If you invited Jenna Levine to your house back in the day, she might’ve whipped up something incredibly delicious that involved apples, lemon and honey… for your skin! These days, you’ll find her as the founder of an all-natural skincare line called LINNÉ. Named after the Swedish botanist and physician, Carl Von Linné, Levine’s focus for her new skincare collection revolves around the importance of using native and wild plants in her products and truly understanding the impact they have on our bodies. In honor of Earth Day this week, we wanted to pick Levine’s brain on what sets her skincare line apart from all the others, what her morning and evening skincare routine is (you’ll be jealous!) and the next project she’s “expecting.”
It sounds like your love for natural, DIY skincare started at an early age. Can you recall the first treatment you ever created?
The first treatment I can recall was a simple facial made of grated apple, lemon juice and honey. It was well before the days of problematic skin, but I nonetheless loved the process of making these simple, and often delicious treatments to share with my mother and little sister. I have vivid memories of us lying back in the kitchen, licking the drippy mix from our lips and commenting after how smooth and soft our skin felt.
Why was it important for you to create your own skincare line made with pure ingredients?
I’ve always had super dry skin. I used to get tiny bumps on my upper arms and starting in college, I developed psoriasis. My sister meanwhile had painful cystic acne. All the while doctors were prescribing us with products with a heavy toxic-load. By college, I was deeply engaged in my wellness studies and found the prescribed medications to be at odds with my practice. I opted out and searched for alternatives.
My sister however, urged by her doctors, went on Accutane. After 6 months her deep painful cysts were gone, but her skin was completely out of balance. She had flaky, dry, inflamed skin with a greasy look, redness [on her skin] and was still getting pimples. At this time, I had begun my certification in native plant botany and herbal medicine. I was determined to provide an alternative solution.
After extensive research and various formula iterations, I came up with a treatment that has dramatically transformed my sister’s skin. She now has radiant, smooth, clear, scar-free, healthy skin and all she uses is pure botanical extracts and minerals. Sometimes people think because they have complicated skin they need to fight it with complicated products. We have had success with a different approach. We rely on a complex understanding of plant properties and human biology to create a simple biocompatible regimen that is healing beyond skin deep.
As a young entrepreneur, what has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced when starting up your skincare line?
There just aren’t enough hours in the day, and I really need a business partner!
What sets your line apart from other skincare lines out on the market?
I think we may be unique in our holistic understanding of plant properties and their impact on our bodies beyond skin deep. To help you better understand the ingredients we use, we have created a botanical index on our website. Here we describe the effect each ingredient has on the skin and other organs and body systems.
I think we are also unusual in that we are particularly excited about native plants, and plants harvested from the wild and grown responsibly in their geographical origin. Native plants have evolved to survive their particular climate and unlike plants that are tended to carefully in a nursery, plants that grow in the wild have adapted strong defense mechanisms to protect themselves from their harsh environments. This struggle leads to an enhanced concentration of active compounds.
We additionally support the maintenance and sustainable harvesting of native and wild plants as we promote species diversity and aim to protect traditional practices and wild places by giving them economic value. We take great care in sourcing our materials and ask incisive questions to better understand the origins of the material and ensure that it has not been adulterated or diluted.
Can you take us through your AM and PM skincare routine?
I start my day with an invigorating shower. I do not wash my face but I do lather up neck down with ACTIVATE body wash. Its contents of activated charcoal pulls impurities from my skin, the kelp rejuvenates and the volcanic pumice exfoliates and encourages improved circulation. My bathroom fills with the earthy-fresh scent of eucalyptus, vetiver and palo santo. The eucalyptus contains antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic constituents. As a vasodilator it increases the blood flow to the brain, which stimulates mental activity and increased performance, making it a great way to start the work day.
Upon exiting the shower I pat myself dry and gently massage RENEW face serum into my face and neck and follow with one of my face oils depending on my needs. My skin has been looking clear and feeling balanced lately so I have been using REPAIR face oil, rich in plant botanicals known to encourage cellular turnover, increase elasticity, repair scar tissue and even skin tone.
I then lube up with SMOOTH body balm. The main ingredient, organic meadowfoam oil is incredibly nourishing to my otherwise dry skin. The potassium and sterolins in the avocado oil encourage cellular turnover and keep my psoriasis out of sight.
In the evening I wash off the day with PURIFY face wash. The slightly gritty clay helps gently exfoliate while drawing out excess sebum, dirt and pollution. The Dead Sea salt supplies vital minerals to my skin while the jojoba oil helps remove my makeup. I then spray myself with REFRESH face mist to reduce inflammation, minimize pores and enhance the absorption of my serum and face oil, which I then apply again to improve hydration, increase elasticity, strengthen capillaries and help reduce inflammation and the appearance of wrinkles.
Once or twice a week I’ll use the SCRUB face mask to polish off any dead skin that clogs pores and to stimulate collagen production. I love the feel of the fine bamboo grains and the uplifting aroma of bergamot essential oil.
What can we expect from you next?
We are currently formulating a product for expectant mothers. Many of my friends are beginning this new phase in their life and I want to support them with products that are safe, gentle yet still effective. Many of the ingredients we choose are so safe that they are in fact edible. Nevertheless there are certain compounds that pregnant women should avoid in their first trimester. For example, keytones (found in essential oils) should be avoided during pregnancy, but because they stimulate tissue regeneration to encourage wound healing, the reduction of scar tissue, stretch marks, and wrinkles, we have chosen to include them in our regular formulas. For the safety and well-being of expectant mothers, and for those with exceptionally sensitive skin, we hope to soon launch a serum/oil 2-in-1 for face and body that is especially designed for their needs.
To learn more about the brand and philosphy, visit linnebotanicals.com.