Italian and French brands might be some of the most popular when it comes to luxury beauty, but Sandra Valesquez, founder of Nopalera, is inspired to sprinkle in some Mexican flair into the industry. After being certified as an organic formulator by Formula Botanica in the U.K., Valesquez aimed to construct a product line that was as clean as possible while paving more space for Latinx culture.
"We are in this collective space in history where the brown space is real right now. The Latino community is the largest minority in the USA, so it didn't make sense that brands like Nopalera didn't exist. Saying we don't need luxury is bullshit," Valesquez tells InStyle. "We deserve it just like everyone else and don't need products to be at a prohibited price point. My intention was to create a Mexican luxury brand."
And just like that, the seed of Nopalera was sown.
"Nopalera is the name of the cactus plant when it's in the ground," Valesquez says of the name of her brand. "When we cut it off it's called a nopal. Nopal is known for having anti-inflammatory healing benefits."
Nopalera's bath and body product line includes a variety of cactus soaps, a moisturizing botanical bar, and cactus flower exfoliant. Along with nopal, Valesquez includes jojoba oil, shea butter, and tepezcohuite, a very popular beauty ingredient in Mexico.
"Tepezcohuite comes from a tree and you can ground it up in a powder. We included it in the botanical bar. It's used to regenerate skin cells," she explains. "In Mexico, it was used for burn victims to heal wounds. It's pretty powerful."
Latinx celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar, who's worked with Selma Hayek and Sofia Vergara, agrees with the use of pure and organic ingredients in the line.
"The skincare category is overwhelmed with products and I'm here to use a product that is sustainable as well as celebrating our culture," Aguilar tells InStyle. "What stood out to me was how simple and honest Nopalera is. There was no promise on the boxes, except the packaging is eco. I love how simple and clean the ingredients are. Seeing the cactus brought me to my roots. I thought, 'Oh, cactus! Healing'."
That said, these ingredients and sociocultural meanings are intertwined with nopal, making it such a significant aspect to include in the clean luxury beauty space.
Now let's get into the nitty gritty of the product line.
Moisturizing Botanical Bar
"I'm obsessed with the bar. It's so good I wanted to eat it. For the first time, I felt comfortable giving my kid a skincare product to play around with because it's probably one of the only products I've received that has 12 ingredients," Aguilar mentions.
For me, the bar is a go-to when I feel my skin getting dry or I forgot to moisturize my face the night before. It's also much faster than applying globs of lotion all over yourself. It feels like melted butter gently soaking into your skin.
To shop: $30; nopalera.co
Noche Clara Cactus Soap
"I love that it needs very little water and is very foamy. No soap felt more superior or gentle than the other. I remember being at a gynecology appointment, where they told me to be careful with products down there because they may sting and burn. This soap didn't sting and burn, it didn't dry me out, so it passed the test," Aguilar says.
This soap really is so soft and clean that you can even use it for shaving. The line has three soaps: Flor de Mayo, Noche Clara, and Planta Futura soaps. They all glide against my skin with ease, and I don't feel any waxy residue afterwards.
"The soaps don't dry out the skin because they have a high concentration of plant butters," Valesquez explains.
To shop: $14; nopalera.co
Cactus Flower Exfoliant
My skin usually starts to flake in the fall and winter, but it's definitely not as bad after a few uses of this scrub. Not only does the exfoliant smell refreshing, I feel like my arms and legs are rejuvenated and clean after rinsing off. The sensation of scrubbing a product I know is completely clean also leaves me feeling extra relaxed, both physically and mentally.
To shop: $32; nopalera.co
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