What do oyster farmers and high end, professional skin care products have in common? A lot, actually.
Working on the water can easily be considered an occupational hazard, wreaking havoc on the skin of fisherman, lobsterman, and oyster farmers like 45-year-old Abigail Carroll, owner of Nonesuch Oysters in Portland, Maine.
Between sun exposure, whipping winds, and drying salt water, Carroll’s hands look like any other fisherman’s: dry, cracked, and rough.
“I wanted to work hard like a lobsterman but not look like one,” Carroll said.
Carroll decided to do something about it after nearly five years of planting and harvesting oysters in the Scarborough River. Years of exposure to the elements caused her skin to suffer. Turning to the sea for inspiration, Carroll began using a combination of Maine’s native marine life, natural oils, and sea salt to create her own line of skin care products.
“I found myself on the water for long days. It’s punishing on your hands,” said Carroll, who is fondly referred to in Saco Bay as “the oyster lady.”
Carroll tried everything, from lotions and creams to exfoliating scrubs, but nothing seemed to soothe and improve the condition of her weather-worn skin.
“I like being out there, but I am sensitive to skin issues,” she said.
Soon, Carroll began experimenting with almond and vitamin E oils, Maine sea salt, and kelp, which are all known for their healing and restorative properties. In addition, she began experimenting with the various sea vegetables harvested by VitaminSea Seaweed, a local food company.
Carroll’s homemade concoctions proved to be effective, and she began noticing immediate improvements in the condition of her skin.
“There are no chemical agents. The algae has all sorts of healing properties, vitamins and minerals,” she explained.
Named after her oyster farming operations, the Nonesuch Skincare line boasts three products: a seaweed hand salve, a hydrating body oil fortified with Maine algae, and an exfoliating Maine sea salt scrub.
Not only have these products improved Carroll’s skin, the Biddeford resident also feels they’re an excellent way for her to share her love of the sea with others.
“As [the company] evolves, we will communicate how the ingredients are harvested, we will use other marine extracts with other benefits and I hope that the skin care products will be another way to express this very unique Maine coast experience,” she said.
While the Nonesuch Skincare product line is only available for purchase in a few local Greater Portland spas and boutiques, as well as online, Carroll is already planning to expand. Her next products, an algae-enriched zinc sunblock and lotion, are set to debut this spring.
In order to help preserve and protect Maine’s fragile ocean ecosystems, one percent from each product’s sale goes towards marine projects and research.
“We have seen a big shift in the skincare industry towards natural products, and a more recent focus on sustainably sourced ingredients,” says Michael Ter Mors, Head of Marketing at CosMedical Technologies. “Although botanicals have come a long way in terms of their efficacy, combining them with more traditional ingredients is oftentimes the best way to achieve medical grade results.