Jana Blankenship grew up spending every summer in the tiny coastal town of Sorrento, Maine, hiking lush forests, swimming in the salty ocean and exploring the nearby islands. Her love for nature and the smells of the seaweed, ocean pine and wild roses first inspired Jana to create natural perfumes and eventually skincare, body care and haircare products. When friends wanted to start selling her products at their store, she knew she needed to start a company, and Captain Blankenship set sail.
Captain Blankenship is a small, women-run company in the Hudson River Valley and grew upon Jana’s mission to create organic beauty products that form a direct link with nature. From toner and face oil to lip balm and perfume, all of the products are plant and mineral-based, ethically sourced and use only organic ingredients when possible.
BITB caught up with Jana to chat about the clean beauty brand and her new book, Wild Beauty.
Tell us about Captain Blankenship. What was your inspiration behind creating your beauty brand?
I was the kid who was outside infusing pine needles and roses in water and making potions. The natural world and its beauty captivated me from a young age. My mom was a fashion designer and would go to couture shows and return with lots of perfume bottles. It was the 1980s and the perfumes were decadent and the bottles ornate. She didn’t care about them, so she let me mix them into my own signature scents. I ended up developing a sensitivity to synthetic fragrances. I get a headache and visceral reaction when I smell fragrance. I abandoned my love of smells until I moved to Northern California. While living in the Berkeley hills, the smell of the jasmine, eucalyptus, rosemary, citrus and other natural smells were totally intoxicating. One day I wandered into a friend’s store in North Berkeley and saw this beautiful silver compact of solid perfume. It smelled of fresh jasmine, blood orange and grapefruit, like the hills behind me. I found out it was a natural perfume made by local perfumer Mandy Aftel. I was so fascinated. I started studying natural perfumery and took a class with Mandy and didn’t look back. I had discovered this rich, natural palette to work with that was powerful, experiential and invisible.
Scent is our first sense to develop in the womb, but the most overlooked. It felt so exciting and still does to be able to work with such amazing raw materials that are so evocative. Captain Blankenship grew out of my desire to create simple but effective plant based beauty products with lush and experiential essential oil based scents.
We’re so excited to hear about your book launch, Wild Beauty. What can readers expect to see in the book?
I am so excited, too! I can’t believe it is almost out in the world, and I can’t wait to share it. Wild Beauty is a personal, practical and sensorial guide to clean beauty full of anecdotes, tips and recipes to help you integrate plant based ingredients into your beauty and wellness rituals. I really wanted it to be decidedly not esoteric and very down to earth. I tried to cover a lot of ground in the book while also keeping it playful. I educate the reader on the basics of natural perfumery and plant based skincare, body care and haircare, while also detailing the ingredients I think it is best to avoid in beauty products. It contains 45 easy to make recipes for perfumes, room sprays, skin care, body care, haircare as well as tonics and teas for health.
The book is something that you could easily pick up and make a recipe from without too much advance planning. I wanted the reader to be able to prepare most of the beauty products you would want in your routine year round as well as some internal recipes for beauty. I think it is a fun, passionate and engaging immersion into the sensuous and life altering power of wild beauty. It includes breathtaking landscapes and recipe shots by the incredible photographer, Julianna Blizzard.
As a beauty expert, you surely take great care of your skin. What products are in your cosmetic bag and on your bathroom vanity?
I do my best. As a mama of two young children, I know time is incredibly precious and I try to keep my routine as quick and effective as possible. I keep a Jade Gua Sha tool in my freezer which is an incredible delight first thing in the morning. I love using it on my eyes and forehead every day. I then use our Sailor by Captain Blankenship line of products for my skin. My go to morning trifecta is to start with our Sea Splash Cleanser, follow with our Sea Mist Toner and then hydrate with our Deep Blue Moisturizer. I’ll then use Meow Meow Tweet’s Everyday Sunscreen or if I want a fit of color, Suntegrity’s Tinted Sunscreen in Golden Light. I have makeup by RMS, Au Naturale, Ere Perez, ILIA and Olio E Osso in my cosmetic bag. I love what simple, glowing magic I can create on my face with RMS Uncoverup, their Magic Luminizer and Solar Eye Shadow and a swipe of Olio E Osso Crimson Lip Balm. I rarely wear a lot of makeup, but if I am feeling fancy, I’ll use some ILIA Pink Moon lipstick, W3LL People Liquid Eyeliner and Sappho Mascara.
For nighttime, I like to take a little bit more time to wind down. I’ll use our Gentle Tides Cleansing Oil with a warm washcloth to cleanse my face and remove makeup. 2-3 times a week, I follow with our Sailor Smooth Sailing Mask. I’ll use the Sailor Toner and Moisturizer. If I need a little extra moisture at night, I’ll use my Golden Glow Face Balm recipe from the book. Last step is covering my lips with Meow Meow Tweet’s Lip Balm in Sweet Orange.