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New Mexican beauty secrets from Desert Blends of Taos

One small, magical skin care shop in the heart of Taos shows how to harness—and harvest—the desert's beauty power for everything from moisturizing skin to protecting from UV rays. 

Desert Blends of TaosThe quiet town of Taos comes to life with a rich local culture and tight community of artists—each gallery, shop, and co-op showcasing careful craftsmanship inspired by the unique desert terrain. Pottery. Art. Jewelry. Then I saw it, calling to me with as much force as the frozen avocado pie we’d have a few hours later at Orlando’s, a restaurant that has mastered fresh, cheap New Mexican cuisine. Organic skin care: Desert Blends of Taos. Yes, I was enchanted.

And even more so after spending time inside speaking with Desert Blends owner and formulator Toni Leigh, a certified Ayurvedic herbalist who is so connected to the surrounding land that she has bottled up its essence with traditional and efficacious ingredients to create a natural, locally sourced line of bath, body, spa, and facial treatments. She works with nearby organic farms to support local producers and wildcrafts ingredients to capitalize on the distinctive benefits of desert plants. 

If you've found yourself in Arizona, New Mexico, or Utah in extreme summer heat, you can understand why plants that survive in Taos, such as sage and chaparral, must be so resilient. Leigh explained that by adapting to these hot and dry climates, the plants naturally acquired properties that make them ideal for skin care. Rich in micronutrients, UV protective, moisturizing, and restorative, they work together to create a well-rounded and nourishing skin care system that in many ways mimics how these ingredients function in the environment. And it only makes sense that since New Mexico has given Leigh so much, she gives back by donating a portion of Desert Blends of Taos proceeds to the Terra Nova Children’s Foundation.

7 hot desert skin care ingredients

  1. Green lush sage
    Harvested in Taos, Desert Blends uses sage for its antibacterial, healing, and cleansing properties that can help fend off bacteria leading to skin irritations and acne.
  2. Watercress
    Emerging from thefresh mountain waters of Taos, watercress is rich in B vitamins and minerals like iron and magnesium, thought to stimulate circulation, protect from environmental damage, and clear skin.
  3. Chaparral
    This ancient Argentinean herb is now wild crafted in the southern region of New Mexico and touted for its antioxidant and UV-protective properties. Also helps lock in skin’s moisture and may alleviate irritation.
  4. Blue Corn
    Desert Blends sources blue cornfrom the local Velarde Farms and uses it as a gentle, natural exfoliating agent.
  5. Lavender flower
    Sourced from Chimayo, a historic village in Northern New Mexico, lavender helps heal skin, stimulate cells, and alleviate irritation.
  6. Red clay
    Courtesy of the mesa in southern Colorado, red clay draws impurities from the skin to detoxify and cleanse. Clay masks can dry out oily skin areas to prevent or alleviate acne and blemishes.   
  7. Sea salt and volcanic ash
    From the salt beds of Utah, volcanic ash and mineral-rich sea salt help promote circulation, stimulate skin cell growth, and exfoliate. 

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