Due to the increasing demand of skincare consumers for clean, cruelty-free, and non-toxic products, plant-based and natural ingredients for skincare are being pushed to the beauty industry’s forefront. In this podcast, Amy Galper interviews her co-author, Christina Daigneault, on why they wrote the best-selling book, Plant-Powered Beauty, and how it all came together. They share their inspirations, passions, and favorite recipes from the book. Plus, they share how they brought the book to life in their new online course, Plant-Powered Beauty.
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Why We Wrote Plant-Powered Beauty With Christina Daigneault
An Interview With My Co-Author, Christina Daigneault
I am super excited to have here on this episode, my co-author of Plant-Powered Beauty and co-instructor of our Plant-Powered Beauty online course. Christina’s here. In addition to being a co-author and a co-instructor with me on the book, she is the Founder of Orchard Strategies, a health, wellness and lifestyle public relations consultancy. Welcome, Christina. Thank you so much for being here.
Thank you so much for having me, Amy.
It’s great to be able to talk about the book, how we started it all, and what your journey is as well. I’m excited that you’re here. I’m sure a lot of people will be interested to hear your journey, and natural ingredients, aromatherapy, and all of that. Speaking of that, it would be nice if you could share with everyone a little bit about your background. You’re the founder of a public relations consultancy, which specializes in health, wellness and lifestyles. How did this interest in this area start for you?
I have been working in public relations for quite some time. Over the years, as Orchard was growing, we started to work with a lot of health and wellness practitioners, as well as experts in plant-based food and other areas. It opened my eyes to the importance of natural ingredients for one’s health and wellness. Over time, that extended not only from the food we eat because food is medicine in a lot of ways, but also the ingredients that we introduce to our bodies through skincare. I became very curious, and working with these different health and wellness practitioners, and plant-based experts opened my eyes to the whole arena of plant-based and natural ingredients for skincare. That interest and curiosity led me to the New York Institute of Aromatherapy, where I became certified as an aromatherapist. That’s where I met you, Amy, which was exciting. That’s the background of how I was introduced to natural ingredients for skin care and how I became curious. It was working with all of these experts in health and wellness.
Can you share what your personal transformation was? You went from a place where you were maybe using more conventional products and then slowly transitioned. I don’t know what your story is. Maybe you went into your medicine cabinet one day in your bathroom and threw everything out. What was your transformation like? How did you start going from this place of wanting, to learn more and incorporating it into your life to becoming now an expert and co-author of a book?
The curiosity that I gained through working with these different health and wellness practitioners was I was focused on ingredients. I started to question the products that I was using for my skincare and the ingredients that they contained. I started to examine those a bit more. I’m also a very curious person. I was interested in, “How can I make this? How can I interact with these ingredients?” There was a turning point where I became more mindful of ingredients. I was looking at these products. I wanted to shift towards clean beauty. It was a bigger thing where I didn’t want to shift to clean beauty products. I wanted to understand clean beauty. That’s another part of what led me to become a certified aromatherapist.Impart wisdom to empower others. Click To Tweet
I also should mention as a child, I grew up on a farm and I was constantly surrounded by nature. In my adult years, I’ve been living in an urban environment. That was another piece of the puzzle here as far as what drew me down this path. Being surrounded by nature is very powerful. It’s not only the natural ingredients that we use, but being more mindful of nature, the power of nature and plant-based ingredients in general. It was a combination of working with health and wellness practitioners, opening my eyes to natural ingredients and the role they play in your health and wellbeing and overall being more mindful of the role plant-based ingredients play in your life. It was those two things happening simultaneously.
Why do you think this is such an important product? Why do you think this is such an important topic not only for you, but we wrote a book about it? We feel it’s an important topic for people to be aware of. What’s that meaning for you? Why are you so personally compelled to share?
There is a lot of misunderstanding about natural ingredients, natural products and what is natural. There are a lot of products that might tell they are natural, but they only have one natural ingredient in the product. Once I started to learn more when I became a certified aromatherapist, I wanted to impart that wisdom on to others so that they can be empowered with information. After becoming a certified aromatherapist, I understood that not everyone was going to take that very big step of becoming certified and taking that in-depth coursework, which I recommend. It was a great experience but there are a lot of people that are curious. I wanted to create a resource and we did that together through our book, Plant-Powered Beauty, so that folks from beginners to more experienced beauty product formulators could understand all these different ingredients, and how they can shape their own products right at home, in their own beauty kitchen. I wanted other people to be empowered with the information that I had in a palatable way.
That is what drives me as an educator as well. It is to give people not just the information, but also the knowledge, the skills and the tools to be able to start putting it into practice. Everybody who’s reading, I did meet Christina when she was a student at the school that I started back in 2013, the New York Institute of Aromatherapy. I want to take us back to those earlier years. Can you tell us how the whole concept and idea of the book evolved? Christina, this was your brilliant idea. How did this come into being? How did this happen?
Part of my consultancy is I represent different organizations, brands and experts in the public relations capacity. We had created a few years before an arm of our business where we were serving as literary agents for books that focus on health, wellness and lifestyle. I understood that arena and I also was very mindful as a consumer in the space that there wasn’t the type of book that we created that existed yet. There wasn’t a book that was rich in information, easy to understand, fun and interactive on a DIY side, rich with information about plant-based ingredients and also visually beautiful and compelling. Understanding that there was no book like it that was yet published, and the fact that we have the knowledge and know-how to bring it to life was what drew me to bring this idea to you about Plant-Powered Beauty.
I remember when you first approached me, I was so honored and excited that you wanted us to do this together. It has been an incredible process, Christina. You’ve been an amazing co-author and co-instructor, and working on this together with you. We started writing and researching the book back in 2016.
It’s worth pausing and reflecting on the process, the amount of work that goes into writing a book, formulating the recipes, testing the recipes, and working with a photographer. There’s a lot of excitement around ideas. There’s a lot of hard work and dedication that goes into bringing it to life. That experience has a lot of learning in that process as well. That was an incredible journey that you and I went on together. The book has done so well. It’s become a bestseller. It is now in different Whole Foods markets across the United States, as well as all major bookstores, on Amazon and all online booksellers’ websites. We were thinking about different ways that we could bring the book to life in a more visual manner. That’s what led us to bringing this course to life, which was another big project.
It has been an incredibly fun and wonderful experience. For those of you that are reading, let me fill you in. What Christina and I have created is we have taken about fifteen recipes from our book and we’ve created an online course, centered around demonstrating and talking about these recipes. It’s called the Plant-Powered Beauty online course. You can find it on the website, AmyGalper.com. Let’s talk about our journey of making the course as well. It may not have been on our plan to talk about it here, but it’s a good place to start right now. Our book has 50 recipes. That is a lot of recipes that we came up with but when we were looking at how we wanted to put the course together, we had to be very selective. Do you want to talk a little bit about some of your favorite recipes, or the ones that we decided to highlight and feature in the course, and why those?
That was a process in and of itself because we had to distill all the recipes in our book to eight videos. Within those videos, most of them have two recipes and it’s categorized. We have a category for cleansers. One is a body cleanser and the other is a face cleanser. We have masks and scrubs. We distilled it to the products that we think would be most widely utilized, which was very difficult because we think all of our 50 recipes are fantastic. It’s always hard. I get this question all the time. What are your favorite recipes from the book or what are your favorite recipes from the course? It’s so hard to say because they’re all my favorite.
I do love the face and body oils. All the things that I make at home and I make all my own products. The thing that I make most and even gift, I’m asked to make for friends and family over and over again, are the facial oils and serums. My husband loves the scalp serum. Lip balms are popular right now, especially they’re great stocking stuffers and small gift items. I’ve been making a lot of lip balms. There are many. Amy, what are your favorites?
I have a lot too. I love all the cleanser recipes. Those are some of my favorite from the olive oil facial cleanser to the honey foaming cleanser, to the super clean body cleanser. Those to me are nice. I love them. Those are some of my favorites, but I also love face oils. I’m with you there. Like you, it’s hard to pull out which recipes are my favorite, but these days I’m into cleansers. That’s where I’m at. Those are fun and great to make and easy. One thing that I did want to bring up is the discussion of being aromatherapists. You were talking about how important and impactful taking that certification course was and giving you a good foundation.Spend some time meditating and reflecting on gratitude. Click To Tweet
For those of you who are picking up our book or are planning on taking our online course, we feature and emphasize the use of essential oils throughout the book. I thought maybe we could talk a second about what it’s like to formulate through that lens of an aromatherapist. We talk about synergies in the book. We talk about different essential oils and aromatherapy. I know it wasn’t necessarily a topic that came up now, but I thought we could talk a little bit about where you see that value of using essential oils, aromatherapy and our products. Why do you think that’s an important feature?
It’s incredibly important. Utilizing essential oils is at the heart of our book and our recipes. Almost all of our recipes utilize essential oils. I always go back to the root of understanding essential oils. Amy, you said it best in one of the courses or one of the sections of the certification that you taught. With essential oils, what I like to think about is like, “Why are we using essential oils? Why are they effective? Why do they impart these therapeutic qualities?” When we think of it, they’re all coming from nature and distilled from different plant-based ingredients.
In order for those plants to live, thrive and survive in nature, which can be brutal with weather, competing plants and insects, they acquire certain therapeutic qualities that are then imparted to us when we utilize the essential oils. I love to think about essential oils at the very beginning through that lens of, what are essential oils, where do they come from, and why do we care about them? How do they garner or gain their therapeutic qualities? You’ll be able to chime in a much more artful way to describe that.
There’s a powerful alignment or even an allegiance in a way how human beings and plants co-exist. When you think about it, we co-evolve together in a way. It was one of our first relationships. The same molecules and active compounds are what make them thrive, or also what make us thrive, what make us continue to be healthy and well, and contribute to our resiliency and our overall wellbeing. There is a lot of resonance between that. We can lean on essential oils for that as well. Another element too, which I know is very important to both of us, is aroma and the experience of scent. I know every time that we made our videos for the course whenever you spoke about the essential oils and the synergies, you emphasize how beautiful that aroma smells. That has a big part of it too about how aroma contributes to our experience of beauty and wellbeing as well.
We don’t want to forget the aroma, which you spoke about. It is incredibly important, as well as the therapeutic qualities they impart. In our book, as well as in our course, we can demystify essential oils and we help our students become comfortable with utilizing them, as well as jumping into synergies. Our book has an array of synergies and it’s the synergies that are called for in the different recipes. A synergy is a combination of 3 to 5 essential oils. We talk more about that in the book. There are students who gain confidence in creating synergies, whether they follow the “recipe” of the synergy in our book, or they start to gain confidence to develop their own synergies based upon what their intent is for a particular recipe.
We organize that pretty well, giving each synergy a particular name, but also letting readers and beauty blenders understand that they could have multiple uses or functions as well. A very important part of our book is that the essential oils are the heart and core of it. We were designing, creating and formulating the recipes through that lens of being an aromatherapist. I know you have a young teen at home, a young daughter. Are there recipes or plants that you think she enjoys making or she loves that you make for her?
She’s very much of the thinking that mom makes these things. She does enjoy the lip balms. She asks me for balms for her friends. I have blended some aromatherapy roll-ons for her. There was a period of time where she wasn’t sleeping as well. I created some aromatherapy roll-ons that would help her relax and she loved that. Hopefully, one day she’ll blend with me. That’s the hope but until then, I’ll make products for her.
I see that as a cute video too for our course, a mom and daughter thing. We have to think about that, Christina. Speaking of home and making things for her, what are three things that you can share that you do every day that incorporate what you teach and share in the book? Are there a few practices, not necessarily products, but things that we hope to inspire people that you are doing?
Blending is at the heart of this book. I do blend my own products and I’d like seasonally to come up with different synergies. I mentioned one of my favorites is the facial serums that I make. Also, my husband also loves his face oil, which he uses as a pre-shave oil. He has a recipe that he loves, but with my own facial serums, I like every season to have a new synergy and a new recipe. I always look forward at the change of seasons to creating that. I have a lot of tension in my shoulders and my neck, maybe because we are in this world right now where everything is digital. We’re hunched over our computers all the time. I do have a massage oil that I use. I self-apply it to my neck and my shoulders a few times a day. We have a massage oil recipe in the book. That’s another thing that I use daily and cleanser as well.
Those are things I incorporate as well. For me, the oils are very important too in a lot of our stress. We have some aromatherapy roll-on recipes that are nice for managing stress, anxiety and good mood, which I find helpful. Those are definitely things, but one thing I wanted to ask you more because I thought it was such a great idea what you’re doing about the seasonal stuff. That is so wonderful. I know that in our book, there are even a few photographs of us going to the Farmer’s Market. In some of our recipes, we’re using seasonal fruits and vegetables. I do think that is definitely a theme and a message in the book as well is to try to get fresh and in-season to think about where we are as far as our beauty regiments, our wellness and lifestyle habits and tuning into that.
I love that you remember that shot of us going to the Farmer’s Market because some of these ingredients you can purchase online, especially with essential oils. We have a plethora of recipes in our book that call for things like fruit and vegetables. A certain fruit that we have dried and then we create these powders from them, and they are beautiful. Thinking seasonally is a great way to approach your own clean beauty skin care.Be grateful for the little things. Click To Tweet
Another thing I thought of when you were asking about how I’m applying some of these things at home, it made me think of another family member and something she’s been doing. My mother and her best friend signed up for the course. Because they can’t see each other due to COVID, what they are doing is they are picking a recipe each week. They’re blending it. They’re watching the videos at the same time, but from different locations. They’re doing a Zoom and they’re talking about what they made. That’s exciting to see that this course is bringing people together. It’s something people can do in the safety of their own homes, but they can share with friends and family. I loved hearing that my mother was doing that. I wanted to share that with you, Amy.
That totally warms my heart. I love that they’re sharing it in that way. I know you and I have talked about this. We do believe that a book like this and how we want to work with our students is very important for that community building, sharing and doing together. I’m so glad that you shared that with me. That’s exciting. Is there anything else you wanted to share about the book or our process of writing it or anything else you think I left out of talking about anything?
There are many exciting aspects of both the book and the course. I love seeing our Facebook community evolve. The one thing that we’ve done with this course is that with our Facebook group, it’s an interactive element. We’re answering questions of students as they’re blending. If they run into roadblocks, we help them. They are also sharing their experiences with blending. To me, that is so wonderful and satisfying to be able to interact. When our book was out, we interacted with friends, family and different students, but it’s very different now that we’re able to interact with the community that is taking our course. I wanted to share that I’m loving that aspect of the course and that it’s opening up that door to interactivity with our students in a whole new way.
I know it’s different. I remember that feeling when the book launched in March of 2018. It was this thing that we worked on so hard, and all of a sudden it left our arms and was out in the world. We felt like we had no idea what was going on. That feeling of, “Are people reading it? Are they liking it? What are they saying about it?” It is a great way to bring it to life and to bring people together. That’s a wonderful aspect of it. To anyone who’s reading, we’re in the height of the Coronavirus pandemic here in New York City. These are crazy and stressful times. It’s unprecedented. Everyone worldwide can agree that this has changed our whole world, our perspective, and our outlook. It challenged us to step back and rethink even in a deep way what is important to us.
Overall, for everyone, we’re managing a lot of stress and we are also managing our own health and wellbeing. We don’t feel that “I can run to the doctor any time” kind of feeling. We have to be a little more responsible for taking care of our own health. Another thing which is beginning to seep in a more insidious way, it’s starting to slowly chip away at people’s mental health with it. What are your little things that you’re doing to keep yourself and your family healthy and positive and not stressed? Are there little tricks you guys are doing in your home?
Something that I tried to do daily is to spend some time meditating and also reflect on gratitude. During this time where things are extremely stressful, families are living in confined spaces. We’re not able to see other friends and family as much. There are all sorts of stresses that we’re all experiencing. Being grateful for the little thing, I tried to focus on that as much as I possibly can. l like meditating. Bringing it back to a question you asked earlier about rituals that relate to the book. I do have a diffuser and I tried to diffuse essential oils during the day. That helps a lot. Eat healthy and exercise as much as possible. How about you, Amy?
I’m the same. Exercise to me has been a key. Before this all started, I belong to a gym and sometimes I’d go, sometimes I didn’t. As you said, we’re confined. There’s such a feeling of confinement. Going outside and walking or being outside and doing a quick jog around the park or something like that has been vital to me. I know that helps with my stress. It helps with my mental state. I know it also helps with my overall health. I would say that’s one of my biggest things. My advice to anyone is get outside and move your body. That is super important. I have found that’s been one of the biggest things to help me get through this.
Thank you so much for coming on and talking about the book, your journey, and how you got started in all of this. I’d love you to share more about if someone wanted to reach out to you. Let’s say we have a reader here who maybe is looking in for tips on beauty or spa, and they’re interested in having you come in and speak or present or even maybe a beauty brand that is looking for a public relations firm. Can you tell us how people can find you?
I do have an Instagram page, @BotanicalBeautyKitchen. You can find me there. You can find me posting things about ingredients, recipes and our amazing course. You can easily get in touch with me there. If you’re interested in the course, go to Courses.AmyGalper.com. I hope if anyone wants to get in touch, they’ll reach out in one of those ways.
Christina, thank you so much for being on this episode. It was fun to be able to dish about the book with you. It was nice. It has been such an exciting part of my life doing this project with you. I’m forever grateful for you bringing the idea to me. Thank you. Thank you for reading, everyone.
About Christina Daigneault
Christina is the founder of Orchard Strategies, an award-winning public relations consultancy focusing on health, wellness, and plant-based lifestyle campaigns.
She is also a certified aromatherapist, author, and product formulator. After discovering the incredible benefits of plant-based ingredients for health, wellness, and beauty, from working with many experts in the field, she became a certified aromatherapist and later embarked on co-authoring the book, PLANT-POWERED BEAUTY.
As the co-author of PLANT-POWERED BEAUTY, she has had the opportunity to educate the public about the power of plants for health and wellness – and also help others understand how easy it is to make their own plant-based products.
She has appeared at dozens of locations in the United States since the book’s publication, including a tour of Whole Foods Markets for Beauty Week and the book has been featured in media outlets including Glamour, EcoBeautyEditor, Beauty Independent, Well + Good, Mind Body Green, Beauty 101, Healthline, and many more.