By Chere Di Boscio
Have you ever gone into a restaurant with a menu as thick as a book, offering everything from spaghetti and burgers to gourmet salads and sushi?
The variety may be tempting, but the fact is, it’s highly unlikely that all of those dishes will be tasty. Why? The kitchen acts as a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none.’ On the other hand, if you go to a place that specialises in say, homemade pasta, it’s probably going to be awesome, because that’s the entire focus of their business.
The same could be said for skincare.
Whilst some brands are generalists, offering hundreds and hundreds of products for men, women and children, others – such as natural skincare brand Virginia Stone – choose to focus on a few products that really work.
All About The Ingredients
It starts with the ingredients. The raw materials used for all of her products are ethically sourced from small-scale family-owned organic farms. The highest standards are maintained to ensure sustainable incomes, education and support programs for the farming communities where the materials are sourced from.
Unlike other beauty brands, the formulation of Virginia Stone products happens after an order is placed. The cream is freshly prepared using extracts of plants, including non-GMO, organic roots, leaves, beans, flowers, as well as various clays. All Virginia Stone products are proudly vegan, too.
It’s a fascinating concept and it’s still quite unique, even in the world of luxury skincare. I asked the owner of the brand, Virginia Stone herself, to shed more light on what she does.
What inspired the launch of the brand?
There were many factors that inspired me to create Virginia Stone – most importantly, my belief that the industry approaches skincare from the wrong angle.
I believe the current model is broken and incomplete, and does not address the differences found within varying skin tones or the need to approach and treat each skin tone independently.
The one-size-fits-all mentality isn’t logical either: different skin tones and different skin issues require different solutions. I also don’t buy into the ‘dry/normal/oily’ classification approach, what is ‘normal’ for you will not be what is ‘normal’ for me, so what is ‘normal’ then? Oily skin is nothing more than excessively dry skin, which is also being approached backwards: excessively dry skin does not require drying products; it actually requires more intensely hydrating products to create balanced healthy skin again.
Which skincare ingredients would you say are amongst the most vital?
Now, this is a tough question! Our Eyes formula is one of the most complex on the market today, and I couldn’t imagine removing a single raw material from the list of ingredients. I handpicked each one for a very special and important reason, they each have a job to do, and a benefit to offer. I take a very different approach to designing a formula. I believe formulating a superior product, is very similar to creating a ‘Michelin Star’ culinary dish – it requires a deep passion for your art, skill, knowledge, and excellence within the entire process.
An exceptional performance driven formula, is packed with vitamins, minerals, and plants that heal, protect, and nourish the skin – like a hearty pot of homemade soup. Just because carrots are healthy, it doesn’t mean you should eat nothing but carrots for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – this would make you very sick, since the body would be lacking in the nutrition that it requires. The skin is the same, and we need to treat our skin externally the same way we take care of our bodies internally. The skin requires a balanced blend of nutrients to perform and function optimally.
Now that being said, I do have a few favourite ingredients that I love to work with! Some of my current favourites are: Dragon’s Blood, Green Coffee Beans, Chaga Mushrooms, and Prickly Pear.
How do you manage to keep your range natural, yet long lasting?
I have invested 20 years of my life in Research & Development, sourcing the very best premium food grade raw materials, and have mastered the combinations required to yield optimum results. I do not support the new ‘preservative free’ movement, nor do I believe it is a responsible way to formulate.
The skin’s acid mantle (the fine acidic film on the skin), acts as a barrier and protects from environmental pollutants, bacteria, and potential contaminants. If your skin has a healthy acid mantle it should have a pH between 4.5-5.5, which is slightly acidic.
Poorly formulated products, excessive use of exfoliants and acids, and exposure to bacteria and fungus can wreak havoc on the health of your skin. Formulas that do not include preservation systems are growing bacteria and mold way before you ever see a sign of it in your creams.
‘Eyes’ has a complex natural preservation system (in-house trade secret), that I spent years creating and testing. It contains a balanced combination of antioxidants, antibacterials, anti-fungals, medicinal mushrooms, and probiotics.
Our formulas have a 3 year shelf life, although I believe very strongly in using fresh product, the fresher the product the more active it is – which is why Virginia Stone is made-to-order and not a pick and pack product. I don’t like to think that the products I purchase have potentially been sitting on a shelf for years before use.
What would you say is the difference between a normal skincare product and a luxury skincare range?
I see a very big difference between the two, and I also feel there has been a contamination within the industry of the word ‘luxury’. ‘Luxury’ has been diluted like other marketing words, like ‘green’ and ‘ethical’. Luxury is excellence. It resonates with us on a sensorial level, it is exclusively sublime. Luxury has been defined as a condition or state of great ease or comfort; elegance; and a sumptuous environment; usually a delicacy or refinement of living.
With regards to a luxury skincare range, the product itself needs to offer this experience on every level from branding to packaging, design, formulation, sensorial triggers, and communication.
A beautiful case comes with your Virginia Stone skincare formula. It’s made out of custom-crafted stone and inspired by the beauty of nature. The stone Luxador naturally protects the natural ingredients within the skin formula; and does this thanks to the thermal stability of concrete.
It is 100% recyclable and reusable and is handcrafted from locally-sourced materials and recycled content.
What does skin tone have to do with what kind of skincare you need?
Everything! There are differences found within varying skin tones that need to be approached and treated independently. The most important factor to consider when designing skincare is tone. Your tone determines your skin personality, which inherently defines unique characteristics like skin density, sensitivity, SPF requirements, and potency tolerance levels.
How have you seen the skincare industry change over the years? And where do you see it going in the next five years?
The skincare industry has definitely seen a shift towards natural, organic, and ethical products. Twenty years ago when I was formulating clean organic products, it wasn’t really wanted or understood in the industry yet. It is now becoming the norm.
Now, we see trends like cannabis oil in skincare coming up, and also personalized skin care. Everyone will try to jump on the bandwagon, but there will be a few strong leaders that truly offer exceptional quality and innovative products. In the next five years, I see a renewal, rebalancing and recalibrating time. New innovations and trends will continue at an accelerated pace, and those who do not measure up to new requirements and standards will be left behind.
It is an inspired and exciting time!