Each ingredient in our formulations has a positive potential, meaning it adds to the potency of the final composition. We know where these herbs are grown, how they are cultivated and for the most part, we know each person who cares for them along the way. Below is every ingredient we use and its intended purpose. We have also included references to studies for further research.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Hailed for its regenerative and protective properties, calendula is the ultimate skin-care herb. It contains a multitude of nutritional constituents such as carotenoids, vitamins A and E, and linoleic acid. Calendula is naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and helps to soothe many problematic skin conditions, ranging from infections to scar tissue. This abundant, resilient herb is grown on our micro-farm in Ojai, and its yellow pedals brighten up the garden throughout the spring and summer. Calendula flowers are also edible.
Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)
Camphor helps to improve capillary circulation, increasing blood flow to the targeted area. The vapors can be inhaled as treatment for upper respiratory tract ailments such as allergies, and chest or sinus congestion. We use this potent, aromatic essential oil in the Menthol Rub and Herbal Balm.
Chen W, Vermaak I, Viljoen A. Camphor--a fumigant during the Black Death and a coveted fragrant wood in ancient Egypt and Babylon--a review. Molecules. 2013;18(5):5434-5454. Published 2013 May 10. doi:10.3390/molecules18055434
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
This medicinal plant has been harvested and used as a traditional treatment for bruising, inflammation, joint pain and muscle strain for more than 2,000 years in Japan. The roots and leaves are dried and solar infused in organic olive oil for up to six weeks. We utilize this herb in our concentrated Herbal Balm for its potent calming properties.
*Not to be used during pregnancy. Do not apply to open wounds.
Hemp (Cannabis sativa)
We work closely with our cultivators in Colorado and Oregon to ensure 100% organically grown, pesticide-free, full-spectrum hemp oil (FSO). Our FSO is high in cannabidiol (CBD) a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that helps calm inflammation, boost the immune system, and so much more. The results of using CBD on the skin can be immediate and lasting, as it helps to nourish and repair damaged or problematic skin.
Mexican Arnica (Heterotheca inuloides)
We cultivate this plant to be used as a topical remedy for bruises, sprains, rheumatism, varicose veins and arthritis. The active compounds in Mexican arnica have anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving and antiseptic properties. The flowers are solar infused for up to six weeks in organic olive oil and in miron violet glass. We add this infused oil to our Herbal Balm and Menthol Rub.
*Not to be used during pregnancy. Do not apply to open wounds.
Menthol (Mentha arvensis)
Menthol is the solid constituent of the essential oils of mint. Its cooling, tingling properties help melt away tension and muscle fatigue. Menthol’s powerful aroma helps to open airways and clear sinus and chest congestion. We use fair-trade, certified-organic corn mint in our Menthol Rub.
*Do not apply to open wounds. Avoid contact with eyes and other sensitive areas.
St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
This herb has been used in Europe to treat skin infections, small wounds and bruises. St. John’s Wort also contains antibacterial and antiviral compounds. The flowers are solar infused in olive oil for six weeks before formulation in the Menthol Rub.
*Not to be used during pregnancy.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Turmeric has numerous health benefits when taken internally as well as when it is applied externally. It’s packed with potent anti-inflammatory compounds, making it a great ally for soothing problematic, painful muscles and joints. We add this herb to our Hemp Butter, Herbal Balm and Menthol Rub.
White Willow Bark (Salix alba)
White willow bark contains salicin, an active natural compound that helps to calm inflammation and joint pain. Aspirin was created after the isolation of this compound in the 1830s. We utilize a diluted extraction of white willow bark in the Herbal Balm and Menthol Rub to target specific problematic areas.
We use various essential oils in our oil-based formulations. Many such oils are steam-distilled in-house in our copper alembic still.
When we do purchase essential oils for formulations, we try to buy organic, steam-distilled rather than CO2 extracted. The extreme cold produced by CO2 extraction can destroy some of the more volatile terpenes that are often found in steam-distilled essential oils.
Though CO2 extraction generally yields a larger quantity, we prefer the traditional method, using water as a solvent to capture those delicate terpenes.
Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) Distilled in-house + USA (certified organic)
Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) Distilled in-house + USA (certified organic)
Emer AA, Donatello NN, Batisti AP, Oliveira Belmonte LA, Santos ARS, Martins DF. The role of the endocannabinoid system in the antihyperalgesic effect of Cedrus atlantica essential oil inhalation in a mouse model of postoperative pain. J Ethnopharmacol. 2018;210:477-484. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2017.09.011
Fir needle (Abies balsamea) Canada (fair-trade, certified organic)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Distilled in-house + USA (certified organic)
Rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) Distilled in-house + Egypt (fair-trade, certified organic)
Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) India (fair-trade, certified organic)
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth) India (fair-trade, certified organic)
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita L.) USA (certified organic)
Kennedy D, Okello E, Chazot P, et al. Volatile Terpenes and Brain Function: Investigation of the Cognitive and Mood Effects of Mentha × Piperita L. Essential Oil with In Vitro Properties Relevant to Central Nervous System Function. Nutrients. 2018;10(8):1029. Published 2018 Aug 7. doi:10.3390/nu10081029
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) Australia (fair-trade, certified organic)
Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) Sri Lanka (fair-trade, certified organic)
Black pepper (Piper nigrum) Sri Lanka (fair-trade, certified organic)
Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) India (fair-trade, certified organic)
Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini) Nepal (fair-trade, certified organic)
We use cold-pressed, organic oils in many of our formulations. Unlike their refined counterparts, these raw oils have not been heated or chemically extracted, making them an excellent source of nutrients and vitamins for the skin in their purest form.
Almond oil (sweet) (Prunus dulcis)
Sweet almond oil contains vitamin E, vitamin A, fatty acids, protein, potassium and zinc. This oil easily penetrates the skin, helping to retain moisture and soothe dry, irritated areas. It is also noncomedogenic, meaning it will not clog pores. We use sweet almond oil in our Hemp Butter.
Jojoba oil (Simmondsia chinensis)
This golden “oil” is actually a liquid plant wax. Due to its advanced molecular stability, it makes an excellent carrier oil. Jojoba oil’s humectant properties help form a protective layer on the skin, holding moisture in while allowing it to breathe. Jojoba contains vitamin E, antioxidants, and antimicrobial and antifungal compounds. Because it is noncomedogenic and hypoallergenic, it is safe for most skin types. We use jojoba oil for extracting herbs like calendula for the Hemp Butter.
Carrot seed oil (Daucus carota)
Carrot seed oil, which is derived from the cold-pressed seeds of the biennial plant known as Queen Anne’s Lace, is a powerful skincare ingredient in our Youth Serum. Nearly 40% of this oil is made of carotenoids, a potent antioxidant that is absorbed particularly well by the skin’s outmost layer. Packed with vitamin A, C and E, this rich oil has the potential to act as a natural sunscreen, blocking UVA/UVB rays.
Castor oil (Ricinus communis)
Castor oil contains a compound called ricinoleic acid, which is an unsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. It helps improve lymph detox, circulation and skin regeneration. It is also known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Castor oil acts as a protective layer and helps to carry nutrients and vitamins into the deeper dermal layers of the skin. We use castor oil in our Herbal Balm, Menthol Rub and Hemp Butter.
*This oil must be heated/refined in order to remove ricin, a toxic compound that is naturally occurring in the raw oil.
Chia seed oil (Salvia hispanica)
Chia seed oil is an excellent source of various nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, specifically alfa-linolenic acid (ALA), as well as omegas 6 and 9 fatty acids. This oil is also an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber and protein for the skin. It helps to protect elastin and collagen, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Chia seed oil is one of the main ingredients in our Youth Serum.
Coconut oil (Cocos nucifera)
Known throughout the world as an edible oil, hair tonic, and an excellent moisturizer and healing agent for the skin, coconut oil’s moisturizing qualities come from a powerful combination of fatty acids and vitamin E. Capric, caprylic and lauric acids have strong disinfectant and antimicrobial properties, therefore protecting the skin from bacteria or microbial infection. Vitamin E is moisturizing and is also essential for healthy skin growth, repair and balance. Coconut oil is also high in protein, nourishing the skin from the outside in.
Hempseed oil (Cannabis sativa)
One of our favorite and most utilized, hempseed oil contains nearly 60% linoleic acid, an extraordinary nutrient that helps regulate the skin’s oil production. Packed full of antioxidants and other fatty acids such as omegas 3 and 6, this fragrant oil will not clog pores but will instead regulate and improve the quality of the oil production while hydrating, tightening and nourishing the skin. Hailed for its anti-inflammatory properties, this oil is great for most skin types, including acne-prone skin, problematic skin and eczema. Hempseed oil is found in all of our oil-based formulations.
Grapeseed oil (Vitis vinifera)
Packed with fatty acids and antioxidants, grapeseed oil helps to balance oil production and lessen acne, eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions. Its regenerative properties make it an excellent choice for repairing scars, stretch marks and sun damage. This thick, viscous oil is absorbed quickly for lasting hydration and protection.
Olive oil (Olea europaea)
Olive oil contains antioxidants that fight free-radical damage, preventing premature aging and repairing environmental damage. It contains a compound called squalene, which is extremely hydrating and nourishing for the skin. Olive oil also contains a wide range of nutritional constituents for the skin, including vitamins A, D, K and E. We use olive oil as one of the main oils for our solar infusions, since it is relatively stable and, due to its high fat content, extracts nutrients from herbs more efficiently than many other oils. We use organically grown, cold-pressed olive oil from the Ojai Valley.
Vaughn AR, Clark AK, Sivamani RK, Shi VY. Natural Oils for Skin-Barrier Repair: Ancient Compounds Now Backed by Modern Science. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2018;19(1):103-117. doi:10.1007/s40257-017-0301-1
Sunflower oil (Helianthus annuus)
This light oil contains high amounts of vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that helps to protect the skin from harmful UV rays and other environmental stressors. This oil is also rich in vitamins A, C and D, making it an excellent skincare oil for acne-prone skin. In addition to vitamin E, sunflower oil also contains beta-carotene, another powerful antioxidant, and linoleic acid, which helps to reduce redness and soothe inflammation. The oil’s emollient properties help to improve the skin’s moisture retention and help to remove dead cells and impurities. We infuse rose petals, cedar wood and calendula in sunflower oil as the base for the Youth Serum.
Shea butter (Vitellaria paradoxa)
A thick emollient, sourced from a fair-trade women’s co-op in Senegal, our shea butter is raw, unrefined and processed in the traditional method by hand. Each batch will vary in color due to natural variations in climate and weather conditions. This butter is naturally rich in vitamins, as well as essential fatty acids and minerals. We use it as a base for the Herbal Balm, Hemp Butter, Zen Cream and Menthol Rub.
Kokum butter (Garcinia indica)
This waxy butter is expeller pressed and naturally refined (cold-processed) to remove impurities and sediment. This relatively hard butter contains up to 80% stearic-oleic-stearic (SOS) triglycerides, which help to regenerate skin cells. It helps to restore elasticity and serves as a base for our Herbal Balm and Menthol Rub.
We use locally sourced beeswax from beekeepers in the Santa Barbara area. Expert beekeepers ensure healthy hives and provide the utmost care and attention when harvesting and preparing the beeswax. Beeswax has long be used in skin and personal care products. It has been shown to help soothe inflammation and aid in healing wounds. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Every hydrosol we make is distilled using fresh plant material. We harvest with care and attention, taking no more than 10% of the plant. The material goes into the copper alembic still within hours of harvesting and is undiluted in its final form. Each hydrosol contains unique properties, both for the skin and as an internal tonic.
Most commercial hydrosols are distilled using dried plant material (to capture more essential oil) and are much less fragrant and lively than GARA hydrosols. When distilling fresh plant material, up to 40% of the hydrosol is actually water from the plant itself. This cellular water contains the life force and elemental imprint of the plant.
We rotate our hydrosols seasonally, harvesting and distilling each plant in its prime season. You can view our current hydrosol collection here. Visit our What is a Hydrosol page for more information.
SOLAR INFUSIONSWe perform several types of extraction when working with different herbs. Many of our herbs are soaked in cold-pressed, organic oil for six to eight weeks in miron violet glass. The fats in these oils are able to capture and carry nutritional constituents, vitamins and minerals from the herb into the oil. We decant, coinciding with the moon cycles.
MIRON VIOLET GLASS
Swiss scientist Yves Kraushaar developed violet glass after nearly 15 years of research. He discovered that this particular glass permanently activates and energizes the molecular structure of any substance inside. His research refers to this as “violet life radiation.”
Violet light has a high-frequency vibration (720-770 billion hertz) that corresponds to the vibrational frequency of our central nervous systems. Miron glass acts like a filter, improving bioavailability and aromas by allowing in three specific frequencies of light that have been found to nurture and protect almost all natural substances: visible violet light and non-visible UVA and far-infrared lights.
This also explains the violet glass’s high natural preservation capacity. Non-visible UVA light is a small spectrum within the larger band of ultraviolet light and is responsible for stopping the growth of bacteria, mold and pathogens. Traditional glass (clear, amber, blue and green) allow all, or most, of the visible and non-visible light spectrum to pass through.
In addition to packaging GARA products in this wonder glass, many of the ingredients also go through extensive “sunbathing violet-light radiation.” Herbs such as calendula, yarrow, arnica, st. john’s wort, and comfrey soak in cold-pressed, organic, oil filled miron glass for six to eight weeks before straining and use.