Vetiver is a widely cultivated grass native to Asia that's best known for contributing a sweet, woody scent to many popular colognes. However, it has also long been used by practitioners of traditional medicine as a healing agent for skin. Earth tu Face's skin stick is a vetiver- and geranium-based balm that offers skin protection from head to toe and comes in an especially handy (and compostable) ChapStick-style tube.
"Vetiver has been used in ayurvedic medicine for ages," says Sarah Buscho, one of the two Earth tu Face founders and a certified herbalist. "It's beneficial for all kinds of irritated, inflamed, dry, and scarred skin." There are also some therapeutic qualities to the plant, especially its naturally clean scent. "In aromatherapy, the terpenes found inside vetiver are used as a tonic to the nervous system. The aroma promotes emotional balance and concentration," Buscho says. Whether you'll experience a sense of calm or not, we found its scent to feel fresh while still masculine.
Earth tu Face cofounder Marina Storm, also an herbalist, notes there are plenty of other ingredients that supply skin-healing powers. Storm says the addition of patchouli, an essential oil, "supplies anti-inflammatory qualities and is loaded with antiaging antioxidants." There's also geranium oil, which herbalists say boosts collagen growth and thus makes skin cells more elastic and so helps prevent scar tissue. Buscho tells us that it also helps with windburn, sunburn, eczema, and fixing up patches of dry skin, for instance, on elbows and knees.
We found rubbing the stick on chapped lips and dry hands works wonders quickly, as does application as a post-shave balm. As a lip balm, it's a bit of a shock since the earthy, musky flavor is a departure from the mint and lemon we're used to, but we quickly grew to like it. When rubbed on the body and hands, it does goes on oily, but it fully absorbs after a few minutes. Note that since vetiver is often used as a fixative in colognes, the scent tends to hang around for an extended period, which is a boon, because vetiver is also a natural insect repellent. [$34 for 0.7 ounce; earthtuface.com]