Looking for a beauty routine that implements equal parts supernatural and island-born apothecary? Indigo Elixirs, based out of Manoa Valley in Oahu, stands out among the ever-growing e-commerce beauty and makeup companies that expound the benefit of natural skincare products. Created by Deanna Rose, a herbalist and performer living in Oahu, Indigo Elixirs are “supernatural botanicals, medicines for the skin and soul, handcrafted with love and plants in Manoa Valley, Oahu, Hawaii.” Products are categorized as medicinal, nourishment, adornment, awakening, and aromatic.
The company is locally sourced, using flora native to Hawaii. On the website, Deanna explains that the formulas that make up her products derive from plants grown by herself or her friends. The plants are either gathered from the wilderness or bought from sustainable sources. Her list of ingredients includes but is not limited to: organic cold-pressed oils, steam-distilled essential oils and hydrosols, raw vinegars and homemade kombuchas, in addition to honey and beeswax purchased from local beekeepers. The eco-friendly commitment doesn’t start and stop with the products themselves, as the packaging is also recycled or repurposed. If you return your empty tins and bottles, you receive a dollar discount on a future purchase.
I first learned about Deanna’s creations while browsing the Internet for sleep-related tips beyond the obvious solution of taking a few Advil PM pills. I stumbled upon the company, specifically the Lucid Dream Balm ($15). Encased in a silver tin, the balm promises “to awaken your night’s eye.” As evident in the name, the balm hopes to stimulate vivid dreams. Made with macadamia, virgin coconut oils, and infused with mugwort, sandal chips and essential oil, vetiver roots and essential oil, and beeswax. The beeswax-colored balm is applied under the nose, and on the third eye, temples, face, and neck. I can’t say that the balm induced any extravagant or spectacularly visceral dreams, but that hasn’t punctured my hope that it will happen one unsuspecting night. To the balm’s credit, it does produce a relaxing, calming effect after application. As someone with a mind that tends to race when I’m supposed to be winding down, the balm was kind of like drinking a hot cup of chamomile tea.
The other two products I received, the roll-on Head Tonic ($7) and the Mocha Rose Stain ($10), really showcased the strengths of Indigo Elixirs. The Head Tonic comes in a glass bottle like a perfume rollerball. It’s meant to alleviate the relief of pressure and can be rolled onto the temples, sinuses, forehead, neck, and chest. The tonic is crafted with Hawaiian spring water, essential oils of lavender, rosemary, and peppermint. After a trying week, I found myself with a headache. I reached for this tonic and was grateful to find it effective. The combination of the essential oils went straight to my head and counteracted the incessant pressure.
From Sephora to CVS, the beauty industry has recently latched onto 2-in-1 products, especially ones that work for lips, cheeks, and/or eyes. The Mocha Rose Stain provides a pop of color to your lips and cheeks with a shimmery glow. The stain itself, the color of dark raspberries, has the faint scent of chocolate. It’s formula contains extra virgin olive and coconut oils, then infused with cacao butter and shells, coffee, alkanet root, and beeswax.
As someone who’s begun to explore the apothecary side of skincare, I appreciated the dedication to ethically-sourced products that do not rely on laboratory-created chemicals and unknown additives.
Via email, I spoke to Deanna Rose about her skincare regime, the philosophy behind Indigo Elixirs, and the future of the company.
Vanessa Willoughby: What is your typical beauty/skincare routine? What are some products and/or practices that you’ve learned to avoid?
Deanna Rose: Over the years, my routine has become increasingly minimalist. I only put things that I make on my skin, plus some doctored-up Dr. Bronner’s soap (I combine Bronner’s with oil, vinegar + water for an all-purpose shampoo/facewash/bodywash). I tend toward dry skin & hair, so I use a lot of cold-pressed oil & raw butter formulations. I’ve also realized that the less I do to my face, the better my skin has become. Once upon a time I did a lot of exfoliating & toning… I have since eliminated those practices and my skin has thanked me for it. Generally the advice I give to people in choosing their skincare is to read all the ingredients, and if you don’t know what something is within that list, avoid it: just about everything you apply topically gets absorbed. Also, I urge people to stay away from items with fragrance oils—they are almost ubiquitous in commercial skincare, and they can basically contain anything!
VW: What motivated you to get into this type of beauty market?
DR: Originally, I was looking for products I could use on my thick Armenian hair & dry Northeastern skin that actually worked and that I could feel good about putting on my body. I began concocting masks & scrubs out of fresh produce & foods from my kitchen, while slowly starting to explore the world of cold-pressed & essential oils. The first elixir that I made was the All Over Oil, an all-purpose serum that was the answer to my frizzy locks & parched skin woes. From there, I became enchanted with crafting versatile products out of versatile ingredients. After launching my line at local farmers’ markets, customers immediately inquired about more healing items for ailments such as pain and eczema. This led me to my first herbal apprenticeship, where I learned the art of infusing medicinal herbs into my elixirs. Stepping into that world ignited a true passion within me, and I’ve since continued to explore the realm of herbalism in various forms.
VW: How has mysticism/the occult/spirituality influenced your vision of Indigo Elixirs?
DR: I think that the world of herbalism is inherently spiritual, as there is an aspect of the work that is unseen. Plant medicine is more than just making use of pharmacological actions; our relationship with the plants and our intention is equally important to the final product. Understanding the energies of plants and being true to them is perhaps the most essential part of what I do. My Lucid Dream Balm, for instance, relies on the dream-inducing properties of my plant ally mugwort; old herb books will tell you that these properties are only revealed to those who respect the herb’s power. I am also very mindful of my own energy while concocting, which I believe manifests in a batch just as the mood of a cook can be tasted in a meal.
VW: Does Indigo Elixirs practice Fair Trade? How are your products sourced? Do you work with local communities in Hawaii?
DR: Living on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, my goal is to source as locally as possible. Many of my elixirs have been designed around what is naturally abundant and available, such as the deliciously fragrant cacao shells that are a byproduct of a friend’s Hawaiian chocolate company to infuse into my Chocolate Balm, Mocha Rose Stain & Hot Mint Chocolate Massage Bar. Most of my ingredients are grown by me or by local farmers within Hawaii using sustainable practices, while a few are wildcrafted from remote wilderness. The materials that I import, such as raw shea butter & cacao butter, are organic and fair trade. My products are only as effective as what they are made of, and therefore sourcing conscientiously is crucial to what I do.
VW: What types of lessons do you teach at the herbal workshops?
DR: My herbal workshops are meant to instill a basic foundation of working with herbs and oils, so that people may then take the knowledge home and build on it. I want people to understand how powerful herbal medicine is, and to therefore approach it with respect. The wisdom of how to heal ourselves with what grows around us was once universal, and my intention is to help reconnect people to that way of living. In addition to workshops on the Fundamentals of Herbalism, I enjoy teaching classes that allow students to have the experience of creating something out of healing ingredients. I teach a Botanical Perfumery class in which everyone creates their own essential oil perfume (after learning about their properties), and an Art of Infusions class where we make infused herbal oils & tinctures for food & medicine. I love hearing students say that they learned something they will use over and over again.
VW: How does the land of Hawaii itself influence your beauty habits?
DR: Hawaii is an endless source of inspiration—lush landscapes and enchanting aromatics follow you everywhere. I would say that I feel encouraged to use a lot of fresh ingredients on my skin, whether it’s rubbing pikake or champaka flowers on my wrists for perfume, or smearing aloe leaves & avocado fruit on my face. And of course, the always-open salt water soak at the beach is probably my all-time favorite beauty habit.
VW: What is one piece of key advice for women who are looking to start their own beauty/skincare businesses?
DR: I would say don’t make compromises, be true to what’s important to you! I think people like what I’m doing because I haven’t made any sacrifices in terms of my formulations or materials to cut costs or increase production. Creating something authentic is what sets it apart, and the fact that I pour love into every batch is evident in the final product.
VW: What are your future plans for IE? Where do you see the company in 5 years?
DR: In five years, I plan to have an Apothecary! My goal is to create a space where people can come for herbal formulas, botanical skincare, custom perfumes & teas on tap. I have two more years of study left for my Masters in Taoist Medicine, after which I plan to open my shop here in Manoa Valley of Honolulu. I look forward to continuing to formulate both external & internal medicines, and to foster a place within the community dedicated to wellness & healing.
To purchase products by Indigo Elixirs, head over to their website or check their stockist.
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