Boston's Organic, Homegrown Beauties

Boston entrepreneurs are cleaning up in the organic skin care industry.

When thinking of organic beauty, Boston might not be the place that comes to mind. Yet the city has a small but strong, and growing, organic beauty scene. Whether you are a local looking to revitalize your skin care regimen, or a traveler looking for souvenirs, there are a variety of Boston-based brands and products to suit your needs.


When talking about Boston-based beauty, Follain is one of the first names that comes to mind. Founder Tara Foley realized that despite her efforts to stay healthy through diet and exercise, a large blind spot remained—her beauty products. After starting a blog to educate women about natural and organic beauty, she received an overwhelmingly positive response, which propelled her to take her passion for clean beauty more seriously.

Foley quit her job at a law firm and worked on an organic lavender farm for four months in France, then enrolled in the MBA program at Babson College. There she solidified her plan to open Follain and even won a national business plan competition that gave her the capital to make her dream a reality.

Follain founder Tara Foley (Courtesy Follain)

Follain has a five-step approval process for all of the products sold in stores. Part of that approval process involves consulting experts about the ingredients in the products to make sure that all of the ingredients are safe and effective.

Being Boston-based allows Follain to have direct access to the top educational institutions, talent and research happening in clean beauty. Some of the experts on their advisory board even have roots in Boston, so making Boston home seemed a natural fit for this company trying to become the Sephora of clean beauty.

Follain has its own line of skin care products that use organic ingredients, and also carries products from other companies, including two other major contenders in the Boston-based clean beauty scene: Organic Bath Co. and Leap Organics. These three companies are promising to put Boston on the clean beauty map with their high-quality yet gentle products.

Organic Bath Co. products are Fair Trade certified. (© Andrew Parsons/Styling by Rachel Pappas)

Organic Bath Co.

Organic Bath Co. offers everything from face oils and moisturizers to bar soaps, body butters and body scrubs. Founders Gianne Doherty and Jay Weeks decided to start Organic Bath Co. after the traditional skin care products Doherty was using caused her to break out in hives. Upon further research, they discovered how unregulated the traditional beauty industry is and were inspired to create a skin care line that was safer and more effective.

The company focuses on supporting women around the world—those who help produce the raw materials for their products and the women who use them. Organic Bath Co.’s raw shea butter, for example, is Fair Trade certified, which means the harvesters, who are mostly women, are paid a fair and living wage for their work. While this focus on ethically sourced and organic ingredients does increase material costs, their products remain affordable for all women because they last much longer than traditional beauty products. A little goes a long way.

Organic Bath Co. founders Jay Weeks, left, and Gianne Doherty (Courtesy Organic Bath Co.)

Organic Bath Co. is a Boston-based company through-and-through. It is the city where Doherty’s father grew up, as well as where Doherty and Weeks met. Boston’s love for its local community means Organic Bath Co. has found a nurturing environment in which to grow. Doherty and Weeks’ favorite areas in Boston are Charlestown and the Seaport District—both areas are growing rapidly but still manage to keep the Boston vibe alive. Doherty stressed the walkability of Boston and recommends a “walk down Charles Street on Beacon Hill, [to] check out the Public Garden,” then a “stroll down Newbury Street … [to] find a place to get some good seafood.”

Afterward, be sure to stop by one of the many Boston locations that carry Organic Bath Co., including both locations of Follain, to pick up some Enhance Face Oil and PeaceFull Body Butter, which Doherty recommends for anyone traveling. The PeaceFull Body Butter contains lavender essential oil to help relax and combat anxiety and insomnia while hydrating dry, stressed skin, perfect for long plane rides, while the Enhance Face Oil protects the skin from free radicals with blackberry, raspberry and cranberry seed oil. Bonus: Both of these products are available in affordable travel sizes on Organic Bath Co.’s website.

Leap Organics offers four skin care products. (Courtesy Leap Organics)

Leap Organics

Leap Organics currently offers just four products, but they are all you need for a complete skin care routine: face wash, toner, moisturizer and a nourishing face oil.

In a truly Boston-based story, the founder of Leap Organics, Luke Penney, was training for the Boston Marathon and focusing heavily on what he was putting into his body when he realized he should also be focusing on what he was putting on his body as well. He did most of his marathon training outdoors along the Charles River, leading him to take multiple showers a day. He wanted to create a product that was both gentle and safe enough to use every day, multiple times a day. He spent almost two years in research and development before launching Leap Organics, ensuring his products used the best organic ingredients available.

Leap founder Luke Penney (Courtesy Leap Organics)

Penney has lived his entire life in New England and moved to Boston after college. The strong outdoor culture and reverence for nature that he found in Boston and throughout the Northeast was paramount to deciding to base Leap Organics there.

Today Leap Organics is pushing the boundaries of what it means to be an ethical and environmentally friendly company. All Leap products are USDA-certified organic and vegan friendly. Leap Organics has been a certified B corp since 2011, meaning they must meet high levels of transparency and accountability and go through a recertification process every two years, plus Leap Organics is a member of 1 percent for the Planet, donating at least 1 percent of their annual sales to environmental nonprofits.

In 2018, Leap Organics rebranded and relaunched their new organic skin care line in an exclusive partnership with Follain. Penney has known Foley since her business school days and both companies share similar philosophies about skin care and the ingredients we put on our bodies, so this partnership represents an opportunity to help Boston stay at the forefront of the organic beauty movement while representing a win for consumers who want clean skin care.

In a true example of great minds think alike, Penney also recommends visitors to Boston check out the Boston Public Garden as well as making sure to get out and walk. He particularly recommends walking from the Longfellow Bridge to the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge, then walking on both the Boston and Cambridge sides of the Charles River: “The Cambridge side will give tourists some of the best views of Boston’s skyline.”