In 2003, after spending a year deployed in the hot dry air of Iraq as an Army diesel mechanic and later experiencing skin cancer, Brandi Nealis decided her skin needed some TLC. As a result, B & W Apothecary was born.
Her project started five years ago when she experimented with making her own lotions. “It took forever to get the right consistency and learn how to emulsify oil and water,” she says. Her lotions are predominantly 75% aloe, which acts as a natural preservative and is antibacterial. This keeps the lotions from molding or losing their scent.
“B & W stands for black and white,” says Nealis. “All the ingredients are listed in black and white on the labels. I’m one of the few that can customize based on your skin preference. A client can truly get a product that’s for them. If one customer is allergic to coconut oil, I can replace it with shea butter.”
After mastering lotions, she started making cold process soaps. “A lot of people are afraid of it because you have to use lye but it’s extremely easy.” She experimented with different levels of oils and lye to make her beauty bars over-fatted so they would moisturize the skin and not dry it out.
Besides lotions and soaps, Nealis also makes scrubs, bath bombs, facials, lip glaze, mustache wax and beard wash, oil and balm. Lip glaze and lotions are the best sellers. “I make my products as naked as possible,” she says. “None of the ingredients I order are processed.”
When Nealis retires from her full-time job as a logistic management specialist for the Air Force at Hill Air Force Base, she plans on opening a storefront to sell her products and teach classes on how to make them. “My ultimate goal is as long as they’re getting something that’s more natural for their skin, I don’t care if they make it themselves.”
Currently, you can buy B & W Apothecary products at Pinners Conventions, Salt Lake City Christmas Family Gift Show, Made in Utah Festival, and of course, they’re always available on her website.
B & W Apothecary