While nearly everyone has succumbed to the lure of convenient beauty and personal care aisles at the big box store, lathering up with a local brand is twice as nice — literally.
Not only are you supporting a local business right in your own backyard, you’re also likely improving the quality of your regimen. Foregoing toxic additives for eco-friendly ingredients, these seven Northeast Ohio companies are building a following by freshening up the business of, well, freshening up.
1. Beauty and the beard
Hairstylist Anna Lee noticed full-on facial hair was a growing trend and created Brutal Beard
to help her clients lighten the labor of managing mutton chops, sideburns and goatees. Using selectively-sourced natural ingredients, Lee's fine-tuned formulas function as styling aids while providing skincare benefits. Steering clear of fillers that offer no advantages such as rice bran oil, she packs her potions instead with grapeseed oil — a key ingredient that combats skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis while reducing redness, irritation and dryness (aka: the culprit for frizz). Expanding on Clover Roads
, her original oil, the product line grew to include an assortment of hair and body care items to master your manscaping with scents such as eucalyptus, cedar and tobacco. Lee's oils, balms and cleansers can be purchased online via her online marketplace
Curious find: Pay Up Sucker! Rough Duty Grit Scrub
2. Setting the Barr
Rebecca and Anthony Barchanowicz, the soap-making spouses behind Barr’s Bars Ltd.
in Shaker Heights create small batches of cold process soap using locally-sourced raw ingredients that are hand-poured with homegrown botanicals, and then cured in wooden molds for four to six weeks. Barr’s Bars are all-natural and vegan, from classics such as rose water
to the more mysterious Magi
. Their products, including lip balm, a variety of soaps, gift sets and accessories are available online
and at a half-dozen area retailers
. Register on the their website for updates on popup events
at venues such as Night Market
and North Union Farmers Market
Curious find: Conditioning Vinegar Rinse
3. Certified local
Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve
was a hobby turned home-based business that started in Ida Friedman-Kasdan’s kitchen when the middle school teacher was inspired to try soapmaking after visiting a craft show. Today it’s a certified USDA organic
brand based in a Solon production facility where a nine-member team custom blends an extensive product line that includes bath oils, whipped body butters, natural deodorant, lip balms, scrubs and soap using edible ingredients such as fair trade coffee
and organic oil infused with vanilla bean
. Products from the environmentally-conscious company bear the Leaping Bunny logo — a nod to the company's abstinence from animal testing — and are exclusively packaged in glass instead of plastic. Available online
and at a host of retail outlets
Curious finds: Extra Honey Beer Shampoo Bar and Minty Feet Balm
4. For the birds ...
Nestled in Lakewood's Birdtown, STEM Handmade Soap
, was born in the Lakewood basement of Steve Meka and Dave Willett, where all-natural vegetable oils and aromatics are mixed by hand to craft a collection of soaps, skin care, pet and home fragrance products. Final phase development is also underway on a line of safe home care items such as laundry soap, dishwashing liquid and kitchen and bath cleaning products. Check the STEM website to shop by scent
(try Gardener's Revenge, Bare Naked and Twisted Citrus just to name a few) and see a schedule of upcoming soapmaking classes
, or browse their retail store at 12405 Madison Ave., open daily except Mondays.
Curious find: Happy Hound Shampoo
5. ... and the bees
David Rzepka of Beessential
became an accidental beekeeper when a co-worker asked him to tend his hives on Rzepka’s family farm. His hobby proved relaxing and invited reflection about the ecology between humans and bees and eventually evolved into an endeavor in personal care products. Honey and beeswax are the star ingredients in the sulfate-free line of products that includes bar soaps, foaming hand soaps, liquid body washes, lip balms, shampoos, and conditioners. Each item is marked with a code that enables customers to donate to a nonprofit of their choice through the company’s charitable arm SweetYear.org
, "where charitable giving pollinates society.' Shop online or use the company’s store locator
for a list of more than 25 locations nationwide where Beessential products are sold.
Curious find: Dead Sea Mud Soap
6. Purely enchanted
Debbie and Bill Brink launched Pure Enchantment
in 2003 after a revelatory vacation in North Carolina during which Debbie first tried natural soap. Suffice it to say she was astonished by the way it softened her skin — and has never looked back. All Pure Enchantment products are hand poured and are concocted from natural ingredients. Made on site at their Rocky River storefront, 19100 Detroit Ave., their extensive product line includes everything from foot care to hair care, with lotions, scrubs and balms for just about all points in between. Shop online via the above link, at a number of area resellers
or stop in the shop, where you will be immersed in the aroma of whatever Debbie is mixing. The "scent of the day" may be Orange Patchouli, Green Clover, Chocolate Lavender, or any number of their other offerings
Curious find: Pure CLE Travel Body Butter — call that taking a little bit of home on the road
7. Making scents of stars and chakras
Witchy women take note: Adjusting your aura is just a spray away with Samantha Phillips’ Venus in Aquarius Apothecary
— a Lakewood-based Etsy shop that showcases sustainable aromatherapy inspired by astrology and basic elements such as air, fire, water and earth. Each product is blended to order using herbs and therapeutic-grade organic essential oil combinations that promise to restore divine balance to each star sign and chakra. Herbal teas, healing serums, bath salts, scented mists and oils can be ordered via the above link, or snagged at events around town including Cleveland Bazaar
and Canopy Collective
. Follow Phillips' Facebook page
Curious finds: Too many to list, but we'll give a nod to Good Vibrations Gem Infused Smudging Mist
Erin O'Brien contributed to this article.