Q&A with Laurel Shaffer: owner / formulator
1) What inspired you to create Laurel Whole Plant Organics?
I was initially inspired by three paths I was on simultaneously, which all seemed to point to an organic skin care line! Path one was my journey with a fair share of health ailments, which only plant medicine and nutrition seemed to help with. I saw herbalists and nutritionists who restored my health, in a way that conventional medicine was previously unsuccessful. Path two was my career as a sommelier, which taught me about biodynamicâ and organic farming, and the vital role that sourcing plays in the quality of a finished product. As a sommelier, I also discovered that my nose is a special gift, giving me a heightened sense of smell (that helps greatly now with my sourcing)! My third path was about my love for spas, mindful self-care, and beauty products. I wanted to be able to visit spas and use product lines that took into consideration what I learned on my other paths (vibrant, well-understood plant medicine and biodynamic farming practices with the utmost care in sourcing and manufacturing). I could not find these attributes in a skin care line currently on the market - a line that was 100% organic, or thoughtfully sourced, or truly effective plant medicine. So, once I firmly decided that I wanted to do it myself, I set out to study plant medicine, with every intention to create a luxury skin care line for estheticians and spas to use which embraced self-care rituals, as well as efficacy and results.
2) If you could go back to the beginning of the creation of your brand what would you do differently?
Hmmm… I don’t think I would do anything differently! I love that our journey hasn’t been easy, because it has brought us to where we are today. I would say that I would be gentler to myself. I am a perfectionist, so being hard on myself is my biggest downfall. I would simply say being kinder to myself is all I would have done differently.
3) What advice do you have to offer for those entrepreneurs in the green beauty industry just starting out?
Have something unique to offer, and have your own reason as to why you are doing this - your own unique voice. I am so incredibly grateful that I studied plant medicine, because that makes my formulas so different than all the green beauty brands that outsource manufacturing. That is unique to me. I often see entrepreneurs that are eager to be in this industry, but it isn’t clear why or what unique take they have to offer. In fact, I often see new brands copying more established brands; and there is no long-term success in a voice that isn’t truly yours.
4) What is your most favorite skincare product you have created and why?
That is such a tough question! I guess I would have to say our Antioxidant Serum, because that was the first product I ever created. Also, the time and energy that goes into sourcing the 31 organic plants that are in the product — people would just never believe it! We are in constant communication with our farmers, distillers, and artisan seed pressers. There are always crop failures, and there are always new sources to be found. It is such a labor of love to demand such high-quality sources for the products, but I understand fully that the quality of those sources is why our products deliver results, where other bulk sources may not. I am so proud of that.
5) How do you juggle your life with such huge demands from your company?
Juggling life is definitely hard. There are lots of times that I push myself too hard, and see negative physical effects immediately. However, I do try very hard to maintain balance, and I relish the times that we are even the slightest bit less busy. I almost always take weekends off to rest, go outside, grocery shop, cook, clean, and restore balance…. I like to prep food in advance, and things like that to set myself up for a healthy week. Then once the week starts its off to the races! I am always the first one at our studio in the mornings and the last one firing off emails at night, and I enjoy that.
6) What is your morning and evening skincare routine?
My morning routine is usually incredibly simple (because as I said above, I’m excited to get to our studio!). Assuming I cleansed the night before, I just do a warm compress in the morning to stimulate lymph and circulation to my skin. Then I generously apply one of our Elixirs immediately followed by one of our Serums. I alternate these regularly depending on what my skin might be experiencing at that time, but right now it’s the Oily/Combo Elixir followed by the Anti-Inflammatory Serum - both ideal for heightened stress level breakouts or skin irritations.
In the evening, I take my time with my beauty ritual. It is what helps me sink into a relaxing evening, and let go of the day. Lately, I’ve been starting with Clarity, our new Oil Cleanser. This cleanser has really helped clear my pores; and the ingredients are also very supportive to all skin functions including all types of stagnation, which is so important in a cleanser. Then I generously apply an Elixir; again, I love Oily/Combo if my skin is in a more irritated state. I apply 1 drop of Eye Serum, and massage in a circular motion around my eyes. Then I apply 5 drops of serum, probably Antioxidant, so that it can be different than the one I used in the morning. Lastly, I apply Night Balm generously to my neck and décolleté, and with any bit remaining on my hands I press gently into my face as well.
7) What ingredients are never added to any of your products?
So many things… It’s probably better to say what is in our products - because almost all of them are only whole organic plants! But a few ingredients that we don’t use that make us different would be:
Water, Alcohol, Aloe, Refined Oils, and ISNs.
For Water and Aloe - those often make up 70% of what is in a facial cream, and they just don’t have many skin benefits, other than hydration, which you can add yourself. We instead prefer to use Hydrosols, which are essentially freshly distilled plant medicine water.
Refined Oils are what are most commonly used in the beauty industry, but they don’t contain the antioxidants needed to deliver beneficial results. We only use raw, freshly-pressed oils.
ISNs are isolated synthetic nutrients (Ascorbic Acid, CoQ10, Hyaluronic Acid), all ingredients that have been deemed beneficial by scientific studies, but at the same time not nearly as valuable as REAL nutrients found in raw plant life. We prefer real plants to their synthetic counterparts, especially since all beneficial ISNs are found in plants themselves.
8) What is the best beauty advice you have received?
Sleep and Hydrate. :)
9) What sets you apart from the sea of competition?
Definitely our sourcing and my understanding of plant medicine. The higher quality the ingredient, the higher nutrient content an ingredient will have. And the better we understand plant medicine, the more we can harness those nutrients to deliver actual results towards the end goal, which is simply healthy, vibrant skin.