One of the things I love most about being a journalist is that you get the opportunity to meet some pretty amazing people. I recently came across BijaBody which is a company that focuses on enhancing your natural beauty through their line of tea’s that maintain the body’s over all heath and their body products that are effective in making the skin look and feel radiant.
“Since the moment I stepped out into the world, the day before my 18th birthday, the same three themes have inspired my movements. I suppose they are my calling: international beauty rituals and the connection amongst women; rivers, travel and the natural world; and a deep-hearted belief our life decisions affect many people and there is a great responsibility in that. BijaBody encompasses each of these themes. It is a reflection of my passion in the world,” says Melissa Picoli owner BijaBody.
Recently The Green Stylist had opportunity to ask the incredibly sweet Melissa Picoli a few questions about her company.
It seems like the word natural is appearing on just about every product on the market, what does the word natural mean to you and do you feel it is being over used?
Natural is a tough one for me. I call it natural-washing. I make some of my won products, including back-bar (esthetician’s work products), and even sell some to close friends and clients. Natural, to me, is a couple of ingredients blended, which only last a week or so. I adore those potions. Naturally-Derived, Extracts & Compounds are all considered natural, but I call B.S. Naturally-derived is not natural. It is natural-ish.
BijaBody is natural-ish. We emulsify, extract and even preserve. We take holistic and add a serious, well-researched kick. Peptides, Vitamin C, Botanical and Sea Extracts – those would not exist without a great chemist, and I am thankful for it. Scientifically Advanced, Holistically Intelligent. It’s our tag line!
Green Chemistry will change the world. Beauty products are part of that world.
As with most companies, ingredients are a constant sourcing challenge. Truth is, it is a pain in the rear end! It is one of the most important decisions we make in so that our products enhance, rather than deplete, healthy economies. We are working towards increasingly greater fairly-traded sources, which is really hard for a small company, in part because the sources simply aren’t there yet. They’re not there because the big companies only care about what sells so they haven’t created demand. It’ll take several of us Small Guys to demand over and over. We’d like to be a part of changing that with our social venture: RootedinBeauty. If all goes well, we’d like to be part of creating women-owned, fair-trade sources of beauty industry ingredients in impoverished regions of the world. The sources wouldn’t be just for us. I hope it’d be a connection between the good beauty companies.
What was your motivation behind using Honey Oil in your line.What is Honey Oil and what are some of benefits?
HoneyOil is BijaBody’s signature ingredient combination, present in every body product. It is a combination of my four favorite skincare ingredients of all time, the basis for so many of my treatments as an esthetician: Organic Honey, from properly managed apiaries in California, blended with Rosehip Seed Oil, Rice Bran Oil and Carrot Extract or Oil.
Each of these ingredients was introduced to me by a woman in a different country as a shared beauty secret, so there is a great memory behind each one.
Honey is a natural anti-biotic, antinflammatory anti-viral and humectant. I use it instead of Neosporin for cuts and scrapes, and as zit cream for anything inflamed! Rosehip Seed Oil is a seriously regenerative oil. It is nourishing, anti-aging, and precious. Rice Bran Oil has sunscreen like effects on skin, helps prevent hyper-pigmentation and is an ancient beauty oil, used by women throughout the world. Carrot Extract (or oil depending on product), is very high in vitamins, minerals, and used by Latin Women to slow down aging and prevent sun-damage. They use it like we’d use retinol.
Do you believe it is possible to obtain Honey ethically?
Gosh, I hope so! Yes! But I guess that truly depends on each person’s views. When it comes down to it, we are stealing, aren’t we? Or maybe collecting rent, since our organic honey comes from amazing apiaries, where the bees are treated very well, and loved.
I am a big supporter of protecting bee health, and think not paying attention to your honey sourcing is as irresponsible as not realizing the importance of fair-trade coffee, chocolate and tea. Yes, it really, really matters.
I noticed that you use turmeric in your Body Treatment, although this is a great spice to add to food or take internally, I have to admit I have rarely seen it used in body products in the US. What made you choose turmeric and why is it beneficial to use topically?
Our Body Treatment is such a special product. Turmeric is a wonder ingredient. We’ve been hearing about the anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits of Turmeric when taken internally. Those benefits are also present for topical application. It helps prevent pigment lesions from forming, slightly lightens existing pigment over time, and decreases damage caused by external factors like sun and pollution. I was introduced to it as a beauty aid in Bali and Lombok, where estheticians used it regularly for treatments and personal. But they were also slightly yellow stained. It took a bit of that science magic I was talking about to make it useful for us “don’t want to be mustard-colored” ladies!
I think anyone who spends time outdoors, in polluted cities or just wants to make sure they can rock their favorite dresses for a very long time and have their skin look great! I see a lot of pretty faces with poorly cared for bodies. You are more than just a pretty face.
The fragrance of your skincare line is very unique, what was the inspiration for it?
Our fragrance is a combination of our favorite ingredients: Tea, touch of honey, touch of spice, bit of rose, with a few balancing notes. It was probably the hardest part. I’m a wannabe city girl, with a river-girl lifestyle, so I wanted a non-toxic fragrance that would feel just as “at home” at a river take-out, as layered under a great perfume for a night in San Francisco.
Your tea is a wonderful blend of detoxifying herbs and spices, can you explain to our readers the benefits of drinking your tea and why they should consider adding it to their diet?
Tea is one of the most ancient health+beauty rituals. We work with oolong and pu-erh tea leaves, which aren’t as known in the western palate as green and white. Oolong has a bad reputation as a bitter tea because when we do drink it, it’s at Chinese restaurants and lukewarm, or in a bag that says “Skinny Tea”. Whole Leaf Oolong is a wonderful tea leaf, and where the real proven benefits (like increased metabolism and balanced ph) are found. Pu-erh Tea Leaves are aged, and have a mysterious, probiotic wonderfulness to them. Both these tea leaves are robust and earthy. Not at all like white tea, and not at all like a flimsy tea bag. I am so over crushed tea bags! I actually think they’re the biggest con of them all. (Not really, but kind of). We blend these tea leaves with herbs and spices used by people throughout the world for skin and metabolism well-being, liver detox, proper digestion. It’s kind of an international Beauty Tonic! It’s just a great cup of tea, that happens to have a bunch of ladies’s beauty rituals behind it.
What are four herbs you believe everyone should include in their diet?
parsley, turmeric, astragalus, ginger
What are some ingredients in skincare products and or in teas that people should avoid or be cautious of?
I can get in trouble with this one. I have strong opinions. Ultimately, I do wonder how some formulators are comfortable giving their products to their moms or sisters, because there is some toxic crap out there. I also know, and appreciate, that someone will always find fault with your product. There’s the obvious ones, like parabens, and anything considered toxic or dangerous. Two interesting ones I personally stay way, way away from Citrus Oils and Retinyl Palmitate. Citrus oils contains coumarins, which have been known for hundreds of years to cause pigment issues. But people love how citrus smells, it sells, and yes, the acid kills bacteria. Not good enough reasons for me.
Retinyl Palmitate, which is a Vitamin A derivative, is a really irresponsible ingredients, I think. It’s been shown to increase skin cancer by 21%, and have a very high toxicity concern. Yet, it’s in lots of day-use natural products.
But, we use Butylene Glycol, which is a synthetic emulsifier, and I know someone would point that out, that we use a synthetic ingredient. It is a non-toxic emulsifier, which has been shown to not be sensitizing or toxic, and considered safe even for food-consumption. So it’s not natural, but it keeps our products from clumping, disperses turmeric and it’s used at a low concentrations. There’s a “natural” alternative, which comes from non-fair trade, tropical destroying palm oil and is double the cost. Palm Oil. I also stay away from palm oil. Palm plantations are horrific on the Earth.
What are some products in your line that you can’t seem to live without?
Body Treatment and BedsideManner Lip + Hand Treatment. It’s such a nice night-time beauty rituals. And Daily Beauty Tea. And Daily Body Serum. Oh dear, I also think showering without the Daily Body Scrub is a bit lame. Ok, I love them all. It’s a small line, so I am intrinsically connected to each piece.
Getting it out there! We have our first Trade Show in June, and I’m already on the road a lot.
Image Courtesy: BijaBody