We’ve been making natural for over 20 years and while it’s definitely a team effort, our Owner and CEO, Karina Birch, has been grinding to formulate the products you love since the very beginning. Rocky products and especially Rocky skincare are founded on simplicity. It’s the idea that nature has everything you need for beautiful skin for life. With that in mind, Karina got to work formulating this beautiful collection of hard-working products that multitask — it only took 10 years! We want to share that story with you.
What does natural mean to you?
Karina: Natural is a lifestyle. It is about quality of life, craftsmanship, curation. Natural is this idea that less is more and with that, this sense of abundance.
How did natural as a concept evolve for you over time?
Discovering a natural lifestyle is a journey, and mine started 21 years ago when I first started creating natural products. I refer to that time as kitchen cosmetics. It was definitely more like a chef in the kitchen, an artist, a creator, taking these natural ingredients and turning them into these beautiful products.
Over time it became a transition into bringing more of the science into it, and again thinking about that time 21 years ago, natural was not a trend. Nobody was doing it. I felt like a bit of an outcast because when I would reach out for help to other chemists, or some of the ingredient manufacturers, it was like well, you know, why is 100% natural so important to you, why not 99% or 95%. And I was so stubborn. I was so insistent that it had to be all or nothing.
How did that feel?
That was such an interesting time for me because it was very much this time of feeling, not alone, but feeling very much challenged. Today we're in this abundant period where it's not just me formulating in my kitchen. We have a beautiful product development lab where we really truly get to pair the science and the art into creating high quality, curated, luxurious, nutrient-rich natural formulas.
What is natural?
Natural is not a regulated term, so there isn't a body. Health Canada — the government doesn't say, this is natural and this isn't natural. It really is relying on the brand to decide what is or isn't natural and so early on, when we knew this was the case that natural wasn't regulated we went and created our own standard for natural.
What is that natural standard? What are the processes?
I want to talk to you about that because at the end of the day we know that we can't put a carrot on our skin, right? So what is it that we're allowed to do to a carrot, to a plant, to a flower, to these beautiful, natural ingredients that still keeps it natural.
It starts with natural sourcing. From there we have a very short list of processes that we're allowed to use that still keeps that ingredient natural. Things like CO2 extraction, cold pressed saponification — which is the process of turning oils into soap — those are the allowable processes, and then the next step from there is about safety. How do we ensure that just because it's natural, that it's also safe for us and good for us to use. In the short term as well as in the long term.
So we look at Cosmetic Ingredient Review, Health Canada’s Hotlist, David Suzuki's Dirty Dozen, World Health Organization … we're always scanning for information that a natural ingredient is potentially not safe for us. Then from there we do all kinds of testing, we challenge our natural preservatives so that we know they stand the test of time. Remember, when you're formulating natural you're using these amazing, high-quality, rich, fresh ingredients, so they're not going to last 10 years in a jar without going bad. We use natural preservatives that give our products a shelf life of about one to two years, and before we launch a new product we test it, we ensure that yes, it does meet that standard. At the end of the day, once we pass all of those stages in our natural formulation, we're also then looking at the quality of our packaging and it just goes on and on and on so every formulation process can be anywhere from, on the short side, 18 months up to three years.
How long did it take you to develop the skincare line?
Our skincare collection was created about 10 years ago. It took us five years to develop and it was painstakingly detailed pouring over every single ingredient. We formulate from scratch. So we start with: what are the attributes we're designing to in the formula? What are the best natural ingredients that are going to give us those skin benefits? So before we even start adding ingredients into a jar, there's all of this work on the research and development side just to understand what's that cocktail of ingredients and skincare benefits that we want to start to create. That was the philosophy behind our skincare routine and it took us five years to get to the point where we had this curated collection. For us at Rocky, skincare is not a 17-step routine. It's much simpler than that. And the benefit of that idea that philosophy is: less is more.
With these nutrient dense highly-rich antioxidant formulas, it's really about being able to layer and multitask and do a lot with these hard working formulas. So, for example, as you move through the seasons with your skincare. It could be that the face cream is enough in the summertime, but as we move into fall, I would add a few drops of the serum. The face polish can also be used as a mask. The cleansing oil, while great for removing makeup, can also be used to put a drop of oil in your hair, a drop in the bath, I use it to moisturize my legs. We call them Rocky hacks. So this is what I mean, these highly dense nutrient rich formulas are really there to do so much more than just one thing.
Is there anything else you want to add about why natural is so important to you?
There's a lot to worry about in the world today, and I feel that skincare shouldn't be one of them. So I invite you to discover Rocky's high-quality natural products and see what our skincare collection can do for your skin.
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