Sara Panton kneels in front of the black apothecary station at the head office of Vancouver essential oil brand Vitruvi, blending drops of various products into a custom face serum.
As she works, picking up a bottle here and a bottle there, she ponders how far her company has come since she started it with her brother Sean in 2014. As the gentle aromas of sea buckthorn and rosehip fill the air, Panton lowers her voice, as if about to spill a secret.
“It’s honestly…” she whispers, “the coolest thing in the world.”
Vitruvi began as an aromatherapy company harnessing the science of scent and sourcing the world’s finest essential oils, first as roll-ons and then for air diffusers (which are all sold among the industry’s best through the likes of Sephora, Nordstrom, and the Gwyneth Paltrow-helmed Goop). And now, the company has made another thoughtful expansion surrounding its expertise in pure plant extracts—this time for the face. Launched in November 2018, the Dynamic Skincare line is, as Panton puts it, “as dynamic as the women who are in our community.” That means instead of simply producing a few face oil blends for people to choose between, Vitruvi has created an entirely customizable, build-it-yourself collection that has over one million possible combinations.
“Dynamic Skincare is a conversation that we’re hoping to have,” Panton explains. “Instead of women targeting specific skin concerns that they think they have, like: ‘I have dry skin,’ or ‘I have oily skin,’ or I’ have combination skin,’ they’re checking in with themselves and seeing what’s going on in their lives that’s showing up on their face.” Through an online quiz that asks questions about traits, goals, and preferences, clients select a base oil (such as avocado, jojoba, or apricot kernel), complex carrier oils (perhaps meadowfoam or raspberry seed), and potent essential oils (bergamot, lemongrass, et al). Once all ingredients are chosen, a customer receives bottles of each individual oil so that she can blend a bunch at once, or do it day by day depending on what her skin requires. “The idea is you could create your product and then boost it with whatever you need in that moment,” says Panton. “You could make a face oil in the palm of your hand in 30 seconds.”
Today’s beauty industry largely suggests that a few products will work for everyone. But the truth is that our skin is just as unique as our personalities, our brains, and our hearts; through thoughtful personalization, Vitruvi acknowledges and celebrates that diversity. “Customization is, I truly believe, the new luxury,” Panton asserts. “In fashion you see it with monogramming. People just want something that’s theirs.”
“It’s not just that my skin is different from Sara’s,” adds Vitruvi marketing coordinator Scout Shmygol. “It’s that my skin is different from how it was last week.”
In a society of sensory overload, taking time for oneself has never been more important. And it’s often the little daily rituals, like putting a few drops of oil into palms and pressing them gently onto the face, that keep us on track. Inhaling geranium or sweet orange does more than calm or invigorate—it re-centres.
“It’s not rocket science what we’re doing,” Panton says candidly. “It’s very simple, very pure ingredients—demystifying everything.” That’s another reason why Vitruvi launched individual components instead of pre-blended face oils (though some top-selling mixes might eventually be made available)—because people want to not only understand what goes into their products, but actually see what goes into their products. And because people deserve choice.
A community is only as strong as its individuals, and those individuals have different needs. The right skin care isn’t an afterthought—it’s an act of coming home to oneself.
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