Maybe you’ve noticed Target’s big push lately to carry more natural and organic beauty lines including one that I’ve been following for a while now on Insta, S.W. Basics of Brooklyn, famous for their ‘5 ingredients of fewer’ formulations. Their founder Adina Grigore believes so much in clean skincare that she wrote Skin Cleanse, a popular book where she gives dozens of ‘recipes’ for DIY skincare and tips on how to combat acne, dryness, sensitivity, and other skin challenges using many things from your kitchen as a starting point.
I bought 2 things from the mostly sold out display at my local Target and I can say that they’re pretty revolutionary and unlike anything I’ve tried. Their cleanser is a tonic made with Organic Rosewater, Organic Vegetable Glycerine, and Organic Tea Tree Oil. That’s it. You pour a little on a cotton round to wipe away dirt and makeup and boy does it work. By the time I get to the toner there isn’t a trace of anything left behind which is unusual because typically my toner removes a good amount of makeup left behind from cleansing. After using it, my skin feels calm and neutral, no slip left behind but no tightness either.
Water, Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, Organic Witch Hazel, and Organic Essential Oils of Clary Sage and Sandalwood make up the toner that I am completely in love with. You should know that it smells like apple cider vinegar which is weird and not the most inviting scent for something you put on your face, but it’s worth it knowing all of the benefits ACV brings to the skin especially for breakouts and fussy skin. It gives that fresh and clean feeling you want from a toner but without stripping which I’d grown addicted to because I used Aqua Glycolic’s Toner for the better part of 17 years so that feeling of stinging and ‘minty fresh’ red skin was something I associated with having a clean face. My skincare goals have changed over the years, so now I try to nourish my skin and keep it healthy and glowing and part of that is removing things that are too harsh or unnecessary so my skin can breathe and heal itself. S.W falls right in line with that whole idea.
Not that she had the time for a Q&A (right when she was launching at Target), but Adina graciously agreed to answer a few questions I had for her about the evolution of skincare, diving into the world of small-batch brands, and how something so simple can be so effective.
Me: I think for people, the fear in trying a small batch brand is that some stranger is making it in their kitchen, but you started out doing it this way and now you’re in Target! How do we know that what we’re buying is safe when it comes to smaller lines (like those on Etsy or just sold online and not in retail stores.)
Adina: You really don’t. That’s the whole problem. I am really conscious and understanding of this fear. Just because something is on Etsy does NOT make it good for you. Skincare is particularly stressful because it is virtually unregulated. So it’s important to get as much information as you possibly can about a brand. Do they have paperwork about their ingredients? Do they have certifications if they’re calling themselves Organic or Fair Trade? We’ve done so much work to make our brand really transparent, honest, and up to the standards we think it should be. Also I will say that big retailers like Target do a LOT of behind the scenes work to confirm that you are selling products that are safe and have a paper trail that is super tight and clean.
Me: How did we get so far from only using food, plants, and flowers on our bodies not too long ago, to now using mostly chemicals? People think that something they can’t pronounce is the safer bet.
Adina: Because it’s so much easier to control a chemical that’s been produced in a lab than a plant that grows in nature. You don’t have to worry about the availability of a farmer, the effects of the seasons, variances in crop… it’s the same reason companies like Monsanto are trying to synthetically produce food. It solves a lot of problems. I get that too. I just think we’ve gotten a little (or a lot) carried away, and none of us are feeling great, so we need to rethink what we’re consuming (which includes what we put on our bodies!).
Me: Can a natural line be as effective for skin challenges like acne, fine lines, and sensitive skin? We’re in an age now where marketing tells us only a bunch of technology can fix problems.
Adina: I mean I’m obviously biased but I think they absolutely can. That amazing technology we rely on starts with grapes and tea and cucumbers, and then results in a synthesized new chemical with a 1000 year shelf life. But it’s the grapes and tea and cucumbers that are good for you. Before starting S.W. Basics, I tried every chemical under the sun. Then it dawned on me I should go into my kitchen and try the avocado that my conditioner supposedly had in it, and everything got better. I kept going and now I love my skin. I really think it’s that simple.
Thank you so much Adina! You’ve taught me a lot.