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Texas Monthly Feature!


Wine Grapes, Beef Tallow: How Local Texas Ingredients Ended Up in Skin Care


These three small beauty businesses sell products with formulas crafted straight from their owners’ backyards.

January 31, 20240

Texas Monthly; Courtesy of Bohemian Shepherdess, Farmhouse Fresh, and Freedom An' Whisky

Between sweltering heat domes in the summer and frigid Arctic blasts in the winter, Texas weather can wreak havoc on your skin. Perhaps that’s why über-successful brands such as Drunk Elephant, Sunday Riley, and Supergoop are headquartered here: to help us out. But a new crop of small Texas beauty businesses are on the rise, fueled by skin-care neophytes who went looking in their own backyards for an antidote to their skin woes. Sure, basil, wine grapes, and beef fat are tasty in food recipes, but these entrepreneurial women have whipped up another purpose for them. Ahead, three skin-care companies that live off the land, so to speak, with formulas made from homegrown Texas ingredients.

When Mindy Myers started homesteading on her one-acre plot, she was reminded of fond memories of visiting her grandparents’ land in Central Texas. As she harvested tomatoes and peppers, she relished the feeling of being connected to the soil and plants around her. “I was just blown away by how good what came out of our garden was, and how good it made us feel,” she said.

Building on her plan to nourish her family with the vegetables from the garden, she started distilling flowers found on the property to create skin-care products. She was drawn to wildcrafting, the practice of foraging for plants and flowers where they naturally grow. She sold her products at a few Dallas-area farmer’s markets, and her wildflower dandelion serum, which works to smooth lines and brightens skin, was a fan favorite. After nearly ten years of growing Bohemian Shepherdess, she moved from southeast Dallas to a fifteen-acre property in Cumby, between Greenville and Sulphur Springs, in 2023. It was a challenge, in more ways than one. “It was like camping with goats for a couple of months,” she said. “It was undeveloped completely.”


In addition to the ruggedness, she found herself straddling two ecosystems, the tall oaks of East Texas on one side and the open plains of the prairie on another. Plus, there were fewer dandelions. But she took a challenge and turned it into an opportunity to find ingredients that flourish in her new backyard. One of the company’s best-selling products is Holy Basil Hydrosol ($20), a calming spray that can be used on itchy, irritated skin and that also helps other skincare products better absorb into the dermis. Another favorite, Calendula + Neroli Facial Cream Concentrate ($34), is made with rosemary and lemon balm leaf grown on the farm. Last year, after graduating from the University of Texas, Myers’s daughter joined the company as a biochemist. “We have sixteen native Texas plants that we’re testing in our own little lab to be able to harness some really cool properties from those plants for our customers,” Myers said.

FarmHouse Fresh (McKinney)

Two decades ago, when she was a college runner, Shannon McLinden created a sea salt scrub to help with wear and tear on her heels. When she fine-tuned the recipe and saw results on her own soles, she made a trio of scents and sent them to editors at O, the Oprah Magazine. In 2007, they were selected for Oprah’s O List, which launched the business on a national level. Celebrities wrote letters after trying the scrub; other magazines featured the products. “We just blew up from day one,” McLinden said. “Some of our first calls were on the wholesale side from spas.” The new direction had McLinden visiting spa trade shows, and she realized that many larger companies sold products made with ingredients grown overseas. She saw a hole in the market.

In 2014, FarmHouse Fresh bought a ranch northeast of Dallas and customized it with a commercial greenhouse. The brand now grows its own microgreens and vegetables, then turns them into skin-care extracts. One notable example: the cucumber in Full Moon Dip ($49), an illuminating mousse Catherine Zeta-Jones touted on Instagram.

They often get the ingredients they don’t make on site from other Texas growers, including the grapevine extract used in the overnight serum Wine Down ($59). And skin isn’t the only thing in recovery on the farm: there’s also an animal sanctuary on the ten-acre property. McLinden’s company takes in farm animals that are severely injured or mistreated, and each purchase helps fund the endeavor. Customers can look on the underside of each product for a batch number that can be typed into the website to see what rescues were funded the month their body wash or facial cleanser was made.

Nikolyn Williams spent 2020 on her Briscoe County ranch, driving and hiking around the Caprock Canyons daily to check on her family’s 1,500 cattle. The skin-care products she used to combat all that time outside just couldn’t keep up, and she started noticing dry, cracked, and scaly skin. It set her on edge.

“When you’re out in the elements all the time, your skin takes a beating,” Williams said. “I got tired of spending money on things that weren’t working and had a bunch of names I couldn’t pronounce.” She read books on herbs and started experimenting with ingredients that would nourish her skin, without using lab-grown chemicals. She melted Texas beeswax in a crockpot, and mixed it with cocoa butter, shea butter, olive oil, and a few herbs, such as lemongrass. When possible, she also used ingredients that were made by other nearby ranching families. Soon, friends were asking for her plant-based Buffalo Body Butter ($25). “I didn’t even know what to charge. I had no intention of selling it. I was just making it for me,” she said.

Now Williams has a storefront in Quitaque and multiple products that are based on what she finds in the landscape around her, including Tallow Body Butter ($25). (Yes, she wants you to lather cow fat on your face.) Inspiration struck when her husband had beef processed and came home with the fat in addition to the meat. Williams researched how others rendered it to make tallow and then turned that into a salve that she put into jars.

She’s found that making the lotions with ingredients from her corner of Texas has given them a long shelf life, too. “I’ve had them in the truck and they’ve melted, frozen, melted, frozen,” she said. “They’ve never had anything grow on them.”


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