I am often asked about the name of our Garrigue Body Oil and the story behind it. ‘Garrigue’ literally means ‘scrubland’ in French and it's a particular eco-region in the south of France that's about 30 miles from the Mediterranean sea. Here the sun-baked limestone hills get incredibly hot in the summer, freezing in the winter and weather beaten by the strong ‘mistral’ winds. It’s home to a group of aromatic and hearty plants like rosemary, lavender and fig that grow wild together. Lower down from these hills are the fields where the world’s finest lavender, clary sage and grapevines are grown and it’s where we source many of our ingredients for all of our products.
It was during one of my visits to the area when the idea for Garrigue was born. During that week I was hiking in the mornings and smelling and testing ingredients in the afternoons. At that point we only had our three skincare products and I knew we needed to come up with an idea for a body oil. It was a beautiful morning hike, the sun was hitting the hills and a breeze carrying the sweet mimosa mixed with the smell of the sharper herby plants. I inhaled and had my answer!
That afternoon I went down to the 'co-operative'. It’s where all the farmers in the area bring their lavender, clary sage and other plants to be distilled and stored. This is the opposite of factory farming! Some farmers bring tonnes of plants while others bring what they harvest from just an acre of land. You can’t imagine the smell when you walk through the cavernous storage area where tanks of ingredients are kept.
I shared my idea about a body oil and we got to work. We managed to nail that ‘herby’ part with juniperberry and cypress and then combined a few different types of lavender and a few other florals but we were missing something. To me, the formula smelled too ‘jarring’ and I wanted to find a way to translate that soft, gentle and more rounded note that I was having when I was hiking. I remembered the smell of the fig trees when they were ripened and we started to experiment with fig seed oil. It was perfect. And by a happy accident we discovered so many incredible qualities with fig seed oil: natural levels of magnesium as it grows in such rocky soil, and amazing combinations of oleic and linoeic acid which makes the formula deeply moisturising. And the viscosity was perfect. It went on well, was light enough, but not greasy.
We still source almost all the ingredients directly from the Garrigue region. Last month I was in the area choosing this years ingredients and had such a sweet moment in the local shop. I happen to have a bottle of my Garrigue with me as I was on my way to the co-op and got chatting with the storeowner. She loved the story of the Garrigue and then made everyone in the store smell the body oil and all the locals gave it a rave review and told me we had captured the smell perfectly. You can see by the smile on my face how happy this made me. Who needs Vogue or New York beauty editors when you have the approval from Muriel and friends!
Shopkeeper Muriel in Ansouis
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