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Getting honest in skin care

Website: www.prairieessence.com

E-mail: info@prairieessence.com

Stores that sell the products: Cup of Faith, Mary Go Round Shoppe, Heartwaves Studio and The Hair Place, all in Albert Lea. In Waseca, Country Collection Antiques & More.

Prairie Essence products are also available to guests of The 1898 Inn in Lanesboro.

Two friends in the Albert Lea area started a business together last fall, and it’s been steadily growing. They saw a need for their product and set about making it from scratch.

Jacki Anderson and Galen Spinler own Prairie Essence Natural Skin Care and sell their products at local stores and from their website. Anderson said the two have been friends and would talk about creating their own line of skin care products after being disappointed by other personal care products.

“It’s frustrating when you hear something’s natural and then it’s not,” Anderson said.

She wanted to be able to create personal care products that were truly natural, because she said many mainstream skin products contain chemicals even when they advertise being made of natural products.

“There are no standardized terms for what’s natural,” Anderson said. “Things in those products can be irritants.”

Spinler is the technical manager for the company and is a chemist. He personally creates and produces all their personal care products. He has 20 years experience in formulation chemistry and had wanted to work on developing personal care products.

“What sets our products apart is that our lotions and body creams are enhanced by prairie botanical extracts,” Spinler said.

These extracts include bee pollen, red clover, mullein leaf and oat extracts. Spinler said they wanted to use these extracts because Native Americans have been successfully using these extracts for the health of their skin for many years.

“The fragrances are provided by the essential oils, which have their own benefits,” Spinler said.

Instead of chemically adding fragrances, the products get their aromas from the essential oils. Anderson gave the example of trying to find lotion with actual lavender in it, versus a lotion that was chemically altered to smell like lavender. She said she looked around Albert Lea but couldn’t find much, and what she did find was expensive.

“A lot of people like me think that $12 to $15 for lotion is too much,” Anderson said.

One of her goals with Prairie Essence is to make these natural lotions at an affordable price. Along with providing fragrance, the essential oils have other purposes. Lavender is known to be a calming essential oil and another one they use is bergamot, which is a citrus essential oil that’s known to be purifying, according to Spinler.

“We offer a healthier alternative to commercially available skin-care products,” Spinler said.

As well as offering products that are made out of natural ingredients, both partners want everything they make to be environmentally friendly. The bottles they use are recyclable and the labels and boxes they use are recycled from post-consumer waste.

Their products vary with the seasons, and soon they plan to have fall and winter products available. The products they offer now are lotions, bar soaps, lip balms and solid perfumes, and most are around $5. They would like to expand the kinds of products they offer and are always looking for new ideas.

“We want to branch into home cleaning products someday,” Anderson said.

She also said they’re working on a natural deodorant, but product development takes time and they also test the products on themselves and their friends.

One of their main goals is to use materials only from renewable plant sources. They don’t use anything derived from animal products or petroleum, like the popular moisturizing agent mineral oil.

“There are natural products that are just as good but better for you,” Spinler said.

For now they sell their products from their website and at local stores, but they would also like to have their products available at local inns. Currently The 1898 Inn in Lanesboro buys their products for their guest soaps.

“It’s all about relaxation and giving you something you’ll like,” Anderson said.