There was a huge, fantastically crooked oak tree growing near where I grew up. It was down by the lake, just a couple minutes walk from our house. Half of the tree sprawled upwards in a somewhat normal fashion, but the other half cantilevered far over the waters of the lake where I would sometimes sit and watch the ducks and the sailboats. One early morning, I was up in the tree with my sister and she had one of the tree’s acorns squeezed in her hand. She held it out to me and proclaimed, “there’s a whole oak tree hidden inside this!” Imagining that this could be so left such a big impression on that I can still visually recreate the whole scene in my memory, down to the half dozen little round band-aids all over her long, skinny legs.
I’ve never looked at any seed or nut since without some type of appreciation for all the potential held in that modest little package. A couple of years ago I was baking some pumpkins and as I scraped out the seeds and remembering my sister, I thought, surely I could make something useful with these. Thus began the process, about a year’s worth, of experimenting with seeds to see if I could extract the healing goodness out of them in a way that didn’t compromise their nutritional profile.
Eventually, in working with the seeds, the process I ended up with created a thick, cinnamon colored gel that was a wee bit grainy. The seeds I chose were red clover, barley, carrot, pumpkin, chia, hemp, black cumin and amaranth; you could just tell this was really potent stuff. The resulting solution was not so different from the other gelatinous concentrate that we make from seaweed. Using nori, bladderwrack, kelp, wakame and dulse, we slow cook these sea vegetables all day until it’s thick and gooey. I experimented with adding these two gels along with the scraped gel from aloe leaves to see if they would mix well and have a good texture. Since it was a bit thick, I thinned it some with an extract made from the reishi, chaga and mesima mushrooms and the hydrosol of rosemary. So far so good; it blended wonderfully and everyone here concurred – it was delightful to rub this seed gel into the skin.
There was only one problem. What was it good for? I had never created a product backwards like this. I usually have a very clear aim in creating our formulations and with this new seed gel, I had no idea what the therapeutic value on the complexion would be. It was decided to enlist a group of field testers. We put out the word to our community and over 60 friends and faithful customers volunteered to use the seed gel on their face every day for 3 months. They would get a bunch of free product for their efforts and in return they promised to give us a detailed account of their experience.
The reports we started getting back were very helpful and highly informative; we made charts and spreadsheets to track it all. Overall, the seed gel demonstrated that it helped draw out impurities and unclog pores while removing excess oils. It also seemed to tighten the skin giving a more noticeable glow. A good percentage of participants said the seed gel minimized pore appearance. It wasn’t hard to determine that this product most assuredly could be a mask. And since it was light and comfortable, it would work perfectly as a mask, especially since Grateful Body does not believe in any type of aggressive exfoliating.
With the direction of the seed gel coming into focus as a mask, I added a few ingredients to assist that aim. Maca is an excellent source of micro-nutrients and Alfalfa would add the mineral content. Samambaia, a fern from deep within the rainforest, often used for different skin issues, would help with healthy skin cell turnover. I used Moringa because it’s such a great source of bioavailable sulfur, an essential substance for restoring collagen and elastin. Moringa also has antiseptic properties that can help purify the pores. Goji Berry, an abundant source of flavonoids, provides robust antioxidant activity.
After studying the comments of the field testers, one thing became clear; most of them did not like the scent. It was surprising how many compared the smell to old wet leaves! This was not surprising to me; after all, we were using an abundance of seriously dense materials like mushrooms and seaweed. Add that to the shoe-leather smell of the seed mixture and there you have it – old wet leaves. The solution was fortuitous – by adding lemon peels the smell brightened up considerably and also served as a mild exfoliant. Mixing in a bit of Lavender and Peppermint hydrosols also worked to balance the final scent blend. The comments also made it clear that the seed gel mask was generally appropriate for all skin types. I say generally because those that had serious problems with dry, flaking skin felt that the mask was too strong for them. But the rest, especially those with an oily skin direction, loved the new seed gel.
Over the years, we’ve fine-tuned the formula, a little bit more of this, little less of that. At first we named the product Affirming Gel because it was a cute double entendre; affirming and firming. But like Aphrodite’s Feast, the name only served to confuse people. It was re-christened Super Seed Gel Mask and that made all the difference; it’s one of our best sellers. You leave this mask on, no need to rinse it off because it soaks right in doing its job. We’ve suggested using it about once a week to keep the skin refreshed.