A few months ago, right after Katey Denno schooled me on the differences between “all-natural' and “non-toxic' makeup, I started to notice a trend. Katey had brought in—and left for us—a sea of new products that I'd never seen before, from Vapour Organic Beauty to Ecobrow. One in particular caught my eye: RL Linden & Co. It was winter, and I started slathering on their Balmba Rosa like it was my job. Then, Katey said it was formulated by a bunch of “badass former midwife types living in Denver.” So, I had to give them a call.
While not midwives, Lynn Till and Robin King, who are behind the brand, are certainly more experienced with birth than anyone I know personally. “I was bit by the birthing bug maybe 12 years go.” Lynn told me. “I wasn’t a mother yet, but I had been invited to my friend's birth because I was already in the holistic realm—I was an advisor for Aveda and taking classes on herbalism—but I really had no clue about birth and everything involved, so I brought my books and my essential oils and immediately fell in love.”
She met Robin a couple of months after she gave birth to her second child. With newborns in tow, they started playing around in the kitchen, mixing herbal teas and homemade lotions. Once the products got good enough, they sent them off with friends for testing. That was in August 2013. “That's when we knew we had something special on our hands.” she said. After outfitting Robin's basement with lab equipment, they're now moving into their second remote space—a 2,000 sq. ft. facility in Denver with the help of three employees.
In talking with Lynn, I started to wonder—does this happen a lot? It's easy to think of modern-day midwives as the keepers to a lot of the natural beauty secrets people swear by today. There's the Birth Goddess with her farm. Even Josie Maran comes to mind—while not a midwife, she formulates her products a stone's throw away from the tree under which she gave birth to both of her children. Midwives and skincare just makes sense. Lynn had a hunch about May Lindstrom's affiliation with midwifery, so I shot off an email.
'I can't say that it's not true.” May told me. “I definitely had interest in becoming a midwife at some point, and maybe I still hold on to a bit of that. Birth is a magical thing, and that's a position of incredible intimacy and honor.” She had her own daughter at home, following in her family's tradition: “I was a home-birth baby, too, born six weeks early and feet-first to hippie parents in northern Minnesota.” An interest in natural products was easy to come by. “I grew up believing in the power of the land to support us, our families to love us, and my body to be capable of magic. The process of pregnancy, the many stages and fluctuations, our hormones, the surges, labor, and finally—a tiny human crosses over from being a part of you to becoming fully their own in an instant. There are no words for this. It's the ultimate moment of power and sweet vulnerability.”
But beyond the loveably crunchy mindset of “nature knows best.” the theories behind what works for baby are worthwhile when applied to adult skin as well. “When considering what a child needs, we always go back to the child’s origin, the womb.” said Christina Hinderlich, Weleda's resident midwife at their home base in Germany. “[The uterus] is surrounded by layers that provide a safe space for a baby to grow and develop. One of these layers is called the vernix caseosa—it's there to protect the skin while not inhibiting its natural development. We develop our products to mimic these characteristics.” I mean, have you tried Weleda Skin Food? Talk about a protective layer.
My takeaway is, at the very least, you know you're getting gentle products. But what's more—when products are made with comforting thoughts in mind, they tend to impart those feelings on the users. Lynn put it a little better than me:
'After a birth, the mother walks away feeling empowered by what she did, not thanking you for what you did.” she said. “I feel similarly about beauty. Instead of advertising ripping someone down and making them not feel beautiful without your product, it should be a joy to use your product. Yes, offer results, but be a part of that daily routine to make people feel good about themselves.”
Photo courtesy of May Lindstrom.