Self-care...it's becoming a pretty popular topic in the media these days, but chances are, it is something you have been doing throughout your life, consciously or subconsciously. A little nap when you're tired, a weekend get-away to destress, a hot bubble bath with your favourite book; self-care means different things to different people. One of my very favourite definitions came from GoodTherapy.org:
"Self-care describes the actions that an individual might take in order to reach optimal physical and mental health... People all have different requirements for self-care, but in general, the goals of self-care are to find a state of good mental and physical health, reduce stress, meet emotional needs, maintain one's relationships, both romantic and platonic, and find a balance between one's personal and academic or professional life."
One of my favourite ways to destress is a long, hot shower before bed. If you've read my blog in the past, you know I'm passionate about eating 'clean' and using 'clean' cosmetics. I also really love to support local small businesses, especially those run by a #ladyboss! So, I was super excited when I met Thu, creator and owner of VO2 Co, a Natural handcrafted bath and body product line at a Curated Life event back in November! I bought a few sample-sized containers of her body scrubs back in the fall, and absolutely LOOOVED them! They smelled delectable and left my skin super soft and clean, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on more! Just last week, she agreed to to be interviewed for this new series, designed to cast a spotlight on local companies that promote self-care, wellness, and healthy-living through their products. You can find out all about her, hear how she launched her company and get all the details of her amazing line below!
Tell us a little about your company and why you started it?
For years, I've always thought of making natural products but never had the courage to act on it. It is ALWAYS easier said than done. The thought was always on my mind which made me realize it was now or never. It started with simple homemade face masks and DIY blogs and then I thought of everyday products that I used and researched about them. I researched, took workshops and started experimenting myself. I wanted to create an option for affordable skincare products that are actually good for you.
We absolutely love your scrubs! Where/how do you source your ingredients to ensure quality?
I source my ingredients from a variety of sources and research about the supplier beforehand to ensure they meet stringent quality standards like being ecocert certified and USDA certified organic. Some suppliers may also specialize in for instance essential oils versus dried botanical herbs or oils and butters so having specific suppliers for certain ingredients helps to maintain the quality of our products. I also try to ensure all my products are only scented with natural essential oils and colored with botanicals or natural clays to also ensure that no chemicals or synthetic ingredients are in the products as well.
A lot of (wo)man power goes into making your products! Can you tell us a little bit about the process, and how long a 'batch' might take your to make from start to finish.
Depending on the product, it can range from several hours to weeks for a product to be completed. Soaps take the longest as after the oils are melted and taken out of the mould, they need to cure (harden). I create products in small batches to ensure quality and freshness as no preservatives are used. For example, it would take 2-3 hours to melt butters and oils for scrubs - wait for it to harden then mix in sugars and other ingredients. After 24 hours, the scrubs would harden up and I would label and test the product.
How do you see your products fitting optimally into a self-care routine? How do organic, handmade scrubs etc compliment a healthy diet and training routine?
All our products are made with organic skin beneficial oils and butter, scented with therapeutic essential oils and coloured with natural clays or botanicals. They are safe enough even for the most sensitive skins. As for a routine, I would recommend using the body lotion scrubs in the winter to exfoliate dead skin cells and keep skin moisturized as our skin is extra dry in cold, harsh weathers. In addition, for women - using the lip balm before applying lipstick and our natural toner before applying makeup are good bases to ensure that any toxic ingredients in cosmetic products are not ingested in your skin. The natural toner mists are amazing to clear pores and even skintone - they are a favourite many clients who workout and need a refreshing mist that also has antiseptic and antifungal properties. Maintaining a healthy diet and training is important but incorporating and using natural and organic products also ensures that you are not adding toxic chemicals on your skin which are then absorbed into your body.
How are your products different from other similar products/companies on the market right now? What makes you and your company special?
There are a lot of "natural" beauty lines out there, but it doesn't necessarily mean that ALL the ingredients in the finished product are natural. I create all my products for my family, friends and myself - so I make sure that everything I use is good for them. Also, I create everything in small batches as no preservatives and additives are added.
What is your personal favourite product from your line and why?
My favourite product is the lip balm because that's what started VO2CO. I religiously use lip balms to the point where if I didn't have one on me, I would feel uncomfortable and constantly lick my lips. I started buying all these expensive brands and “lip healing” balms after my go-to Vaseline wasn’t working for me. I started wondering why my lips were always so dry and why I was basically depending on these balms. So, I starting reading about the ingredients in a lip balm and Vaseline. I realized that I was using a lip barrier not a lip balm. Petroleum jelly forms an invisible layer (think of plastic wrap over your lips) on the skin creating an illusion that your lips are moisturized and it does not add moisture or encourage hydration. Moisture is actually being trapped instead of letting new moisture in. I think using natural lip balms is important because every time you eat, drink or lick your lips while having these products on; you ingest some of the products ingredients every time.
Any other information you would like to share about yourself, your company, or your products?
I always hear people talk about health concerns in the food industry like counting calories, looking at organic ingredients and avoiding processed or artificial foods - shouldn't this concept be applied to cosmetics as well? After all, these products you apply on your skin are absorbed into your body. You don't have to be a chemist when it comes to knowing what's what but you can look at the label of ingredients just like you do with food. When a label lists 'perfume, fragrance oil or natural fragrance' as an ingredient be aware, basically a chemical or synthetic replication had to make that scent. Going natural doesn't have to be hard, making small changes in your daily habits and lifestyle like being aware of what ingredients are in your products is the first step to will making a difference that your skin will definitely thank you for!
Do you have any quotes, blogs, resources you draw inspiration from that you would like to share?
I love Wellness Mama Natural Beauty & DIY Tutorials and Hellow Glow Blog which both offer simple DIY recipe for natural products and easy food recipes as well.