You’ve heard of farm-to-table living, but how about farm to faces? For that, we turn to Laurel Shaffer, who sources ingredients for her Sequoia Beauty skincare line from Bay Area farms and her own backyard. The result is a collection of products that are 97 to 100 percent organic and packed with natural ingredients.
Best-sellers include collagen-stimulating Nourish Serum, which can be used instead of a cream moisturizer, and Cleanse and Balance Toner, formulated to calm and detoxify skin. Each product is made by Shaffer, an herbalist and skin care specialist who spends up to three days a month visiting local farms and farmers markets for the plants, herbs, oils and honey she uses in her line.
Another detail that sets Sequoia Beauty apart is its use of hydrosols instead of water, often the main ingredient in skincare products. Not sure what hydrosols are all about? Don’t worry, we were clueless, too. But since we prefer to go straight to the source, we’ll let Shaffer provide the explanation. Read on for our chat about this alternative ingredient, as well as some know-how on all-natural SPFs and Shaffer’s recommend summer-time skincare routine.
What are hydrosols and why should the beauty-obsessed among us care?
Hydrosols are made by capturing rain water, and distilling it with plants. All Sequoia Beauty hydrosols are made by farmers that grow the plants and make the hydrosols on their farms. They are very medicinal, they capture those medicinal qualities of the plant…filled with antioxidants, they tighten and firm pores, they can stimulate cell turnover and cell reproduction, and more. This is Sequoia Beauty’s alternative to water – which is what most people are paying for in their skin care. Usually the first ingredient is water. Sequoia Beauty always replaces water with hydrosols which makes all the formulas more active.
When it comes to your own skin, what benefits have you seen since you’ve been using natural, organic skincare?
I personally have always used products that were on the more ‘natural’ side of things, however once I started making them myself, that’s when I saw the difference. I used to wake up with dry, flaky skin. This hasn’t happened since I’ve been making my own products. But more important is the feedback I get from other customers thanking me for the difference they are seeing in their skin, more even skin tone, firmer and tighter skin, less fine lines, less breakouts and more balanced oil production.
How do you source the ingredients used in your products?
The majority of my ingredients come from local Bay Area farms. I spend at least two or three days a month driving around from farm to farm to farmer’s market, picking up plants, hydrosols, honey, and oils. I have a great relationship with all the farms I source from, and they all use my products. This is the best part though, because I feel a lot more connected to what I’m making when I see where the plants are coming from. Most ‘natural’ and even ‘organic’ products aren’t what they seem. My goal was to have a label that anyone could read and be familiar with each ingredient. I am always telling my customers to read labels and ask questions!
If you were to design a perfect face-refreshing experience for us to prep our skin for summer using Sequoia Beauty, what would you recommend?
Cleanse, tone, and serum! Sequoia Beauty toners are super-refreshing, no alcohol or water. Just hydrosols and hand-pressed plant extracts. Toners are great in the summer time. Sequoia Beauty serums are super light and replace moisturizer for most people. So expecially in the summer when you want something lighter, serums are perfect. Serums and toners are also 100 percent organic. This is unheard of in this industry. Tighten and Firm Toner is really popular, as is Nourish Serum. I personally don’t do a daily sunscreen, because I question their toxicity level. Most organic oils have an SPF. Jojoba, avocado, shae. Red raspberry seed oil actually ranges from 28-50 SPF. I use those in all Sequoia Beauty serums.
If you’d like to seek out Sequoia Beauty in person, visit Shaffer’s blog or sign up for her newsletter for an up-to-date list of the farmer’s markets and events she’ll be part of in the coming weeks.