It’s a simple and reassuring notion: organic, natural ingredients nourish the skin—that outermost layer of our bodies—just as they nourish us from within. Yet olive oil, among the most ancient and effective natural skin-care agents, is often left for chefs.
Not so for former aesthetician Daniela Belmondo, who launched her eponymous, Vancouver-based Belmondo Skin Care line in 2010. The entire range of cleansers, creams, balms, and butters are made by hand in small batches using a key ingredient: organic, cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil. Cultivated in the Mediterranean from 4000 BC, olives produce the oil that is most similar to sebum, the protective substance our skin secretes.
“My family roots are in Calabria in Southern Italy, a ferry ride away from Sicily,” says Belmondo. “I grew up there with my grandmother. Everything we did included olive oil. We made food with it. We drank it. We made bars of olive oil soap with it.”
Belmondo’s grandmother harvested those olives from a neighbour’s grove. Belmondo herself sources her olive oil from a small producer in Calabria, too. While some sudsy or milky facial cleansers containing chemicals strip away sebum along with impurities of the skin, the olive oil cleansers in the Belmondo Skin Care range purify skin without bankrupting it. “Squeaky clean is not natural,” Belmondo explains. “Your skin will start to panic if you take all the oils away. It responds by pumping out more oil to protect the skin. That’s when people will get a skin condition—irritation, rosacea, inflammation, or acne.” Instead, the Belmondo Skin Care moisturizers absorb without clogging, delivering essential fatty acids, and as they hydrate the skin they also nourish it with antioxidants vitamin A and E. The results are glowing.
But olive oil is only part of her narrative. The B.C. resident, who moved to Canada when she was eight, uses wildcrafted herbs grown near the Belmondo production workshop in Gibsons, B.C., to enhance the products’ properties. “These herbs are as natural as one can hope to get and are harvested with minimal environmental impact,” Belmondo explains. “They are collected from their indigenous habitat and replanted with long-term sustainability in mind.” Calendula soothes and disinfects. Chamomile calms and balances. Lavender rejuvenates. Rosehip spurs cell regeneration.
The Belmondo regime begins with the Dew nourishing face oil, which gently cleanses when combined with steam. The Dew contains the signature Olea europaea (olive) oil, skillfully blended with plant oils, including pomegranate oil (known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties) and rosehip. To use it as a face cleanser, Belmondo recommends gently massaging a small amount of the Dew into the skin, then wiping the oil off with a hot, wet cloth. The oils in the Dew dissolve hardened impurities and moisturize as the steam opens pores, leaving skin soft and supple. Remarkably, the oil cleanse method effectively balances and nourishes both dry and oily skin. Some Belmondo Skin Care clients also use the oil blend for shaving and cuticle care.
The next step in the daily regimen—After the Rain toner—is one of the line’s most popular products. When applied to the face with a cotton pad, witch hazel clarifies the skin without removing moisture, and brightens the complexion after prolonged use. Belmondo recommends applying multiple times a day for a fresh, dewy complexion delicately scented with gender neutral lavender and chamomile. Men may use the toner as a soothing aftershave, as it contains no alcohol, or anyone can enjoy its hydrating after-sun benefits.
Following toner, the line’s velvety Cloud face cream charms parched skin. The face readily absorbs the familiar fatty acids for deep hydration. It also promotes maximum oxygen circulation on the skin’s surface, which in turn increases collagen production.
Belmondo credits the luxe texture to hand-mixing, a standout act of love in the booming beauty industry. Despite the fact that the Belmondo line recently began retailing in upscale retail chain Anthropologie, as well as local boutiques Le Marché St. George, LYNNsteven, and Room6 Deep Cove, Belmondo’s commitment to small-batch production using natural ingredients hasn’t wavered. Her next labour of love? “I’d like to get involved in olive production,” she says. “It’s a little dream of mine.”