporating these mineral-rich salts into our skincare routine can have some profound effects on hydration and cellular functioning. Epsom salt is actually not your typical salt; it’s a form of magnesium. In my opinion, epsom salt is probably the most underrated beauty ingredient of all time while being one of the least expensive and widely available. Not only is it a deep skin cleanser and natural exfoliant, Epsom salt has some amazing anti-inflammatory properties that can do everything from easing sunburns to healing acne, eczema, and scalp conditions.
What’s your favorite Aster & Bay product for summer?
It definitely has to be the Rosewater Mist. I keep one bottle in the refrigerator and one small one in my purse, so I am constantly spritzing myself from head to toe, and even my yoga mat! It smells so good and is such a mood lifter. And I think it is the ultimate product for people who are either busy or don’t want to have a ton of products on hand, because it is just as beneficial for hair and body as it is for the face. The epsom salt and aloe help with sunburn, and the salts are great for volumizing or creating wavy hair, and eliminating any kind of summer funk. I’m really a minimalist when it comes to products, and one of my goals with this product line was to create a mist that could be used all over. I think we’ve achieved that with the Rosewater Mist, and our customers seem to love it already.