Imagine you're walking down the beach in a tropical locale, the waves crashing at your feet. Your skin is enveloped in just the right amount of humidity to give it a plump, dewy radiance, your cheeks are perfectly sunkissed, and you've spent the morning sipping water from a coconut plucked straight out of a tree. Heaven, right?
It was exactly this heavenly feeling that inspired Giovanna Campagna to create Joaquina Botánica, a skin-care brand that draws from her Colombian roots. "When I'm thinking about formulations, I often think about how my skin always feels its best when I'm somewhere like Cartagena or Cali, where it's cushioned with humidity and glowy from the sun and dewy all the time, and nourished from within from all the fresh foods I'm eating—like when you're walking around and you're sweating a little bit, but you don't even need makeup because you're already glowing" she says. "I wanted to create products that give you that little bit of glow that you almost feel like you could wear makeup, but you feel great without it, too."
Launched in 2021, the line currently features three products—a glow oil, a hydrating essence, and the new Crema Essencial ("essential cream")—that combine Colombia's natural ingredients (nearly all of which are sourced from small Colombian suppliers) with clinically-tested skin-care actives.
"The whole inspiration behind the brand is bringing together untapped, supercharged botanicals from the region inspired by how they've been used in beauty practices," she says. "... There are all of these amazing fruits and botanicals that are part of everyday life, and everywhere you look, there are incredible flowers blooming. It's become a really incredible part of the culture, and in beauty, it's been so exciting to be able to draw from that."
The glow oil, for example, uses Orquídea (or orchid, which is the national flower of Colombia) and Colombian superfruits like Camu Camu, Maracuja, Papaya, and Sacha Inchi to infuse the skin with radiance, and the essence was directly inspired by how Colombian women use floral mists in their facial care routines.
It's the brand's new Porcelain Cacao + Amino Acids Crema Esencial ($98), though, that has really harnessed Campagna's sought-after "vacation vibe"—and the complexion benefits that come with it—into a single routine step.
The lightweight moisturizer took three years to perfect, as Campagna wanted to ensure that the clean formula would melt seamlessly into the skin and deliver all-day hydration. To achieve this, the formula utilizes a "precise balance" of different oils and humectants, each of which absorbs at a different rate. "It leaves just the right amount of dewiness, and doesn't have a mattifying effect on skin," says Campagna.
Its "crown ingredient," as Campagna calls it, is porcelain cacao, a very fine variety of white cacao that's sustainably sourced from Peru. Studies have shown that the ingredient can help protect the skin from signs of blue light damage, which can lead to oxidative stress and premature skin aging. "I loved the dichotomy of using these 100 percent natural ingredients that have clinical studies behind them to help us with this side effect of modern life," she says.
The formula also contains a bioactive molecule called gentian, which has been shown to stimulate the skin's natural renewal process to help improve thickness and regenerative repair. What's more, it's got barrier-strengthening amino acids, moisture-locking hyaluronic acid, and a trio of Colombian superfruits (açai, guava, and uchuva) that provide antioxidant protection.
Like all of Joaquina Botánica's products, the moisturizer comes in a papaya-colored glass jar with hints of gold detailing—another nod to Campagna's Colombian heritage. "Our brand color is this super-vibrant papaya shade that always reminds me of the fruits and henna and architecture, and the gold components are inspired by pre-Colombian jewelry," she says.
After integrating the Crema Essential into my routine every day for two weeks, I can see why Campagna was so excited to share these Colombian ingredients with the world. As promised, it absorbs instantly into my skin, and leaves behind exactly the sort of "sweaty glow" that makes me feel like my complexion has been transported to a tropical island. It has a faint papaya scent that leaves me dreaming of breakfast on the beach, and keeps my skin plump and dewy all day.
"It's been exciting for me, on a personal level, to elevate these Colombian ingredients and showcase them in skin care to show what they can do and position them in a luxurious context," says Campagna. Shop the Crema for yourself, above.
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