Skin Care

By Andrea Toochin

Before organic cotton and recycled paper, eco-friendly consumers were referred to by some as ‘crunchies’. These were the folks who drank soy milk with their babies, carried their groceries in canvas bags, and shunned gas guzzlers before the goliath SUVs took over suburban America. Before ‘natural’ was a market sector, Fran Strachan founded the San Francisco-based Zia Natural Skincare line in 1984 to give green-conscious consumers an alternative to the mass produced lines of Estee Lauder and Proctor & Gamble. Twenty years later, she maintains a strong, loyal customer base and hasn’t sold out to industry distribution giants like Sephora or http://www.Beauty.com; Zia products are still sold primarily at Whole Foods and at the Zia website.

The philosophy behind Zia is one that nurtures skin with natural products and preserves the environment by shunning the use of chemicals and producing a vast array of body and facial products that are vegan- and earth-friendly, as well as biodegradable and cruelty-free.

Though Zia contributes to Juvenile Diabetes programs and AIDS research initiatives Strachan has consistently worked with the Tibetan Freedom Movement. This is a welcomed cause given the lack of press attention directed at the Tibetan peoples’ struggles and the current Maoist occupation in Nepal.

Zia got involved with the San Francisco area organization, Bay Area Friends of Tibet, a program that sponsors Tibetan refugees seeking political asylum in the United States. Not only does she maintain her involvement with Tibetan Freedom organizations, one-third of the headquarters is staffed by refugees. She also donated 100% of the net proceeds of all April sales of the Ultimate Body Firming Treatment lotion to a new Bay Area Tibetan Community Center. This October, $1 from the sale of every French Clay Purifying Mask, will go the National Breast Cancer Coalition. Not only is this a good cause, it’s also a great product; the clay base purifies by extracting oil and clearing pores, the kelp and algae help skin heal, and the sage and peppermint tighten pores and improve circulation.

Sounds like something we could also use at the end of a muggy summer day. Even if you’ve got enough products in your bathroom, isn’t the price of two Litchi martinis money well spent supporting a natural, independently owned company that supports freedom, human rights, and medical research?

Ultimate Body Firming Treatment $16.95 French Clay Purifying Mask $23.95 Zia is available at Whole Foods, Vitamin Shoppe, and http://www.zianatural.com

Originally published August 2005
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