Brenda Brock, founder of Farmaesthetics natural beauty skincare line, knows a thing or two about ‘kitchen chemistry.’ The longtime Rhode Island resident is the daughter of a seventh-generation Texas farmer — who worked the land as his father and grandfather did before him. A subculture to Brock’s growing-up, rural Texas farm life centered around the kitchen. 

“All of the women — my grandmother, aunts — had gardens,” says Brock. “Hours were spent canning and pickling; infusing herbs. I loved the ‘kitchen culture’— hearing their home remedies and stories relating to healing, health, and beauty. If someone had a rash or dry hands, they would snip a few herbs like calendula or lavender, and blend them with oil or butter. There was this exchange of information that passed from one generation to the next, an oral legacy. I grew up listening to stories of my grandmother raising seven kids on a cotton farm during the Depression. They were kitchen chemists and I was interested from a very young age in their stories and knowledge — especially how to use flowers and herbs in skincare.” 

While family members stayed on to work the Texas homestead (many are still there), Brock, an aspiring playwright and actor, departed for New York City, where she landed a role on the soap opera, One Life to Live. But even in the city, amidst the skyscrapers and traffic congestion, she stayed rooted to the earth.

farm aesthetics natural beauty line
Photo, courtesy of Maaike Bernstrom 

“Every Sunday, I’d buy herbs, wash them vigorously, and infuse them in my apartment,” Brock recalls. “I’d gift them to friends; use them myself. It was my Sunday, my way of grounding myself in the city.” A simple invite from a friend — to go sailing in Newport, Rhode Island — turned that Sunday grounding ritual into a lifelong career passion. “I remember crossing the Newport (Rhode Island) bridge and my lungs just opening up,” Brock says. “I loved it — the water, the air.” 

And so she stayed — purchasing a Victorian farmhouse and restoring it with (now husband), Paul. “The first thing I did was plow up an acre and plant herbs, flowers, and veggies,” says Brock. In time, she started whipping up face creams in her kitchen blender. “The floodgates just opened,” says Brock. “My daughter was young at the time and I wanted to show her how to grow things; I wanted her to see that products didn’t grow on shelves.”

A local friend encouraged Brock to bring a dozen of her products, including her Nourishing Herbal Cream — a luscious cream she still produces today — to sell at her rural farm stand. The bottles sold out in hours. And Farmaesthetics was born.

farmaesthetics shed at sweet berry farm, newport, rhode island
Photo, courtesy of Maaike Bernstrom 

“This was 1999,” says Brock. “There wasn’t a clean, green beauty movement. There weren’t natural products — 100 percent natural luxury skincare was unheard of — everything was artificial. But once people saw the products and tried them, they wanted more. I didn’t know anything about ‘cosmetics’. But I knew a lot about traditional American herbal preparations made from herbs and flowers from the farm. And how they worked on the skin.” 

Not long afterward, a farm stand customer gifted a basket of Brock’s products to the owner of a well-known skincare salon on Madison Avenue in NYC. The owner called Brock, requesting “to see every product she had.” And bought them all. 

farmaesthetics gentle herbal cleanser and nourishing lavender milk
Photo, courtesy of Maaike Bernstrom 

Today, Farmaesthetics has a co-branded spa — The Retreat at Castle Hill by Farmaesthetics, a Relais and Chateaux property in Newport, housed in a historic mansion hotel overlooking the sea. Brock recently opened a seasonal farm boutique, Farmaesthetics Shed at Sweet Berry Farm, on an 80-acre farm in Newport, and has a longstanding spa partnership — Farmaesthetics at Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, Long Island. The sustainable beauty line is also found in spas at Four Seasons West Lake Village, California, and in three Auberge properties: Primland Resort, Virginia; The Dunlin, South Carolina (opening summer 2024), and the White Barn Inn in Maine.

Celebrities, including Blake Lively, Martha Stewart, Madonna, mother-daughter Frances Fisher and Francesca Eastwood, and Whoopi Goldberg are also fans. At one time, when Goldberg traveled, she arranged for her favorite Farmaesthetics product – Cool Aloe Mist (aloe vera, lavender, bergamot and witch hazel) – to be delivered to her hotel prior to arrival.  

a family legacy, brenda and lela
Photo, courtesy of Maaike Bernstrom 

In 2021, Brock’s daughter, Lela, formally joined the female-family legacy. “I was finally able to convince her to leave LA to head up our creative department in Rhode Island,” says Brock. “She was six when I started Farmaesthetics, so in many ways, she is a cofounder, having helped me every step of the way.”

Despite Farmaesthetics’ growing global footprint, Brock remains true to her kitchen roots. All of her products, including bestselling Fine Herbal Cleanser and Nourishing Lavender Milk remain 100 percent natural— no fillers, parabens, or synthetics; most of the products have five or less ingredients (and some have only two). Formulations are still from Brock’s original recipes which she used to write out on 5×7 recipe cards. Even the packaging is evergreen — the same beautiful glass apothecary bottles (with two-year certified shelf life). 

In its beginning years, Farmaesthetics grew its herbs and flowers locally on neighboring Rhode Island farms. But as the company flourished, demand outstripped local-grower capacity, prompting Brock to expand her network of suppliers. While she continues to cultivate a lovely herb-and-flower garden at her current home, a small seaside cottage outside Newport, Farmaesthetics’ ingredient deck is now directly sourced from small family farms and co-ops across the US; purveyors Brock has grown to know and trust over the decades. Lavender oil is sourced from one farm; powdered milk from another; calendula from yet another. The local Rhode Island farms are still utilized for limited-edition and seasonal products. 

farm aesthetics lemon cuticle cream
Photo, courtesy of Farmaesthetics

“Farming is where I come from,” says Brock. “And I’m committed to working with small farms and co-ops. In farming communities, there is a saying that ‘the farmer takes care of the land. And the land will take care of the farmer.’ We really are interdependent on one another. That’s a really important part of the natural movement – natural living, whole living. My whole skincare line, really, is about getting as much fresh, live, growing, vitality into a jar or a bottle as I possibly can.” 

What We Love: The packaging. Beautiful, clear apothecary bottles featuring labels written in Brock’s own cursive writing.

Our Favorite Products: Fine Herbal Cleanser (witch hazel, geranium rose oil, lavender essential oil), Nourishing Lavender Milk (calendula, witch hazel, lavender essential oil), Watercress Eye Gel (arnica, cucumber, watercress, and caffeine), and Brock’s two newest award-winning products (launched in the past two years)  — Marigold HA Serum (plant-based hyaluronic acid, calendula, aka marigold), and Lemon Cuticle Cream (non-go soybean oil, cold-pressed lemon peel oil, and cold-pressed lime peel oil).

Clean At-Home Facial:

This clean, at-home facial treatment helps restore and enhance the glow of skin health in just a few easy steps. Lactic acid, in its whole organic milk form, exfoliates dull skin by dissolving dead cells and infusing tissue with needed nutrients that support skin elasticity. Lavender boosts cell renewal while offering antibacterial properties to keep skin clear, and calendula serves as a base reparative for the hyaluronic acid that boosts hydration.

Products: Fine Herbal Cleanser, Sweet Milk & Lavender Facial Exfoliate, Marigold HA Serum, Nutrient Dense Fine Facial Oil and/or Nourishing Lavender Milk, and Cool Aloe Mist  (optional)


  • Cleanse face using sponge or fingertips with Fine Herbal Cleanser.
  • Exfoliate: Apply Sweet Milk & Lavender Exfoliate (that has been mixed with Fine Herbal Cleanser) to face with fingertips. 
  • For deeper exfoliation, allow Sweet Milk Exfoliate to rest on skin for 2-3 minutes before washing away with warm water.
  • Apply Marigold HA Serum by patting into skin including neck. This will absorb quickly and provide the perfect layer of hydration, preparing skin to optimize moisture application.
  • Massage Nutrient Dense Fine Facial Oil into skin with fingertips. focusing on jawline, nasal area, lip area, forehead, neck and décolleté.  Product will absorb into skin with massage. 
  • If additional moisture is needed, apply Nourishing Lavender Milk with fingertips in gentle patting or pressing motion. 
  • Optional Touch: softly mist face with Cool Aloe Mist to tone and settle the skin.

Feature photo, courtesy of Maaike Bernstrom