Adina Grigore is the founder and CEO of the thriving all-natural skincare line S.W. Basics and the author of Skin Cleanse and Just the Essentials: a comprehensive guide to essential oils. We asked Adina to share her entrepreneurial secrets and great tips on natural beauty and wellness.
Words: Meri Frig
In Just the Essentials, you write that essential oils are your first line of defense for many things. How do you use essential oils yourself?
I incorporate essential oils into my skincare and life in a ton of different ways. When I’m in the mood to DIY, I use minty oils to make toothpaste, eucalyptus and citronella oils to repel moths and bugs, cinnamon oil to quiet a migraine, and lemon oil to clean my counters. When I’m feeling sluggish or stressed, or can’t sleep, I diffuse different blends. My beauty cabinet houses more essential oils than any other products (seriously, I think I have 100 bottles). Essential oils are also the star ingredients in many of S.W. Basics’ products, making them more potent, giving them a longer shelf-life, and helping them smell great. So, if I’m not in the mood to whip something up in my kitchen, I’ll grab our Toner or a scented Cream, or our Functional Fragrances, which are also all around my house.
What are your own absolute favourite essential oils?
I have a list of top ten essential oils that are my personal favorites because they offer a wide variety of health benefits (they don’t just smell good). They’re also affordable and you can incorporate them into your life really easily. They include lemon, cinnamon, lemongrass, clary sage, lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, sweet orange, and peppermint. That said, smell preferences are going to vary from person to person, so if you’re new to essential oils, it’s important to sniff around to find what makes you feel best.
What are some of the simple changes that can lessen the toxic load in our lives? Why is it so important today?
Making your own products from natural ingredients is one easy way to help lesson your exposure to everyday chemicals. The vast majority of our skincare products contain preservatives, fillers, and synthetic fragrances, but if you make your own from simple, kitchen cabinet ingredients, or find a clean brand that you love, that impact is huge. These days, we are bombarded with pollutants, why not do what you can to ease that burden on your body and health?
Skin Cleanse presents a simple program for clear, calm, happy skin. The readers have been charmed: many have said it has improved their life and their skin tremendously. What does a skin cleanse entail?
It’s actually very simple! A skin cleanse is a way to detox your skin by eliminating all your beauty products in order to figure out the ingredients that your skin loves and what it hates. It’s meant for people who break out, struggle with rashes, uneven skin, or general irritation. The most hardcore way to cleanse is to take a break from all your products and simply wash with water. After a few days, you can slowly start to incorporate one product back into your routine at a time. If your skin starts acting up, you’ll be able to nail down what’s causing the issue. However, your cleanse should be individual to you, and as long as you’re taking a break from something, it counts. If the first option sounds too intense, opt for a more do-able version: no packaged products allowed, and instead use a DIY product or single ingredient from your kitchen. The goal is to cut back, to simplify, and to pay attention to what happens.
"These days, we are bombarded with pollutants, why not do what you can to ease that burden on your body and health?"
Green Beauty Guru: Adina Grigore #Savant
In the S.W. Basics website you write "For us, less isn’t just more; less is everything." Can you elaborate on that?
When I switched from using formulas made from long ingredient lists I couldn’t pronounce to versions made from, say, coconut oil and sea salt, it was as if I had stumbled upon a sorcerer’s chest of magical, healing elixirs. Simple, natural ingredients do more than smell pretty and taste nice — they contain potent plant-based compounds that offer real benefits for your skin. My skin improved immediately, and this concept became the foundation S.W. Basics.
You started your path as a beauty guru in your Brooklyn kitchen, where you first started to make simple skincare products for yourself. Now as the founder and CEO of the successful all-natural skincare line S.W. Basics, you are seen as an entrepreneurial heroine. Can you share some of your entrepreneurial secrets to new entrepreneurs?
Make a plan (because I didn’t), learn who to trust and what advice to ignore, and then roll with the punches. There will be a lot of them. Remember that right now you think you have a magical idea that will change the world (and that might be true!), but that’s not enough to survive. You have to get really, really tough and learn to put your head down and work hard, even when no one cares or praises you.
"Campaigns tend to target women’s insecurities, but let’s turn that on its head and stop striving for some ideal that doesn’t really exist. What if women actually felt empowered by what they're putting onto their bodies?"
You have written that essential oils, as well as the beauty industry, desperately need a makeover. What would you like to see changed first and foremost?
I believe there should be more transparency and more accountability from everyone — the beauty companies themselves, their manufacturers, and of course the FDA. I’d like to see a shift in the tone of beauty marketing, as well. Campaigns tend to target women’s insecurities, but let’s turn that on its head and stop striving for some ideal that doesn’t really exist. What if women actually felt empowered by what they're putting onto their bodies? That’s the ultimate goal.
You are often described as someone that is exceptionally kind and down-to-earth. Kindness is said to be the secret to success, happiness, better health, and to being undeniably attractive. Do you think kindness is something that comes naturally or with effort and practice?
Ha! It depends on what time of day you ask me… No, the truth is I work really hard at it. I’m extremely sensitive and do not handle being hurt very well, so it makes me really conscious of what it feels like to be on the other side of my meanness. In business, it’s really easy to forget that you are talking to real human beings and forming relationships (and a reputation that will outlive you). If you can practice empathy and kindness towards others, and put yourself in someone else’s shoes when you disagree with them or are feeling defensive — to me that’s when everything gets better. But for sure it takes work!!