Analog – Episode 2
In our second episode, co-founder Wanda Weller has the immense pleasure of interviewing holistic skincare and bodywork specialist, Daron Hope while receiving one of Daron’s signature treatments, “The Works” at her Earth Tonics Spa, located in Ojai, California.
Earth Tonic uses Pure Plant Alchemy, handcrafted in small batches from pure organic and wild-harvested ingredients essential elements for a radiant complexion in fresh, bio-available formulas that vibrate with healing and life force energy.
WW – As soon as I walked into the Earth Tonics Spa, I could feel my shoulders dropping, my breath slowing and a calm come over me. Daron Hope, an effervescent ray of sunshine, welcomed me into the beautiful healing space she created and I immediately knew this was going to be good.
DH – I like to tell people a little bit about the treatment they’re about to receive before we get started because it brings on a really meditative state and you can feel comfortable with everything and just relax into it.
For The Works, you’ll receive two different energetic modalities in conjunction with the botanical facial. First, we’ll use the Kansa wand, a unique tool from India for facials and bodywork. A Kansa is made of a bronze blend mixed with copper, which makes it highly conductive to the bodies bioelectricity, working with your own electrical currency. When the kansa touches your skin, it draws out and releases acidity from the tissues and helps stimulate collagen production as well as helps drain the lymphs.
The second modality that we’ll be using is the microcurrent. This is an emerging resource currently being used in sports medicine, where it can help stimulate collagen production around an injury and help with healing. The same philosophy can also be applied to our faces. So, similar to the kansa tool, the microcurrent works on the level of the bodies energy frequency, where nano-currents are applied to the skin as gently as the human touch to help stabilize and allow for healing and repair.
Interesting to note, these same frequencies show up in our bodies when we’re in deep states of relaxation, easing our nervous system allowing for a deep & restorative healing.
DH – Yes, my botanicals tie in beautifully with the other healing modalities. I think each plant has it’s own specific vibrational frequency that atunes to our unique biological system and elicits a certain healing response. And there are, of course, the addition of the inherent nutritional properties to the botanicals as an added benefit. So it all works together, holistically.
WW – That feels very much in alignment with our philosophy for creating Alterra Pure. Based on radical transparency of what goes into our sheets, as a benchmark, we target those who are most discerning about what they bring into their home, doing diligence in their sourcing organic, toxin-free food, skin care and home and personal goods. And when it comes to bedding, we have to remember, we literally spend 1/3rd of our life in our beds, probably more time than anywhere else in our home – so the integrity in ones bedding choices should be right up there with food and skin care products.
DH – Exactly. With skincare, it’s most likely product that is used twice a day and absorbed directly into the skin. So if you’re not careful with what you’re putting on your skin (or next to your skin) you could be unwittingly micro-dosing yourself with some unintentional toxic chemicals.
WW – How did you get into the whole arena of wellness and botanicals?
DH – It kind of came out of the blue for me. I grew up in Ojai, but moved to NYC, as many small town kids do and I was studying acting and really into theater at that point in my life, but after a bit of time, I returned to Ojai for various reasons and found myself looking for a career that could give me more stability (then acting).
I loved the idea of working for myself and creating something and was in service to other people as well as helping them feel better, but genuinely, the product line itself came from my own need.
I actually had really troubled, sensitive skin when I was younger and found that a lot of the products I used to try and clear my skin were often times making it worse and it really wasn’t until I started making my own products from really clean ingredients and simplifying my beauty routine that my skin actually started to clear up. So it’s from my personal experience that I realized I might actually have a viable business on my hands and really see myself doing.
I started making products and giving them to friends and other people and found they were having the same results I was having. So I created Earth Tonics and started selling my products at the local Farmers Market.
WW – And you did that for the past 10 years, is that correct?
DH – Yes. I was selling at the Farmers Market for about 3 or 4 years before I actually decided to get licensed as an aesthetician so that I could share my potions in a more comprehensive way – connecting the plant, the healing properties to the human experience.
What’s interesting that I found in my work is how people may do loving things topically to their skin but neglecting the aspect of negative self-talk and how they spoke about what they liked or didn’t like about their skin. I realized that this is actually a major issue that needs to be addressed because regardless of whatever you put on your skin, you need to be in the headspace that this is here to help heal, in a really loving way.
WW – That’s fascinating that you would even take that into consideration, since I feel like we are “programed” to just deal with our appearance superficially, yet, like the plants you use, there’s such a deep energetic to the healing properties and it’s really no different for you and I.
DH – Well, I noticed this as I worked with my own skin and then when I started working on clients I was so kind and gentle to them, but then I would go home and stare at my pores and negative self-talk and become frustrated. So part of why I opened the spa space was to really give people an opportunity to experience what it’s like to care for their skin with a lot of love and kindness and to see that really is a much better way because our skin is just giving us messages from the inside. It’s a great guide for showing us what’s out of balance, whether it’s physical, internal organs, or just emotional. Our skin is really just like a map of our greater bodies.
WW – And the ingredients that you source for your products, are they local? What criteria do you use for what goes into your products?
DH - I love to source locally when I can so we do get a lot of our hydrosols and essential oils that grow locally around here. We love to get those from our local farms, but there are lots of really amazing ingredients that I've discovered that grow in other really beautiful places around the world, so it was important to expand our sourcing outreach, but regardless of where it’s found, we always source from artisan distillers and farmers who offer highest quality goods, and we always try to source organic or ethically wild harvested whenever possible.
We’re really committed to offering the ultimate in clean products because we’ve found that a lot of “natural” products these days, may look good but if you scroll down to the bottom of the ingredients list you’ll find some gnarly preservatives or synthetic fragrances. Most people probably don’t read an entire ingredient list so many companies take advantage of that in, using cheaper, artificial fillers in their product.
The things you really have to be careful of are the parabens and synthetic preservatives and fragrances that are endocrine disruptors and unknowingly mess with your hormones and nervous system.
WW - The same is true of Home Textiles, which can also be misleading. We’ve been marketed to believe that having a crisp, clean, wrinkle-free bed is the ultimate in comfort and luxury, yet what isn’t luxurious about that are all the toxic chemicals used to create that anti-wrinkle finish, including formaldehyde, a known carcinogen and neurotoxin linked to cancer and respiratory illnesses, including asthma. Who want’s to sleep on that?
So, similar to your product, control ingredients and use only the highest quality organic cotton, without chemical additives, and celebrating the best of what nature has to offer, changing the paradigm of what “luxury” really means.
DH – I feel like beds always look and feel more comfy when they’re laid in a couple nights, so that makes total sense to me. I don’t want to sleep in a bed that looks like a robot made it.
WW – You mentioned Wild Harvested in combination with Organic in your sourcing. What does that mean exactly and how is it regulated?
DH – Wild harvesting is essentially, collecting wild plants from nature rather than controlled growing in a greenhouse for instance. There’s a lot of criteria that most herbalists will tell you about which is when you collect plants, there is a certain way to commune with the plant and make sure you’re not over harvesting any particular bush or plant, but always leaving some for others and for the plant itself, giving it the chance to reseed.
Indigenous plants are integral to not just us but to different animals and insects, helping to keep our ecosystem balanced. We just have to keep that in mind when we’re getting excited about botanical products. Moderation is key in wild harvesting for sure especially as herbalism and natural healing become more popular and mainstream.
WW – One of the things that inspired us to create Alterra Pure was the misrepresentation of products that are authentically “organic”. So I’m curious how that applies to the ingredients in natural skin care products.
DH - I think that when it comes to words like “natural” or “green” & “eco” they all start to become buzz words that we buy into that don't really carry a lot of weight when it comes to what that actually requires from the person, it's a marketing term.
WW – We all just need to do our homework and be less complacent when it comes to where we put our money and what we bring into our homes or put in/on our bodies. Read the labels, read the ingredients and if something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.
What are some of your absolute “no-no” ingredients that have no place in your product line?
DH – OMG, there’s such a long list. It would be hard to name them all but top-line, our products are paraben free and sulfate free. We don’t use any artificial fragrance or coloring. Unfortunately, many “natural product” companies will use fragrance referenced as “natural fragrance oils” but what that really means is they’re using synthetic oils.
At Earth Tonics, we only ever use plant-based earth-origin ingredients that are organic and or wild-harvested (whenever possible) and even our preservative system is completely plant-based.
WW – So what is the shelf life of your products since they are absent of the “normal” preservatives we, unfortunately, have become so accustomed to?
DH – My products amazingly enough, will stay good, and I’m being conservative, for about 8 months after they’re open. They are generally quite stable and retain their integrity in the time it might normally take you to use the product as indicated.
Part of our preservative system is the glass that we package our product in. We use violet glass that keeps products fresh because it bathes the product in UV light killing bacteria and pathogens using violet light frequencies, which are one of the highest frequencies of light and actually raises the vibrational frequency of whatever is in the bottle.
WW – How long did it take you to go from initially working with various product combinations to address your own skin conditions to setting up shop at the Farmers Market and selling your products under the Earth Tonics brand name?
DH - Oh, I wish I had kept a journal. I think I started making products and about a year or so later I actually started selling them. Prior to the farmers market, I was giving my products away as gifts and getting really great feedback.
I was going to aesthetician school and doing other odds and ends, but when I got licensed and decided to open my own space, after working at another spa for a few years, that’s when things really started coming together and I had more of a stake in the game. That’s when it got serious.
WW – I love too that you sold your product at the Farmers Market, giving people a literal connection between the quality of farm fresh ingredients and the quality of products we apply to our skin.
DH – Well, it’s really fun nowadays because I’ve been making some limited edition products based on the seasonality of what’s available. This seasonal skincare approach uses super-foods that are really good for what your skin is going through during that particular season. Whether it’s cooling in the summer, or moisturizing in the winter – it takes into account the bodies adaptability to the season at hand.
This month I made a passion fruit mask that I made from fresh passion fruit that I got at the Farmers Market. These are “perishable” formulas and have no preservatives in them, so they’re meant to be refrigerated. I offer these seasonal products to my local clients and our spa guests for use in their facials. It’s a really nice way to connect ones skincare to the seasonality, no different then the foods we eat that are also local and seasonal.
WW – What a wonderful experience to offer your local clients. We have also been exploring seasonality with our product line, but it’s been difficult on a larger scale, but the idea of local, limited edition product is still on our radar and one we hope to bring to market in the coming year or so.
DH – With my product I like to pack a lot of botanicals into the product so anytime a formula calls for a water component, I always use a hydrosol.
WW – What exactly is a hydrosol?
DH – A hydrosol is the steam that evaporates from the leaves and petals of the plant when it’s being distilled for essential oily byproduct of an essential oil. And really, in my opinion it’s like a therapeutic for the skin, and about 30x stronger than an herbal tea.
WW – Are hydrosols only meant to be used topically?
DH – In general, yes, but you could consume them, but they probably wouldn’t taste very good. There are hydrosols you can drink such as rose water, which most people are familiar with. And there are many savvy culinary people who use them as potent elixirs. I have a friend who actually is a raw food chef and he will mist salads with a basil hydrosol for instance, just to add the aromatic to it.
WW – There are just so many layers to the work that you do, it’s really quite fascinating. Thank you so much for your time, this amazing treatment you’ve given me and the opportunity to learn more about the wonderful, healing working that you do. I feel so grateful to have you so close to home, here in Ojai, and the opportunity to take advantage of your seasonal, limited edition products and treatments. Lucky me.
“My whole goal with creating Earth Tonics was to offer a place where people could come for wonderful results and feel really good about the efficacy of products and treatments being used and in support of the integrity they have for their overall health and wellbeing.”
Alterra Pure is honored to partner with makers such as Daron. We share a commitment to ingredients and purity in bringing peace of mind.