The Alchemist’s Wife Offers Natural Skin Remedies for Muggles and Wizards

For many of us, our childhood interests end up guiding our adult activities. For Ramie Gulyas, it was her passion for lotions, potions and products that inspired her to launch The Alchemist’s Wifean apothecary at 917 Chicago Ave. – inside Follow Your Nose animals.

Ramie Gulyas, with her husband Dave. She opened The Alchemist’s Wife at 917 Chicago Ave. in 2015. Credit: Belinda Lichty Clarke

“As a kid growing up in a small town upstate, I saved my allowance money to buy bubble bath and perfume from the Avon lady or saved for when we went to St Louis in a department store,” Gulyas recalled.

“I loved playing with my grandmother’s collection of perfume bottles and jars of creams and lotions. It was fascinating to me.

Gulyas then worked for prestigious brands of cosmetics, bath, perfume and body care products and advanced his career.

“I learned so much, but also realized what I would have done differently,” she explains, adding that in the 1980s and 1990s there wasn’t much interest in products. more natural or more sustainable ingredients and packaging.

When her son was born in 2005, he was allergic to almost everything, she says. “He had extremely sensitive skin, and the biggest issues for him were the ‘supposedly’ fragrance-free products that had artificial masking fragrance added,” she says. “Fragrance was even added to disposable diapers back then.”

With her background in products and ingredients, Gulyas says she could easily decipher the ingredient panels, but as she searched for all the products you need for a baby, such as laundry detergents, baby bath products, lotions, diaper creams, etc., she says. was frustrated at every turn.

“If I liked something, they would change the formula or the store would discontinue it,” she says.

Tired of hearing her complaints every time she went grocery shopping, Gulya’s husband jokingly reminded her that she knew how to do it herself. And in 2005, The Alchemist’s Wife was born.

Not really an alchemist

While Gulyas’ husband, Dave, helps with the production, he doesn’t, in fact, turn the metals or glass into gold. Instead, the inspiration behind the company’s name came from Nicholas Flamel, the alchemist who features in the Harry Potter books. (He was also a real person.)

As Gulyas explains, Flamel’s wife, Pernelle, was also a real person who had buried three husbands before marrying Flamel. With his acquired wealth, Flamel opened a shop in Paris in 1389, selling poisons and perfumes to the royal court. In his spare time, he also tried unsuccessfully to conjure up precious metals from ordinary elements and rocks with the philosopher’s stone.

Some of The Alchemist’s Wife merchandise. Credit: Belinda Lichty Clarke

“Perenelle worked in the background of their little shop, selling herbs, making soap, oils and creating remedies for the sick in the neighborhood such as poultices, ointments, etc., while her husband was on a quest” , explains Gulyas.

“I think for centuries most of the contributions of women have been left out of the history books, while they did the work behind the scenes, they were given little credit, Pernelle being one example. Flamel dies in 1418 and is buried in the Cluny museum while Pernelle seems to disappear after the death of her husband.

“There’s no record of her, and many believe it’s because she was looking for the fountain of youth that grants immortality. I’d like to believe she found it.


The Alchemist’s Wife storefront offers a wide variety of scented and unscented skin and hair products. There is a natural fragrance bar of approximately 230 fragrances which can be added to Gulyas unscented products such as lotions and shower gels or can also be mixed together to create custom fragrances.

“I wanted to be able to offer ‘real’ unscented products for people with sensitive skin or allergies, but have customizable options for everyone else,” she says. “I knew for 25 years that this was something I wanted to build a business around.”

For inspiration, Gulyas says she draws inspiration from the history of fragrances and beauty and references them often in her product line.

“Cleopatra, who was arguably the most famous woman of her time and considered the most beautiful, took daily baths filled with milk and roses, but there is science behind her beauty rituals,” she explains. -she.

“Our goat’s milk bath uses the same idea, lactic acid exfoliates and softens dry skin, lavender reduces inflammation and redness, roses hydrate and soothe. It’s great for eczema sufferers , as it helps to heal the skin and reduce discomfort.

Gulyas will change products with the seasons, for example, she prefers lighter lotions in hot weather. She also adds anti-aging products because ingredients and effectiveness are important when it comes to aging skin. She also formulated a new CBD bath salt and has more CBD products in the works.

Responsible and sustainable

Gulyas strongly believes that beauty products should be sustainably sourced and cruelty-free, and the company is Leaping Bunny Certified. All products are palm oil, sulphate, paraben and phthalate free. They also meet the higher eco-certification standards set in the EU for ingredients and preservatives and she uses natural fragrances and essential oils, not synthetics, and certified organic ingredients when available.

Gulyas sources ingredients from around the world and says it prefers to work with small, independent suppliers it trusts and who share the same values. She uses locally sourced honey, goat’s milk, herbs and dried flowers. Its shea butter comes from Africa, its monoï oil from Tahiti and its lavender from France.

“Our candles are made of beeswax instead of soy wax because soy is heavily sprayed with pesticides and when you burn a soy candle you burn the pesticides and breathe them in,” says Gulyas. “Our washing powder is mineral-based, so it’s surfactant-free and safer for the water supply, as well as highly concentrated so you use less product, and comes packaged in a rice paper bag. “

Finally, for packaging, The Alchemist’s Wife uses very few boxes, opting instead for refillable or reusable containers. If customers bring their containers clean, dry and empty, we can refill them or recycle them for future use, she says.

The Alchemist’s Wife storefront opened in June 2015 and has been expanded. Products can also be found at Raven & Dove on Central Street, on Etsy and online and at local craft markets.

Brian L. Hartfield