What is your skincare philosophy?
Ultimately I believe that beauty starts from within. Skincare products will never be able to replace what a healthy diet can do for your skin. I've experienced this in my own life, and have seen the effects in others. I'll see people with terrible skin (mostly teens) eating the worst foods, and I just want to cry out to them! At 36 I feel better about my skin than I did in my early 20s. All the phytonutrients in a healthy diet give your skin the glow, it's not just a wellness slogan. Great products enhance the good things you're already doing. I believe (know) that so many chronic skin conditions are undiagnosed digestive or gut issues. I could write a novel about this.
The Balm is one of our favorite products. Tell us a bit about why you started Nucifera.
I never really intended on launching a product, but I've always made things. I've always been passionate about clean living and tinkered with making my own products. Truly I was making my own skincare, drinking green juice, and putting medicinal mushrooms in my tea and all this stuff years ago, including some serious faux pas like using oil of oregano directly on my scalp and thinking the burn was good. I probably smelled like a total freak.
It got serious for me when I started suffering from eczema and was actually diagnosed with psoriasis in my mid 20s living in NYC. Even though I was on the healthy living train my life was pretty toxic. I completely freaked out. I was given all these creams and foams to put on my scalp. I knew something was wrong, and was basically like f* this. I started doing a ton of research. Between mostly eliminating gluten, eating more fat, and being proactive with my skincare I was able to cure myself. And I hate to use the word cure, because I still get a gluten spot on the back of my head if I eat it!
My life took some twists and turns about 6 years ago and it was my husband who had the idea of starting a brand. He was witnessing all my potions, and it was after I launched my book Coconut Kitchen that the idea for a multi-purpose product was born. I was using coconut oil for everything and making The Balm for myself, so it was the merging of these two ideas.
As I evolve, as the brand evolves, I see it all coming together. I launched around the same time my daughter was born, and in hindsight it was such an adjustment for me. Not just the logistics, but having the space and time to be inspired in the same way has been interesting.
I feel so grateful to have my own brand that makes people feel good, and I am excited to keep growing. The testimonials mean so much to me! People don't understand that many brands aren't 'companies', it's just people behind them trying to do good things.
How did The Mist come to be? What was the initial inspiration?
The Mist was another product I was making for myself. I met this crazy lady who made her own colloidal silver and swore by it for everything so I got colloidal silver curious. I was a little sketched to actually drink her product, but was reading about the positive effects of skin so I started mixing it with rose water, and essential oils and misting it on myself. Everywhere I went people told me I smelled good.
I don't use homemade colloidal silver anymore (we use the best!), but the idea for the product stuck.
Both of your products are multi-purpose. What are some of your favorite ways to use your products?
Outside of moisturizing my absolute favorite way to use the Balm is for shaving, and makeup removing. My makeup is always minimal (and now virtually nonexistent) but it works beautifully to melt away any debris. Massage Balm on your face, and then use a hot cloth to remove. It feels so good! It will even remove eye makeup.
The Mist I use all the time, everywhere. Especially now! I keep one in my bathroom, car, the stoller, it is so good for keeping everything super fresh. It is great to use on your mask! My favorite way to experience the Mist is when my husband uses it on his beard. It smells so good. I always say "What is that?" And he's like "MIST!" For some reason the sandalwood really comes out for me when he uses it. Maybe it's the pheromones.
What are some of the benefits of Coconut? And Mango butter?
It's funny, because even though coconut oil is super popular it is really misunderstood. It technically is a comedogenic oil, but because it contains a unique blend of lauric and caprylic acids that are antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory it can be beneficial to inflammatory skin conditions like acne. It also has high levels of linoleic acid, something that’s deficient in the skin of people with acne. Coconut oil is less emollient than some of the other oils in our formula, kokum and mango butter, but it helps trap moisture in the skin. This is why coconut oil feels so good in the shower, or at the beach or something, you get really hydrated by locking that moisture in. If you use coconut oil on your skin in the middle of winter when your skin is super dry, it might not feel like it works that well because your skin is already dry. The oil sits on top. This is why I like to combine it with other oils.
We use super high quality extra virgin coconut oil so it is rich in nutrients, and I believe contains a spectrum of healing qualities that aren't fully quantifiable.
Mango butter is awesome. This is one that I discovered in my search to cure my own eczema and fell in love with. It is extracted from the seed of the mango, and it just has this wonderfully buttery texture that feels so good on your skin. It has similar benefits to shea butter, but I find it to be less sticky and more luxurious. It is extremely emollient, and very rich in antioxidants, specifically Vitamins A, C and E, which all boost hydration on a cellular level. It is also non comedogenic so can be used easily on a variety of skin types. Toning, firming, moisturizing, wrinkle reducing, great for hair. It really is good for everything.
Why did you choose to create an oil-based formula rather than a lotion?
Oil based formulas don't require a preservative system in the same way that a lotion does. The oil + water combo is where bacteria can grow. I feel like lotions are really just diluted balms that need preservatives. If you apply The Balm or any oil to damp skin, you get the same effect.
What are some ways we can hydrate from the inside out?
Seasonal fruit is really underrated in the skin health department, that, and green juice! High quality water is also important of course. I've been back on adding trace minerals to water, and feel like it really helps boost my hydration.
Why is natural skincare important to you?
I believe we are experiencing first hand what collective toxicity looks like. No matter how big a health freak you are, there is still so much out there that can cause ill health. Using skincare products that aid in your overall health and wellbeing is the only way. Adding to your toxic load with chemical laden products is not the answer.
I've been doing some deeper reading about essential oils and the positive effects they have not just on our skin but internally and energetically. If your skin is a barrier to the outside world why wouldn't you want to fortify it with plant medicine?
We know about your vegan cooking challenge on instagram and are loving it, can you share a favorite from the series?
Get a cabbage leaf, fill it with avocado and your favorite hummus. Top with lettuce or shredded zucchini add herbs if you have them, sauerkraut if you have that, and top it with some hot sauce if you wish. I would also recommend some really great olives. I love the Sun Food Botija Olives. If you haven't had them, they are a totally unique olive experience.