What’s New At Aster & Bay?

aster and bay

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.

4 thoughts on “What’s New At Aster & Bay?

  1. I love the Dandelion Cleansing Grains and am so excited to try the reformulated Purify Serum! The Rosewater Mist sounds great too (even though I’m not a fan of most things rose), but I’m wondering about the Japanese honeysuckle. I’ve read that when it is used as a preservative (“plantservative”) it behaves much like a paraben. I’ve noticed it in other respected products, like Kypris (I think the Antioxidant Dew?). Does using it as a presevative require using much more, or a different method of extraction? Can anyone enlighten me?

    1. Hi Jenny, I’m so glad to hear that you love the Dandelion Grains! And that’s a great question. My knowledge of Japanese honeysuckle and its medicinal value comes from Traditional Chinese medicine, where it has been used for hundreds of years as one of the most potent antiviral and anti-inflammatory herbs. I do know that our honeysuckle extract is strictly the flowers and buds of the Japanese Honeysuckle plant (Lonicera japonica) that have been steam distilled and then mixed with glycerin. And we don’t actually use it in this formulation as a preservative- aspen bark extract functions as the only natural and safe preservative in the Rosewater Mist. We also use honeysuckle as a herbal medicine at home in both tincture form and extract, so I feel very confident that it’s not a harmful substance but I did look into this issue a little further because I hadn’t heard of the controversy surrounding it. I found this article: https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/more-parabens-greenwashing-honeysuckle-extract, which I believe explains the controversy much better than I can, but the bottom line is that the honeysuckle extract in question is actually a highly concentrated extract that is manufactured specifically to act as a preservative because it concentrates the amount of p-hydroxybenzoic acid which honeysuckle naturally produces in small amounts, as does other plants. We do not use this particular concentrated form of honeysuckle extract, or any manufactured plant extract for that matter, as we believe in using unadulterated, raw plant materials, as close to the plant’s natural form as possible. This is a similar concept to manufactures isolating components of essential oils and using them in cosmetics- it just doesn’t function in the body the same way as the whole plant essential oil. I think that the author’s last paragraph in this article sums it up really well:

      “Many others among us understand that there is a difference between a chemical component of a whole plant and a concentrated chemical compound used to preserve a product. I do not object to the use of a simple aqueous extract (tea) of honeysuckle, labeled as “Japanese Honeysuckle Extract”, but I do object to the misrepresentation involved in the use of Plantservative, labeled as “Japanese Honeysuckle Extract.” It is a highly processed and concentrated paraben extraction that may or may not be contaminated with synthetic parabens where is it manufactured in Singapore. I am particularly distressed by the fact that so many companies are evidently using the latter version of “Japanese Honeysuckle Extract” and simultaneously claiming “NO PARABENS” on their labels. ”

      Anyway, I hope this helps answer your question! It can be very confusing, especially when you look at a label and are faced with “honeysuckle extract” which can either be a concentrated, manufactured form or a steam distilled form that is made in small batches. The only way you could really know is by writing to the company and asking them where they source that ingredient. If they are fishy about it or can’t give you a straight answer, I would avoid it!


  2. Erin, thank you! Your explanation makes sense to me, and understanding more about the issue, I don’t have concerns about the way you and other thoughtful, responsible alchemists work with the extract. It’s good to always be aware, but it’s also good to have some makers you can just trust :)

  3. I was wondering the same thing Jenny! Erin, thank you for writing back about this with detail and care! I respect your explanation and article reference, thank you!! I feel so much more clarity now around this topic. Very interesting.

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About Susannah Compton

Susannah Compton is the founder and formulator behind Florescent, a line of 100% botanical perfumes she blends in small batches from organic and wild crafted aromatics. Plant-based skincare and cosmetics are a way of life for Susannah, who writes about clean beauty and the benefits of botanical ingredients for No More Dirty Looks, Thoughtfully Magazine and Integrity Botanicals. Florescent, however, is Susannah’s personal expression of healthy beauty. Susannah has been working with botanical aromatics for years, blending first for therapeutic purposes before delving into the art of perfumery. Having rarely experienced the depth and complexity of true botanicals in conventional perfume, she learned the art of blending and created what her heart desired — a scent that would move her the way perfume should. In search of those elevating, ethereal bouquets of scent, Susannah honed her skills behind the perfume bench. She launched Florescent in the spring of 2015 to share the lush experience and pleasing ritual of real perfume.