This winter did a number on my skin and I was getting rough, red, irritated spots which were driving me crazy. I happened to be at a health food store in Manhattan and a pretty glass jar caught my eye, promising a body butter made of organic avocado butter, meadowfoam and green tea (all ingredients whose many health benefits I am familiar with) that was vegan and cruelty free. I picked it up and a delicious vanilla scent sold me at once. I bought it and tried it the next day. The body butter turned from a soft, ultra light mousse in my hand to a sultry oil on my arms and legs. I smelled wonderful and my skin was so soft. The patchy dryness vanished. I was hooked.
A few weeks later, so impressed by the product was I that I tracked down the founder and creator of the brand - Cyrah’s Au Naturale – to see if she’d tell me her story. She obliged and it’s so neat, I have to share it with you:
Mom, Businesswoman and Nature-Lover
Shellaine Plunkett, the creator of Cyrah’s Au Naturale, is the proud mama of a 9-year-old daughter, a businesswoman and a nature lover. About 4 years ago, she began experiencing strange rashes and had trouble breathing. Doctors told her she had allergies, however, none of the medications they gave her - from allergy shots to Benadryl - worked. Shellaine, a native of Jamaica, who grew up a nature lover surrounded by grass and trees, had never had allergies before and, with Western medicine failing her, began to seek holistic remedies. She spent years researching oils, butters, natural remedies, nutrition, and ways to take care of the body in a “clean,” chemical-free and holistic manner. Over time, she discovered the only way to guarantee purity of products and ingredients was to make them herself. Because her daughter, Cyrah, loves being her mom’s little sidekick and helping to make the products, Shellaine decided to call them after her. Cyrah’s Au Naturale was born.
There was a lot of trial and error in the beginning, including a day when the top of a bottle of essential oil came loose and the entire bottle emptied into the Shea Butter Shellaine was melting, ruining her entire batch of lotion. Another time, the lid came loose off the blender, covering Shellaine, her daughter and the entire kitchen with avocado butter.
To Shellaine, the most important aspect of her products is their integrity. She will not use an ingredient that is not organic. Being “natural” is not enough. When I asked about this she reminded me that “So-called natural products can contain synthetics. I will not put synthetics in my products.” All her ingredients must be responsibly and ethically sourced, cruelty free, organic, and of the highest quality or she just won’t use them. These are the products she puts on her skin and her daughter’s skin so, she explains, they must be pure and safe and healthy.
The products are all plant-based and she uses essential oils as natural preservatives. Some of Shellaine’s favorite go-to ingredients are tea tree oil, Vitamin E and Rosemary, all of which preserve the product and are good for the skin. Although the products come in a range of fragrances, the fragrances are created through infused essential oils, not chemical perfumes.
Cyrah and the Brand Mentality
Shellaine’s little girl, Cyrah, is the inspiration for these organic, holistic bath and body luxuries. Cyrah, a sparkly-eyed, energetic 9-year-old, particularly loves the lotion bars she makes with her mom – a pretty-shaped solid bar that “gives you a massage as you use it!”
To Shellaine, the business is an opportunity not just to create and market a great product that is good for people, the planet and animals, but a way to bond with and teach her daughter. They create the products together and test them out together. “The business means so much to me because I’m doing it for her,” Shellaine explains, referring to Cyrah. “This is something for her to have one day to call her own. A legacy to leave for her.”
Right now, Shellaine (with Cyrah’s help!) makes every single product personally. She manages to keep her price point low by doing it all herself based on a passion for authentically organic and pure products. Currently, there are eight Cyrah’s Au Naturale body and hair luxuries and Shellaine plans to add soaps to the offerings by March 2017:
1. Hair Fix Shellaine’s very first concoction and the one that turned Cyrah’s Au Naturale from a hobby into a business: an organic hair butter made with essential oils which enhance the healing properties in of the Shea butter.
2. Peppermint Oil for the Hair This is Shellaine’s best selling product. It’s good for men and women (for men with thinning hair, the peppermint oil is really great for reducing build up on the scalp that can lead to clogged, irritated hair follicles and hair loss!).
3. Hot Oil Treatment Crafted with deeply penetrating essential oils that repair, restore and revive dead hair, this heat activated, triple enriched formula conditions and soothes the scalp and hair. And it’s only $10(!!!!)
1. Whipped Body Butter My personal favorite. The vanilla infused fragrance will make you want to eat it. Shellaine said it moisturizes for 24 hours, however, I think it actually works for longer than that. It’s AMAZING.
2. Body Oil Cold-pressed oils handmade to order for use in a hydrating massage or as a moisturizer. Shellaine uses jojoba oil, avocado oil, bergamot, rose, lavender, lemongrass, orange, lime, and tangerine oils to make these delectable oils. The rose one has actual dried organic rose petals in it and is as pretty as it is healthy and effective.
3. Lotion Bar This is the one little Cyrah uses every day because it is a quick, easy and mess-free hydrator. Shaped like a little flower, the lotion bar is too cute for words.
4. Hand Salve This is packaged in a tin for easy use and you can rub it on your elbows, knees, feet – anywhere your skin is rough and needs some TLC. It smells like soft, bright, happy citrus. This one is vegetarian as opposed to vegan because it contains beeswax.
5. Body Scrubs Crafted with raw Shea butter for deep hydration and the finest Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee grounds and organic brown sugar for gentle but effective exfoliation and cold pressed oils, this one is particularly good for folks with eczema or cellulite (the coffee grounds!!! I’ve blogged about their benefits in this area before!).
Wonderful Products Made by a Wonderful Human Being
One of the nicest things for me is using a wonderful product that I love while knowing at the same time it is sustainable, cruelty-free and organic. It’s practically a miracle when I can add that I had the honor of personally meeting the product’s creator and discovered she is such a genuine, kind, nice human being! I couldn’t recommend her or her products more!