We are thrilled to bring our limited edition Hydrating Elixir C: Jasmine Hibiscus back this year. Last year, it sold out in less than 24 hours! As anyone who follows us is aware, I do not take sourcing lightly. I have a responsibility to ensure that our ingredients not only support the health of the planet, but also benefit the humans who grow and harvest them.
When we as a society seek for something to be cheaper, whether that be a t-shirt, a new phone or plant material, we have to look at what that does. Seeking for something to be cheaper puts pressure on the supply chain to actually make the product more cheaply. What does this mean? This can have a trickle down effect which leads to corners cut in environmental protection and ethical labor.
I have zero tolerance for harm to humans and planet. While just buying things that are ‘fair trade’ or ‘sustainable’ might sound on the up and up – unfortunately, it’s not. Buying from a human supporting another human and omitting large corporations is the safest way to ensure that the product you are purchasing has ‘love in the supply chain’ (to quote Danielle LaPorte).
The story of how Hydrating Elixir C: Jasmine Hibiscus came to be is so connected to who we are as a company, and I’m excited to share this story with you.
My favorite place I’ve ever traveled has to be Hawaii. There is something so incredibly magical about the dense tropical forests, the warm rhythmic ocean and the dewy floral scented air. The air there truly does smell like ‘nectar’ to me, stemming from the tropical flowers that dawn the trees and bushes year round. One of those flowers is Jasmine.
Jasmine is such a tricky plant to work with in skin care because it is so delicate. The traditional ways in which herbalists work with plants are not appropriate for the fragile Jasmine flower. So we have to get creative in order to include it in skin care. Very luckily, about 3 years ago, I stumbled upon a master distiller who has dedicated much of his career to this plant, and capturing its unique scent without the use of harsh chemical solvents. He went so far as to invent his own distillation equipment that would be well suited to this fragile flower.
After about a year and a half of collaborative efforts we were able to secure a small batch of genuine Jasmine Hydrosol. Now another year and a half later, we are able to share the second batch. This process defines SLOW BEAUTY. Jasmine flowers are hand harvested and infused within hours of picking them on the island of Maui. This intricate labor-of-love takes months and it cannot be rushed.
Jasmine has hydrating, humectant, and strengthening properties for the skin. And while I almost always value the medicinal properties of a plant over its scent – for me, the medicine of Jasmine IS the scent. It transports me to Hawaii. It completely alters the state of my nervous system and resets my spirit. I hope you have the chance to experience this sensation with me.
I source our Frankincense directly from a small Somalian American family business. The Boswellia trees in Somaliland are considered threatened, and its important that these trees be replanted and replenished by those who harvest from them. To add to complexity, we can’t stop sourcing from there all together, because the Frankincense trade is a huge part of the Somaliland economy. Our Frankincense supplier ensures Boswellia trees are replanted and that harvesters in Somaliland are paid well – they also return a percentage of their profits to getting clean running water to their remote harvesting communities. This is amazing!
As we contemplate our ‘oneness’, it is essential in my opinion to consider how our products are made and ingredients grown. Can it really feel good to use a $100 serum that is made of ingredients harvested by hands that are not loved, appreciated and cared for? Lets make sure there is love in all of our supply chains!
When I think of Resins in general, I think of ‘nature’s bandaids’. Trees that omit resins, release them after being wounded and the resins help them heal. They are anti-inflammatory, strengthening, and antiseptic. Frankincense in particular is incredibly brightening and firming.
Gotu Kola, to my understanding, originates from India and Ayurvedic medicine. Referred to as Brahmi in Ayurvedic tradition, this stemmy green leaf is considered good for the brain and supportive to our memory and mental focus. It is considered good for all dosha types and is used spiritually to elevate consciousness.
Gotu Kola additionally has a history in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and is referred to as Ji Xue Cao, used to treat a range of ailments both internally and topically. Eventually this herb expanded to Europe and was accepted as a drug in France in the 1880’s – and is now somehow in my hands as one of my favorite plants for our skin.
When I think of Gotu Kola, I think of its texture – it is strong – it has a rubber quality to it and flexibility, much like our own collagen. It is an easy connection for me that there are so many studies showcasing Gotu Kola’s ability to stimulate the production of collagen and to protect existing collagen. It accelerates the wound healing process and is a cooling anti-inflammatory. It also helps to increase our own superoxide dismutase activity, which is the antioxidants our cells make on their own.
In regards to sourcing, Gotu Kola has been a bit painstaking for us! Commercially grown Gotu Kola is notoriously brown and lifeless. This is also an organic crop that has had its fair share of crop losses in recent years due to natural disasters. On a trip to one of our local farms, I happened to see this vibrant bright leaf growing on the floor of their greenhouse – ‘that is Gotu Kola!’ This mighty leaf must have know I was coming, and just how much I needed it to show up for us in full vibrancy. That Northern California farm has grown our Gotu Kola ever since.
As much as I love using that tropical flower emoji when I’m talking about Hibiscus, it is not that vibrant flower that we use. We work with Hibiscus ‘calyxes’, which in the case of Hibiscus is almost more similar to a fruit meets succulent than a flower. Hibiscus has been used in herbalism for its high Vitamin C content, and appears to initially come from Nigeria, where approximately 80% of the rural population still relies on plants for their primary source of health care, and Hibiscus is still a staple. This cooling vibrant red herb is also used in Ayurvedic medicine.
Working with this herb from a chemical perspective poses a challenge if one is seeking to make potent whole plant extractions. It contains flavonoids, vitamin c (ascorbic acid) and alpha hydroxy acids (AHA’s). These constituents are more delicate and easily lost in the medicine making process. Our process includes 3 different organic mediums for our Hibiscus to ensure we capture a diverse blend of nutrients. In addition, our vibrant calyxes come from Sonoma, just miles from our Laurel Skin Barn – where we are able to process them fresh immediately after they are harvested.
As many who follow us know, unless I have no other options I don’t take isolated chemical compounds internally. It personally doesn’t resonate with me that these isolates are necessary for our skin health either. I prefer to rely on whole plants, and Hibiscus is such an excellent source of flavonoid co-factors which only help make ascorbic acid more effective. Flavonoids are truly the real star of the show in my opinion. They work with Ascorbic Acid/Vitamin C synergistically in several ways that are of note in my studies: A) Molecular sparing. This means that a cell actually needs less Vitamin C in the presence of flavonoids because of how they work together to support the cell. B) Metabolization. This has to do with what happens to the Vitamin C after it oxidizes. What is fascinating about Vitamin C is its ability to create a free radical chain reaction (which can be considered harmful), as well as its ability to become an antioxidant again after its initial oxidation (which can be considered beneficial). Flavonoids play an important role in this process to keep Vitamin C stable and beneficial throughout this process. C) Flavonoids have a unique relationship with lipids and cellular bilayers. Even though they are typically thought of as water soluble, they are able to be carried through lipids and enhance absorption and permeability of Vitamin C. In this way, Flavonoids are also responsible for strengthening capillaries and connective tissue as well.
Thank you for letting us bring this beautiful elixir to you. Hydrating Elixir C: Jasmine Hibiscus launches Tuesday, August 4 at 8:00 AM Pacific Standard Time.