So this is a HUGE deal for me. As an esthetician I take skincare really seriously, so when I discovered the nontoxic, Hawaiian-infused and somewhat whimsical Leahlani Skincare on instagram, I knew I had to investigate further. Leah K. is the beautiful soul behind this line and let me tell you, she pours every ounce of it into Leahlani. What intrigued me the most about Leahlani was the ingredients (raw Hawaiian honey, chorella, spirulina, various essential oils and more organic goodness) and the fact that they are all sourced from Kauai, where she resides. I mean, I haven’t really seen anything else out there with the Hawaiian factor and the fresh Hawaiian ingredients. Leah’s background spoke to me; from going to a holistic esthetician school, combating severe acne, and keeping things nontoxic I immediately felt like we were somewhat kindred spirits, and I had to know more! Leah was SO very gracious to take the time out of her busy schedule to give me an interview, and she really gives us the low down on running a skincare line, Hawaiian life, and how to treat your skin right! Leah’s positivity and kindness is contagious, if this woman doesn’t inspire you I don’t know who will!! Enjoy!
FREE LOVE BEAUTY: I see you went to school to become a holistic esthetician, what are the differences between a holistic esthetician and a traditional esthetician?
LEAH: The esthetician school that I went to (Spa Luna) really centered around intention and hands on healing. The courses were based on teachings that help create a conscious interaction with our client. A holistic approach is focused around the client as a whole, taking into account their diet, lifestyle etc. when doing a facial analysis. We used natural based products in practice and were trained in aromatherapy. The essential oil blending class was on of my all time favorite lessons. One of our day trips involved going to a lavender farm to learn about the different variations of lavender, and another involved going to collect specific stones to learn ‘pohaku’ or hot stone massage. We learned a lot about natural supplements that benefit skin health and balance, so we were trained to recommend specific supplements to our clients.
I asked my mom this question for a reference because she is an esthetician too, and went to a traditional esthetician school, so I was curious what her experience was like vs. mine. She told me that her education was centered around the Milady’s Standard (Esthetician fundamental textbook) and that her school was sponsored by a skincare company, so most of her education came directly from the textbook and her training was centered around using that particular skincare line (that sponsored her school). While we did use Milady’s standard as our textbook as well, we also spent an equal amount of time learning Eastern, Chinese, Ayurvedic and European techniques combined with lymphatic cleansing and muscle toning. Our guest speakers would talk about Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage techniques and Pohaku stone massage, lymphatic cleansing, seasonal cleanses, different trigger points and massage techniques for toning the facial muscles, aromatherapy. It was very alternative, but so enriching. I still go through my notes from time to time as a reference.
FREE LOVE BEAUTY: I’ve read in your background that you created Leahlani to heal your cystic acne. Did you have a moment when you realized, “hey, I’m onto something here!”
LEAH: I can remember graduation day so clearly. My skin was a mess, and because of it, so was my spirit. The owner and principle of the school, Samana, pulled me aside and whispered in my ear, she told me
“Leah, I know how hard this is for you, but I promise you, your skin troubles are going to make you more empathetic as a practitioner and it is part of your journey, your story. It’s here to teach you something”.
She was so right. My passion for creating Leahlani Skincare runs deep. My skin journey has not been easy; in fact, it has been far from easy. As an esthetician, I have worked on hundreds of clients who have acne, and I know the emotional impact it has on your spirit. There were a few months where I didn’t want to leave the house, and multiple times in my practice where it was such a struggle working on clients when my skin wasn’t up to par myself.
Skin is so complex. My acne was a combination of so many factors, mostly stress and dietary factors and for me, hormonal issues. When my skin starts to act out, I generally know why by looking at where on my face my breakouts are. So I understand that our overall health directly affects our skin health, but having a good skincare ritual using gentle and natural products can make such a difference in the appearance of your skin as well. That is where Leahlani Skincare came along. I started blending and creating my own products to help heal my skin, and then I started incorporating them into my practice. One of the biggest complaints I would hear from my clients was that they dreaded washing their face at night. I wanted to change that… I wanted them to love the ritual of skincare as I had learned through creating Leahlani Skincare. There were so many factors involved in creating my skincare line, and yes, it all started as a way for me to help heal my skin… and then it evolved into so much more. I love giving facials, I truly do. I cannot give everyone a facial personally, but with Leahlani Skincare… I kind of can!
FREE LOVE BEAUTY: What is your absolute favorite ingredient to work with and why? I mean, I have a good guess but I have to ask! 😉
LEAH: Organic raw Hawaiian honey, and essential oils. Those are my all time absolute favorites. They are like the holy grail of natural skincare. Needless to say, I am a bit obsessed with both.
FREE LOVE BEAUTY: I LOVE how your line ties into Hawaii, as soon as I open your Mermaid Mask I immediately get an overwhelming sense of the ocean, sweet Hawaiian honey and paradise! What is your favorite part about Hawaiian life?
LEAH: I could spend about an hour answering this question, but I will try to keep it short. My brother and his girlfriend bought be a ticket to Kauai for my 21st birthday. All of my life I had dreamed of living on an island, and I had never been to Hawaii. When the plane landed at 9:30 pm, I couldn’t see a thing. There are no bright city lights, and there is only one main road. I knew right away that I was home. It was a feeling. I never used the return flight, and I have been here ever since. I met my husband here, so it will always be a sacred space. I love just about everything about island life. I love the food, the lifestyle, the simplicity, and the community. I love that I don’t have to wear shoes or pants. I love the clean air, the beautiful mountains with cascading waterfalls, the ocean and its many shades of blues, the trade winds and the lingering scent of plumeria flowers. I love the smell of the rain here, there is nothing like it. I love that I feel at peace and at home. It is not for everyone, and I completely understand that.
FREE LOVE BEAUTY: With all the toxins in traditional perfumes, it’s awesome that you offer beautiful, natural perfume oil too, what brought on that idea?
LEAH: There is such a demand for natural fragrances. I have tried so many, and I hadn’t found one that I liked, I hadn’t found one that was different from the others. I would get asked all the time if I would create some natural fragrances that weren’t too earthy or ‘hippy’ smelling, so I started to get creative. My inspiration for my two pure natural and organic perfumes came from my life here on Kauai. The organic Coconut Vanilla is pure sunshine and warmth. Creamy tropical coconut and sweet vanilla. It is my go-to every day scent. The PuaKini Tuberose is a blend of two of my favorite tropical flowers that are commonly used for lei making on the islands, Puakinikini and Tuberose flowers. It is a soft yet strikingly beautiful floral fragrance that leaves you longing for more. I wanted to create blends of fragrances that would evoke the ultimate sense of nostalgia, that would make you close your eyes and smile, make you able to escape reality for a moment and enter into a state of bliss.
FREE LOVE BEAUTY: I have to say as a fellow esthetician I am beyond impressed with your range of products, and how different they are from anything else out there! I am especially intrigued by your Honey Love Microdermabrasion 3-in-1 cleanser, mask & exfoliator kit, HOW did you come up with such an amazing multi-use product? I mean, it’s genius!!!
LEAH: And I have to say I am so honored to be interviewed by an esthetician! Thank you.
Hands down, the Honey Love 3-in-1 is by far my favorite product I have ever come across. This is what helps keep my skin clear. I love creating versatile and multipurpose products that can be used in many different ways. I spent a long time looking at traditional exfoliators under a microscope, literally. Many natural exfoliating compounds have jagged and rigid edges, which will tear the skin cells and overtime can create premature aging, broken capillaries and skin irritation. Corundum microdermabrasion crystals are amazing. These crystals are so fine and spherical, so no jagged edges. Traditional exfoliators can also really strip the skin of oil, so I wanted mine to be hydrating. Exfoliating can also cause inflammation, so I wanted mine to have a lot of anti-inflammatory ingredients. And most importantly, I wanted to create something totally unique and one of a kind that would require you to be hands on. So many people are using electrical exfoliating devices (which are really awesome and lovely as well) but I wanted there to be a direct hand-to-face connection element that would require a small bit of time and intention, both are so important for self care. There is a lot of love in that little jar, and I love that it has my favorite ingredients in it- Hawaiian raw honey, lavender, and chamomile and hibiscus flowers.
FREE LOVE BEAUTY: So what is a typical day like for you? Because I picture you in a grass hut, overlooking the ocean, surrounded by magical oils and potions concocting beautiful elixirs for us, am I close?? Lol
LEAH: Oh how I love that image J my husband and I wake up every morning and drink coffee together and then go on with our days. He surfs when there are waves, and spends a lot of time in the ocean looking for shells and sea glass for his jewelry making. I spend the vast amount of the day on Leahlani Skincare. If I told you how much time I spend, you would think that I am crazy. This past year, we have been working extremely hard on rebranding our entire line, and formulating new skincare items. I cannot wait to share these with everyone!! The names, the ingredients, the textures, they are so delicious. Just about all of my time has been devoted to that. Leahlani Skincare evolved on its own, I didn’t have a business plan, or esthetic idea of how I wanted my products to look on the outside. All of my thought, finances and passion went into what was inside the jars… no fancy packaging, no website (aside from etsy). But my incredibly talented sister spent one year here on Kauai working by my side, helping me envision what I want my brand to look like. I hope to unveil it all early next year. But aside from all that, I have my mornings and my evenings. I love watching the sunsets on Hanalei bay with my girlfriends or family popping a bottle of champagne, and most of the evenings we get together with my parents for dinner and end the day drinking tea and eating coconut macaroons. Not too shabby.
FREE LOVE BEAUTY: What is the message behind Leahlani Skincare that you want your followers, readers, and users to know?
LEAH: Each jar is filled with a lot of aloha. My love, passion and intention runs deep and is in each product that I make. It took me a long time to realize that self-care and self-love is truly crucial for overall health, and that it is okay to take care of you. I want you to fall in love with your ‘me-time’ and skincare ritual, and began and end your day with a little aloha and the best of intentions. When ending a facial, I always did a few minutes of intentional prayer. I would place a few drops of lavender on my palms and gently lay my hands on my clients face. I would pray for healing, love and abundance. That is what I envision while making my products.
FREE LOVE BEAUTY: Why, in your opinion, is it important to have an esthetician background in creating an effective, high-performance product line? How does your background set you apart?
LEAH: This is an extremely valuable question. For me personally, I would not have been able to create a skincare line without my background. It is equally important for me having the esthetician background and having spent years giving facials. You learn so much from your clients, spending at least an hour with each client, with your hands on their face. You are feeling so many different textures of skin, each so unique and different, each with individual needs and different reactions. Every facial I gave and every hour I spent in school was golden and valuable. I feel I am able to give an educated skin analysis with confidence and answer the important questions I am asked. There are so many contraindications with skin care and ingredients as well, and I feel it is especially important to have the educational background to sincerely know all of this. It is not easy to do a skin analysis via email, but I sell my products three days a week at various places on island when I am behind the counter. Anyone who comes up to me to inquire about my products can ask me questions about their skin, and I feel confident in accessing what would best resonate with them from my line, and I am always more then happy to give tips or share more information with them to help them achieve their goals. My personal skin journey has been equally as valuable for me as well.
Ok so I like to have a little fun with my obligatory questions so readers can get to know you on a personal level (don’t worry, not too personal)!
FREE LOVE BEAUTY: What is your favorite food in the entire world?
LEAH: Coconut! Coconut water, coconut meat, coconut milk… without a doubt, coconut is where its at.
FREE LOVE BEAUTY: Top 5 favorite bands/artists?
LEAH: I don’t have favorite bands and artists really, but I have favorite music that I listen to at specific times. For instance, when driving, my Pandora station is set too straight hip-hop and rap. My speakers are blasted and I like to feel the music and move in my seat. I think that surprises most people when they drive with me… but it’s a long and sleepy road to town from where I live with little stops, so it helps me stay awake.
When I am in the Leahlani Lab, I like to turn my Pandora to French music. I love that I don’t understand the words at all, so that’s not where my focus is. It evokes nostalgia in me that I have no reference for, as I have never been to France. But I simply love it.
When I need a lift, I love reggae. One of my favorite songs is Your House by Steel Pulse. When I need to be shift my mood, that is my go too. I cant help but dance and sing and smile.
And Hawaiian Music… ahhhh. When I hear Hawaiian music, I feel at home, and all warm and cozy inside. I loved playing Hawaiian music during facials.
I am all about the feeling of music. I want to feel the beats in my bones and I want to listen to music that automatically makes me want to move. My husband has various video recordings on his phone from me in the car or at the supermarket rockin’ out… I hope those never get leaked, lol!!
FREE LOVE BEAUTY: Cats or dogs?
LEAH: Cats Cats Cats
***So I decided to break my Leahlani feature into two parts since there are so many wonderful things to share about the brand. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will be doing an overview of all of the wonderful goodies she so graciously sent me! Until then I urge you to browse her website,http://www.etsy.com/shop/LeahLaniSkinCare; and see Leah’s beautiful collection for yourself!***