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We've all heard about the fabulous beauty tricks that coconut oil can perform. It's a makeup remover, a skin moisturizer and can even deep condition your hair. Cocokind, a Bay-Area based skincare company, harnesses the super powers of this miracle ingredient in all of its yummy organic products.
Company founder Priscilla Tsai believes in this natural ingredient so much that she left her job as an equity research associate with J.P. Morgan in New York and moved to San Francisco to start her business. And her path to organic beauty is quite a personal one: She first began experimenting with virgin coconut oil, and mixing it with other natural oils, in an effort to help with her eczema and other skin problems.
Tsai's concoctions worked, and, today, she's focused on creating and selling her chemical-free potions and lotions. All of the products are made in an organic-compliant kitchen in Berkeley, and stored in a warehouse in South San Francisco. They're distributed in hundreds of stores around the US and Australia. And the prices are reasonable (i.e. $2.99 for lip balm and $13.99 for skin butter.)
We recently sat down with the skincare maven to find out more about her company and the magic of virgin coconut oil.
Tell us about Cocokind and how it came to be.
Cocokind is a certified organic and socially conscious skincare line all based on virgin coconut oil. It was launched in November 2014, and we're sold in natural supermarkets like Whole Foods. I have always, always wanted to start my own consumer business, and build a brand with integrity. Starting Cocokind was (seriously) one of the easiest decisions I've ever made.
What is the magic behind virgin coconut oil?
It's amaze-ing! The ingredient is just as effective topically as it is internally. For one, it delivers a ton of antioxidants to your skin. This promotes its natural regeneration—unlike many mainstream moisturizers that force skin regeneration. Additionally, coconut oil is one of the most quickly absorbed carrier oils out there. So instead of sitting on top of your skin, it actually gets absorbed into the deep layers. It's important to note that you get the most benefits from using organic virgin (or unrefined) coconut oil—not fractionated or refined coconut oil. There's an easy way to distinguish between the two: If your jar of coconut oil is always liquid no matter what temperature, it's not natural; virgin, unrefined coconut will solidify at normal temperatures.
How did you get into the beauty biz?
By creating something that I needed personally. I've had very real experiences with a myriad of skin issues growing up (acne, sun damage from being outdoors, eczema, unhealthy eating habits, etc.). Because of these issues and many unsuccessful prescriptions from dermatologists, I stumbled upon organic coconut oil and decided to give it a try. My success with organic virgin coconut oil led me to avocado oil, which led me to rosehip oil, essential oils, shea butter, etc. The rest is history!
I tried and experimented with almost every natural and organic ingredient under the sun. For example, I learned that grapeseed is an amazing and gentle firming oil, so I used that around my eyes. I learned that my face loved the combination of avocado oil with coconut oil, as it was more easily absorbed by my skin than pure coconut oil alone. Before I knew it, I had created blends that increased the function of my base ingredient [coconut oil] for specific areas of my lips, face or body. I wasn't doing this because I was thinking about selling a product (yet). I was doing this because my skin really needed it.
Which Cocokind products should newbies try first?
We currently have four face products, two body products, and four lip balms. For people who have never used virgin coconut oil, I would recommend starting with our Organic Facial Repair Serum and Organic Skin Butter.
The Facial Repair Serum is a substitute for your traditional face lotion. You can use it once or twice a day, and it is as gentle as it is moisturizing. It only has three ingredients: organic virgin coconut oil, organic virgin avocado oil, and organic virgin rosehip oil. The serum really quickly absorbs in your skin. In the morning, you can put makeup right on top of it; and at night, it works while you sleep. You're absorbing a ton of antioxidants and essential fatty acids through this serum, and you should notice a difference in the tone and texture of your skin immediately.
Our Organic Skin Butter is an amazing body moisturizer with four ingredients: organic virgin coconut oil, organic shea butter, organic yellow beeswax, and organic lavender oil. The scent is a mild blend of all of our ingredients, and it is incredibly nourishing for your skin. I grew up with eczema on my legs, and it's the one product I've found to heal it naturally and sustainably.
What is your daily skincare routine?
In the morning, I use our Organic Facial Cleansing Oil, which I massage onto my dry face, add water, and rinse off with warm water. After cleansing, I follow-up with our Organic Rosewater Toner to balance my skin, and then I apply a small amount of the Organic Facial Repair Serum. Plus, I always apply SPF—this is the only product I use that isn't from our line! (But spoiler alert: we'll be adding our own natural and organic SPF in the future.)
Throughout the day, you'll see me randomly whipping out our organic all-purpose salve (I love it for my hands) and lip balms. These products are so convenient for my on-the-go lifestyle. At night, I use our Organic Facial Cleansing Oil again, and instead of rinsing it off with warm water, I wipe it off with a soft cloth if I need to take off makeup, I'll follow it up with our toner and repair serum. When winding down after dinner, I always find time to apply the skin butter to my body—it's dreamy!
Why is it important for your company to be have a charitable component? What organizations do you give back to?
If it weren't for the end goal of giving back, I don't think I would have started my business. I believe that companies are a great agent to give back and influence consumers to do so. It's so important for us to lead by example. Every person on my team is on board with this mission. We love volunteering with our local Bay Area non-profits.
For the first half of the year, we volunteered almost every Tuesday afternoon with an organization called Art Seed in San Francisco. We helped teach students, some coming from tougher backgrounds, to get involved in education through art. We have also volunteered with the Food Bank and an organization called First Graduate. And we love this non-profit called Pure Madi, which creates sustainable clean water solutions in South Africa. Our policy is to give one percent of our time and 10 cents per product sold; and so far we have exceeded this goal (and we're so proud of that).
What's in Cocokind's future?
We're coming to stores near everyone! Over the next 12 months, we will continue to build our presence in natural supermarkets. We're very quickly expanding our distribution in the US and Australia right now. We'll also be creating a couple of new products that will launch in September 2015 and March 2016.