Interview for Nollapelli's "Beyond the Sheets" Series

Beyond the Sheets: Erin Wexstten Witnesses the Power of Scent Everyday

Jan 15th, 2020

Jessa here, and today I’m sharing our chat with the dynamic Erin Wexstten, founder of Oxalis Apothecary. I am fangirling because Oxalis’ Feel Good Potion is a staple in my sleepcare routine. Erin and I talked about scent’s role in wellness, effective aromas for sleep (one scent might surprise you), why toners are important in a skincare and much more. Enjoy your time with Erin, I sure did.

Nollapelli (Jessa): What catalyst propelled you to start Oxalis Apothecary five years ago?

Erin: Plants and creating and being a designer all played a role in the concept of it, but the most important thing was that seven or eight years ago, I started using essential oils to cure my allergies. I was using as much as I possibly could to avoid taking medicine. I had really bad allergies and it worked. I am still allergy-free today. I became obsessed with the healing powers of plants and how I could use them in my everyday products. I was using natural stuff, but I hadn’t purged my closet, so to say. I started getting into the research and started tinkering around with some potions, and The Feel Good Potion was born.

Jessa: That was the first product you made?

Erin: Yes- first product ever made. The second product I made was deodorant, which is funny, because I didn’t release it until four years later. I didn’t know it would be such a popular product in the marketplace, I thought people would never go for it. That is why I sat on it for so long, and also getting it right was difficult. But, yes, I started making different aromatherapy rollers. It was really DIY. From there, I was a woman on a mission.

I’ve always been a product junkie. I’m that girl who does not skip her routine. When I was little, I had a kit I would take to slumber parties. All the girls would make fun of me because I would say “I have to go do my routine,” but that is what my mom did, and that is what my grandma did. They instilled that in me. So I’ve always been into wellness, skincare and taking care of myself, but I didn’t know how corrupt it was. As soon as I opened up the floodgates and educated myself, enlightenment showed itself. I became obsessed with making a full collection.

Jessa: You studied organic body care products with the East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies, correct?

Erin: I was messing around with aromatherapy in 2014, dreaming it up and then went and got my certification. It is not required to have any type of certification, but I wanted to educate myself since I am self-taught.

Jessa: How important is smell to wellness?

Erin: I learned there is nothing more powerful than scent. It is directly tied to our emotional well-being. The science is there. There are so many research studies on how it helps with anxiety and stress and dementia. In 2010 my father was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. We started researching what we could do to help him, and so many things said to try rosemary. Grind up rosemary and stick it under this person’s nose before they take their test and see if it jogs their memory. That was a huge part for me, aromatherapy is real. And, it is also as simple as when things smell good, we feel better. Aromas are impactful and can alter your mood.

Jessa: What would you say to someone skeptical about the healing power of scent?

Erin: Research exists. I have witnessed it myself. I have three different body oils: Louisa, Reverie and Sanctuary. I made three scents because I could never have just one mood. I have to have an uplifting, lavender, calming citrus one for my every day. Louisa is my floral, my fresh when I need to feel strong and powerful. Sanctuary is there to make me feel grounded and supported. Every single morning when I’m putting on my body oils, I decide which one to use based on what I need. Call it psychosomatic, but they make me feel better.

Jessa: What are good aromas for sleep?

Erin: Obviously, lavender, which is the most common, but it is a very powerful plant. It calms the mind; gives us a sense of peacefulness. I really like the scent of roman chamomile. It’s a little bit bright, it can make you feel alert, but it does have a calming effect. Rose and geranium, any of the rosy, floral scents are known to be calming. The problem is not all scents are created equal. Just because you bought a candle that smells like rose, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the highest quality. You need to invest in quality scents for them to have the best effects. Lavender is my go-to, that’s why my Feel Good Potion is by my bedside.

Jessa: That lavender / peppermint, I love it! I use the Feel Good Potion every day.

Erin: It does have a nice, lingering scent. What grounds the Feel Good Potion is the black pepper. It gives it a sharpness and an unexpected depth that rounds out the whole potion.

Jessa: Since becoming a mother, have you seen any changes in how you approach your business as well as your wellness?

Erin: I have not been able to give Oxalis the amount of attention that I have in the past, which has been a blessing in a lot of ways because I’ve been able to be succinct about what I am going to take on and what I am not. It’s given me a better opportunity to say no. It’s given me a lot of pause. Also, Oxalis kept me from going nuts. At the end of the day, I love my work, I love my products, I love my customers, I love my team. I am able to take a step back and say, okay, I am not a brain surgeon, I am not changing the world, but I am giving women and men an opportunity to be with themselves and enjoy their very limited time in the world. That is what I think this whole wellness idea is, it’s taking back our time. 

Jessa: That completely aligns with our recent blog post about reframing the narrative around wellness, that it is a self-full activity and not a selfish one.

Erin: Totally. It doesn’t have to be, Treat Yo Self [said in a Donna and Tom tone from Parks and Recreation]. Yes, treat yourself, but also don’t treat it like it has to be so minimally experienced. Treat yourself every single day.

Jessa: You mentioned routine is essential. What is your morning / nighttime routine?

Erin: It’s controversial in my industry to say that I don’t wash my face in the morning, but I almost never wash my face in the morning. I do cold splashes of water if I am not going to have a shower or if I’m in the shower, it’s hot. There are issues with water, which we will get to, but it does cleanse. In the morning, I like to use the Mineral Mist. The Mineral Mist has aloe and dead sea salt as its main ingredients. Dead sea salt is cleansing and detoxing. I put it all over my hair and body; it’s like a light perfume. Then, sunscreen and then our Daily Glow Facial Serum. I love the Glow serum because it gives you a nice hydrated, dewy look, especially when you use it after the toning mist. Any kind of oil-based serum you want to use when your face is damp. That is why toners are really important. Water is super alkaline and dries out the skin. You want to rebalance your skin, balance your pH, and toners set up the next product to work better.

Jessa: I am taking notes. And at night?

Erin: At night, pretty much the same thing, but I use my Facial Cleanser. The cleanser is great at not drying out your skin, and it will draw out all the impurities from the day. Washing your face at night should not go undone, you must do it. It is the key to healthy skin. You turn over your skin cells. Use cleanser on a dry face. Clean hands. Dry face. Massage a quarter size and go to town for 30 seconds to a minute.

Jessa: What is one thing you do for your skin every day?

Erin: Drink water. Skin health is really gut health, sleep, water and the rest is skincare.