Welcome to ON BEAUTY, a monthly feature highlighting creative, like-minded people who inspire us.
People are drawn to In Fiore for a number of reasons. For some, it’s all about the distinctive scents. Others like the way the bottles look on their vanities. Maybe it’s the vibrant orange hue of our Calendula oil, or the way Fleur Vibrante balm melts into your skin, or the glow-to-end-all-glows imparted by a healthy application of Complexe de Fleur. Perhaps you can’t quite put your finger on it, but something about the sensorial experience just gets you.
This year, we celebrate our twentieth birthday. As we look forward, we are also looking back and exploring what makes this brand truly unlike any other. To kick it off, we sat down with In Fiore Creatrix, Julie Elliott—the brains, nose, aesthetic, and general badass behind the brand since day one—for a download on some of her deepest knowledge. Ready to learn? Buckle up.
Let’s start with the (not so) basics—what drives In Fiore as a product and a brand?
In Fiore is driven by my intense love of artisanal processes and the traditions of crafting products, combined with the infinite potential of materials. I’m driven by the complexities of a material, which is essentially what inspires the product. It’s not about a marketing strategy or trend—it’s about how to present these materials in the best possible light, how to illuminate their inherent characteristics without too much interference.
I feel that our skin has this incredible capacity to heal itself if we allow it to, and oil is an amazing nourisher and protector.
I love history and tradition but formulations of the past are a bit antiquated, so I explore these traditions and reimagine them. I liberate them and put them into my own language with a modern aesthetic. We’ve actually had to develop our own process for crafting products because it didn’t exist when we started. I don’t know of anyone else who formulates the way we do in that we craft all of our infusions and macerations and extracts and tinctures in house—from scratch.
The other piece is, how do I bring these products to the luxury market with this fully integrated sensorial experience? I look at the entire experience of using our products starting with the visuals—I’m a very visual person, even as a formulator. It’s about beauty: a beautiful bottle or jar or package. How it feels in the hand. How it feels when you’re taking the dropper out of the bottle and applying the oil to your palms and massaging it into your skin. The color of the oils, the aromas. Everything is important; there’s no detail in the process that is too small.
In Fiore products look, feel, and smell unlike any other products on the market. How do you maintain that distinction and level of quality as you grow?
I look at ingredients a bit esoterically—it’s really about this incredible respect for the plant kingdom and all of its inherent capabilities as a healing agent. We honor the identity and culture of these materials—we don’t strip them of their essence. We use ambient temperatures and we don’t use chemicals. Nothing is taken away and nothing is added. It’s pure, it’s active, and the full spectrum of the constituents is intact.
We have a committed lab that only works with us, and when they’re not producing In Fiore, they make botanical medicine. We couldn’t find a producer who formulated the way we wanted—everyone we approached was like, “That’s too much work, that’s too expensive, too time-consuming, it’s a nightmare, you can buy all the extracts, here are all the companies.” But when you check out those materials, they’re totally stripped of their essence. So, this process is very key in setting us apart.
I want our product to be a bridge for people. You don’t have to understand all the esoteric elements. They’re just there to bring you into the depth of the product, this area of the unknown, the mysteries, and to experience it for yourself.
Most of your products are oil-based, and you were doing oils way before oils were a “thing.” What informs this decision?
My formulations started with oils and balms, and today they comprise at least 85% of our product line. I think this stems from my love of bathing culture and massage which has always been a part of my life. Oils alone are incredibly healing. They’re excellent solvents. When making a maceration or infusion, we use oil to extract all those constituents from a plant and saturate the oils with these lipophilic active molecules. The oils act as carriers of the medicinal plants as well as the essential oils.
The use of an oil encourages self-massage, and self-massage initiates elements of warmth and movement. In my studies, warmth and stimulation are essential in activating the healing process. The act of self-massage helps to reestablish this dynamic integration of our being—it’s about stimulating the skin and optimizing healing. So, it’s a very holistic, homeopathic approach that’s about giving to the skin and nourishing and feeding it versus stripping and attacking it. I feel that our skin has this incredible capacity to heal itself if we allow it to, and oil is an amazing nourisher and protector.
Where does fragrance—one of the talents you’re best-known for—come into the equation?
My scents are an expression of the healing power of plants and the healing power of fragrance. I love highlighting these incredible materials in a manner they deserve. Essential oils—that’s my lane, that’s what I love and where I live very comfortably. They’re what led me into this work.
What do you think about negative press on essential oils?
In the last couple of years there’s been some pushback on essential oils possibly being harmful to the skin or causing allergies. And, look, there’s certainly the potential for that to happen. Essential oils are powerful healing agents—they’re the closest thing we have in the plant kingdom to pharmaceuticals and need to be used responsibly. In some countries, essential oils are highly regulated. For example, in Japan, there’s a category called “quasi drug” and some essential oils are considered quasi drugs. I think that’s really cool because it expresses the seriousness and their incredible capacity for healing.
Essential oils—that’s my lane, that’s what I love and where I live very comfortably. They’re what led me into this work.
Let’s talk skin. Tell us everything you know.
The skin is such a remarkable organ. It’s our greatest protector and medium of communication. It protects us from external aggressors, it’s an organizer of information, it’s how we monitor heat and warmth. The skin has a sense of smell—the same olfactory receptors that exist in the skin also exist in our nose, and when they come into contact with certain molecules, they activate a healing process.
I am an avid student of anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, a philosopher and esotericist, for sure, and one aspect is the study of spirit that exists in all matter. My interest in particular is plants and how they evolve—the metamorphosis of plant material on the skin once you apply it. Massage and that connection to the skin, the processes that it initiates, are fascinating. There are so many. Depending on what part of the body you’re massaging, you’re activating something internally.
Look at traditions like Ayurveda, where full-body oiling is a daily practice and considered essential for health purposes. Is it a cure? I don’t know, but it’s definitely a health-supportive modality. The concept of the skin as a sense organ, which we regularly talk about, is meant to bring people into this realm of getting into the body via the skin—and feeling all the feels, so to speak.
Who are your greatest influences?
My two most important teachers and mentors are naturopaths, Dr. Linda Lancaster (known as Dr. Linda), and Dr. Berkowsky—almost everything I know I owe to them. Dr. Linda taught me subtle analysis and medical radiesthesia and opened me up to the world of anthroposophy and a little bit of the Kabbalah. The emphasis was on understanding our subtle anatomy and the study of energy and intention. All the therapeutic bathing practices I employ today were taught to me by Dr. Linda. She’s been lecturing and teaching on the effects of radiation, chemicals, heavy metals, and pesticides in our food supply for almost 40 years—and, in turn, teaches us how to neutralize those pollutants.
I learned how to read and quantify and direct energy with medical radiesthesia. I started by measuring the healing rate and energy of my materials. As part of my vetting process of ingredients, I tested the healing rates of all samples that came through. And it got to the point where I didn’t even need to use my instruments to measure energy—I can read energy just by something being in my presence.
In Fiore is driven by my intense love of artisanal processes and the traditions of crafting products, combined with the infinite potential of materials.
I was introduced to Dr. Berkowsky through a colleague, and that’s when my skill as a blender went full-on next-level. Dr. Berkowsky is a doctor of homeopathic medicine, a master clinician, and the founder of a healing modality called spiritual phytoessencing. He has this extraordinary breadth of knowledge about essential oils and their soul nature. This is where I got deep into the psycho-spiritual properties of plants.
Dr. Berkowsky created spiritual phytoessencing because he found that his patients could only go so far in their healing process before they’d hit a wall. We’re all familiar with that—it’s like, why do I continue to do things that do not serve my higher purpose? He created this modality to try and get to the source through deep soul-level healing. He takes a full anamnesis of a client, identifies themes and patterns, and from that identifies archetypes and miasms which he has associated with essential oils to create blends and homeopathic dilutions. He’ll give you a regimen, and you work with this blend for two or three years. It’s a long process and pretty powerful. The scope of spiritual phytoessencing is based in Dr. Berkowsky’s experience with aromatherapy, herbal medicine, homeopathy, anthroposophical science, and Kabbalah, among other things—he wrote an entire Materia Medica on the spiritual properties of essential oils. So I jumped into this world, and it changed my life. Some people might look at my formulas and think that they’re simple, but, in fact, they have highly complex synergistic effects. The process of selecting materials and getting into the feeling of an ingredient is key to my process.
So…you’re saying In Fiore is not a traditional beauty brand?
Ha! Not by any stretch of the imagination. I want our product to be a bridge for people. You don’t have to understand all the esoteric elements. They’re just there to bring you into the depth of the product, this area of the unknown, the mysteries, and to experience it for yourself. I’m giving you information so that you can use the products with intention.
This is how I met @violette__fr who just collaborated with me on a fragrance. She came to me and said, “I don’t know what it is about In Fiore, because I get products all the time, but there’s something about yours that makes me feel something different. I feel a shift.” Someone else recently said, “Your products are talking to people.” And that’s exactly what I’m hoping—for you to make that connection, to discover it for yourself your own way. I get that people are working on their skin, so regimens and education are super important. When we say, “Light is the potential of everything,” about our Calendula solution, I think it takes people a while to wrap their heads around it. But just think of it as a mantra. Just get into the feel of the product and let it take you somewhere.
In Fiore is all about a ritual, so what’s your favorite one?
I am a legit bathing person—I don’t even have a shower, only a clawfoot tub. I do a program of therapeutic baths up to six nights a week. My favorite ritual involves dry brushing followed by a therapeutic bath—my go-to tends to be sea salt and baking soda, which is prescribed by Dr. Linda and helps to neutralize radiation. The bath should be hot, but that can really dry out the skin, so I always try to follow with a cold rinse and then replenish the lipid barrier with an essential oil blend such as the Calendula or Comfrey solution to finish the process of moving the lymph.
If you’re thinking, “Who has time for a bath every night?” sometimes I only dry brush key lymph channels, which takes, like, two minutes, then I hop in the bath for 10, followed by a cold rinse. You can get this down to 20 minutes or you can do the full 50, but I think it’s best to stay in the habit. I like to tell people to develop a routine, but if you can’t do the full version, modifying is ok. Even people who love rituals probably have many times throughout the week where they’re like, “Um, not gonna happen.”