EXPERT INTERVIEW No.1: ELIJAH CHOO, FOUNDER OF ECO-LUXE BRAND BODHI&BIRCH

Wednesday, 19 October 2016



Elijah Choo is the founder behind the incredible Eco-luxe brand Bodhi & Birch; a brand which uses the fusion of Eastern and Western botanicals to produce some of the most beautiful and uniquely scented formulations I have ever tried. I was lucky enough to interview Elijah on his brand ethos, his personal recommendations and his views on the future of natural health and the concept of slow beauty for well being. I really hope you love this first expert interview and I would love to know what you think :) 

L.M xxx

WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND BODHI & BIRCH AND HOW DID IT BEGIN?

E.C:  Bodhi & Birch was inspired by my background interest in botany, travel and home remedies. Growing up I used to concoct my own products, mixing ingredients like a mad scientist. Nowadays the ingredients are carefully sourced from around the world and not just from the kitchen.
I created the first product, Pep Noir, shortly after moving into Bittell Farm. I was restoring our new house and was constantly washing my hands, eventually causing my skin to become severely dry. The ingredient SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulphate) was the problem; it compromises skin’s defense layers and causes it to weaken. In getting rid of this ingredient in my skincare routine, my skin became healthier and stronger. 

YOUR ECO-LUXE BLENDS ARE BEAUTIFUL AND UNIQUE; DO YOU HAVE A HISTORY IN AROMATHERAPY?  

E.C: I am not an aromatherapist nor a perfumier. I realised I have a unique sense for smell. I love an evocative fragrance and at the time natural skincare downplayed the scent in their products. I thought; there must be some way to combine natural, (mineral oil, SLS and paraben free) with a luxury aroma-therapeutic scent experience. When creating blends, I set out to weave an aromatic journey that transports the senses away of the ordinary and across boundaries. Bodhi & Birch look into the history of skincare and beauty to source our active ingredients. These are often legendary botanicals that have been used by humans for hundreds of years.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE INGREDIENTS AND SKINCARE RECOMMENDATIONS? 

DRY SKIN

E.C: Before you start thinking about dry skin, start with a product that doesn't strip away skin’s moisture in the first place. If you go down that line first it’s half the battle won. Then, use a good facial oil. I prefer drier oils; there are many different types of nut and seed oils and natural botanicals, they range from those that are very fine, to butter like textures. They have different molecular structures, and the finer the oil; the more it can penetrate your skin, which means it will also be absorbed into the skin deeper and faster, leaving your skin less greasy. 

Plum kernel oil is one of my favourites and olive squalane, a lipid derived from olive oil (whereas squalene is found in mammals and fish). We naturally produce squalene in our body but the production level drops off when we are in our 20s - squalane is the botanical version.

What is often beneficial for those with dry skin is that you want to deal with two issues, first for the skin to be hydrated and restored, and then protected. (Double moisturisation) 

First, apply a layer that helps to hydrate and nourish such as a quality face oil and then follow with a facial moisturiser to offer another layer of occlusive protection. Generally, I'm a believer that you use the product that's the finest first for the best absorption. Face oil can act as a serum and is a potent restorative product, and then you can layer other products on top.




ANTI-AGEING SKINCARE

EC: With anti- ageing products, this is a slightly tricky problem because it comes down to keeping your skin healthy and eating healthily, and a lot is due to your genetics- unfortunately.  However, nutrition does a lot, so I would recommend looking into your diet, what you eat, how you eat. Keep healthy and happy – if you're stressed out, or if you don't sleep well, that’s not going to help.
Topical skincare comes in to maintain and preserve- and it needs to be pleasurable. As you get older your body doesn’t regenerate as fast and your skin gets drier, so choose products that do not aggravate and do not inflame your skin and will then nourish your skin- Aim to use a treatment mask; once or  twice a week in addition to your skincare routine.

ACNE PRONE/ COMBINATION SKIN

With acne prone skin, the underlying cause should always be investigated first. That being said, one of the things that I always find is a lot of people who have oily skin tend to over cleanse their skin to such a point that your skin overcompensates- because you’ve just stripped the skin of all the oils,  your skin behaves like anything in nature and tries to restore balance, by overproducing sebum.

To balance oil production I recommend using a balancing oil blend that regulates your sebum so in doing so you're essentially tricking your skin. Jojoba oil is a very good base oil for normal, combination and oily skin and if the oils in the blend have antimicrobial properties than even better- some carrier oils and most essential oils do.

WHICH BOTANICAL INGREDIENTS ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT? 

EC: I'm very excited about Cacay oil. Prickly pear oil is also gorgeous- and plum kernel oil because it smells like bakewell tart- it is highly emollient, sinks into your skin and your skin smells delicious too.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE OF NATURAL HEALTH IS?

EC: It’s a tough one, but it’s becoming more recognised and most people, even if you were to buy a shampoo or a facial cleanser, would want to be more eco-conscious about their choices; there is a sense of appeal to it. In terms of nutrition and organic food, you can grow your own. Even if you live in a city- you can grow microsalads, microherbs and plant window boxes; they are seriously easy to grow.

More consumers are clued up as there is more coverage about natural health and wellbeing. It started with food, and where the food comes from, then it extended into skincare, the house and clothing; all of theses products have an effect on wellbeing. Taking that into consideration, It seems that there is a shift to the route of Slow Beauty and a demand for products that are more artisanal or even bespoke. Slow beauty is about using a product that enhances the health of your skin over time, improves your wellbeing and most importantly, makes you happy in the process.

www.bodhiandbirch.com

xxx



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