Winter + Respiratory Remedies

Needless to say, it has been one very strange winter indeed, regardless of what coast you live in. In Los Angeles, we’ve been sadly spared of rain, moisture, and grey skies but given wind, cool air and sun (a lot of sun). Still, winter manages to affect us so I stocked up some tried and true products that helped me this season. Potency and organic ingredients, to soothe the conundrums brought on by the changing seasons be it dry skin, colds, sinus troubles or to keep you warm.

These products I have been using for awhile so I can safely say I find them as go-tow in my ever-growing herbal first aid kit. Before you use any products make sure they are suitable to your needs/conditions!


Badger Aromatic Chest Rub I first got this because I deal with a lot of nasal blockage, especially in autumn/winter when it gets significantly drier at night. This is a chest rub but I apply it atop + around my nose. Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Rosemary, & Tea Tree are a few of the wonderful essences in this blend. Personally, Apply generously tot a greater effect (its a balm)

Moon Valley Organics Moon Melt Lotion Bar : The prettiest packaging, organic and absolutely yummy (it smells like a vanilla birthday cake) ingredients, and the kindest customer service,  I never buy lotions but as the years pass I notice the drier my skin tends to get in dry climate so I found this wonderful West Coast based company who answered my questions with quick response + kindness. It smells heavenly, keeps my skin happy and is botanically derived, I really love that the Vitamin E in this is derived from sunflower, and not synthetic. Vitamin E is an important factor for skin, hair and overall health because of its antioxidant and moisturizing properties. It’s an amazing bar for dry skin

Honey Gardens Wild Cherry Bark with raw honey, propolis and ginger root its a heaven-sent product for scratchy throats and has calming properties, mostly organic-derived.  Wild Cherry bark was used by Native Americans, by stripping the bark and grinding it, learn more about Wild Cherry Bark here

Sequoia Beauty Purity Balm – This is best for the face + neck, I didn’t think I would end up using it much because because my skin isn’t dry so much as it is sensitive, however when I started getting irritated dry patches on my face I was grateful to have this near. Organic, raw and features Rosehip Seed and Tamanu oil that soothe damaged and sensitive skin.

Wish Garden Herbs Kick Ass Immune I really only started using medicinal botanicals such as elixirs and I find them to be really helpful way to ingest all the herbs & botanics. Like tea, except more variance and easy to take with you wherever you are. I love that this features herbs that are great for respiratory health as well as immunity. This features Yerba Santa leaf, Baptisia root, Yarrow and Elderflower which contain a plethora of nutrients! Osha root (a relative to carrots and parsley) is recognized as antibacterial and immune boosting

Fawn Lilly Botanica Facial Steam (c/o) If you’ve never tried a facial steam, please do! I think they are safer alternative to nasal pots, the heat opens up your pores, airways and stimulates the skin. However this is not recommended for irritated skin/rosacea/windburned. I like to also use it in the bath (mine came in tea bags, however, you can easily steep with a strainer or tied up cloth.

Nature’s Rite Sinus Support This features Grapefruit Seed, Yarrow for respiratory health, and Aloe leaf to soothe dry sinuses and bring back moisture. Another great product is Olive Leaf Spray which also features Grapefruit Seed Extract. Try out some botanical based sprays to help allergies and sinus pain just remember consistency is key.

Marble & Milkweed Forest Tea  I have written about this tea before but I can’t help but rave about its wonderful taste and woodland vibes. along as a tea I actually also used it as a facial steam. Completely organic based.

Sequoia Beauty Review + My Skincare Ritual

Several things are true: every body is different, with our own facets and elements. Like everyone, I have had aspects I wish I could fix: sensitive/combination skin that doesn’t react well to most skin care products, occasional bouts of acne, blackheads/blockages on my nose, a few sunspots & freckles scattered here & there even though I (always) hide from the sunlight. If we dared to, we could probably fixate on something and become victims to the cycle of so-called “imperfections”

But, as I get older I really want to avoid that view. Of course its not easy, especially in our culture – however it is not impossible. I’m not striving for some concept of “perfection”. Instead I’d rather improve my skincare for overall wellness and health and for me I want to approach it in a holistic manner.

When Laurel of Sequoia beauty so graciously sent me some samples, I was excited on the basis of her  handcrafted ethics (100% organic, raw, wildcrafted free of alcohol/water & synthetics.) Keeping up the skincare ritual + routine morning & night was enlightening, as well as maintaining hydration and sleep (it doesn’t matter what you put on your face if you’re dehydrated and sleep deprived!) A few days into using Sequoia Beauty I saw + felt my skin change. My skin doesn’t react well to most skincare products, they usually give me breakouts, inflammation or redness. With Sequoia Beauty I finally healed several skin issues and it has made my skin smooth and soft. (read below). Now, my favorite parts of the day are: at night when I get to treat my face to my regime of uncovering and revealing my skin as it should be: cleansed, loved by nature’s alchemy, as well as in the morning when I awaken + bring rejuvenation to my skin back to life to greet the morning

*Sequoia Beauty will be going through a product rebrand (exciting!) sometime around January 2014, while the look will change the formulas will remained 100% pure organic mother earth derived ingredients and with love, as always. I cannot wait to see Sequoia Beauty bloom and grow

sequoia beauty

My Skincare Ritual

Purify and Realease Cream Cleanser* | Sequoia Beauty products do not use foaming agents, alcohol or water (read why here) I’ve tried cleansers in the past but they either left my skin parched or red. However this one is made with plants that help inflammation like Chamomile, Licorice, and Chickweed. The only “preservative” here is radish root filtrate which is a probiotic made from radishes (thats just awesome) This cleanser is for oil/combo/acne prone skin – and I think this goes beyond cleanser because it improved my skin quality immensely, it leaves mine smooth and baby soft. Even in the morning! It helped clear up acne along my oily spots (my jaw +forehead area) This is one is keeper. I love this cleanser so much. If I notice breakouts creeping up, I use this cleanser immediately to reduce the redness and banish them.

Sun Damage Repair Serum* | I am naturally drawn to non-sunlit areas, however when you live in a sunny place like California, you can’t escape it. Sequoia Beauty serums may double as a moisturizer which for me is ideal since I hadn’t found one that wasn’t heavy.  This is fragrance free but contains essential oils (however contact Sequoia Beauty if you have a plant allergy) I really love this serum, it softens my skin but it is not oily, it seeps in. Read more about this wonderful serum from a Holistic Esthetician here. I use it on my whole face especially under my eyes and near the lash line.

Firm and Tighten Toner* | I had never used a toner, and to be honest toners sound like a conundrum. They are meant to tone, but offer moisture & remove impurities (oils, dirt, excess makeup, etc) In a sense they sound like the probiotics of skincare. Initially I was skeptical because I am not kidding when I say my skin does not take kindly to much of anything, but main ingredients for the toner: non alcohol derived Witch Hazel, Aloe, Lemon Balm, Rose Geranium are great for sensitive skin (especially aloe) so after cleansing I apply a few spritzes of this and it does not dry your skin out since it does not contain any alcohol, water or foaming agents. I do apply the Sun Damage Repair serum after this. My skin (during dry weather) has the nerve to get splotchy so this is a nice product to have on hand as a refresher, even though the name is “firm and tighten” this toner is for dry, mature and normal skin-types.

 Anti-Oxidant Renewal mask* | This mask is my everything. I was mainly using the decadent honey mask (because, honey + berries) but I used this wonderful clay mask infused with nettle + red clover & more goodness and somehow this mask helped dislodge and clear up my nose from the consistent blackheads I have dealt with for years. I believe its thanks to the Rhassoul clay (which is organic and wildcrafted) With daily use they remain far, far away from my face. This is my new favorite product because it worked for me. I mix it with water in my palm & enjoy the tingling aspect of the clay. Yes it cleans your skin and leaves my nose spot free. I usually use it at night before cleansing.

More Sequoia Beauty I sampled

Honey Berry Enzyme Mask | This mask smells like a honey bear’s dream. I think its perfectly universal because it’s perfectly soothing. It features raw Royal Jelly and Strawberries, this mask is my favorite for blending with the clay masks and bringing moisture. The ground strawberries act like a gentle exfoliator. My two cents? Use it in the shower, especially a warm one so it seeps in easily and you won’t get any in your hair, otherwise be sure to put your hair up in a bun!

Almond Mineral Exfoliant | All of Sequoia Beauty’s masks are concentrated, they are in powder form to retain potency without preservatives. This one is good if you don’t want to use clay, (clay masks do tingle) since this one you can leave on your skin without feeling any affects, and don’t want to deal with the sticky consistency of honey *or you can mix them together.

Purity Balm* | Again, its a balm but since my skin varies from sensitive to an oily t-zone I apply this balm after cleansing on the more sensitive areas, avoiding places I break out, at night especially in the cooler months to help moisturize my skin, this features organic + raw unrefined Shea butter, Tamanu oil, Rosehip seed oil – do use lightly though (its concentrated!) If you have dry or sensitive skin I really recommend this balm. Beyond the face you can use it on your body too, and even your hair! Best for multi-use.

sequoia beauty

My thoughts
 I am so thankful to Laurel for introducing my mind (and skin) to her holistic skincare. I admire that Laurel & the Sequoia Beauty team do this research + alchemy, to create products are free of the majority of allergens, created 100% biodynamically and organically with our health in mind. There are no synthetic vitamins in their brand since all the vitamins an minerals are sourced from plants themselves. Overall, Sequoia Beauty products did an amazing job nourishing + repairing at a cellular level while healing/soothing my sensitive/combo skin. Proudcts marked with * are the ones I would purchase again because they worked for me. I highly recommend Sequoia Beauty feel free to contact Laurel with any questions!

Everyone has their own beauty, their rituals and routine, this is my own story – I’m simply sharing my own holistic discoveries and journeys that I find along the way. It doesn’t matter who you are, as long as, at the end of the day you grow to love yourself. I have gone through health and immunological issues and never really thought to put myself first, let alone a beauty ritual! But as I began to heal myself by leading a healthier life, and acknowledging what I put on my skin, I have focused on growing happier from the inside out. My own routine is not “universally perfect” but it is what works for me. I hope no matter who you are, that you discover & build your own beauty +health rituals & find that happiness is more than skin deep; it’s being over the moon content with who you are and healing + working with it

Interview | Laurel Whole Plant Organics

How precious the human body is, and hardworking too. The skin is our largest organ acting like a beautiful distinct sponge taking in everything from sunlight to senses. Knowing this has led me to take better care of my body externally as well as internally. I wanted to seek out skin care products that were full of wellness and biological nutrients, without the use any synthetics & toxins. Through the rabbit-hole of natural beauty I stumbled upon Sequoia Beauty. Based in North California, Sequoia Beauty creates skincare and beauty regimes that are completely organic, and some are bio-dynamic and raw. When I write completely organic, I mean it. There are no chemicals, fillers or preservatives or anything synthetic. Everything is plant+floral & nature based. I asked the beautiful and passionate Laurel (the belle who runs Sequoia Beauty) if she would be up for an interview about her blooming company, her joys, and she kindly shared some photos of her at work!

ediotors note* the company’s name has changed to Laurel Whole Plant Organics
Hello my name is Laurel & I am the creator of Laurel Whole Plant Organics

What projects are you currently working on?

We are actually currently working on a full rebrand! New bottles, new labels, new logo, new name, new formulas* – most exciting! We are hoping to launch the new look in full in January. So I can confidently say its consuming pretty much every moment I have right now!

My love of beauty, herbalism and apothecary came from…

 My love for plants has always been there – I loved being outside as a kid, and I loved flowers. In my early 20’s, I saw my first nutritionist who introduced me to herbal medicine, and I was in LOVE! I got super into organic farming, local foods, biodynamic farming also really inspired me…I also always loved spas and the resort lifestyle – so all of that added together created an organic skin care line!

My work schedule is:
I wake up around 6:30 and start working immediately – usually in my pajamas still on the computer. Eventually I tear myself away to make tea and settle into the day. Sometimes I take a break from work midday to take a dance class, which I love! And then I usually work until 7pm, and then head home to make a farm to table dinner. I like it when business is slow enough that I have time to take my class and to make dinner – because sometimes we get too busy for me to even do those little things.

How do you go about finding the perfect alchemic blend? (both medicinally/holistically) 

This is such a great question! Usually things start as very small ideas in my head, like 1 ingredient stands out to me as something I should be using for a specific skin condition or product. Slowly over time, I’m collecting more ingredients for that product that is still living only in my mind – and then when I finally get it on paper – first I draw from plants I know. I would say my mind has about 100 plants that I feel I know pretty well, and will jump out at me when I am building a formula. Its a fairly intuitive process as well… often plants jump out at me for a formula, and I have to go further and research as to why that is. Before I finalize a formula, I surround myself by research material… I have like 15 go-to books that I go through to make sure I didn’t forget any special plants that are eager to be included! And then when I finally make it – typically I don’t change much – just small tweaks here and there to make the finished product smell a little lighter, or something little like that.

Thank you so much for creating blends that are organic and raw! What led to this?

Hugely important issue to me! My interest in natural skin care came about due to health problems myself and my mom were having. I wanted to eliminate as many toxins as possible from our day to day lives. But ORGANIC specifically is important…. With some essential oils and hydrosols in particular, those plants cover so much acreage just to yield a very small amount of product. In my mind conventional farming is lazy, and formulators that use them are only cutting corners. 100% of the plants we use are certified organic or biodynamic.

We love honey, tell us a bit about your raw honey + berry mask and its benefits!  

Our raw honey is made locally here in Northern California – I’ve visited the farm a few times, and love it! The Honey Berry Mask is great for so many skin types…. Honey is naturally antibacterial, but its also a humectant – meaning it encourages cells to retain their moisture. The mask also contains California produced Royal Jelly, a super antioxidant – great for anti-aging tool. And Strawberries and Blueberries also, which help with the cleaning/exfoliating aspects of the mask as well.

You are a gardener and use your blooms in Sequoia Beauty products, but what are you cultaivintg this fall/winter season? 

Actually, as an herbalist, many of the plants we use are dried – or we make enough plant extracts from fresh plant to get us through the winter. We don’t do much gardening in our own garden in the fall/winter. That said, our farmers who grow for us do a lot of root harvesting in the fall. The fall is when we get our Marshmallow Root, Astragalus Root, Burdock Root, and Baical Root for the year. 
5 Things that Heal/help you relax: 
  • taking a bath
  • spending time with my dogs & my boyfriend
  • going on a tv series binge by watching multiple episodes back to back, 
  • traveling or getting away
  • hiking
Sequoia Beauty is all about detoxing & cleansing, beyond your wonderful array of products what can we do in our day to day lives to detox+renew?
  Being more connected to my food is something that helps me both detox as well renew. It becomes a really lovely thing – knowing your farmer, knowing what you are eating, and creating a meal from the heart. Its a great way to detox for sure! And its renewing because its almost something spiritual.

Recycle, Reuse, and Reduce. I know that sounds like something simple from the 90’s that everyone knows. But I have had a lot of odd jobs through school in offices/spas/restaurants – and it always blows my mind how few businesses make those things a priority. A lot of businesses don’t even have recycle bins! Most of my loved ones do practice that in their home, as do I’m sure your readers — but I think everyone I know can easily do more at their work place to cut back on waste.

Besides Sequoia Beauty products, what are some of your loved products? 
For make-up, Vapour Organics. There’s also a body soap I cannot live without called Artha Soaps – a really small business here in NorCal. I use her soaps for the kitchen, bathroom, shower — LOVE. Veriditas essential oils also play a large part in my home life, as well as in our products.

Guilty pleasures?
Project Runway, anything fried, and champagne!

In 5 years I want to…
Have a full farm where Sequoia Beauty is produced. I would love to grow almost everything we use there, as well as make the product there. I will probably want a spa there too… the list is long!

Dream vision board, what would your ideal day consist of:
Meditation, healthy breakfast, making product, a dance class, tea with friends, making dinner with my boyfriend, and cuddling with my dogs.

One piece of advice?

Absolutely do what you love.