Catskill Botanicals, founded by Catskill native Lauren Raba, specialize in plant-based creams made from wild-harvested and locally grown herbs of the breathtaking Catskill region. Lauren combines her plant-based infusions with other natural ingredients, including a unique blend of essential oils, to formulate a variety of creams which provide nourishment and protection for an outstanding skincare routine.

At The Alchemist’s Kitchen, we’re excited to carry her face cream Saint John’s Wort Daytime Face Cream, which soothes inflammation, diminishes signs of aging, soothes inflammation, and alleviates aches.

I spoke with Lauren to learn more about her process, what’s unique about Catskills plants, and find out what makes St. John’s Wort so great for the face.

Lauren RabaLauren Raba

What got you into making herbal products, specifically skin creams?

Years ago, my son had a strange rash called Lichen Striatus. I was told by a dermatologist that his rash would be there for a couple years, but was not harmful. A local herbalist gave me a skin cream consisting of St Johns Wort and Yarrow that eliminated his rash in less than a week. A few months later, I started apprenticing with the herbalist.

Why Catskills? What is unique about herbs from this area?

I am from the Catskills and live here. I love the nature that surrounds us here, including the clean air and water. I am familiar with many plants that grow naturally in this region, and have strong plant identification skills, allowing me to wild harvest plants for food, medicine, and skin care. The plants of the Catskill region provide us with some of the strongest plant medicine due to the clean crisp air and water, sunshine, and weather patterns.

How are the herbs sourced?

I wild harvest many herbs for my skin care products, including Saint Johns Wort, Yarrow, and Goldenrod. I grow a number of herbs in my garden such as Comfrey, Calendula, Echinacea, and Rugosa Rose. I also work with local farms to source additional organic and locally grown plants.

Can you tell us a little about your process of making these creams?

Once I harvest the plants for skin creams, I infuse them in oil by either using the energy from the sun or with very low heat on the stove top to extract optimal plant nutrients. Each plant is different and needs it’s own tender love and care. What works for one plant does not work for others. For example, when harvesting Saint Johns Wort, it should be sun infused for at least 8 weeks, but Comfrey needs to be processed right away by cooking it for three days. The finished plant oil is combined with other ingredients and blended for at least an hour to produce nourishing skin creams.

catskill botanicals face cream

Saint John’s Wort, which is included in your Saint John’s Wort Daytime Face Cream, is usually associated with being a treatment for mild depression anxiety. What makes it nourishing and protective for the skin?

Saint Johns Wort is sometimes taken internally for depression. When taken internally, Saint Johns Wort can cause photo sensitivity, but when applied to the skin, Saint Johns Wort can provide protection from the sun.  Saint Johns Wort has hypericum in it, which is excellent to soothe aches and pains associated with nerve pain, and is helpful for minor burns, such as sun burns.  Saint Johns Wort Cream is my all time favorite skin cream when it comes to relieving aches and pains, soothing rashes, and reducing age spots, scars, and wrinkles. Every time one of my children has a rash or a bite, I use the Saint Johns Wort Cream to alleviate their symptoms. I use the Saint Johns Wort Cream daily for sun protection, and to reduce my fine lines and age spots. Saint Johns Wort Cream is astringing to the skin and makes a fantastic neck and eye cream, as well as a face and massage cream.

Body & Skincare

Faye Sakellaridis

Faye Sakellaridis’s interest in psychedelics and consciousness led her to become an managing editor at The Alchemists Kitchen and Reality Sandwich, where she enjoys the scope of visionary thought that she regularly encounters from the site’s many contributors and the “rich spectrum of intellectual essays on consciousness through a diverse lens of art, culture, and science.” Faye recently earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens College in NYC, and her professional and academic life have been centered on journalism and creative writing. However, Faye—a classically trained improvisational pianist—says that spiritually, she identifies herself first and foremost identify as a musician. “Music is my most intuitive language,” she says. “If it weren't for music I'm not sure I'd truly understand the concept of the sublime. Writing and music are two are elemental parts of me, and communicating through them is what I do.”

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