A dear friend (and I+C reader!) put together a natural beauty city guide to her adopted hometown of Austin, Texas for Indigo+Canary, and I’m thrilled to share it here today. Read on for a look at how Austin gets beautiful—naturally.
By Kelly Love Johnson
I’m honored to be able to contribute here, as this blog is where my journey (ugh, who says that?)…transition (better) to natural products began. Luckily, for the past three-plus years, I’ve been living in Austin, Texas—a city that makes it really easy to get my hands on natural and organic everything.
You can’t swing a post-consumer-waste recycled-materials reusable shopping bag (as of March 1, single-use plastic bags are illegal in Austin…not kidding) around here without hitting natural and organic food, beverages, shoes, wine, craft beer, dog salons, nail salons, hair salons, baby clothing…you get the idea. I love that so many of the products I can get are also grown and/or made locally.
There are a million farmers markets in Austin, year-round and almost every day of the week. I have my favorites: Barton Creek (central) is at the back of a large mall parking lot with a gorgeous view of the city and I’m there with my dog just about every Saturday morning to get low-heat pasteurized milk (it was like drinking milk for the very first time and I’m hooked), veggies, cheese, dog treats from Healthy Hound (even my dog gets organic—her favorite is the dried bison), and locally sourced baked goods. I also visit the SFC (Sustainable Food Center) Farmers’ Market every now and then; the parking and traffic can be a pain (check their list of events and street closings before you go), but they often have events, live music, cooking demos, and it’s in Republic Square Park so the people-watching is always fun. I’ve found some of the best local natural/organic products at these markets, and it’s a plus to be able to actually talk to the people who make them!
I fell in love with Fleegal Farms the first time I visited their booth. They make their soap and other products in small batches by hand using botanical oils (instead of animal fats), minerals, clay, and other fresh ingredients. No phthalates, parabens, or petroleum here. Also, I’m not a huge fan of patchouli, so everyone who knows me will find it hilarious that my favorite product from Fleegal is their “Dope Soap.” Yep. Dope Soap. It’s made with hemp seed oil, seaweed, and patchouli essential oil. In the ever-dry climate of central Texas, I’m always hunting for dry skin remedies, and this soap makes my skin happy. This winter, my new Fleegal favorite is their Cinnamon Brown Sugar Scrub. It’s as yummy as it sounds, and even though you could eat it, I haven’t (yet).
Speaking of dry skin, Hemp360 is another local Austin company and farmer’s market regular. They make what they call “food for your body”—organic, raw, superfood. “Raw” means free from refined, bleached chemicals and processed ingredients; their products only contain cold-pressed and hand-processed materials, which preserves vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fatty acids. I heard about their Skin Repair Lotion long before I tried it, from a friend who told me it literally cured her keratosis pilaris (that’s a real thing…I had to look it up too). It comes in versions for face and body, also has pure hemp seed oil (which is now the theme of this post), and I have used it for everything from dry skin to burns to a sore nose when I had a cold last year. I’m pretty sure it cures everything skin-related.
I can’t write about Austin’s natural and organic scene and not mention Whole Foods. It started here as a neighborhood grocery store, and the flagship store is beyond ridiculous at 80,000 square feet on the corner of 6th and Lamar. Want an idea of what shopping at the Austin Whole Foods is like? Picture the Whole Foods in your neighborhood, then add an underground parking garage, another floor, escalators, and a dining area bigger than most restaurants. It has a rooftop ice skating rink. The “Whole Body” section spans two+ aisles, they have dedicated and knowledgeable staff—kind of like the beauty counter at Saks, but healthier and you don’t get sprayed with synthetic fragrances. I could list a hundred favorites, but my go-to products here are usually hair-related, since I’m always on the hunt for products that won’t strip my color. I have the peace of mind that comes with Whole Foods’ generous return policy (yes, even if you’ve used it) and one of the associates recently turned me on to Giovanni Powder Power Dry Shampoo—it’s the first dry shampoo I’ve tried that doesn’t turn white or gunk up my hair. Bonus: Any excuse to visit the two-for-$5 taco bar.
If you’re on 6th Street, across the street diagonally from Whole Foods is Austin institution Waterloo Records. It doesn’t necessarily qualify as natural or organic, but it’s one of America’s few independent music stores. Stop in, say hello, and see who might be wandering around (EmmyLou Harris? Lucinda Williams? Willie Nelson? Probably all three).
There are many places to get fresh, organic juice in Austin, but I fell in love with Juiceland last year when I tried their Level One Juice Cleanse. It’s easy: you order the cleanse and choose the number of days, then you go to one of its locations daily and pick up your juices for that day. Results? Definitely felt healthier after four days, but I don’t think I could have kept it up. I still pop by regularly for Unicorn Blood (Watermelon, Beet, Celery, Ginger, Spinach) and their fresh fruit Aguas Frescas give me a reason to live during Austin’s summer heat.
When you visit, don’t forget your shades, sunscreen, and reusable shopping bags. Visit in August before you decide to move here. Be weird. You’ll fit right in. And if you have Austin favorites I left off the list, mention them in the comments, and we’ll add them to the Google map!
Editor’s note: When I was working on this blog post, I stumbled on Keep Austin Gorgeous, and I’m already a fan. Look at their list of avoided ingredients! Interested in writing a natural beauty guide to your city? Email me. —Aleigh
(Top image via Definitive HDR Photography; remaining images via Kelly Love Johnson)