River Veda: Beauty products with sustainable flair

When natural herbalist Megan Douglas sat down to create her beauty product line River Veda, she knew from the get-go that she wanted to create a socially conscious company, a line of products that would not only enhance natural beauty, but benefit the world. River Veda’s products are consequently everything from organic and eco-friendly to fair trade and animal-friendly.

“It is difficult, if not impossible, to offer a product unless you are proud of it and believe in it,” Douglas said. “As a result, there was never any question that the River Veda range needed to be ethically produced, using the finest organic material we could find.”

River Veda’s products come straight from the natural world and not a lab. By harnessing nature’s bounty, the company reaps powerful therapeutic benefits, using plants as medicine.

In producing her line, she partners with fair trade community farms throughout India, which support local farmers who grow certified organic, biodynamic plants, herbs and flowers. The products are also environmentally friendly in that they are made of recyclable aluminum tubes and packaged with Post-Consumer Recycled content, and manufactured using clean technology.

“All of this allows us to champion our products with a clear conscience, safe in the knowledge that we are doing the right thing by the planet, our suppliers and our customers,” Douglas explained.

Healing runs in her DNA. Going back six generations, Douglas’ family has worked as medical herbalists. Her interest in health, unsurprisingly, sprung up at an early age, when her grandmother taught her to mix natural remedies at her health food store. Douglas went on to get involved in the family health supplies business, but it wasn’t until years later she chose to walk down the same healing path as her family. Abandoning a career in fashion design, she travelled throughout Asia to pursue her interest in natural health. Eventually settling in New Zealand, she returned to her roots by studying herbal medicine and naturopathy. River Veda naturally followed.

Her travels sparked a desire to reach out to those less fortunate.

“I think for me the penny really dropped when I first travelled through India two decades ago,” she said. “I remember how I was initially overwhelmed by the tremendous poverty I saw, before learning to look closer. I watched Indian women mix and apply to their faces the very same food they put on their dinner table and realized that here was a system of knowledge and way of living that put Western excesses and wastefulness to shame.”

She resolved not to forget what she had witnessed, deciding to dive headfirst into Indian medicine and spirituality. Her quest led her to stumble on the teachings of Ayurveda, which believes that in order to coexist sustainably in our world, human beings should treat our planet and its inhabitant with respect and understanding. She founded her company on these principles.

“I wanted to produce a line of organic skincare products different from the mainstream; products which are not only luxurious and refined, but also therapeutic in their nature. Products, finally, which people can purchase … knowing that they are using something which is not only of benefit to them, but also the planet,” she declared.

Her Ayurvedic philosophy taught her we are all connected, both to the planet and one another.

“In order to live our lives well, to be both healthy and purposeful, we need to engage in a continual search for knowledge and understanding,” Douglas said. “Our starting point is the accrued knowledge of our ancestors, but we need to ensure that we don’t simply stand still. If we are to improve ourselves and our world, then we need to engage with it, searching for ways to refine what has already been discovered. “

This, to her, is what River Veda is based on.

River Veda employs supercritical extraction techniques, the latest in herbal extraction. Through this process, extracts are cleanly removed from a plant; these extracts can then better deliver nature’s punch of therapeutic phyto-nutrients to the skin.

“True beauty stems not only from the way you look after yourself, but also how you feel about yourself,” Douglas said. “We have created a range of products that offer our customers an ethically produced, premium skincare line that caters for their every need, body and soul.”

Bestsellers include Replenish Wonder Lift Serum and the Everyday Evening Primrose Moisturizer, a bioactive cream that protects the skin both day and night. The evening primrose oil, full of essential fatty acids, strengthens and nourishes the skin. The serum, imbued with herbal extracts, antioxidants, and bio-actives, firms, tones and revitalizes the skin using the herb amla berry.

Organic products, as pure and natural, are a sharp contrast to what stocks most stores’ shelves. While you may not be putting the chemicals in your mouth, they are still directly entering the body – and bypassing the body’s natural cleansing defense of the kidneys and liver.

“When you rub chemicals on your skin, depending on the health of your protective skin layers and the size of the chemical molecules, they can pass straight through and enter your bloodstream within minutes,” the herbalist maintained. “Unfortunately, many of today’s skincare products tend to be loaded with chemicals we might want to avoid, and there exists little regulation around what is safe and what is not.”

While consumers may gravitate toward River Veda’s products for their socially conscious production slant, in the end, Douglas believes you need both quality and planet friendliness.

“Ultimately though, a shopper should be, and is, motivated by quality. Our products have been designed to look and feel great on the skin,” she said. “The fact that they are organic in origin and are stocked full of supercritical plant and herbal extracts also means that they bring with them key therapeutic benefits.”

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