Member Since 2011
Name: Emma Graves
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Product: Sow Your Wild Oats: Organic Grain Cleanser
“The main difference between Between You & The Moon and almost any other skin care I can think of is that my products are created from a point of view that I call nourishment instead of punishment,” says Emma Graves. Unlike the traditional adversarial Western approach to skincare—dry out oily skin, put an occlusive layer of oil on dry skin—Graves follows a gentler, far more effective philosophy. “I practice the yogic idea of ahimsa (non-violence) on the skin. Together, you and I don’t try to kill anything—not oil, not bacteria, not pimples. Instead, we use what I consider to be common sense and herbs to teach the skin to create a perfect balance that naturally produces optimal oil levels, protects the skin from bacteria and other invaders, and helps those pimples that are created from stress, hormones or bodily imbalance to heal quickly and completely.”
What inspired you to create Sow Your Wild Oats: Organic Grain Cleanser?
Like many creators of herbal or all-natural skin care lines, I was driven to create a line of products to meet my own personal needs and desires after I couldn’t find anything that met my satisfaction on the shelves of any pharmacy, boutique, or spa. I needed something for my own sensitive skin that also complimented my values and personal beliefs. Unlike most all-natural or “organic” skin care lines, these products are made from the holistic point-of-view of an herbalist who just happens to be an esthetician.
How was it made?
Sow Your Wild Oats was created in order to fulfill a very specific need that is missing from most skin care routines. Its purpose is to cleanse the skin without stripping natural oils from the surface or causing irritation/dehydration. I wanted to create something that is 100 percent natural with absolutely no preservatives, yet gets the job done. On top of that, it needed to be an “herbalist-approved” product that uses the phyto-nutrients of plants to encourage the skin to heal itself and create more health from the outside in.
I started with one of my favorite basic cleansers for softening the skin: Oats, a.k.a. Avena Sativa! Then I added three different forms of gentle exfoliation. Almonds provide a physical exfoliation. Papaya is an enzyme (enzymes digest protein, “eating” away at the dead skin cells and allowing them to break apart and fall away). The fermented milk powder (lactose) is a special kind of lactic acid (AHA!) that not only removes dull upper layers, but it can send it small molecules deeper into the skin to help regulate oil glands and bring out younger, fresher-looking skin. Due to the fact that it is 3 different types of gentle exfoliation and a lacto-bacillus ferment (read: helps to keep pH levels intact and prevent bad-bacteria overload), this product can be used every day to cleanse the skin without irritation.
Taking it one step further, I use a special mix of herbs—some local and some exotic-to increase your skin’s natural ability to find balance and heal itself. I literally grind up these herbs—mostly by hand in a mortar and pestle—while singing to them! It is really important that these herbs have a good energy and the proper intention around them.
The final step in the process of creating Sow Your Wild Oats was the addition of beans to utilize their natural liposomes. See more below about the action of liposomes in this product.
Where is Sow Your Wild Oats manufactured?
Red Hook, Brooklyn. We call the space the Lab-hor-itory…it’s nothing special, just a room smack-dab in the middle of our apartment filled with oils, herbs, and interesting-looking copper pots!
What was the big aha! you had while creating this product?
The big aha with this product came with the idea of using the natural liposomes in beans as an agent to carry the messages from the herbs deeper into the skin when mixed with water. Though it is tough to explain to someone who doesn’t live in my head…this meant two really big things to me: #1, anyone who uses this product is going to get the full benefit of the product whether it is mixed with water as a daily cleanser or if it is used as a mask and mixed with yogurt, honey, etc. and #2, I did not have to use any type of chemical preservative! Aha!
Can you describe your creative process?
In everything I do, I try to first fulfill everything that needs to be fulfilled and then add a little bit more (or, as I like to say, do it with love). When it comes to life, it means accomplishing the tasks that need to be done and then taking one extra step to make it better. When it comes to creating a product, I want that product to do everything it needs to do and then let it give a little more. All of my products are beautifully made. I use the Fibonacci ratio (Don’t know what it is? As the college professor who introduced me to it would say, “Look it up!”) to create unique and balanced formulations. I put intention into my work and make the space around the production of the product a happy place. Each product has a purpose and it does exactly what it sets out to do. And then I go one step further. I may give you poetry or a drawing or a laugh. I use the most beautiful bottles I can find. I find the special ingredients that will heal both your skin and the earth. I do it with love.
What do you love about what you do?
I can improve people’s health by making them look better and feel more comfortable. I became an esthetician because I saw that the improvement in health could make immediate changes in a person’s skin. I love it that a skin cell’s life span is about 28 days. This means that every month we have an opportunity to grow a healthier complete new covering to our bodies and a more beautiful complexion.
On top of helping people and improving the world we live in, I love my work because it is challenging in an introspective way. I get to analyze why things work and why they don’t. I get to meditate on a problem and come up with a unique solution. I get to spend afternoons sitting quietly with my herbs and oils as I mix them into these delightful products.
How would you sum up your aesthetic/design philosophy?
I’m not a designer, but I did design the labels myself—with the help of a few friends who drew pictures for me and helped me make them legible and visually pleasing. I guess that I just wanted lots of good information on the label…but some fun too! It’s kind of apothecary-meets-almanac.
What are you working on next?
Usually when someone asks this question, I rattle off a list of potential products that I am constantly experimenting with. Though I still have that ongoing list, the main project that I am working on right now is a definitive field guide/book that really gets into the heart of holistic skincare. I have so much that I want to share with both skin care specialists and your average skin-owner.
What would you like to do other than your current occupation?
Beyond creating new health and beauty products and seeing clients for treatments and facials, my dream job would be some type of holistic educator. Perhaps teaching programs about meditation and relaxation or helping young holistic companies to get off the ground or prosper… of course, they say you teach what you most need to learn.