A lifetime believer in the potential of beauty rituals to delight and empower, Kahina Giving Beauty founder Katharine L’Heureux discovered argan oil on the first of many journeys to Morocco. Recognizing a need in the marketplace for beautifully packaged, effective organic skin care that nourishes skin and spirit, Katharine conceived of a niche beauty brand that would give back. To realize her vision to connect women across the world through beauty, Katharine developed and produced the Kahina product line and brand, infusing it with her minimalist esthetic and philanthropic spirit (the company donates 25 percent of its profits to the indigenous Berber women who extract the oil at the heart of the line). She personally sources the argan that goes into Kahina products to ensure the highest quality oil and fair compensation for the women who extract it.
I had a chance to ask Katharine about her inspirations, how she balances business with personal life, and her own beauty philosophy. (And I'm super excited to share the new products she's working on!)
FF: What inspired you to start Kahina Giving Beauty?
KLH: I had been searching for a natural skincare line that was truly effective. In 2007 the choices were limited. When I discovered argan oil on vacation in Morocco that year, I realized I had finally found the skincare ingredient I had been searching for. When I learned more about the women who work to extract the oil and about the argan forest, I realized I could create a company that could have a positive impact both socially and environmentally, while providing high-performance, results-driven skincare.
FF: What does a typical day look like for you?
KLH: My day starts at 6:45 when I wake up to get my kids breakfast and off to school. Luckily, my youngest goes to school close to our apartment in Manhattan so we can take it a little easy until 8:30. I usually get some emails done over morning coffee. When I’m not travelling, I’m at my office, which happens to be my dining room table. We’re a small company, just myself and one employee, so we both have to wear many hats. I spend most of my time managing the sales team, developing new products, working with Moroccan suppliers, and overseeing production, but I can also be found packing boxes for shipping or affixing tags to our limited edition gift sets. The good thing about working from home is that I can be there when my kids return from school. In between the travel, the work, and the kids, I try to fit in some sort of exercise routine, whether it's a yoga class, some time spent on the treadmill, or a walk along the Hudson River. I’m at home for family dinner and helping my kids with their homework most nights.
FF: Where do you draw inspiration?
KLH: My father for his sense of humour in the face of life’s challenges and his integrity. The Berber women for their strength, their spirit, and their ability to create beauty from the simplest of materials. Morocco inspires me for the complete sensory experience it provides—vivid colours, exotic smells, and the beautiful sounds of music and the daily call to prayer. Finally, Donna Karan for her minimalist but accessible aesthetic and for creating Urban Zen, a company and foundation based on the principle of helping others.
FF: Can you tell me a little bit about your ingredients and how you select
KLH: First and foremost, our ingredients need to be effective, whether they’re the actives that contribute to skin health or the preservatives that support shelf-life and stability. Our products are certified by Ecocert, so the ingredients and their processing methods must pass Ecocert’s rigid standards for environmental protection and consumer safety. Finally, we source ingredients ethically, from small family farms and certified fair trade whenever possible.
FF: What sets Kahina apart from other brands?
KLH: Kahina was one of the first brands to bring argan oil to the U.S. In 2007, there were a handful of brands using it in their formulations, but we were the first to create a complete natural and organic skincare line based on its amazing properties. We use very high concentrations of the best, selectively-sourced argan oil, something that can’t be said for most brands piggy-backing on the argan oil trend. Kahina is also one of the pioneers of the “luxury organic” category, bringing luxury packaging and efficacy to the natural market. But what really makes us stand out, I think, is our dedication to sustainability from the ground up, beginning with our sourcing the best organic ingredients, to our recycled and recyclable packaging, and finally to our support of the women who extract the oil at the heart of our line.
FF: Can you share your personal beauty philosophy?
KLH: I hate to sound cliché, but beauty really does come from feeling good about yourself. When a woman is confident and happy, she is beautiful. As for my own routine, I keep it simple. I believe in eating well, getting plenty of sleep, staying hydrated, using natural products on my skin, and trying to minimize stress. If I lapse in any of these areas it tends to show up on my skin. I am very no-frills about hair and makeup, so having a good skin and hair maintenance program is important.
FF: How do you balance running a business
with family and other priorities?
KLH: It's a bit of a juggling act. But the advantage of running my own company is that I can be somewhat in control of my time. My family always comes first, but they know that I am running a business and respect my need to work most evenings and on weekends. I’ve learned not to stress about the things that aren’t that important at home and at work—if it means we’re eating scrambled eggs for dinner, or the beds don’t get made sometimes, so be it. Exercise at least four times a week helps me stay sane and I try to get at least eight to nine hours of sleep every night. I also couldn’t do it without an amazing support system—my husband and my incredible, but small, team.
FF: Your argan oil has become a bit of a cult favourite among Fresh Faced
customers. Can you tell me what new products you're working on?
KLH: We are very careful about adding new products to our line as we intentionally want to keep the line tight and simple. After two years in development and testing, we are excited to be launching two new products this fall and winter—a wonderfully restorative night cream and a beautifully scented body oil. That’s all I can give away now!
The end of a year always brings a proliferation of best-of lists (what a great year 2012 has been for green beauty!), so I thought it appropriate to share my favourite products in one last post in what has been an exciting and fulfilling year for Fresh Faced. Since I launched the shop on Earth Day back in April, I've been awed and inspired by the response Fresh Faced has garnered from across the country. Thank you, Canada! I have great plans for 2013, including new brands, new shop features, and a pop-up store or two, and I promise to stay focused on my goal of providing superior service, outstanding products, and a great e-commerce experience for Canadian consumers who are passionate about what they put on their skin. And now, without further ado, here's my list of the best in Fresh Faced beauty from the year that was.
ILIA Beauty Tinted Lip Conditioner and Lipstick
ILIA lip products are the perfect marriage of organic ingredients and modern hues—and they come in a luxe stainless case you can be proud to stow in your most stylin' bag. Since these arrived in the shop in early December, I've been obsessed with Tinted Lip Conditioner in Bang Bang—and I'm not normally a lipstick wearer. C'est magnifique!
Tata Harper Refreshing Cleanser
Tata Harper's reputation certainly preceded her; I expected a lot from her high-end natural line, and I wasn't disappointed. I've been using Refreshing Cleanser on my combination/sensitive skin for a couple of months now and my skin is clear, clean, and hydrated. It doesn't foam, doesn't leave a film, and doesn't dry out my skin—plus it smells deliciously fresh and fruity. It might be a bit pricier than you're used to, but a little goes a long way (I'm barely a quarter of the way through the 4-oz bottle I started in November).
Green Beaver Certified Organic SPF Spray
It might seem an odd time of year to think about body sunscreen, but Green Beaver's SPF27 Spray blew away the competition last summer, so my list wouldn't be complete without it. It couldn't be easier to apply and is nonwhitening, fragrance-free, biodegradable, vegan, and super moisturizing. Zero chalky sheen! Broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection from a mineral sunscreen made right here in Canada.
Pai Skincare Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream
Full disclosure: UK-based Pai Skincare was a big part of the inspiration behind Fresh Faced. I was so impressed with the brand's top-quality skin care line made from super-clean ingredients that I wanted to sell the stuff myself! The Geranium & Thistle Combination moisturizer is my daily go-to hydrator (and my husband's, too!); it's nourishing and glow-inducing and won't break the bank. What more could a gal (and her man) want?
Vapour Organic Beauty Illusionist Concealer
Finally, a line of organic, natural makeup comparable to Sephora brands. Illusionist Concealer's stick format makes it a cinch to apply, and it covers redness, dark circles, and blemishes effortlessly with a luminous natural finish. Oh, and an honourable mention definitely belongs to Vapour's Mesmerize Eye Colour—I'm a big fan of cream eye shadows, especially as I get older, and this one is perfect for a quick morning pick-me-up or layered for depth.
One Love Organics Skin Savior Beauty Balm
This all-natural balm is such a versatile multitasker, I'm not sure how I lived without it. A makeup remover, cleanser, illuminator, hair tamer, and head-to-toe moisturizer, its thick, waterless formulation (only 10 ingredients!) is super soothing and nourishing. If you're a mineral powder devotee, you can also use Skin Savior to create your own custom treatment foundation. In short: It's a revelation.
Kahina Giving Beauty 100% Argan Oil
Facial oils are hands-down the greatest achievement in beauty of the past decade (in my humble opinion, at least!). I use Kahina's minimally processed, fairly traded organic argan oil as a nighttime treatment and my skin thanks me for it. It feels luxurious going on—light and non-greasy, but incredibly moisturizing, and suitable for my combination skin. And I love seeing the chic violet-glass bottle on my bathroom shelf—what can I say, I'm a sucker for nice packaging, and in this case, the external matches the internal.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2013!
If there's one thing I yearn for in life, it's simplicity. Nothing pleases me more than to see clean, uncluttered surfaces around my home (a monumental task given my husband's penchant for clutter piles!)—except maybe seeing my carefully curated selection of products on the bathroom shelf that I can't wait to use every day. I'm all about multitasking: I use moisturizer in my hair, balm to remove makeup, lipstick as blush, and so on. One of my favourite multitasking products of late is Kahina Giving Beauty Argan Oil. Not only is it sustainably harvested, beautifully packaged, and free of toxins and additives, I can use it from head to toe and everywhere in between—and reduce the number of products I use. Here's ten ideas for how to make this wonder oil work for you:
1. Create a hydrating styling spray. Mix a small amount of argan oil with water and aloe vera and pour into a spray bottle. Shaking well before use, refresh your locks between washes by misting wet or dry hair, concentrating on the ends.
2. Heal blemishes. Combine one drop of argan oil with one drop each of tea tree and lavender essential oils for an overnight blemish treatment that will ease inflammation, redness, and soreness—without dehydrating or damaging the skin.
3. Make your own lip moisturizer. Mix two drops of argan oil with honey. Couldn't be simpler.
4. Get your glow on. Add a drop of argan oil to foundation, tinted moisturizer, or bronzer for a luminous, radiant glow.
5. Get shinier, healthier hair (and scalp). Massage argan oil directly onto dry scalp, or mix a few drops with 1 part apple cider vinegar and 4 parts water and spritz onto dry hair. Let it work its magic for 15 minutes, and then wash as usual.
6. DIY hydrating mask. Combine 1 tbsp honey, 1/2 avocado, and 2 tbsp yogurt. Mash into a paste, spread evenly over your face, and let it absorb for 15 minutes. Rinse.
7. Intensify your body lotion. Add a few drops to your body lotion for extra, all-over softness.
8. Scrub & smooth. To make a body scrub that exfoliates and improves circulation, combine argan oil with espresso or coffee grounds. Work into skin and rinse.
9. Mani massage. Rub argan oil into your cuticles to encourage nail growth.
10. Fancify your feet. Work a fair amount of argan oil into your heels and around your toes before bed. Cover with socks and wake up to softer, more supple soles.
I can't tell you how many times I've wished for different hair. Oh, to be able to wake up in the morning with glorious, healthy, shiny tresses that need nothing more than a few strategic tousles to land in perfect place. I've managed to figure out a thing or two, though, when it comes to taming the frizzy, unruly mess I was born with: In other words, my seven habits of highly effective hair care:
Touted as one of the beauty industry’s newest “miracle” skincare products, argan oil might be just that—a true skin savior. The light, nongreasy oil is produced from the kernels of the argan tree, which is native to Morocco and extremely well adapted to drought and other climate extremes.
So what’s all the fuss about? The Berber people who live in the Agadir region of Morocco where the argan tree grows have been slathering the stuff on their skin, nails, hair, and children—not to mention salads and couscous—for years. Abundant in tocopherols (vitamin E), phenols (antioxidants), carotenes, and fatty acids, argan oil is thought to soothe skin conditions ranging from dry skin to acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and is renowned for its age-defying properties.
Extraction of the oil from argan tree nuts is a lengthy, labour-intensive pursuit. The Moroccan government has established a fund for cooperatives in the area, enabling fair wages and good working conditions for the Berber women who produce argan oil. Win-win, right?
My favorite argan oil products: