The Soft Touch of Aloe
From a dream to reality, siblings George Clarke and Vanessa Clarke-Austin came together to form NutraGanics – an aloe vera-based skin and haircare line – after a brainstorming car ride.
NutraGanics started in 2013 out of their desire to provide high-quality hair and skincare products made in Jamaica, and that is also good for their customers. It was an opportunity for Clarke to utilise his love for, and training, in the sciences.
When they initially came up with the concepts, aloe vera was not the first choice. In fact, it was lemongrass. They believed that extracting the lemon grass’ oils would be a viable option. Clarke-Austin confirmed that this appeared to be the better option at the time, but they were wrong.
Clarke admitted that it looked good on the brochure, and they went ahead and planted half an acre of lemon grass. What no one told them was that only two persons or companies actually extracted these natural oils on a commercial level, and that they already had their own farms. So, from an economic standpoint, their supply tremendously outweighed the demand. They went back to the drawing board and ended up choosing something that was right under their noses all along - aloe vera.
"Back in 2013, after searching for a product, George realised that aloe vera helped with his dry scalp. Nothing else helped really," Clarke-Austin told Outlook. This created a light-bulb moment. Clarke thought that it would be great to get into this industry, especially because at the time none was on the counters. So the two came up with NutraGanics.
After further research, they realised that quite a few skincare products did include aloe vera as one of the ingredients, and the use and documentation dated back thousands of years. Being a trained biochemist, Clarke felt compelled to strip away the hype. He wanted to ensure that the wealth of information he found had scientific proof. After conducting his tests, he became a believer and they went full steam ahead.
They now bottle and distribute the aloe vera gel and aloe vera extract. They have also developed a wide range of products, which include Aloe-Shea Hair and Body Butter, Aloe Vera Low Sulfate Shampoo, Aloe Vera Sulfate-Free Shampoo, Aloe Vera Moisturizing Conditioner, Aloe Vera Moisturising Spritz, Aloe Vera Bodywash, Aloe Vera Lotion, Aloe Vera Skin Soothing and Healing Spray, and the Aloe Vera Facewash.
So far, a customer favourite is the face wash. It was the first products he designed, formulated and made from scratch. He told Outlook that customers love it because it cleanses without drying out the skin; some have even said it helped with their acne and dark spots. The acne claim is something that he can personally identify with.
"I can attest to it helping with acne, as my 12-year-old daughter and wife uses it religiously and it actually helps," he said.
However, Clarke-Austin's favourite is the raw aloe extract. "This is really the raw aloe in a bottle, without the 'bush' smell. I use it as an astringent and leave it on my face at nights. My skin just absorbs all that goodness," she says.
So the siblings have achieved their dream, creating what they describe as spa-quality natural products that are good for you. All made from Jamaican raw materials.
Available at: Fontana, Alchemist pharmacies and a few spas at Jewels Resorts
Location: Glengoffe, St Catherine