“I was living in Europe and came back to Canada, and I felt disillusioned with the wellness industry’s idea that you had to live this sterile existence and deprive yourself of everything to be clean. I felt it was missing the point.”
Vancouver-based creator Allison Weldon is not your standard soap-maker for the organic lifestyle crowd. Sangre De Fruta, her brand of botanical hair, face, and body products, grew out of Allison’s desires to infuse holistic health with indulgence to treat the senses with something meaningful, delicious, and beautifying without the use of artificial or toxic ingredients. Her experience in creating products like these began long ago with mentor Elena Orrego, who fled to Vancouver in the 1970s following the Chilean military coup and, along with other “hippie and grassroots” types as Allison puts it, began a naturopathic collective.
“Elena started an apothecary, and it became the place to go for everything botanical,” Allison recounts. “It was more medicinal with tinctures, herbs, essential oils, then of course creams and balms.”
The business lasted in the eighties when Elena sold it, but she continued making her beloved creams for friends for decades after until she Allison met in the 2000s and told her new pupil, “I think I need to teach you how to make these.”
“She had this beautiful cabinet full of rare and precious oils, and we’d just go and dump them in with the other ingredients. She was used to making medicine, so she really enjoyed getting in there with me and sort of indulgently experimenting.”
Eventually friends of the duo became accustomed to receiving the special treats for Christmas presents and looked forward to each year’s batch. During this time, Allison's day job was owning a yoga studio connected to a former partner’s restaurant. When that relationship ended, she used her prior experience in film, fashion, and wellness along with her love for making the special creams to dive headfirst into the creation of a full product line. After proposing a business partnership with Elena, the mentor declined and told Allison it was her time to take over and “help it live.”
She took the solo challenge in stride, investing in a very expensive bottle of rose oil to create her first Sangre product, the Rose No. 1 Botanical Body Cream (see below). Several products followed and scents to go with them, including one named for famous triptych The Garden Of Earthly Delights painted in the late 15th century by Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch.
Garden is known for its surreal depictions of daily life with its indulgences and consequences, displayed wildly through a cast of characters unlike any that came before it. Its impact on artists across the world and the awe inspired from gazing upon it has lasted centuries, pulling the viewer into a waking dream to create an uncanny feeling of whimsy, horror, and debauchery, among a cascade of emotions hard to define linguistically.
Allison kindly sent over the shampoo and conditioner in this scent for me to test, and I simply cannot get enough of its fresh mixture of bergamot, sandalwood, and cedar. The balance between its power and delicacy is something only a gifted master could create, such as its maker has proven herself with this wondrous line.
“I want people who use my product to experience a deep connection to themselves, or something otherworldly,” Allison muses on the inspiration behind the name. “I think the art adds one more layer to that...There’s something very deeply human about the raw, visceral emotions you feel looking into paintings like that.”
After breaking down the story of how Sangre De Fruta came to be, Allison took some time to discuss her favorite products. Below you’ll find those, as well as some she graciously let us sample to discover the immersive, opulent experience of using the brand. Read on to discover what those are, and consider gifting one or a few of these products to yourself or someone in your life who deserves the daily gift of an escape into natural luxury each day.
When I asked Allison about her favorite products, she hesitated only briefly before choosing the Botanical Body Cream in Rose No. 1, the oil that started it all.
"I feel like the rose, from the heart-opening rose oil, is one of the things that inspired the whole collection and made me go out on a limb to create it," she explained. "Rose is still a scent people associate with synthetic soaps and such, but true rose is just so the opposite of that."
This cream, which comes in a variety of scents in case you can't quite shake the fear of rose-scented things, is a concentrated, waterless formula that arrives in a violent glass jar. It's perfect for all skin types and can be used from head to toe, including on the face. It has a whipped texture that can melt a bit during shipping, but a quick pop in the fridge and some stirring brings it right back to life.
"The Neroli & Myrrh Face wash has become a staple in my morning ritual as the scent transports me into somewhere otherworldy," Allison explains of the mild but thorough cleanser, adding, "or maybe its ancient times. Myrrh is just so special."
Having tested this face wash for several weeks myself now, I can attest to the scent's fantastic ability to calmly bring to mind something ancient and ritualistic. A couple of pumps of the clear gel is enough to remove even stubborn makeup, but there's no itching, drying, tightness, or any other effects associated with stronger cleansers. I've added this in on rotation with my other favorite, the Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Gel Cleanser, and I find my skin is less irritated and much more fresh since adding this to my usual routine.
Fans of dry oil, moisturized skin, and lush floral fragrances will go nuts for this all-over serum that works beautifully for a number of purposes: pump into your hands for a perfect massage oil, lightly coat hair to tame split ends, or use in the shower to lightly clean skin and lock in moisture. It's organic, vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, GMO-free, and contains no added fragrance, leaving only pure, intoxicating delight on your body.
Allison suggests using all over particularly when you're in a rush and can't sit for a spell waiting for heavier moisturizers to soak into the skin. She rightfully claims it leaves you feeling "silky," and wearing such a light, natural scent on its own or layered with perfume is a wonderfully sensual way to carry on with your day.
Hairdressers have been preaching against the nuisance of added chemicals in cheap shampoos and conditioners for decades, and Allison echoes those same concerns when discussing Sangre De Fruta's sumptuous formulas.
"I used to hate the idea of toxins and synthetic ingredients from conventional hair care soaking into my skin as I showered," she explains. "I enjoy my shower experience so much more now that we have hair care as I feel cleansed and all my senses nourished."
Unlike many heavier products weighed down with synthetic ingredients, these botanical options are light, rich in natural scent, and leave the scalp feeling squeaky clean without stripping the hair of its natural oils. The steam from the warm water mixes with the fragrance in a perfectly aromatic way, surrounding your senses and clinging delicately to the surface of your skin and hair for a truly spa-like experience.
While we're hooked on the Garden Of Earthly Delights scent listed below, don't sleep on her favorite of Neroli Noir (find it here and here) either! As she tells it: "Spikenard is such a unique scent that I still feel seduced every time I use it."
Hand washing is more important than ever these days, so why not invest in something that makes the task more enjoyable?
The Neroli Noir scent combines the familiar splendor of citrus and florals mixed with ylang ylang, lavender, and blue chamomile. You'll receive a generous 500mL of product that cleanse your hands of dirt and germs while softening the skin with carefully chosen essential oils to avoid the pitfall of cracked, scaly hands–especially important considering winter is upon us.
Clearly the Garden Of Earthly Delights is a favorite scent around here, and this travel set is ideal for holiday gifting or just grabbing for yourself to relieve the stress of the bustling season.
Inside you'll find miniature versions of the shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and face tonic, all wrapped up in a velvet pouch and ready to be dropped into your suitcase. Hotel products are rarely on the level of luxury needed to feel truly spoiled while rushing around, so live a little and treat yourself to a rich experience everywhere you go.