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The Red Western Cedar and Lemon Oil Cleanser – my new best-seller!

Red Western Cedar and Lemon Oil Vegan Cleanser

Where it all began

I have been selling a selection of Helena Lane Skincare products in Hong Kong for a few years now, but they have been limited in which products they import as the higher temperatures make the solid products potentially melt. This means that they have not had the moisturizers or cleansers.

I was asked very early on in my relationship with the distributor there to create a liquid cleanser that can be put in a bottle and pumped. It took a little longer than planned (as does everything it seems!) but here it is, and guess what? It has become my new best seller!

I knew from the beginning I wanted this product to represent where I live. Although I use many plants which grow around me it hasn’t been the focus of how I formulate, putting the needs of the skin first. However, I felt this product, being an “extra” to the new collections, gave me the opportunity to try something new.

I played around with many essential oils, blending them together to try to create that “perfect” result. A scent that intoxifies, but also transports you to my world.

Cedar is by far the most abundant and ubiquitous tree in my surroundings. Not only does it fill the forests around my home and town but it seems like every house, fence and picnic table is built from it. And with good reason. It is incredibly strong and durable and resistant to mold, decay and bugs…because of the oils in contains, the essential oils.

I knew this tree represented my home like no other, and the properties of the essential oil were ideal for a cleanser (anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, astringent and toning, calming and anti-inflammatory) but I just didn’t really like the smell of the oil. I asked around and most people loved it, however it just wasn’t my “thing” and so struggled with using it.

All that changed last spring break, when my family and I rented a tiny beach front cabin at Saratoga beach on the East Coast of Vancouver Island.

As we drove down towards the beach for the first time, I noticed a very cute little cabin on the roadside with the sign “Apothecary”. Fantastic! Just my cup of tea, I’d have to come back and check it out.

A few days later I rang the doorbell, this is little shop is positioned in the front yard of the owners’ home. The lady came quickly to open the doors and let me in. Her business is called By the Sea Apothecary, and she makes skin and body care products using many ingredients she wild crafts and forages herself.

It’s not often I come across skin care products I actually want to buy. Either the ingredients are toxic and/or unappealing or the price tags are so ridiculous I have no desire to support the company.

However, these products were clean, they smelled divine and were clearly made with love and full of buckets of vibrant energy. I scooped up a fair few to take home with me.

As I shopped, Tina, the lady behind this beautiful place, talked me through how she collects the plants and uses them in her formulations. Tina clearly has a wonderful connection to the energetics of the plants she uses, telling me how she bathes in the plants while meditating on what their healing properties are. The next day she fires up her traditional alembic copper still (like mine) and transforms the plants into essential oils and hydrosols.

Western Red Cedar Essential Oil in Skincare

It was at this that I fell even deeper in love with her process. To be honest she is living and doing exactly what I want to be doing. I fire up my still but only for me, as a “hobby”. I am yet to use my bounty in the products I make. I will…

When telling me about her bathing and distilling she picked out one of the essential oils she sells by the bottle that she distills, right there, behind the little shop. It was the essential oil of Red Western Cedar. I cannot describe in words how I felt that minute about this oil. It was probably the most vibrant and meaningful essential oil I have ever smelled. I just couldn’t get enough of it! I’d like to say I have never experienced any like it since but I get the same reaction every time I open the little bottle of pure oil, and also now every time I use the cleanser I created using it. It really expresses so clearly how all essential oils are NOT created equal, even when comparing all good quality oils.

So, it goes without saying that this oil plays the starring role in my new liquid oil cleanser. It is supported by black spruce (my previously favourite tree essential oil), frankincense and lemon. This cleanser is very grounding yet uplifts my mood instantly, I can’t help but burrow my nose into my hands as I massage it into my face each evening, inhaling long and deep.

It made me smile, and confirmed to me that I was on the path to something special, when I contacted Tina to ask if she would sell me this oil for my skincare, she said that my products and my story had inspired her to start her business. I love the way the world works!

Check out Tina and her husband, Jeff’s websites here:



Helena Lane Organic Skincare featured in Flare Magazine Canada
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