NEW YORK – Kale has crept out of salads and juicers into beauty products from niche and mainstream sellers.
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The leafy superfood that many love and others love to hate can now be had in face masks, skin-brightening serums, creams and nail polish, pushed along by the march to healthier living and the frenzy to fend off aging.
Kale hasn't displaced other botanicals, which remain a small segment of the multibillion-dollar beauty industry. There's a wide range of plant life and consumables in beauty products, but where else would the new darling in greens land if not beauty aisles, spas and websites?
A look at kale on the beauty side:
Sprawled in ads on a bed of kale, British fashion darling Alexa Chung is the face of Nailkale, a new line of 12 nail shades from London-based Nails Inc. They just launched in the U.K. and will hit U.S. shelves in late August.
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Nails Inc. founder Thea Green was inspired by a couple of trips to New York City last year.
"On one trip we saw a group of very lovely girls walking down the street all drinking their green juices, and no one in London was drinking green juice then," she said in a recent interview.
"Then I heard a woman in a restaurant, a very proper Upper East Side New Yorker, reject her salad because it was rocket (arugula) and not kale. I thought the whole thing was fascinating," Green said.
Green took kale for nails and its vitamins A, C and K to a laboratory and Nailkale was born.
"I think they thought I was a bit nutty."
Nutty like a fox. She's the first to offer kale for nails.
Eminence Organic Skin Care sells luxury products to more than 3,000 spas worldwide. With roots in Hungary, that's where the company headed when it decided to work with kale farmers for two new products.
Stephanie Baresh, the brand and product creative director in Vancouver, Canada, said a cold processing method is used on raw kale for the Citrus & Kale Potent C+E Masque. The chunky green product offers a slight whiff of lemon with kale, avocado and spinach.
Eminence is focused on kale's antioxidant properties. Launched in June with the Citrus & Kale Potent C+E Serum, user feedback has been positive, she said.
"People will do anything to look good and to stop aging these days. This is a natural approach rather than getting Botox or plastic surgery," Baresh added.
The spas the company supplies weren't a tough sell and include the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, California, and the Go Green Organic Spa in lower Manhattan.
"They loved the idea of a superfood," Baresh said. "Kale is the new go-to for the plate and in a smoothie, so why not beauty products? But I don't think you're going to see kale products popping up all over Sephora."
GOOD & HEALTHY
Cruelty free, organic and 100 percent vegetarian, Alba Botanica offers five new products "powered by leafy green goodness" — kale, spinach and Swiss chard extracts, to be exact, according to promotional materials.
The Good & Healthy line from the brand owned by The Hain Celestial Group in Lake Success, New York, launched last spring and includes a tinted perfector for combination skin and a daily moisturizer with SPF 15.
The suggested retail price is on the low end at $9.99 each, available at Target, Walmart, Whole Foods Markets and drug stores.
"History has shown that it's very common for food trends to trickle into beauty care products," said Sarah Galusha, director of marketing for Hain. "As consumers learn about the amazing benefits of eating certain superfoods, they start to look for them in their personal care products as well. And the truth is that many superfoods are loaded with phytonutrients, antioxidant vitamins and minerals that happen to be great for replenishing skin."
THE KALE THAT WASN'T
Dana Kale in Dallas is co-owner of the small Kale Naturals. Kale and her business partner, Tia Pettijohn, incorporated in 2008. They launched botanical grooming products for men in 2010, ahead of kale mania.
There's no actual kale in Kale Naturals, but the packaging is a nice kale green. The two, with just eight products, hope to add some kale going forward, possibly by next year.
"It's kind of in the last year where kale has gotten all this attention and become this superfood and all of that," Kale said.
The company is still benefiting from the buzz due to its name, which pops up in Internet searches for the kale-inclined.
"When we started formulating our products, the naturals market was still a little bit new and so we didn't even think to put it in there," Kale said. "I wish that we had. I always tell people, 'Well my blood, sweat and tears are in there, if that helps.'"
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