As years passed and words like “quinoa” and “paleo” and “macrobiotic” have become normalized vocabulary, the idea of incorporating wellness into daily life has exponentially grown in popularity. There’s no surprise that, with the increased demand for healthier foods and lifestyles, the green beauty movement is finding its stride. One company that is standing out is Canadian brand Graydon Skincare, a plant-based line of skincare, body care, and hair care products using mostly Canadian, superfood ingredients as beauty fuel.

By Jane Bradshaw

Founded five years ago by Graydon Moffat – a single mom whose resume boasts a culinary background, a master’s degree in Fine Arts, and a notable history as a yoga instructor – the line is quickly gaining an impressive fan base after humble beginnings. We feel a little late to the game, seeing as Graydon has been featured on Best Health, Bustle, Lainey Gossip, Refinery29, W Magazine, and the coveted American Vogue. However, Moffat has not let the recent press get to her head. “I think sometimes people think we are bigger than we actually are… It’s nice that we’re getting a little bit of US coverage, but we really have barely scratched the surface.”

Her honesty is refreshing. In a world where social media seems to be a stream of humble brags and people will bleed their 15 minutes of fame until the interest runs dry, the Graydon team keeps their eye on the prize.

What is that prize exactly? Well, part of it is to expand the product range. “I love the whole creative process. What makes me excited is coming up with new products. And gosh, we are coming up with some amazing ones.” Moffat spills to us in a recent phone interview.

One product in the works is a botanical serum, one that will surely become a must-have, as it’s got all the beauty ingredient buzzwords (vitamin c, peptides, collagen, retinol, hyaluronic acid, anti-pollution complex) and presents in a stunning bright blue colour. You can sense the excitement in her voice as she describes it. In her words, “it is remarkable.”

The other side of the brand’s future is wellness, and promoting the adoption healthier lifestyle, from inside out AND outside in. “I love it when people buy our products, but I also love it when people read our blog and take a DIY recipe and make it, and email me, and give me their results.” The brand’s namesake describes, “I think this brand is a by-product of the overall wellness community. People are making better choices for themselves, from what they eat, how they move their body, how they sleep. What you put on your body is just another component of that. So, it’s more about skin health, not just skin care.”

Graydon was born out of a wellness experience. Moffat was making products to use during her yoga classes and people were asking to buy the products. Her culinary training lent itself to experimenting with different formulas. “It reminded me of making salad dressing.”

When she moved to the LA area in the 1990s, the Toronto native began learning about holistic health. It was at a time where Whole Foods was just starting to emerge in the United States, and before Starbucks had opened its doors. During her time in lala land, Moffat learned about holistic health and nutrition after some health issues dating back to the time she was a teenager forced her to re-evaluate her lifestyle. For her, wellness is not just a marketing tool; it’s a real personal passion.

During her yoga teacher training, a two-year program at Downward Dog in Toronto (the very first the studio ever ran), she studied Ayurveda, an Indian sub-continent system of traditional medicine that predates modern medicine. While Graydon Skincare now has a chemist on board to formulate all their products, Moffat relied on her superfood knowledge she gained in LA in combination with her Ayurvedic learnings to create the beginnings of what we now know as Graydon Skincare products.

The products themselves are just as remarkable as the founder. The Face Foam (which is reminiscent of fellow Torontonian skincare line Consonant’s Foaming Face Cleanser, a comparison Moffat was flattered by) is a super gentle cleanser that acts to tone and smooth a wide variety of skin types. The starring ingredients are apple cider vinegar for brightening and evening texture, bamboo for improving skin health and willow bark for exfoliation without irritation. Moffat herself uses this product, in combination with the Keto Cleanse and Bamboo Charcoal Sponge, as her one-and-done skin regime. “I put a couple drops of the keto cleanse and the face foam, which is our face cleanser, and the two of them together will totally take all of your makeup off. I’m a workaholic; that’s all I have the energy for. So, when it’s midnight and I’m washing my face – it’s what works!”

The simplicity and multitasking properties of the line are what makes it one of the most approachable green beauty offerings on the market. “My message and purpose is to make this accessible and easy for people so that skincare routines are attainable and switching over to green beauty is not a huge, ridiculous expense,” Moffat says. “All of our products are super gender-neutral, and you can use them on your kids! We have some of our face care that is in more of a body care size. You can get an 8oz cream for under 30$. And it’s as good of an organic cream as you’d get anywhere.”

Before our interview, I was fortunate to try a range of products, including the Green Cream, which is a chlorophyll face complex but really just feels like a moisturizer, and the Face Food, a mineral mist that your skin will love: it’s going to become a guilty pleasure, equivalent to our stomach’s longing for coffee or chocolate.

A big hit is also the Matcha Mint Shampoo, a product developed for the Broadview Hotel. Moffat notes that if it wasn’t for the opportunity to do the amenities for one of Toronto’s trendiest hotels, she wouldn’t have ventured into haircare. It was two years ago when they got the offer, and they had to go through “a bazillion formulations.” Moffat goes on to describe the lengthy process of perfecting the formula. “It was too thick, it was too thin, it wouldn’t pop out. It was unbelievably difficult to do something that really checked off all the boxes.”

Her goal was to have the same multitasking element you can find within the skincare line of products for the hair. She wanted it to work on all hair types and even tested it out herself. “I personally have really fine hair. After pregnancy and having a kid, a ton of it fell out. So, I’m very careful about the shampoos that I use, I can’t use a lot of shampoos. So, it had to fit my relatively high maintenance demands, but also be versatile enough for someone who wants a quick shower.” Based on the public’s feedback, she achieved just that.

My favourite product from the mix is the Superfood Mask + Scrub, a brightening face mask that is packaged like trendy supplements. Graydon tells me that the idea came from a visit to her naturopath, who introduced her to a private label superfood brand out in Halifax.

The individual capsules eliminate any of the mess when it comes to applying the mask, a frustration that often is paired with any exfoliating powders or dry mask products. The key with this product is to have dry hands when opening the capsule. The creative packaging is something we might see more of, as Moffat reveals she would love to do more capsule beauty, as long as there is the right education for the consumer to go along with it: it has proved to be challenging for consumers to understand the benefits of a superfood scrub without it being spelled out for them (hint: superfoods have a magical brightening effect on your skin. I highly recommend trying it).

Despite all the bumps in the road, Graydon Skincare is on-route for some smooth sailing. More and more people are interested in trading in their chemical-laced formulas for plant-based products. Just like eating a healthy diet, the benefits of using skin health-focused formulas are almost instantaneously noticeable. Just after a few weeks, the DTK office had brighter and more even skin, and we were forgoing foundation in favour of a bare face.

It wouldn’t be without the passion of Graydon the woman that Graydon the brand would be as enchanting as it is. Her story of relentless hard work is a narrative that we can relate to and is parallel to almost every successful woman in business today. She also is an incredible leader, possessing the rare ability to know when to let someone else take control. “It’s good to do as much as you can, but it’s good to outsource it sometimes, so you can focus on what you can do better and no one else can replicate.”

In just five years, Graydon Skincare has blossomed from a one-man show out of the founder’s kitchen to one of the most promising beauty brands to come out of Canada. Not only do they make this country proud by aiming to use uniquely Canadian ingredients but are changing the way we think about our skin. Thanks to Graydon, we no longer have to rely on the Korean 12-step program to achieve an ideal complexion. Like how we choose our meals, we can feed our skin something different every day to completely nourish it.

Moffat sums up her beauty mantra into three words: “Keep it simple.” She continues with some fantastic advice, “It’s not about being perfect all the time, it’s about doing what you can.”

Graydon Skincare is can be found on their website (graydonskincare.ca); online at Credo, ClementineFields.ca and Well.ca; in-store across North America at shops like The Big Carrot and The Detox Market; or spas like Toronto’s The Freeze Clinic. You can find a list of all stockists here.

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Jane Bradshaw

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