I’ll admit it—with a few notable exceptions, I am, sadly, your average, cliché guy when it comes to most any personal care products.

Out of shampoo? No problem, I can use a bar of soap; they’re basically interchangeable, right?

Shaving? Same thing—lather up some soap, maybe throw on whatever lotion’s laying around once I’m done.

Out of bar soap and need to get clean? Dishwashing detergent gets oil spills off baby ducks, man—it’s gotta be good enough to get a day or so’s worth of dirt off me.

So safe to say that, usually, I don’t splurge on skin care products for myself. Which is why they make such a great gift for me, as my generous partner Katie knows full well. She put this knowledge to use for my most recent birthday this past month, buying me what’s turned out to be a pretty stellar skin care set from Vermont-based natural skin care company Ursa Major.

I’ve long been a fan of the company’s logo—simple, striking, iconography with a nice accent color and, most importantly, an awesome-looking bear—but had never really tested their products out. Now, after almost a month of using them though, I can say that I’ve fallen pretty hard for everything I’ve tried.

I honestly did, most times, shave with just soap and water unless I was using a straight razor. So to suddenly shift to using a shaving cream that someone’s taken the time to formulate painstakingly to give that little bit of frothing has been a sea change for my face. And, whereas I’ve never used anything like face tonic before, I have to say, it is a nice thing to splash on after shaving.

Moreover though, the concept behind the company’s very appealing. Thankfully these days, environmentally conscious businesses are a dime a dozen, but, as Ursa Major puts it: “Even products that claim to be ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ often only contain token amounts of natural or organic content. Research now shows these toxins (parabens, pthalates, sulfates, etc) penetrate the skin (or are unwittingly ingested) and accumulate in the body’s organs, potentially causing serious health issues over time (cancer, neurological complications, infertility, etc).”

Unless prolonged exposure to bar soap causes any chronic health issues, I should be good, but, now that I’m older and living in a place that has roughly no cloudy days ever, I am taking this kind of thing a little more seriously. So why not support a company that makes the health of its consumer a priority.

What’s more, the products are really nice to use. Most of their featured ingredients read like very intense salads—Aloe, Birth, and Sunflower; Cedar, Spearmint, and Lime; Aloe, Bamboo, and Lemon. But what appeals to me most—in addition to them working well—is the unique, earthy scents of their products, each using a wood-based ingredient to give everything that comfortingly wild, sylvan aspect. Like I’m at a forested fairyland day spa.

And, according to Carmenat Ursa Major, “all of our products are in fact vegan and cruelty-free”.

So consider me pro-Ursa Major, both in terms of their superb branding and their superb product.

For the record, I’m pro-fairyland day spa too if those exist.

Below, Ursa Major’s Stellar Shave Cream, 4-in-1 Essential Face Tonic, Fortifying Face Balm, and Fantastic Face Wash; branded packaging; and a great canvas gift bag for the set.

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