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Ursa Major turns your skin-care routine into a hike in the woods

natural beauty products

If you close your eyes while cleansing with Ursa Major’s face wash, you may be able to trick yourself into thinking you’re splashing your face with water from a cool, clear mountain stream.

The indie natural skin-care brand was born in a barn in a Vermont forest in 2010—and while it’s grown too large to continue operating out of that original home, the ethos and aromas that came with the origins are still what sets it apart from the many floral and citrus-scented lines that stock most natural beauty shelves.

“We loved New York City, but we wanted to get closer to the outdoors and the mountains,” explains co-founder Oliver Sweatman, a finance guy turned beauty entrepreneur. He moved north with partner Emily Doyle, who had previously been at Bumble & Bumble, to create clean, healthy, effective skin-care products that would deliver a “sublime” experience. In short, they wanted to put the “nature” in natural beauty.

After transitioning from the twinkle of city lights to the stellar sight of starry skies, they chose the name Ursa Major to capture the spirit of the famed constellation. “It evoked the supernatural,” Sweatman says. “There’s this really cool mythology around exploration.”

natural beauty products

If you choose to explore the products, you’ll find nearly every one comes with an uber fresh sensation that really does conjure a feeling of being out in nature, and aromas that hearken fresh cedar, pine needles crunching under your feet, or wandering into a birch grove on a long hike. All are made with pure, safe, plant-based ingredients and are unisex in way that really works (AKA, you can do some serious consolidating in your shower).

In addition to Fantastic Face Wash, Ursa Major makes a Stellar Shave Cream (its first product), Essential Face Tonic, Fortifying Face Balm, and Essential Face Wipes (which are great for post-workout).

Sweatman says they’ve got many more exciting new products in development, with a few expected to launch this fall. And while the products are available online, they’re coming up on placing their woodsy wares in close to 200 stores across the country. That’s good news for those of us whose skin reflects the fact that our daily contact with nature is generally limited to shooing pigeons. —Lisa Elaine Held

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(Photos: Ursa Major)