The skincare boom of the past few years has been meteoric, with industry trends evolving at a rate to rival that of the fast-fashion industry. But, unlike a seasonal shoe switch-up, your skincare needn’t be dictated by the whims of the trend cycle: your serums and creams shouldn’t be for show. After all, your complexion doesn’t care if its serum comes in a status-symbol package.
Vintner’s Daughter is one brand that has managed to scale the heights of skincare while completely refusing to play the game: there are no buzzy marketing techniques, and no speedy cycle of trend-driven products, whipped up within weeks to capitalise on the collective need for more. It’s the antidote to ‘fast skincare’ – a culture driven, like fashion, by our desire for newness – and a brand made for those beguiled by craftsmanship.
So how has this Californian skincare line managed to stay so covetable while staying true to its less-is-more ethos? Here, founder April Gargiulo discusses the steady appeal of slow skincare on which she based her small but mighty brand.
What’s the story?
As the name suggests, Vintner’s Daughter is heavily inspired by the wine-making industry that defines Gargiulo’s Napa Valley hometown. “Over 60 years ago a group of audacious women and men had a dream for Napa Valley to be one of the pre-eminent wine-producing regions in the world," she says. "We take that for granted today, but accomplishing it was a huge mountain to climb. They achieved it through total commitment to quality and craftsmanship: these are the same philosophical foundations upon which Vintner’s Daughter is built.
Like wine, the finest skincare fundamentally hinges on its ingredients, as well as the methods via which they are extracted, processed and combined. "Just as there are no short-cuts when producing the finest wines, the same may be said for skincare," adds Gargiulo.
Indeed, each bottle of the brand’s Active Botanical Essence takes five weeks to produce, from the distilling of the ingredients to the sealing of the bottle – a stark contrast to the standard lightning-fast lead times that allow big skincare brands to thrive. Business-wise, it's clearly an unconventional move, but, when you’re using natural extracts, it does make for a remarkable end product.
At the heart of both products is the brand’s signature 21 Day Phyto Radiance Infusion, named for the 21 days the raw botanicals – from moringa to nettle – are left to steep, ensuring their full spectrum of nutrients is wholly extracted.
Where to start?
This is an easy one: there are only two products under the Vintner’s Daughter brand (and, Gargiulo assures me, there’s no plan for vast expansion any time soon). They’re designed to work together, offering a complete two-step routine for morning and night. All you need to add in is a cleanser.
First up is the Active Treatment Essence. This aqueous formula has a base of aloe leaf juice and is designed to penetrate the dermis, delivering hydrating humectants – including multi-weight hyaluronic acid – to the cells that need them, thus increasing the skin’s water content and leaving the surface smooth and plumped. But there's (much) more to this maximalist formula: it also contains antioxidant vitamin C, barrier-supporting pre- and probiotics, niacinamide, fermented nutrients and a low amount of resurfacing enzymes, ensuring skin’s every need is covered with a single application.
Next is the Active Botanical Serum: an oil-based formula that makes the perfect top coat for your water-based Essence. This rich, botanically scented oil is a hard-working skin moisturiser, packed with fatty acids and plant-based ceramides for barrier support, minerals and protective antioxidants.
These two powerhouses might seem similar at first glance, but there’s a very good reason for Gargiulo’s decision to produce both. The Essence, which is an aqueous formula, works to hydrate the skin, while the oil-based Serum works to moisturise.
“Hydration and moisture are often mentioned interchangeably, but knowing the difference can unlock a deeper understanding of what your skin needs to thrive,” says Gargiulo. “Simply put, water hydrates and oil moisturises: hydrating the skin means to increase its water content, while moisturising strengthens the natural lipid barrier. A healthy radiance requires both."
Who’s it for?
Most skin types will benefit from this hard-working duo, although drier and more mature skin will especially enjoy the rich, comforting serum.
However, it’s worth noting that the Active Botanical Serum in particular is loaded with essential oils (citrus extracts included), meaning that those with an essential oil allergy or with especially sensitive skin might give it a miss. It’s also high in natural fragrance, (which is to be expected with an ingredients list that reads like a green juice), so again, if you’re ultra-reactive, consider this before purchasing.
The power of less
With two veritable cult products under her belt, it would be fair to assume there are many more on the way – but this may not be the case. “For a product to wear a Vintner’s Daughter label, it must be game-changing, category defining and deliver transformational multi-beneficial results,” says Gargiulo. “These are very high standards that take years to achieve. Of course, creating product after product increases your sales, but we are not driven by revenue; we are driven by our mission to create healthy, balanced skin.”
“We know that with fewer, but better quality products, we can affect the skin in deeper ways; ways that bring about lasting health, balance and vitality to the skin. When you apply Active Treatment Essence followed by Active Botanical Serum, your skin receives all the hydration, moisture, nutrition and plant actives it needs to be its most beautiful. Sustainability is also critical to our mission, and a ‘less but more’ philosophy is better for our planet, so it’s a win, win.”
Indeed, if you’re going to base a skincare brand on just two products, you need to be confident of their continuing success. While ‘natural’ beauty may have seen a stratospheric rise in popularity in recent years, Gargiulo doesn’t fear the competition – after all, she’s one of the original players in the arena. “It is very hard for customers to navigate the world of “natural” skincare these days," she says, alluding to the lack of regulation surrounding 'natural' and 'organic' labelling, and the dubious rise of 'greenwashing'. "The only way to truly know fact from fiction is to research the companies and see what they stand for. At Vintner’s Daughter every decision is driven by quality, performance and sustainability, versus profit, margin or revenue. This is how we best serve the health of our customers’ skin as well as the earth. We do not compromise our brand integrity for growth.”
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