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Ava Zhan - Founder Of Earthwise Beauty

Have you ever met someone who is so soulful and spirited that you instantly feel at peace with their energy?

Ava Zhan, founder of Earthwise Beauty brings exactly that, peace, calm, knowledge, reassurance and genuine soul.

I was fortunate enough to speak with, and interview, Ava last week and she blew me away with her knowledge, her ability to listen intently and her incredibly apparent and genuine presence.
Ava is a worldy woman who has spent years researching and creating one of the most outstanding and underrated skincare lines I have ever come across.

Earthwise Beauty was born in 2005 following endless pouring over books and experimenting with different formulations to arrive at the place it is today. A strong, superbly crafted and honest brand with products that will change your skin and the way you view skincare forever.
These products represent green beauty; they are 100% natural, raw and unaffected by the throws of processing.

Ava ensures all ingredients are sourced from only the best; searching through small towns and provinces where the quality is unquestionable and the processing is absent. This increases the bioavailability of each active ingredient allowing it to work it's magic with just a touch of Ava's love.
Earthwise Beauty captures the essence of each scent, texture and experience offered by each ingredient. Ava carefully combines and curates a perfect product for every skin type.

Read below for a greater insight into the incredibly talented, ultra passionate and super sweet Polish girl living it up with her little family (pictures below- ridiculously cute) in America crafting beautiful products for all of the health conscious, environmentally aware and eco friendly people of the planet.

Ava and Luke's youngest son Yanek

You can also read more about Earthwise Beauty, it's choice of eco friendly and sustainable packaging plus view all of the outstanding products at

How did Earthwise Beauty come about?

I am a very intuitive person and at some point stopped feeling drawn to main stream lotions and creams (they felt plasticky and sticky and not at all appealing, especially the scents), however I have always loved skin care products though. I needed replacements, and at that time (2003-2004; I formally founded Earthwise in December 2005) I was living in New York City and Whole Foods just opened up at Union Square where I spent quite a bit of time several times a week. And those NYC Whole Foods had the most beautiful bath and body departments filled with unfamiliar brands, at that time pioneers of the all-natural beauty movement. At the same time, I always swallowed books on herbal healing and nutritional healing, and soon somehow started reading on aromatherapy. It occurred to me to check online whether they had any books with skin care recipes-and they actually did, like 5 of them total (if you checked Amazon today, you would probably find 100). So I bought all of them and started experimenting as soon as I saved up a little for my first ingredients.

What attracted you to such raw and unique ingredients?

I started out using the ingredients that my herbal healing or DIY books mentioned: dried herbs, witch hazel, glycerin, but I would still use my knowledge about herbs to choose ones that I had a feeling for, for their properties, and my reading on nutritional healing guided me toward unrefined oils. Then with experience making products, smelling each ingredient as I would make a new batch or a new test run, one becomes more discerning. Suddenly an oil didn't seem fresh or vibrant so I would search for a new supplier. During such online searches, I would come upon gold on a rare occasion: a supplier that speaks my language. I also must credit one former employee of mine (and now a friend) who thanks to her many talents and attunement to what I was trying to achieve and the criteria I had for ingredients, also managed to find a few wonderful suppliers (although, bear in mind, trying lots and lots of oils, essential oils, butters, extracts, and absolutes to find great ones is a very time-consuming, lengthy process-you can only try about 2 oils on your face a day, one in the morning and one at night).

It is hard to explain how I come upon rare ingredients. Some of them I learn about from my medical aromatherapy books, for instance. Then others I might learn from my supplier whose passion is similar to mine, to search the world for the most vibrant, alive, honestly and carefully pressed oils. It is hard to explain, there must be some scientific or perhaps alchemy-related fascination for me with the highest quality in various ingredients categories: I have smelled many, many different ylang ylang oils in my life and just by smelling the oil, I can tell special quality.

I am always a little afraid to sound as some put woo-woo, to speak about oils talking to me. But great herbalists always talk about plants talking to them... When I experience an oil that is truly special, its many healing properties somehow manifest themselves to me, either the scent makes me feel in a certain way and makes me think that a longer use would fill some void in my psyche, or the oil just calls to me so I know I need to research the properties further to get a clearer idea what nameable properties it has (my intuition will tell me that an oil is powerfully healing but it won't tell me what skin conditions might be helped with it) and what chemical composition it has. But at other times, I test an oil that is comforting and pleasurable in terms of texture or fragrance, and I may also enjoy it for those qualities. There is the herbalist-alchemist side to me and the woman-who-loves-products side. The latter strives to create unique potions that are luxurious to use in every way.

What sets Earthwise Beauty apart from other natural skincare brands?

I always see so many differences between my approach and what others are doing, but that is probably because I am so immersed in this niche. A few differentiators that come to mind:

--All the products are created from start to finish by me (not by a chemist, not by a chemist-marketer duo, not by a department). My personal loves, biases, preferences will be reflected, including my geography (I can really see my point of view changed since we moved out of Arizona to Pacific Northwest). I don't use oils I personally don't like (argan oil-I have not yet tried one that I would like), and I don't use essential oils or absolutes that I don't like (sandalwoods, patchouli, most frankincense and neroli -although this can change if I sample a beautiful specimen one day). I happen to be drawn to deep, earthy, spirit-affecting oils these days such as myrrh, galbanum, vetiver, and that is reflected in the products I create.

-Our ingredients are sourced with many years of expertise. It is not just getting online and pressing the Pay button. Many customers don't realize that a huge amount of essential oils on the market are adulterated and that is why either the fragrance is not great, or they get allergic reactions. The reason for it is usually adulteration, and it would not be the case with pure, organic oils from small artisanal distillers. Many botanical oils sold are rancid or refined. A new skincare product maker may not have the experience to select good and fresh ingredients.

-Some larger companies don't use expensive essential oils but create the "natural" fragrance from isolated components of essential oils. The fragrance may at first seem pleasing but there won't be aromatherapy benefits.

-I cannot bring myself to use fillers even though it hurts us financially. I don't even use sunflower, grapeseed, or safflower oil, which are common fillers in even luxury brands. I know they are fillers so I cannot just put them there. I have to create the est product I can when I follow a particular idea.

-One other differentiator is that I try to create products that are a little offbeat, that offer something refreshingly different. There is not that much fun for me to bottle and sell rose hydrosol even though I know I could source one that is high quality. I get great satisfaction creating something new and different-and also certainly potent and healing.

-One other differentiator could be that I like to take a longer time to develop a new product. I like to make a trial run, think on it, use it multiple times, give it to volunteer testers, etc. Then I have ideas for improvements, make a second trial run, and so on, it is usually five versions or maybe seven before I arrive at something I am ready to sell. I want the product to deliver on many levels and to make a difference in the particular skin concerns I am working to address.

-I am a huge believer in fair trade sourcing and environmentally friendly business practices. It can be a lot of work actually to ponder each choice of a new supply, say packing tape and shipping boxes, but for a products company that uses a lot of such materials, it would be unconscionable to overlook searching for eco options and using them if they exist.

How do you source and process your ingredients to keep your products as close to nature as possible? And why is this so important?

As far as storing the ingredients: we generally like to protect everything from light. Dry herbs, for example, are stored in closed cabinets, and some non-perishable bottled products are covered with cloth. Oils and essential oils are stored in refrigerators as cool, stable temperature prolongs the freshness. Just like fresh food has a feeling of aliveness, minimally processed oils have that aliveness, too.

How do you research and find the amazingly rare ingredients you use in your products?
Rather than go online and see what is there, most of my research is guided by the books I read and by the alternative healing gurus I learn from.

How do you test and review your products before it becoming available to the public?

First I test each ingredient singly to get a feel for what it can do to my skin. Sometimes I get help from close friends who have skin types other than mine or particular skin conditions and at the same time are scientists or science-minded and can offer thorough testing and detailed feedback. Then we test the trial runs: first me and then volunteer testers whose skin type I know well and who are knowledgeable about natural skin care products.

What message do you wish to send to women (and men) who use your product or want to be more aware of natural beauty?

I wish that women use their intuition when choosing which brands to support and which products to choose. We all can achieve so much by sending our money to the companies that truly deserve it because they help to make the world better. Resist marketing hype and if you feel the need to keep trying new brands and cannot settle on anything, ask yourself why is it so? We can save ourselves some money and grow from looking inwards and asking, what void am I trying to fill, what unmet need? There is no one who has perfect skin every day.

My products' color and fragrance corresponds to the skin care benefits: green and blue products will be cooling, cleansing, anti-inflammatory, and refreshing; orange and yellow will be more nurturing. The fragrances, especially of my more recent creations such as Ambrosia del Cerrado, Tangerine Skies, Magical Babassu, and Ferns and Moss are created to be healing on deeper levels of the spirit.

What is a day in the life of Ava like?

I wish I could say I take hikes with my children daily and I cook healthy vegan meals. The reality right now is that I am spread very thin, still getting used to a big house, have two very small children (Yanek wakes up many times a night), and our families live in other countries so they are not near to offer help. Right now, I do work very hard because this is the nature of an entrepreneurial ventures, and following my skin care product passions means I need to find a way to pay for the ingredients. On weekends, we try to take walks, hikes, have playdates, walk to the library for a new load of children's books, and we tend to eat out.

Ava and Luke's eldest son Roman

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