We asked Laurel Shaffer to share her wisdom around slow farmed beauty and the evolution from sommelier to skin-specific plant herbalist with her company, Laurel Skin.
Laurel: “I cultivated a strong and deep connection with plants during my childhood. Many times I was alone and found myself adventuring in the woods and creek beds, seeking companionship in Earth’s offerings. Spending my days in Nature interacting, talking, and singing to plants quickly became my favorite pastime. When I was older my love for plants evolved when I realized they could also be medicine—it’s like a light bulb went off in my head, and I’ve since dedicated my life to sharing this truth with everyone. Beauty products were also a big love for me! As I learned more about plants, I realized I couldn’t recognize ingredients in the ‘natural' products I was using. It was sometimes said that plants were present, but I couldn’t see, smell, or feel their energy. This realization created a deep calling, and thus a starting point for Laurel Skin.”
Laurel: “There are many similarities between wine and plants, my knowledge and training as a sommelier directly affected my skills as a formulator. My time as a sommelier provided me with an array of senses that I wouldn’t have otherwise—the skill set that I refined while working with wine helped me to develop my “super palate” which is invaluable to my formulating and sourcing. I learned more about organic and biodynamic farming during my sommelier studies, and this is a key to Laurel Skin and me. I also began formulating during my sommelier career, I would spend the majority of my day perfecting formulas, and the evenings working as a sommelier.”
Laurel: “SOURCING, SOURCING, AND SOURCING!!! The importance of sourcing in the beauty space has a huge impact on life as we know it. Sourcing has the ability to support our planet, immediately and directly. There is little that I am more proud of than our sourcing efforts as a small business. Supporting humanity by local sourcing ingredients, cultivating deep relationships, and paying fair wage to all is the core of Laurel Skin. I would say that my personal deepest ‘why’ is whole plants—it has always been my motive and intention behind formulating a skincare line. From a scientific perspective, ‘whole plant’ is easiest explained as unprocessed, un-molecularly-altered, unrefined, and not lab synthesized. There are no derived-from ingredients and no synthetic solvents. My goal is always for the plant to be as close to what Nature intended as possible—down to the molecular level. We strive to get out of the way so that the plant can be expressed as it is found in Nature.”
Laurel: “Absolutely both! Those two components were the building blocks of my dreams for what I wanted to create with Laurel Skin. Oftentimes we rush through life, seeing daily tasks as more of a hassle—I wanted to create a skin ritual that people looked forward to performing every single day; a ritual that had the ability to bring a deeper reverence and grounding, a ritual that would bring you straight into the present moment. And of course, I knew the transformative and powerful effect plants have on skin. True radiance begins internally—even if you are doing everything topically correct, until you solve what’s going on within you, your skin will not be at its healthiest potential. That’s why at Laurel Skin, we dig deeper into root causes, and look to heal from a place of acceptance and self love.”
Laurel: “We take slow mindful steps to ensure every ingredient sourced and bottle filled benefits the Earth, communities, individuals, animals, and plants along the way. We see sourcing as action for human rights—sourcing and tracing the supply chain is not only an environmental issue, but a major human rights concern. Forced labor, child labor, and unethical treatment of farmworkers span across the globe. At Laurel Skin it is our priority to source our ingredients as close to home as possible so this can be closely monitored. We source 80% of our ingredients domestically, which is unheard of; we also source 90% of our ingredients farm direct, which is again unheard of. This close contact with our growers ensures that we are only participating in the future world we want to see in regards to labor practices. When we source internationally, it is direct from a human being with humanitarian intentions that mirror our own. In addition, we advocate for the profitability of the small family farmer. We encourage them to charge for their hourly labor versus the average industry botanical pricing model. We also regularly contribute to supporting our farms with purchases of equipment, additional staffing, and resources like water.”
Laurel: “It changes daily, depending on the season and what plants I am being called to use. My own beauty ritual changes for summer by increasing my colorful plant application - helping to prevent sun damage and keep my inflammation as low as possible to prevent heat damage. I also switch to more lightweight, cooling, and detoxing products. These days I have been refreshing and cooling my skin with the Hydrating Elixir II and finishing with the protecting elements of Day Balm.”
At Vert, we carry a full roster from Laurel’s line—we especially love the Recovery Balm, Unburden Deep Tranquility Serum, and the Honey Berry Mask. Come into the shop (or chat with us online) to learn more about them, and to try Laurel’s plant magic for yourself.