Get ready to take a peek inside a most luxurious box by Laurel Whole Plant Organics that will not be available for long. Only 50 of these magical boxes have been created. Once they are sold out, they’re gone.

I was asked to reveal my honest impressions of the box. These are the sensations and experiences that came to me as I delved into it.

More than anything, receiving a limited edition Winter Radiance Collection feels like an invitation. It is an invitation to relish a self-loving slow beauty ritual. It unfolds the minute I lift the lid. Because what I discover inside is a story.

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It is a story from maker to plant, from plant into blend, from blend into batch, and then from batch into every box that’s shipped out. Each product is lovingly wrapped and every heart speaks of the care that goes into the miron glass jars. From the moment I open this box, I feel wrapped in the warmth of radiant love.

How do you bottle a feeling? Somehow Laurel WPO succeeds.

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The story unveils what this box represents to Laurel Shaffer, the creator and founder of Laurel WPO. It is a deeply personal story that speaks to my heart.

It started when she began experiencing health issues last year and her once flawless complexion showed the tell-tale signs of imbalance. She developed cystic acne and her size six body grew to a size 12. It is all too easy to travel down the spiral of self-berating, but Laurel found another way: the way of self-love. And that made all the difference to healing herself.

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Though she normally keeps her story private, she shares it candidly so that other people going through similar challenges can find a point of connection to temper their own pain.

“It wasn’t until I fully embraced my skin, body, and health through hard times that my symptoms began to improve at all,” she explained in an email.  “I still have a long way to go, but I found starting my day with some sort of expression of love and appreciation for myself was what was giving me the best ‘results’ for lack of a better word.  It was making me feel better and eventually look better.

“The best way I know how to show myself love is with time, patience, and attention—and the best way I know how to do that is through beauty products.  So this Ritual I created is all I can think of to share with others that may be going through something similar with their skin, their health, their bodies, or their busy stressful lives that can often push us to our limits.”

Laurel adds more in this blog post on the Laurel Skin website, but also shared its meaning here:

“This is what slow beauty means to me, embracing and accepting yourself as you are—in all states, even when that may not be your best, and taking time to see yourself and the world around you in a more present way.”

The ritual enclosed in the box is created to induce a self-loving experience, which is delicious in and of itself, but expect to be wooed by the luxury products themselves.

Every ingredient chosen is 100% whole plant organic meaning the purity and integrity of the plant’s properties are preserved to be fully utilized by the skin. Every product is formulated in synergy with the quality of plants harvested by farmers. A case in point: this year produced stunning Calendula and Chamomile crops, according to Laurel, so she made sure to use them wherever possible.

To counterbalance the stagnant energy associated with the winter months, Laurel incorporates ingredients that are warming and promote movement, circulation, and lymph flow like Licorice, Red Clover, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Rosemary, and Turmeric.

So let’s uncover the gorgeous contents. In my experience, undoing the brown paper wrapping takes on a ritualistic flavor too.

What’s inside?

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The box introduces three new formulas created exclusively for the Winter Collection, pulled directly from Laurel’s private regimen, that will not be available separately and are designed to deliver comfort, healing, and nourishment:

Winter Clarity Facial Cleanser, Winter Nectar Facial Elixir, and Winter Feast Facial Compress.

The Spiritual Warrior Essence, a genre also entirely new to the line, is a special pre-release roll-on perfume oil that won’t be offered for sale until summer of 2016. Three products are long-standing customer favorites in addition to being Laurel’s tried and true solutions for her skin in winter: the Anti-Inflammatory Serum (also my Holy Grail serum!), the Antioxidant Mask, and the Healing Balm.

How long will the products last?

The Cleanser, Elixir, Serum, and Balm are meant to last the winter months, so approximately three months with 1x daily use. The Compress and the Mask are designed for use in the Ritual, and contain three to five uses.  The Spiritual Warrior is full sized, so if used as a more conventional perfume, it would last about six to eight months.

How to prepare the Ritual

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This Ritual feels like an offering from Laurel—like receiving the loving embrace that we need when winter envelops us in its isolating and frigid clutches. All instructions accompany the box and are purely there for you to derive the most benefit from the collection. Nothing is extraneous and every product builds on the next one.

It begins with steeping the Winter Feast herbs in a French Press or teapot and then straining it after 5-10 minutes. As they’re steeping, she suggests using the time to run the bath water and make a cup of nourishing tea to drink.

Once everything is prepared, it is time to start the ritual by entering the bath.

Step #1: Winter Clarity + Winter Nectar

Of course, the first step in any ritual is purification of the body, mind, and spirit. This year in particular, I’ve placed greater emphasis on bathing as a form of renewal and self-responsibility. It recognizes the necessity to care for my being so that I can, in turn, be a clear and reliant source for others.

I like to say this short sentence, learned from the wonderful hypnotherapist and spiritual coach, Vanessa Codorniu. She recites it prior to any cleansing ritual:

“To shift or clear energy, conscious intention is everything,” she explains. “During a bath, shower or while using sage, state: I release thoughts, beliefs, issues, cells, energies, ideas, stories, memories, energetic cords and (if really brave) relationships that no longer serve my most abundant health and greatest good. So it is, Amen!”

Saying it doesn’t require a special ritual either, only the intention to clear energy. You can use it or adapt it as you see fit. Or simply continue the Winter Radiance ritual as described on the cards.

Laurel’s beauty prescription asks for two to three cleansing repetitions that may sound time consuming but will soon feel like the best thing you could ever do for your skin and well-being.

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The scent will be the first thing you notice when it comes to Winter Clarity: herbaceous, inviting, healing. Most pronounced are the Black Cumin Oil and Rosemary extract. While you’d think the scents would be overpowering, they are not at all, as they’re subtle and earthy, balanced by the essential oils of Green Mandarin and Ylang Ylang. The inclusion of Turmeric is a total win as a sought-after ingredient, highly regarded for its remarkable anti-inflammatory benefits.

Laurel suggests using a few pumps of cleansing oil and massaging thoroughly around congested areas and makeup. This step is pure enjoyment! I like using circular rhythmic and uplifting movements, even using light finger pressure to lift oils into my hairline like a mini-facelift—but do whatever feels good to you. The massage is followed by a warm, damp cloth to remove makeup. There is no steaming at this point while makeup and impurities are being dislodged from skin.

Laurel’s signature Sunflower + Safflower oil combination dissolves sebum deposits and helps decongest clogged pores. These are not heavy oils and don’t create milia—those tiny white bumps under the skin—nor are they so lightweight that they would absorb prior to cleansing (as are the oils chosen for serums).

This step is repeated for a second and third time with a warmer towel. For the final two times, the towel offers more therapeutic benefits and can be left on longer to stimulate lymph and circulation. Once completed, my skin is dewy with no oily residue. It also feels like a relief to gently care for skin in this manner and give it a reprieve from scrubs or harsher face washes.

Winter Clarity Cleanser: Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, Sesame Oil, Black Cumin Oil, Rosemary Extract, Turmeric Extract; essential oil blend of Green Mandarin, Ylang Ylang, Rosemary

Laurel19For daily use, I follow the oil cleanse with a few spritzes of the Winter Nectar Elixir, another triumphant combination of rejuvenating and healing plants, essential oils, and hydrosols. Its scent and formula differ from the other Laurel WPO elixirs in that it places greater emphasis on hydration to further cushion skin against the elements.

Winter Nectar Elixir:  Calendula Hydrosol, Frankincense Hydrosol, Orange Blossom Hydrosol; Whole Plant Extracts of Astragalus, Solomon’s Seal, Licorice, Calendula, Marshmallow, Hawthorne, Turmeric, German Chamomile; essential oil blend of Sandalwood, Carrot Seed, Green Mandarin, Petite Grain sur Fleur; Flower Essence

Step #2: The Winter Feast Facial Compress

However, while immersed in the Ritual, the next step is to cradle the skin in the prepared compress and wrap it around the face while relaxing in the bath. This can be repeated as many times as desired for as long as you wish, generally taking between 5-30 minutes.

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It’s not hard to understand why this compress feels like a warm and comforting cocoon. Winter Feast blankets the face in an aromatic blend of skin soothers and healers: Calendula, Chamomile, Licorice, Red Clover, Marshmallow, Rosehip Fruit, Elderflower, Hawthorne Berry, Yarrow Flower, Ginger.

Step #3: The Antioxidant Mask

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Honestly, I am utterly relaxed at this point and could bliss out without doing anything…except the call to the Antioxidant Mask is strong and feels totally appropriate after prepping skin with herbs and steam. Plus if powdered masks make small powdered messes in your bathroom, the bathtub is quite simply the ideal place to do them.

One teaspoon in the included ceramic bowl mixed with a few trickles of water and the fan brush do the trick. The mask is most effective when kept moist either using steam from the bath or the brush. It remains on for about 20 minutes and can be washed off using any remaining tea from the compress or warm water.

Antioxidant Mask: Rhassoul Clay, Acai Berry, Noni Fruit, Nettle, Dandelion Leaf, Lemon Balm, Echinacea Root, Red Clover, Fennel, Spirulina; essential oil blend of Jasmine, Sandalwood, Myrrh

Step #4: The Anti-Inflammatory Serum

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By now, skin enters an exalted state, primed to receive a few drops of “My Precious” Anti-Inflammatory Serum, THE serum that consistently works wonders on my skin and my go to for instant skin repair.

For more details about why it’s my Holy Grail face oil, you can check out my post here. With 26 whole plants and oils like tamanu, chamomile, marshmallow, calendula, comfrey, helichrysum, and blue chamomile, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why it works seamlessly to tame temperamental skin.

Anti-Inflammatory Serum:  Jojoba Oil, Borage Oil, Rosehip Seed Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Olive Oil, Almond Oil, Red Raspberry Seed Oil, Pomegranate Seed Oil, Cranberry Seed Oil, Tamanu Oil, Sea Buckthorn Oil, Rosemary Extract; in-house biodynamic proprietary blend of Chamomile, Licorice, Marshmallow, Baical Skullcap, Calendula, Lavender, Nettle, Gotu Kola,
Astragalus, Comfrey; essential oil blend of Helichrysum, Myrrh, Lemon Balm, Neroli, Blue Chamomile

Steps #5 & 6: Winter Elixir + The Healing Balm

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After departing the warm bath slowly—leaving behind discarded thoughts, energies, and useless worries—I enjoy a few sprays of the Winter Elixir mist and a drop or two more of the Anti-Inflammatory Serum. Here too is where an application of the Healing Balm protects skin with a generous dose of healing Tamanu oil, Lavender, Helichrysum, and Lemon Balm. (Sometimes, I even like to use the balm in a thick layer on skin as its own treatment mask overnight or for a quick reset to restore and replenish.)

Healing Balm:  Shea Butter, Tamanu Oil, Olive Oil, Jojoba Oil, Pomegranate Oil; in-house biodynamic proprietary blend of Calendula, Comfrey, Lavender, Yarrow, Marshmallow, Self Heal; essential oil blend of Lavender, Lemon Balm, Helichrysum

Step #7: Spiritual Warrior

Laurel27Spiritual Warrior preserves the essence of the Ritual with me at all times.

Laurel describes Spiritual Warrior as a “companion” and I can’t think of a more perfect title. You can use it as a perfume, as a meditation or anointing oil, as a sleep oil, or simply as a partner to have with you throughout the day.

It’s a uniquely evocative fragrance that holds me enthralled in a mysterious dance where the sweet nectar of Plumeria meets spitfire Black Pepper and merges with the energies of Celestine, Amethyst, and Obsidian.

Sacred Palo Santo, a mystical tree used for its healing, cleansing, and grounding energies, lends its earthy fragrance (described generally as a mixture of pine, mint, and lemon) to shield and uplift the spirit. The subtle but powerful result is reminiscent of a walk in an enchanted forest at dusk. 

This morning, I rolled the essence onto my heart chakra and Third Eye while writing this review. Pure magic!

Spiritual Warrior Essence:  Jojoba Oil, Plumeria, Sandalwood, Black Pepper, Myrrh, Marjoram, Palo Santo, along with Gem and Flower essences eager to join you on your path.

How to make it yours

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I always marvel at how calm and relaxed I look and feel after a self-nurturing ritual.

When people tell me they don’t have time for it, I feel sad inside because I know that they’re depriving themselves of something that’s as valuable to carve time for as, say, buying groceries or doing the laundry. In other words: we do not have time for ourselves, we make time for ourselves when it’s important enough.

Though it may seem indulgent, there is nothing selfish about putting on my own oxygen mask first. Dedicated self-care rituals can sometimes be as necessary as a breath of fresh air.

The Winter Radiance Collection, therefore, is not only an invitation but an invocation to claim the exquisite rite to self-love as yours. Let it become your story to tell. And make it a beautiful one.

This stunning collection costs $360 and can be found exclusively on the Laurel Skin website.