Green beauty guru Caroline Wachsmuth is a bespoke skincare, body care and fragrance designer.
The founder of the Paris-based ethical, organic skincare line and spa concept Doux Me, Caroline sold the brand in 2012 and now divides her time between San Francisco, New York and Paris. In 2013 she published Seasons, a compilation of year-round beauty recipes and health rituals. As a creative, Caroline works with select brands and private clients to create skincare, body care, fragrance and beauty products, from concept to manufacturing. Caroline’s background, studies and cultural exposure combined with the healing art of her Ashtanga yoga practice result in a singular, holistic vision in regard to beauty and self-care.
Inside/Out: Introduce yourself.
Caroline Wachsmuth: Well, I do a lot of different things, although most of them are related to “beauty” or to making our daily life a bit softer, brighter, easier. A couple of months ago, I made a big decision to go after a project that has been dear to my heart, ever since I sold Doux Me, my first skincare brand. And that, if you want a label on my forehead, makes me a “serial beauty entrepreneur”. What is central to my life is to bring healing formulas and meaningful images, as well as empowering messages to everybody and hopefully, enhance people’s daily lives. Possibly to also show a different way of looking at self-care and obviously at one’s way of living their life altogether. These creations and their artistic envelopes are postures to make my voice heard.
I/O: What would you like to share from your past in re: to natural beauty, being a woman, your profession?
CW: The story of my childhood is very strange and a subject that I keep in my drawers for now. I want to share some aspects of it one day, but not to talk about my navel; rather, to show a way that can hopefully empower those who have been through similar things. Growing up, the women around me then were a contradictory combination of somewhat submissive, extremely strong and opinionated. They were also the healthiest women I have ever met. Food was beauty and vice-versa. Using the simplest ingredients, always fresh or from the garden, to cook and to use on their skin. We were living in Switzerland and I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s who lived pretty much in the countryside. I was fed with “Crème Budwig” by Dr Kousmine, fruits, vegetables and spent most of my time outdoors. I was the only child and to what I have been told, a bit “wild” and pouting most of the time. I remember being interested in investigating nature, smelling everything, spending time up in the trees and reading books. I loved to transform flowers into potions with oils - I haven’t changed much since! I remember also that I could go days without talking to anybody and just do my things. Today, that can also be the case, busy creating products, strategies, art, thoughts, stories, for others. While I enjoy and need spending time alone, I love being surrounded by my friends, meet their friends and families. I love that warmth. The love. I cannot get enough of it. I am very affectionate. I love long, deep conversations and I make myself always available for my community.
I/O: What are you working on now and / or dreaming of doing in the future?
CW: Well, I am preparing my second beauty brand. Yes! I took my time to build an amazing team and I feel that now, I can just go for it. I feel very inspired and strong. It’s taking shape and I am very excited.
I/O: What are your thoughts on feminism and female empowerment?
CW: I am not a fan of labels. That’s actually what I am all “against”. Inequality is part of the gangrene of our society and it’s our duty to fight against it and help each other genuinely, no matter the gender. And today more than ever, when we have to endure the torture of having a highly dangerous, ignorant, disgraceful and pathetic liar as a President, not to mention his team. My strongest wish, coming straight from Utopia land, is that humanity as a whole becomes kind and wise. That it finally hits everybody hard that to deny fundamental rights to some, while allowing them to others, is just sick and evil. Women have always been and are still - particularly in Middle East countries, Africa and unfortunately much closer to us than we want to imagine - treated like disposable things. I think there are many ways to fight. For example, raising our voices, focusing on education and creativity. And more generally, I think one of the biggest tools to empowerment is to be ready to live through and with change. Change is constant. And it is because we are afraid of it that we become depressed, nostalgic, stagnant, in denial, fearful, and that we need labels, recipes, rituals, habits, attributes, gurus. While those are great help to cope with the unsettling effects of change and expand our knowledge, we need to go further and accept change as part of life. Accepting changes liberates us. It does not freeze us into a category (whether it’s a diet, fashion style, way of thinking, etc). I think that first and foremost, we benefit from cultivating tools that work for us (and not necessarily for our best friend) and help us to stay as calm as possible. Because this is the only way to use the best of our reasoning abilities when it comes to make decisions. Lastly, I think a great tool to empowerment is to keep our sense of humor at all times. Stop taking ourselves so seriously! The beauty industry is one of those industries where they do that a lot. And I find that really annoying at times. We create products. That’s it. We are not rocket scientists.
I/O: How do you achieve - or strive to improve - your professional, emotional, mental and physical harmony in your life?
CW: By sticking to my meditation practice. It can be a moving meditation (my Ashtanga practice), seated meditation, chanting mantras, walking for an hour listening to music. Whatever helps, depending on the moment, to create mental space. And it’s every day. No excuses.
I/O: What experts do you admire? Who are your teachers?
CW: I admire a lot of people from various backgrounds, they can be famous or not. I think the human being that I got so much teaching and wisdom from is the late Sri.K. Pattabhi Jois. I never had the chance to meet him personally but I have so many brilliant teachers who did and transmitted his knowledge. One of the central ideas of his teachings is that the more you practice, the more you will manage to find “God” within you. By practice, he means do your yoga, your meditation or whatever practice that engages you into a mind-body connection, introspection and self-discovery. “Practice and all is coming”. A lot of very knowledgeable people can teach you many things and show you very interesting ways. But if you don’t do your own work of getting to know yourself, nothing is going to happen in depth, if at all. And that’s also the recipe for constant disappointment.
There are women I really admire for their incredible talent, creativity and intelligence, like Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, Christiane Northrup, Patti Smith, Joan Didion, Anais Nin…
I/O: Who or what helped you get where you are today?
CW: I think that it’s mostly my incredibly strong community of friends or “heart sisters”, as I call them. I met them all along the way, as I moved a lot. From Switzerland to Belgium, South Africa, France, then the US. So, they are pretty much everywhere. It feels wonderful and at the same time I don’t get to see them as often as I would love at all. But the bond is there and is extremely strong. It’s family. I am also not so bad at kicking my own ass, so I help myself!!
I/O: What challenges have you faced and what obstacles are you currently experiencing?
CW: Freeing myself from traumatic experiences, learning to notice the insidious ways those are sticking to your butt and showing up all pretty under many different masks, and then transforming them into strength, creativity and beauty.
I/O: Any mantras?
CW: Yes, I have a few of those….One of my favorite is “Everything will be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, it’s not the end”. I love chanting mantras, I have a few that I chant regularly and my favorite is “Twameva” (mantra on surrendering).
I/O: Do you feel part of a tribe? Or more of a leader?
CW: Yes, in a way. And in another, I love feeling very free and don’t like being attached to a “group”. Perfect contradiction, but that’s me!
I/O: We know that both through your work and on a personal level you are a caregiver to so many people – providing support, love, patience, generosity and, of course, fragrance and beauty creations to all of these wonderful women in your life. So tell us, who takes care of you?
CW: My friends who are always there for me at any time, my healers and I try to rely on myself as best as I can.
I/O: Three words to describe what your work and what you stand for?
CW: Freedom, creativity, healing.
I/O: Tell us about your rituals? How important are these to you?
CW: These are extremely important to me and they are daily. I either do my Ashtanga practice or I have a trainer with whom I push myself in a healthy way. I became much stronger since I started. Each practice nourishes each other. It’s part of my self-discovery journey: knowing what this body and mind are capable of, really, and how they can connect, feed and help each other. I do acupuncture twice a month and massages on a regular basis too. I walk everywhere for hours.
I/O: Do you ever ‘fall off the wellness wagon’? If so, what does this mean to you? If not, how do you avoid temptation?
CW: Yes. I am a very anxious person inside. People who don’t know me personally think I am this kind of calm yogini, but that is the exact opposite. That is why I need all this time quieting my mind to have access to that state as much as possible. So yes, I can fall off that “wagon” and into things that increase my natural tendency of being anxious and nervous. That means splurge into coffee, stay up over thinking and worrying, eat cold food that is irritating to my stomach but that I love, and so on.
I/O: What websites, books, podcasts or other tools would you recommend to our community?
CW: I love Lili Barbery-Coulon's blog and instagram; I recently discovered “La Poudre” by Lauren Bastide, brilliant. I read the site Well+Good pretty often, No More Dirty Looks... I am now reading “What Depends on Us" from Epictete and also “The White Album” by Joan Didion. I read and re-ead all of Patti Smith, Anais Nin….
I/O: Can you share some tips with our community? In particular, what would you recommend for people without the means or geographical access to prestigious materials and products?
CW: I would recommend always having either coconut oil or sweet almond oil handy, together with lavender, eucalyptus, clove and tee-tree essential oils. You can easily buy those online. Always buy the organic quality or 100% pure and natural. With those 4 essential oils, you can prevent and sometimes heal many ailments, ranging from bronchitis, rashes, anxiety or dry skin. You can do oil pulling in the morning with your coconut oil and also use it all over your body. You can use it to cook too. I would also buy oregano oil (pills from Gaia) to use as soon as you feel low and a little bit of a flu starts. Or even if you ate something that feels weird: it will help your immune system to fight and get rid of stuff.
I/O: What role does travel play in your life? Where do you plan to go in 2017?
CW: My life has always been about traveling and moving places. I love road trips. This year, I will be pretty much staying in the US and travel between East and West Coast. Probably make a trip to Paris or Amsterdam, too. I don’t think I could live without traveling. I feel at home everywhere. I love new beginnings and new everything. Although here again, the paradox of who I am also loves habits. Anyway, it’s complicated!
I/O: What role does music play in your life?
CW: A huge role. I always listen to music. I have many power songs like "Alive" by Pearl Jam or "Holiday" by Green Day, I love Jet, I love the Kungs, all of Led Zeppelin, anything Patti Smith, Hollysiz, Air, LP, Morrissey, Two Door Cinema club, the list goes on….
I/O: What makes you happy?
CW: Staying creative. Move. Give. Share. Help others. Laugh.
I/O: What do you do when something makes you unhappy?
CW: I yell and then go out for a walk for 3 hours as fast as I can.
I/O: What inspires you more than anything else?
CW: Looking at the sunrise above the ocean from my garden in California.
I/O: A desire, a wish, an intention or manifestation for 2017?
CW: Launch my second beauty brand, enjoy every minute of it, remain available for my dear friends at all times, stay creative, collaborate with inspiring people, keep mind-body connection strong and healthy, never stop learning and going out of my comfort zone. And most importantly, keep laughing at myself and at the silliness of my own dramas!