What it really means to be a holistic skin care company& why creating sanctuary is an absolute necessity for anyone wanting to live holistically.
Holistic Vs. Clean
We can define “clean” products — beauty or otherwise — as products that don’t contain harmful toxins. Or if we go a bit further, products not containing ingredients that don’t come from nature.
Holistic is something more complex. By definition, holistic implies an integrated approach recognizing and supporting the entire matrix of an organism. We believe that it should include that “clean” definition and “clean” practices, but clean alone is not enough to be defined as holistic.
For many attempting to practice a holistic lifestyle, the concept will end with the ‘self’ — an individual person. It’s easy to think that a holistic approach ends with the unification and harmonization of mind, body and spirit.
But is this really holistic? Can something considering the health and well-being of the whole be holistic when it’s only considering one organism? If holistic means ‘considering the whole’ then how far does that stretch? Can something really be ‘whole’ if it doesn’t actually acknowledge the true whole, or if parts of the whole are neglected?
To us, holistic includes the self but also transcends it.
Nothing can be truly holistic if it limits its definition of ‘whole’ to include less than all the many factors that make up the whole. Holistic transcends individualism. Holistic must stretch beyond the individual and out into the community. It must stretch beyond the human community and into the earth.
There are many ‘wholes’ — And a whole individual is one part of a greater whole, the way a single cell is a whole part of the larger organism it exists within. To be truly holistic, we must recognize ourselves as part of that larger whole, and always consider our role as humans interwoven into the more immense ecosystem we are a part of.
Holistics must include the well-being of other human beings, the well-being of nonhuman life, and the well-being of the earth.
The responsibility that comes with a commitment to a truly holistic approach is not just about what you don’t do, butwhat you do. It’s integrative and connective.
A Truly Holistic Approach
A truly holistic approach takes care of the self (the body and the mind/emotions) while also uniting it with the broader human community and the earth — while simultaneously acknowledging and caring for the other individual organisms within the whole.
As with all things, there are micro and macro representations of this.
The same way we recognize deficiencies in traditional holistic healing modalities like Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda — organs and systems and pathways that are undernourished or obstructed — we must also recognize the deficiencies in the larger world. Places where equality is lacking, places of deficit where certain centers of the larger organism are being under-nourished and neglected.
We must recognize these deficiencies so we can lift up, nourish and heal those under-cared for parts of our communities, which in turn heals and empowers the whole, the entire collective organism.
This is why standing up for equity, diversity and inclusion in regards to human and environmental rights
must be at the forefront for all people and companies who value holism.
This is also why ethics in sourcing matters. Why sourcing ingredients must empower the farmers and ingredient producers. Why growing and harvesting practices must support and empower the land.
Holism In Practice
Two places that really separate ‘clean’ from ‘holistic’ are in sourcing & philosophy.
Much like the word clean, organic alone does not communicate if something is or is not holistic.
Here’s an example:
If we sourced our argan oil from a producer that used organic practices to grow/harvest/extract the oil, but was also exploitative of its workers, the oil wouldn’t be holistic. It would be natural/clean/organic but not holistic because the overall practices do not support the whole of everyone who is involved in the production/experience of the oil.
Something can be organic and mass-produced with exploitative labor.
Similarly, if we reinforced the beauty ideology of anti-aging — an emotionally harmful mentality — this would also not be holistic. Beauty philosophy and inclusivity is just as important in a holistic approach as every other factor.
Sanctuary is the Outcome of a Holistic Approach
The ethics of holistic living
Creating sanctuary is an inextricable aspect of being a holistic skin care company.
The initial goal of evanhealy when it was created by Evan Healy and David Gordon over 20 years ago was to make people feel good in their own skin. And as the company grew and evolved, that same intention spread outward to include not just the people using the end-product but everyone and everything our business touches: our ingredient suppliers, our team, the earth, the broader human community, and then of course, still, the individual using the products in their quiet moments of self-care and self-nourishment.
But it goes beyond that, too. Because we can’t limit the meaning of ‘whole,’ remember? Ethics, along with social and environmental responsibility, are at the core of holism and sustainability.
Holistic means whole.
Holistic means everyone.
And so sanctuary must become the true motivation behind our actions.
Sanctuary is the outcome of a proper holistic approach.
Sanctuary for the skin.
Sanctuary for the earth we are a part of.
Sanctuary for the community of farmers and ingredient producers who are so essential at getting the plants from the land to the bottle in your hands.
Sanctuary for all humans to feel safe and valued and worthy and beautiful.
To support the whole is not just to support the whole body of one individual person, although it does not exclude that. To be truly holistic we must support the entire organism. We must tend to the collective well-being of the world, and infuse support, nourishment, upliftment and empowerment in every facet of what we do.
It’s about more than simply creating products that support the skin. To be truly holistic, our products must be beneficial for everyone involved. The ingredients must be created and sourced ethically and sustainably. Even the language and imagery tied to the products must create a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment for all.
This means that inclusivity is non-negotiable. The space created by holistic companies and a holistic lifestyle must be safe and empowering for People of Color, LGBTQ+ people, Plus-sized people, and all people in the margins. Racism, sexism/gender essentialism, homophobia, fatphobia, xenophobia, anti-semitism, Islamophobia — these have absolutely no place in a holistic lifestyle or in holistic skin care.
Our Holistic Approach
includes, but is not limited to:
T H E P H Y S I C A L :
Simplicity in supportive skin care — working with the rhythms of the body and considering the long-term health of the skin.
Working with whole plants because we trust in the complex power of nature.
Practicing seasonal skin care & lunar skin care.
Engaging in active listening with the skin, and trusting the body to tell us what it needs.
Recognizing skin as a diagnostic tool and acknowledging that its imbalances are symptoms of internal disharmony (both physically and emotionally).
Considering the way the skin is a microcosm that reflects the larger natural world around us.
T H E M E N T A L / E M O T I O N A L :
An empowering beauty philosophy that supports and uplifts — looking at beauty in a way that is healing and inclusive rather than aspirational and exclusionary.
Cultivating empathy, compassion and patience.
Recognizing that skin care is internal as well as external. What we consume (physically/emotionally/mentally) deeply affects the skin.
T H E C O M M U N I T Y :
Supporting our partners. Cultivating direct relationships, paying premium prices, and never separating the humanity from the production.
Creating a safe environment for our customers & colleagues.
Creating an inclusive space through our product selection, imagery and language.
Spreading awareness and donating to causes that support human rights.
T H E E A R T H :
Working with small organic family farms & ingredient producers that have deep reverence for the earth in their philosophies and practices.
Spreading awareness and donating to causes that support environmental rights.
Using sustainable practices in ingredient and packaging including choosing glass and recycled materials.
Two very simple touchstones for living a holistic life:
1. Consider your impact.
Does this create a safe space for myself and the world around me?
Does it empower, nourish and support the whole?
2. Remember: If a practice causes you distress, enforces toxic mindsets, or if it harms others — it is not holistic.
Toxic Mindsets In The Wellness Community
& Creating truly safe spaces for wholeness and healing
In the world of Wellness some individuals can develop an obsession with ‘purity’. While we certainly advocate pursuing the most beautiful and nourishing foods and ingredients, the pursuit of purity at all costs can lead to rigid and dogmatic mindsets that can ultimately be damaging to ourselves and to others.
One way it can express itself in the individual is through orthorexia, an eating disorder that stems from an obsession with ‘clean’ eating. Moving outward, it can express itself in the judgement of others based on what they choose to eat or put on their bodies. Or can even turn into value judgements about the appearance of others.
Here’s the thing: wholeness is inclusive. It requires compassion and understanding and humility. Wholeness does not exclude or alienate.
There’s a bit of irony that an obsession with purity can lead to emotional toxicity. And it’s this same white knuckled grip on controlling our biology that has led to other toxic ideas, like eugenics.
Though changing, modern beauty standards are rooted in an all too often profoundly toxic culture. Still deeply ageist, fatphobic and Eurocentric, they reinforce a sense of inadequacy that makes beauty into something that is only attainable when you’re constantly spending money to acquire and then maintain it.
It can take ages to unlearn these beauty ideologies, dismantle these definitions, and then discover our own perceptions of what beauty means to us. And even once we’ve done that, it’s still an ongoing process. But one that is worth it, because changing the modern perceptions of beauty takes the work of every one of us.
Let’s make beauty whole. Let’s broaden our definition of beauty to be more empowering and inclusive and joyful. Because we can. Beauty is what we make of it.