From trying only two products from Blissoma, I was instantly impressed with this natural, well thought out, gentle, pure brand. In fact, I often cite Blissoma as being the brand that made me a toner convert! Reading through the Blissoma website, you will find products made from natural ingredients and a level of integrity that will impress the most devoted green beauty lover!
Julie Longyear is the name behind the brand. I was excited to feature her on Hello Dollface because she is one smart lady, full of knowledge about natural beauty, green and clean ingredients. Keep reading to learn more about Julie and Blissoma!
What does ‘green beauty’ mean to you?
I admit I’ve usually used the wording “natural beauty” over “green beauty” as green as a concept feels like it requires more specific definition than natural – at least to me. Something falling within a definition of green to me denotes sustainability, health with a mind for whole systems, growth, and healing. It brings to mind the greenness of plants who are the ultimate eco-friendly entities. Plants are the source of the active ingredients in my products, so they literally came from something green.
For a product marketed as green I would expect it to be biodegradable, wildcrafted or organically farmed to minimize toxins to the environment and people, and entirely healthy for human beings.
What are some ingredients that you refuse to add to your products? And why?
At this point Blissoma does not use neuropeptides or pentapeptides such as Matrixyl (Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7), Argireline (Acetyl hexapeptide-3), and other peptides like this. These compounds function as messenger chemicals between cells to stimulate growth. They are very small and they are absorbed by the skin and they do provide improvments in wrinkle depth and skin rejuvenation. So, you might wonder why I don’t want to use them… These are relatively recent compounds and no longer term studies have been done. My concern is that with compounds that act as messengers to stimulate cell growth how do we know that they are not going to communicate to a cell to grow abnormally if used over time? Cells that grow abnormally and excessively is what cancer is. Personally I feel more research is needed before I could endorse these compounds as fully safe.
As well the only sources of these peptides are large cosmetic ingredient suppliers who I already know have ingredient and formulation philosophies that are not in line with mine. Frequently these peptides come in carrier chemicals I don’t want to use and could be contaminated with lots of other compounds their labs use without a second thought but that my clients don’t want near their skin. I have limited trust in these larger companies after having a very bad experience with one preservative supplier who changed their preservative without notice and then refused to take any responsibility for it. It left me wondering what else they had been doing without telling me.
As such I prefer to work directly with botanicals and trusted distillers whenever possible so I know exactly what I am getting. The limited suppliers that I have in the larger cosmetic world generally carry EcoCert certification on their products so I know a third party is overseeing them to a degree and that the product I’m buying meets certain criteria. None of the above mentioned peptides currently have any natural certifications that I’m aware of.
Tell me your favorite ingredients to work with?
I like studying plants – all plants really. Every plant has unique properties and reading about the research being done on phytochemistry and how it benefits human health is amazing to me. I like whatever botanical can solve the problem I’m facing – I’m generally on the hunt for a solution to a problem and keep hunting until I find the right botanical to fit the need of the product and my clients. Rather than shoving a single ingredient at all problems I look at the problem first and work from there to find botanicals that offer a solution to that problem. It’s part of why our skincare line is called “Solutions”, because we offer solutions to problems.
Where do you go for information on green, non toxic products and beauty?
I definitely keep an eye on green beauty blogs for trends and new products but generally I go straight to the research when I want to form an opinion on an ingredient in a product, a whole formulation, and a brand. I don’t use just one information source. Responsible research means one should have at least 3 good sources to corroborate a claim and so I go straight to http://scholar.google.com/ which is Google’s database of scholarly papers published and cataloged online. I try to find at least 3 sources there on anything I’d like to verify as fact (or current theory) for anyone that’s going to be listening to me or using my products. From there I form my own opinions based on my chemistry background.
Makeup would be one thing that I do sometimes need recommendations on, however, as it’s not as much my thing so I’ve taken advice from several makeup artists that I know in St. Louis – Kristen Linares and Emily Miller – on how to use products. Definitely Kristen Arnett and Rebecca Casciano online, and I worked with Sheila Hansen for a while and kept up with her makeup advice a bit. Terri Bly, the former owner of The Nature of Beauty was my go-to girl for specific makeup product recommendations for a while.
I can also use all the Youtube and Pinterest hair tutorials I have time to watch and read, as I have felt hopelessly out of control of my hair over the years. I actually love it just unstyled and slightly messy but that doesn’t work for business meetings so I’ve had to spend a bit of time figuring out things I can do with it. If I’m ever in the public eye more I would totally staff a stylist to help me with it though as that would be a huge load off me. Most days I can manage to make it look decent now but it always looks better when a pro does it.
What do you think sets you apart from every other natural brand/product on the market?
I think our combination of efficacy, purity, and price point is very unique online. By listening to our clients we are able to formulate directly to their needs, provide it at a cost that is manageable for them, use only super clean ingredients as no one else dictates what I put in my recipes, and also give them solutions that help them address long term, difficult skin issues. We don’t release a recipe unless we feel it really fills a need in the marketplace and people’s lives, and really truly works. I’m not for ingredient trends or releasing more recipes just to grow the line. We don’t have space for that, nor is there a need. I’d rather spend a year on one formulation and get it really, really right than have 5 or 6 products that only sortof do what they say they should. I want real value and real results based on chemistry and research. It’s what I’d expect as a customer so that’s what I offer to others.
What products do you hope to add to your line?
We are going to be re-releasing our deodorants in just a few short weeks! Those have been one of the products that it has taken me basically a year to work out. We needed to change preservation systems to make the recipe Vegan so we needed some tweaks anyway. Then we found out that the sprayers for the deodorants were breaking down on clients in many cases as the baking soda in the recipe was too hard on the plastic components in the sprayers. That meant we had to reformulate from the ground up. I have been testing new recipes since last fall with lots of versions that didn’t quite do it. But we finally have several options that are working well. I’m sending the labels to print this week and we’ll start making them as soon as all the ingredients arrive. It’s very exciting as deodorant is one of those products people really want in a natural form, and it has to work.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so what is beautiful to you?
I’m a Libra and I went to art school so I definitely have a taste for physical aesthetics. Line, color, form… I love art and seeing excellent technique. I think what we often are striving for in physical perfection or representations of ideals of beauty is to touch ideas that exist beyond the body anyway. It’s not about the perfect line or color, it’s about the way those things make you feel. Artists have rich lives of ideas beyond the physical items they create. In a way the physical item of “beauty” is just the shadow of spiritual life beyond. So in essence what I find beautiful is not things that appeal just to my eye but things that make me feel what goes deeper. Grace, vulnerability, courage, sadness, connection, epiphanies, loss, struggle, tenderness, tenacity…. these are the sorts of things that I see when I look at people especially and that come through to create the beauty in the physical. Without these deeper things it’s just a shell and arrangement of objects. To sum it up, soul is what is beautiful and captivating to me in the myriad of ways it shows up in the world.
And what can we expect from you next?
Hopefully I continue to grow into my position as leader of my company and as well can be a thought leader to many people who connect with Blissoma. I want to embody a concept of love-as-business both in how I manage my team and connect with clients. It’s a challenge and yet also the most natural state I could hope to attain. The only difficult part is that we live in a world where hostility and heartlessness is how business is done, so I’m pushing against the norm. My intention is to incorporate many of the principles that the founders of Cafe Gratitude use for managing their team of employees into Blissoma, maybe with our own twists. I’m a pretty good balance of heart and head which I think will allow me to devise practical strategies that embody love in action.