Imagine driving down the California highway and blasting your favorite tunes, shaded by the canopy of California’s giant redwood trees as you wind endlessly along the road. If you’ve ever had the chance to visit the west coast (or Muir Woods here in Marin County, known specifically for its dense redwood forest), you know of the magic of these giant trees as you walk among them. Our Redwood Hydrosol story is a love story about the beautiful land in California. Redwoods themselves embody resilience. As the tallest trees on earth, coastal redwoods have endured immense hardship over thousands of years - from forest fires to deforestation - yet still they stand, steadfast and strong.
This spring we harvested redwood tips from two beloved forests. Our founder Justine and her family hiked coastal misty groves, finding orchids and baby redwoods sprouting from the earth. A week later, Botnia’s manufacturing lead Aviva and farmer/designer Emily harvested from another forest's sentinels, the grove still healing from 2020’s fires. See the full story of the harvest here.
How to use Redwood Hydrosol
Our favorite way to use our new summer hydrosol is like a toner after cleansing. Those who have oily or acne-prone skin can benefit from redwood’s gentle exfoliating properties. The scent of our Redwood Hydrosol is crisp, lemony, and bright and has hints of floral pine all at the same time. Science shows their scent may lower blood pressure and increase oxygen uptake, giving you a sensation of peace, which is why walking through a redwood forest can bring serenity to the human soul.
Another way to use our hydrosols is to spritz the skin, taking in its beautiful scent throughout the day as a refreshing pick-me-up and ground any heady activity you might be feeling in your day. We like to think of it as forest bathing for the skin!
Quick redwood tree facts
California’s giant redwoods have a long history. Sequoia sempervirens, also known as coastal redwood or California redwood, is a species of evergreen tree that’s native to California. They also happen to be the tallest trees in the world, standing at 320+ feet (that’s taller than a 30 story skyscraper!) and are some of the oldest living organisms on earth. These ancient trees can live for more than 2,000 years (1), meaning that some of them have been around since the Roman Empire. In addition to being massively tall, the diameter of their tree trunks is also notable. Many coast redwoods have trunk diameters of 27 feet or more which is really hard to even wrap your brain around until you see them in person. There are fossils of redwood trees that date back to the Jurassic period, almost 200 million years ago, from redwood forests that once spanned 2 million acres along California’s coast up to Oregon. While most of the forest is now young, you can still see the surviving stands of ancient redwoods in Big Basin Redwoods State Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Surprisingly, coast redwood cones are teeny tiny – only about one inch long. However once the seeds have germinated, seedlings grow about one foot per year, making them incredibly fast-growing trees. You’ll often see young redwoods growing from their parent tree’s trunk in order to utilize the nutrients of their extensive root systems.
Forest fires are a crucial part of the redwood ecosystem and always have been. Coast redwoods have bark that can grow up to 12 inches thick which protects them from inevitable fires that sweep through the forest. Their bark is also rich in tannins, helping to mitigate insect damage. During the rainy season, the trees relish in the much-needed water and in the summer, they work to create their own rain, so to speak. Coastal fog condenses on redwood needles, thus creating water droplets which are either absorbed by the needles of the tree or released to the dense understory, nourishing the flora and fauna beneath.
Key benefits of redwood for the skin
You may have tried some of our evergreen hydrosols in the past (Juniper or Piñon) which have a slightly exfoliating property from the juniperic acid in juniper trees, and flavinoids from piñon. The same goes for our Redwood Hydrosol, which is great for acneic and oily skin types.
One of the main constituents that makes redwood hydrosol so potent is the percentage of tannins that exist in its bark and heartwood (the center of the tree) which makes this tree immune to pests and resistant to rot. These tannins also exist in its needles and are helpful to reduce inflammation and redness in the skin with their high anti-inflammatory properties. In this study (2), redwood has been tested with evidence that shows that redwood extracts reduced the growth of two fungi tested in vitro (in a test tube or culture dish). It has also been studied (3) that tannic acid can help to reduce oxidative stress on the skin which causes photodamage, premature aging, and wrinkles.
In this study (4), an ingredient made up of whole plant cells of the redwood trees has been found to help decrease wrinkles and fine lines in the skin. Redwood needles are known for their ability to hold large amounts of water which makes sense that our skin would receive the same benefits that the needles provide for the tree itself.
The artwork of Redwood Hydrosol
Not only did our farm lead Emily harvest and distill this hydrosol, but she also designed the beautiful artwork that’s included with each box of hydrosol! Inspired by images from Justine and her own experience harvesting the redwood, she’s created four unique illustrations, highlighting the magic of redwoods’ forest home so you can enjoy your redwood family's place of origin, whether Salt Point (SP) or Roy's Redwoods (RR) and imagine the beauty of each place. You can find all of Emily’s beautiful artwork on her website here.
We hope that when you use our Redwood Hydrosol, you’re transported to the tranquil redwood forests of the west coast and can feel this tree’s strength and comfort - and nature’s resilience.
Contributors and References:
Contributor: Emily Walker, Farm Specialist/Biologist
1: The Redwoods of Coast and Sierra. (n.d.). https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/shirley/sec11.htm#:~:text=Authentic%20records%20do%20indicate%2C%20however,Redwood%E2%80%94the%20world%27s%20oldest%20trees
2: Davies, N. G., Wu, H., & Altaner, C. M. (2014). The chemistry and bioactivity of various heartwood extracts from redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) against two species of fungi. New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science, 44(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40490-014-0017-4
3: Sarmento, B., Nakamura, C. V., Ximenes, V. F., & De Oliveira Silva, S. (2020). Tannic acid, a promising anti-photoaging agent: Evidences of its antioxidant and anti-wrinkle potentials, and its ability to prevent photodamage and MMP-1 expression in L929 fibroblasts exposed to UVB. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 160, 342–355. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2020.08.019
4: Sequoia cells to limit male skin ageing. (n.d.). https://cosmeticsbusiness.com/news/article_page/Sequoia_cells_to_limit_male_skin_ageing/175952