At Catapano Dairy Farm in Peconic, goat milk is used not only to make savory chèvre and tangy feta, it’s also the main ingredient in luxurious skin care products fit for a queen.
“Goat milk is easily absorbed and very softening to the skin,” said Deb Slack, who supervises production of the farm’s skin care line. “Cleopatra used to bathe in it.”
In 2003, about a year after Karen and Michael Catapano bought the Route 48 farm, Ms. Catapano began making a moisturizing cream from goat milk that she’s since parlayed into an entire skin care line called “The Delicate Doe: Pure Goat Milk Skin Care.”
The label has grown to feature items like a 75 percent goat’s milk moisturizer, soaps and under-eye cream, all containing no parabens or SPF, Slack said. And although there haven’t been any clinical trials to prove the product’s superiority to drug store brands in alleviating skin ailments, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming.
“People will come in who have problems with their skin, like eczema, or people who got a fresh tattoo say the unscented cream is the only thing that soothes and helps to heal it,” said Slack.
On the East End, however, Catapano is far from alone in making all-natural skin care alternatives. From Riverhead to Shelter Island, entrepreneurs are turning homemade recipes and remedies into successful business ventures. And many do it using locally grown produce or, like Catapano, local animal products.
Laura Klahre, owner of artisanal honey and beeswax product company Blossom Meadow Farm, makes a lip balm and lotion bar mixed with beeswax and other key moisturizing ingredients like avocado oil, shea butter and cocoa butter.
Though she is a beekeeper by trade, she said she sells thousands of lip balms and lotion bars a year at Coffee Pot Cellars in Cutchogue, the tasting room she owns with her winemaker husband, Adam Suprenant.
Occasionally it’s her aloe vera-based lip ointment and unscented lotion bars rather than her husband’s meritage that draw in customers.
“It’s funny, because people will come in and I’ll say, ‘Hi, I’m Laura, I’m a beekeeper and my husband is a winemaker’ and they’ll say, ‘We’re here for the lip balm and the lotion bar,’ and make a beeline for the shelf,” said Klahre, who began making the lip balm about five years ago and the lotion three years ago.
Shelter Island resident Liz Melichar developed her skin care line, Shelter Island Salts, out of a need for a better moisturizer.
“I have dry skin and was looking for a product with a higher concentration of shea butter,” she said. “If you look at the ingredients in products that we use, you see items like alcohol, which is drying, and there’s a ton of preservatives that you can’t even pronounce.”
Along with flowers and herbs from her garden, Melichar uses ingredients like beet juice, spinach powder and pink kaolin clay to color her products naturally.
An administrator at Eastern Suffolk BOCES, Melichar makes all of her products — including bath salts, which she calls “fizzies,” body wash, body butter and body scrub — on weekends in her Shelter Island home.
“I did a lot of research, then I went to my dermatologist and esthetician and consulted them,” she said. “My doctor’s response was, ‘There is no combination of anything that you put together that’s wrong, if it’s natural.’ ”
Tanya Collins of Riverhead had always enjoyed burning candles at home — until she had Lasik eye surgery in 2003.
“My eyes became very sensitive, that was one of the side effects. I suffered from dry eye and had to continually put moisturizing drops in my eyes,” she said. “Then I noticed that my eyes became very dry after I lit a candle.”
Collins’ eye doctor suggested she burn soy candles instead, explaining that regular candles can emit irritants into the air, while soy candles do not. Collins took his advice and after switching to soy candles experienced no more difficulties. It was also at this time that she began to make her own candles, which started as a hobby and eventually turned into a side business. Collins’ candle line, called Treazured Scentz, features evocatively named fragrances like Madagascar Vanilla, Summer Honey and Butt Naked.
“It’s a tropical fragrance, like a piña colada,” Collins said of the latter.
During a nail appointment at Spa Bellezza in Aquebogue Collins met owner Tina Marie, who already sold soy candles, but was looking to support another local business. Marie decided to use melted wax from Collins’ candles as a massage oil in her spa.
“When you burn the candles, they turn into a soy oil and because they don’t burn as hot as regular candles, we’re able to use them in the massage,” Marie explained. “When it’s lit you’re able to pour the melted wax along the back, arms and legs and massage it in.”
Marie stopped selling another soy candle line and only sells only Treazured Scentz now.
“I like hers so much better,” said Marie. “It’s taken off from there; they are selling really well.”