When Julie Clark, Province Apothecary’s founder, steps out from the office just behind the storefront, I notice immediately that her face is glowing and clear. This, apparently, hasn’t always been the case; after suffering from eczema for years, she became determined to find alternatives to the usual topical steroid prescriptions for eczema that can be damaging to skin in the long run. Even though she had established a career in costume design, Clark decided to pursue classes at the Institute of Aromatherapy in Toronto and became a holistic practitioner, reflexologist, esthetician, and herbalist.
It took two years to develop her eczema balm, experimenting with different ingredients and relying on trial and error. “Luckily I had really bad eczema,” she says, laughing, “so I got to be my own guinea pig.” Clark dedicated herself to creating a natural remedy – one “that’s really effective and 100% green and clean,” she says. “It was a big undertaking.”
It was this undertaking that ultimately birthed Province Apothecary and had Clark performing treatments from her home, until she moved to a space in Toronto’s Kensington Market, which she and her team quickly outgrew. A need for more space and staff prompted a second move to Dundas Street.
Clark has always been sure to focus the brand on a balanced approach to health. At one point, Clark offered IGG testing, an effective allergy test that helps determine possible causes contributing to problem skin, especially eczema. “I still get [eczema] quite often, and it’s a big message from my body that things are out of balance and that I need to make changes. Diet and stress have a big impact.”
Clark recommends the elimination diet, a temporary removal and subsequent reintroduction of specific food groups. “It takes out the triggers in your diet so you can allow your gut to heal,” Clark says. But that is just one part of the equation. “I love having something topical that works, that I have confidence in.”
Province Apothecary now offers a wide range of products and treatments. In June, Clark launched the Clear Skin Advanced Spot Treatment,which is gentle enough for those who suffer from eczema and is especially formulated for cystic acne sufferers. “This was a big issue for a lot of our clients. It targets inflammation, reduces it and helps with scarring. We’ve seen really good results.” As for treatments, they range from customized facials to brow and lash tinting and shaping, to custom perfume blending.
A great place to start is the Express Custom Organic Facial, which at 30 minutes will run you anywhere from $55 to $75 depending on the esthetician. After a thorough cleansing, your skin will be analyzed and the esthetician will create a custom protocol for you (that you’ll also receive in your inbox!). My favorite part of the facial was the local, wild crafted honey mask that moisturizes, exfoliates, and kills bacteria. You’ll even get extractions if you need them, which is uncommon for most express facials. Bonus!
“We focus on organic and Canadian ingredients. I’m interested in what we can get in Canada. A lot of research goes into it and we are always looking for the highest quality ingredients we can find,” Clark says. When it comes to plans for opening more shops, Clark seems to have her hands full with the recent move, development and production of new products, and her long list of stockists. “I’m really excited we have other estheticians in other cities than Toronto that are going to offer treatments eventually. But for now, this is it, Toronto.”
New to Province Apothecary? Here are some of Julie’s favorites:
Clear Skin Advanced Spot Treatment
“This is a turmeric based product with an amazing infusion of herbs in jojoba, with essential oil so it penetrates deeply into the skin. It targets inflammation and reduces it and works for all break outs. It contains calendula, plantain, comfrey, Gotu kola, neem (which is a huge antibacterial), and seabuckthorn.”
Heal Eczema Kit
“These are my number one products. Our eczema balm has zinc, turmeric, a blend of omega 3 and 6 from flax and hemp, and an infusion of herbs made up of St John’s wort, calendula, and comfrey. The eczema hydrating balm repairs the skin.”