Why so much information here?
Yes, this page contains a lot of info! I want you to know what goes into these products to decide if they are best for you and your skin. I encourage everyone to seek out skincare that not only provides all-natural, effective healing and self-care benefits, but also aligns with their beliefs and what is important to them. Wekusko Wild is about sustainability and a respectful commitment to our boreal forest and its traditional lands. If anything is left unanswered, please get in touch.
Do you use commercially prepared essential oils (EOs)?
No. I believe that the aroma and medicinal qualities of Wekusko Wild products should come from the local herbal materials themselves, and not be artificially 'boosted' with the use of commercial EOs. Also, my products are intended to be safe and gentle for all skin types, including very sensitive skins, and EOs are very concentrated and can be highly irritating or sensitizing for many people. Because it is difficult to know who may have physical or scent sensitivities, and also the uncertainty around quality of materials or extraction methods used, I intentionally leave these elements out of my formulations. When used inappropriately in skincare, EOs can be damaging not only to the skin but also the body if applied near the eyes, nose and mouth where they may be internally absorbed. It is also worth considering the immense amounts of plant material necessary to process for creation of EOs, making over-harvest a real concern for sustainability.
How do you naturally scent and color your products?
Most natural skincare I see out there uses commercial essential oils to create an alluring scent, and often many that claim to be 'natural' use synthetic fragrance oils or colorants. A great deal of effort and creativity has gone into formulating Wekusko Wild products without those ingredients. All of my products include boreal botanicals as their base, which often are colored and fragrant enough on their own. Some products include other natural additions such as root or berry extracts, floral waxes or powders, or gentle water-based hydrosols/distillates. Be assured the subtle colors and scents of Wekusko Wild products do truly come from natural sources.
Do your products contain gluten or other allergens?
My products do not contain gluten, however please understand that these small batches are created in a home environment that uses dairy, seeds and nuts and gluten products. All equipment and packaging used for skincare are sanitized and kept separate from home utensils but trace amounts may be present. Please check the ingredients noted on product pages, as some do contain nut oils or butters. It is the responsibility of the individual to review the ingredients before use.
Do you use any GMOs?
The purchased ingredients in these products are carefully selected to be government-certified organic and not genetically modified. These premium products cost significantly more than low grade products, but this level of quality is a priority for Wekusko Wild.
Do you use preservatives?
Balms and ointments which contain only oils and butters do not require a preservative since bacteria and mould cannot survive without water. However, oils and butter can oxidize and go rancid over time so organic vitamin E oil is added as an antioxidant and stabilizer. For lotions and creams which contain water, a preservative must be used to create a stable and safe product free of bacteria, mould and yeast. Wekusko Wild uses only naturally-derived preservatives which are laboratory-tested and conform to international ECOCERT requirements (derived from renewable resources, manufactured using environmentally friendly processes). No synthetic or chemical preservatives are used (including those with parabens and formaldehydes), and these naturally-derived preservatives are suitable for sensitive skin. For those with highly reactive skin, wishing to avoid all preservatives, the benefits of boreal botanicals can still be enjoyed with the Grass River Facial Serum, Goose Bay Facial Serum, or any of the oil-based balms and ointments which do not contain any preservative.
Do you use fillers?
All ingredients in Wekusko Wild formulas are considered necessary, and nothing is intentionally added as a 'filler'. Some ingredients do not have a direct therapeutic benefit such as emulsifiers (to blend waters and oils), thickeners or stabilizers. These products are included so that beneficial ingredients can be delivered to your skin in a pleasing way - smooth, uniform, absorptive with a beautiful finish and texture. These ingredients are all naturally derived and in many cases certified organic or ECOCERT-approved. A note on water - I used to see water on my personal skincare ingredient lists and assume it was added as a filler so that more expensive ingredients could be excluded. However, water is necessary in lotions and creams as it allows water-soluble ingredients to be dissolved and incorporated as well as allowing oils and heavier ingredients to be lightened so they absorb quickly and don't leave your skin feeling heavy. Water also works with natural humectants in products to keep your skin hydrated - it's important!
What is the difference between 'all-natural' and 'organic'?
These two terms are often used together and easily confused. 'All-natural' products are those that either come from unaltered natural sources - such as shea butter which is the fatty component of nuts off the shea tree, or are derived from natural sources - such as xanthan gum which is a natural thickener made by fermenting sugars. In order to be called 'organic', products must be approved by regulated international certification organizations who assign organic labelling to all-natural products that meet their guidelines for organic production (no pesticides, fertilizers, chemicals) and processing. Every ingredient used by Wekusko Wild is all-natural, but not all of those are approved organic. Please see product pages for information about specific ingredients.
Are your products sustainable?
Sustainability is viewed as the most important component of skincare developed by Wekusko Wild. This starts at the ingredients and works through to packaging. Boreal botanicals are only harvested at times of the year where potency can be maximized and damage is minimized. Only healthy plant populations are used for materials, and each individual plant is never stripped of what it needs to survive and produce seed for the following year. In terms of other natural ingredients used, they are sourced from reputable companies who ensure environmentally ethical production and harvesting methods with fair trade practices that ensure appropriate payment is made for these materials. Sustainability is one of the reasons that essential oils are not included, since the enormous amounts of native plant material necessary are often not something that the environment can handle and replace for future use. Packaging is also important, and Wekusko Wild sources containers that can be reused, recycled, or composted. Plastics are avoided as much as possible, but when they are needed (treatment pumps for example), only BPA-free and recyclable products are used. Labels are also being transitioned away from vinyl to eco-friendly paper stock printed with GreenGuard Eco inks. Products are also created in very small batches so waste is eliminated. Skincare should only provide lasting benefits to your skin and not a lasting imprint on the environment and our resources.
Are your products tested?
As per Health Canada guidelines, independent or laboratory testing is not required for all-natural cosmetic-grade formulations unless they will be ingested and then considered a 'food & drug'. However, to ensure quality control and safety of products, Wekusko Wild does perform in-house microbiological testing for the presence of bacteria, mould and yeast in samples of botanical extracts and also end products. All Wekusko Wild products, including ingredients, are also screened against the Health Canada cosmetics database and filed with them prior to public sale and distribution. This is a Canadian requirement, and one you should watch for when purchasing any all-natural skincare products. More informally, I have used all of my own products extensively prior to their initial release, and actually continue to do so as I have abandoned all of my store-purchased balms, moisturizers and cleansers for this all-natural product line I love! Your skin is unique - so if you experience irritation, discontinue use and please let me know. As with any skincare product, these natural formulas are used at your own risk, and Wekusko Wild cannot take any responsibility for reactions that may occur.
Your creams and cleansers are 'pH balanced', is this important?
One of the most important things you can do to protect your skin is to ensure you are using products that are pH balanced. Your skin has a pH of approximately 5.5 (on a scale of 0-14, with 0 being acidic and 14 being alkaline). When you use products that are either more acidic or alkaline than your skin's protective barrier, it can cause short term changes to your skin's pH resulting in damage (dryness, redness, acne, irritation). Over time, your skin becomes less able to repair itself and bounce back to it's natural pH of 5.5. Wekusko Wild facial creams and cleansers are pH balanced, which means I carefully balance each batch to make sure they are between pH 5.3-5.8 when they are packaged. In some cases this pH cannot be achieved in any case - handmade hard soaps (like the Wekusko Wild Goose Bay hemp shave soap) have a more alkaline pH than your skin, as it is impossible to make a true 'soap' without alkalinity. But high levels of natural oils and butters are added to counteract the higher pH and to ensure that sensitive skin is protected with use.
Are your products vegan and safe for all skin types?
Wekusko Wild products are vegan-friendly and contain plant-based ingredients, however, some do contain organic Canadian beeswax or yogurt. Please check ingredients listed to determine what you are comfortable with. Yes, my ingredients are specifically chosen to be gentle and safe for even the most sensitive skin. As with any new herbal skincare product, it is best to do a test on your forearm (a sensitive skin area) before use. If you ever experience a reaction to one of the products, please discontinue use immediately and contact me so I am aware. If you are new to herbal skincare, there is a small chance that some plant compounds may be reactive on your skin. If this ever occurs, it should be very mild and temporary as formulas are not concentrated to commercial levels. Ingredients are provided on this site and also product packaging labels, so please look for anything that may be a concern to you before using.
What steps do you take to make your products 'safe'?
Plant materials are gathered in the wilds of the bush so do not require washing beyond cleaning of roots or other parts to eliminate soil or debris. I do not collect from areas where pesticides or other substances may be used or where land use practices may degrade soil quality and plant health. They are then processed and stored appropriately to minimize any potential contamination - this is further supported by in-house microbiological testing for bacteria, mould or yeast. All cosmetic ingredients are purchased from reputable distributors and are received sealed and in sanitary condition. Preparation, processing and packaging are done in my home in a designated space that is cleaned and sanitized regularly. All equipment and packaging is sterilized before filling, and containers are fitted with a tamper-evident shrink seal so you know they have not been opened since packaging. As noted in the section about preservatives, balms and ointments are stabilized to increase shelf life, and all products containing any water are preserved to eliminate the growth of bacteria, mould or yeast, with an effective and ECOCERT approved all-natural preservative. Your skin is unique - so if you experience irritation, discontinue use and please let me know. As with any skincare product, these natural formulas are used at your own risk, and Wekusko Wild cannot take any responsibility for reactions that may occur.
Tell me about your packaging?
Wekusko Wild strives for zero-waste, and utilizes recyclable/reusable and environmentally responsible packaging. Lip and other stick balms feature plastic-free paper tubes that are compostable and degradable. Balm, creams and oils are packaged in metal tins or photo-protective tinted/opaque glass containers that are perfect to reuse for storage of small items or spices. Lids are metal wherever possible, since this material can be recycled indefinitely. Plastics are avoided to the extent possible. I am also transitioning all vinyl labels to new eco-friendly ones featuring GreenGuard Eco Inks printed on FSC Certified natural paper stock. These new labels may be a bit harder to remove as they are paper, but they are created using low-impact inks and can be recycled with paper.
Can men use these products?
YES! Wekusko Wild skincare is for anyone and everyone. Products, packaging, and labels are intended to be gender-neutral. Goose Bay Grooming Oil (formerly Goose Bay facial serum) was developed for the specific needs and challenges of the male face, but it is an amazing option for anyone looking for a luxurious blend of slower-absorbing oils for intense moisturizing and protection. It has become my personal favorite before-bed treatment.
How should I store my products and will they expire?
To maximize the shelf life of your products, store them in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight, heat and excess moisture. Balms and ointments will safely last up to 2 years (or longer) while lotions, creams and serums should be used within 1 year of opening. Wekusko Wild uses a truly natural (not synthetic or nature-identical) preservative system that is highly effective, however, one of the ingredients can oxidize from oxygen exposure over time and may start to create a slight almond aroma to products after 8 months or so. THIS IS ENTIRELY NORMAL, SAFE, AND DOES NOT DIMINISH THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE PRESERVATIVE OR THE PRODUCT. It is also recommended to use clean and dry fingers when taking product from jars as this reduces the potential for contaminants to enter your skincare after opening.
Are you licensed or permitted?
No license or permit is required in my province to gather non-wood forestry products, however, I acknowledge that many botanicals I gather lie on Treaty 5 territory and the traditional homelands of the Swampy Cree. I am educated (Bachelor of Science degree University of Regina, Master of Science degree University of Guelph) and trained as a registered professional biologist/botanist and have been studying boreal plants most of my career. I maintain 2 jurisdictional business licenses, and as a federal government requirement all Wekusko Wild products, including ingredients, have been screened against the Health Canada cosmetics database and filed prior to public sale and distribution. I have studied formulating, and am a professional member in good standing with the Handcrafted Bath & Body Guild of Canada. Wekusko Wild is also now Leaping Bunny Certified - this is an international certification that ensures all products including raw ingredients used in making these products, are entirely free of animal testing.