meet the maker: josh rosebrook

Josh’s innate understanding of skin and hair, and his ability to authentically connect with those around him, are at the heart of his eponymous range. Created with powerful herbs, his products work synergistically for incredible results. Merrady Wickes sat down with Josh at The Detox Market in Santa Monica to learn more about the path from Portland hairstylist to green beauty guru.

I’m here today with Josh Rosebrook We want to get to know Josh and also learn a little bit about his incredible skincare and hair care line, that is—well we’re all obsessed. Josh is like a rockstar in the green beauty community. He totally is. [laughs]

So how are you today?

I’m great, yeah, how are you?

I’m doing good. I’m so happy to be here with you.

Thank you, I’m so happy to be here.

The first time I met you, I was just like—you have such good energy. So, it’s really good to have you here.

Thank you!

I want to talk a little bit about your background. I know you started as a hairstylist—was that here in LA?

Originally, I went to school, and studied skin and hair in Portland. Then I quickly moved to LA and started my career specializing in hair, here in Beverly Hills.

What drew you to doing hair? How did that begin?

I was always interested in hair. I was fascinated by the fact that I felt like I knew what to do with it, sort of intuitively. As a kid, it was really fulfilling to feel that, and that I was good at something. It gave me a lot of self-esteem. I remember when I was a kid I would be styling everybody’s hair, and teaching them how to, you know, use hairsprays or gels— it was the ‘80s.

Oh!

Yea, you know it was always very fulfilling for me. I was always interested in hair, and as I got into high school, I was really interested in taking care of my skin.

Clearly. That was like five years ago? [Laughing]

Yes.

What drew you to LA? When did the move happen and what made you want to come here?

I needed a bigger city. Growing up in Portland was great, and I felt like it was such a wonderful place to come of age, and I was exposed to a lot of culture. It was a city that wasn’t too big, but it was big enough. At the same time, as I got older, I realized I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do. I think it was more of an intuitive feeling of knowing that I needed to be in a global city. And so I moved to New York in 1994, when I was like 19, and then that wasn’t the best fit. And then I moved to Los Angeles. As soon as I got to Los Angeles, I knew it was home.

What felt like home for you?

It was just that sense of feeling as though I had arrived where I’m supposed to be. And I think, you know, when you move somewhere, it … just speaks to you. And it spoke to me, and my life happened very quickly here. It’s been a very good city for me. I’m very appreciative of it.

Well, it appreciates you back, for sure.

Thanks [Laughing]

When did you, you know, start to get into natural products, natural ingredients?

Well, I was always into natural eating. I was a vegetarian and a vegan for many years, and ultimately I think that when you have that ability to question what you’re being served, and what you think about what everyone else is doing, you sort of pull yourself out of the matrix and you question everything. At the time in beauty, and going to beauty school, conventional was the way. There were really no other options. I was taught by the people around me at the time that natural was just an alternative, but it didn’t actually work. But for me, because my food was pure, my diet was pure—I was questioning the level of how real the ingredients were in the department store brands that I was using. I just really kept pioneering through it. Initially, for my sensitive, normal to dry skin particularly, I knew that you needed a nice occlusive that would lock in hydration, and I wasn’t finding creams that were doing that. So, you know, I started making my own. I had a beeswax that I was melting and mixing.

Oh, ok.

I was making a really uncomfortable, sticky, greasy beeswax balm that worked, actually.. Even though it was not formulated very well, it worked. It locked in my hydration. And that’s when I started thinking to myself, you know, I know what the skin needs. I know certain ingredients that do actually work. And obviously it just unfolded from there through a lot questioning of everything…

Yeah?

And researching everything. Experimentation. And then it went from there.

So, you were doing hair at this time, and you were mixing your own balms, and you were like my skin looks amazing, I’m onto something. At what point, what was the moment, when you thought, you know what, I’m going to start my own brand. Was it skin care first, or was it hair care first?

It was skin care first.

Ok.

And that was only because I was only looking to please myself with the formulations that I was making. I didn’t have this sort of global vision of a brand. You can’t conceptualize that. I wasn’t able to see that at that point. So for me, the main thing was that I didn’t have the money. As a young hair stylist, just making your way, and building your clientele, and, you know, trying to make it in the world in your twenties, you don’t have a lot of disposable income—in fact, you have none. So, I couldn’t go out and buy a $30 cream or balm or serum. So, you know, being in that position in life forces you to be very innovative and creative. I was inspired in that way. So what initially happened was that, yes, I was seeing my clients, and I was making my own products for myself, and they started asking me what I was using. And I didn’t think anything of it. At the time it was the Cacao Mask, the Cacao Antioxidant Mask.

Guys, Pause. [Turns to face the camera] If you don’t have the Cacao Antioxidant Mask, like pause this video, go to our website, and order it. It’s the most gorgeous thing to put on your skin. Umm, PSA over. [Laughing] Back to Josh. So you were actually mixing this at the time? All the way back then?

Oh yeah, this is like, 2003, 2004.

Amazing.

I was making it for myself. And to rewind a bit  [Laughing]  before I made it for myself, I studied cacao, and understood that it was pH balancing. It was an ingredient that was really exciting and almost—it was intuitive for me to work with it. So I was making my at home formulation and it was toning my skin, it was brightening it and it was creating a luminousness. My clients were like, “what are you using?” There was a noticeable difference.

I’m just showing them [turns to camera with product open] this is the Cacao Antioxidant Mask, it’s the most rich, lush thing. I’m just going to stop raving about it and [Laughing] actually let you finish about it. [Lauging] It’s so good!

So, the results were incredible, and then I gave it to a few of my clients that were having problem skin issues, and it was assisting in clearing their acne skin and then their friends began asking for it. At the time, I was just giving it away, and it was very fulfilling for me to be able to help people. And that I think was the seed that inspired the whole vision. Because when you realize that you can offer something, whether information, or a product, a service, and you help somebody, and it changes their life to any degree, large or small, it’s so fulfilling that you feel complete.

Yeah.

So for me, many people didn’t know what to put on their skin—what worked, what didn’t. And then through giving them things, not only was I developing and designing the line, but I was also fulfilling myself in the fact that like—wow, now they aren’t wasting their money on these ineffective, toxic creams, and balms, and creams and cleansers. They actually have something that works. There was this sort of way that everything unfolded and through assessing my clients, and knowing their skin, and knowing their lifestyle, their stress levels, their jobs, what they eat … everything about them because you see them month after month, year after year, I could tell them “Use this”, and I could see how that worked with them. “You don’t use this, stop using that, use this, this ingredient works best.” And that was really how all of the bigger inspiration came of how I was going to design the collection. It came from this massive amount of data that I could pull from working with clients day after day, year after year.

I love that.

Thanks!

 

“I WANTED TO UTILIZE PLANTS IN A WAY WHERE YOU GET THE POTENCY — AND THAT IS THROUGH HERBS. HERBS ARE THE NUMBER ONE THING THAT MAKE A SKINCARE PRODUCT TRULY EFFECTIVE, BECAUSE THEY’RE CONCENTRATED AND ACTIVE.”

 

So, your products are really simple to use. You know, there’s a beautiful cleanser, a beautiful mist, beautiful masks. And when you turn them over and look at the ingredient list…

There’s a lot of herbs.

There’s a lot of herbs [nodding] I mean they’re this wonderful list of active ingredients, and [Laughing] I consider myself pretty knowledgeable, but then there’s some where I’m like ‘what is that, what is that’, where did you become such an expert? I mean, how did that journey happen?

First of all, one of the first things when I created the collection, I knew it had to be different. It couldn’t be just be another, even natural or organic line. Because I wanted to utilize plants in a way where you get the potency—and that is through herbs. Herbs are the number one thing that make a skincare product truly effective, because they’re concentrated and active with anti-inflammatories, antioxidants—all of the good stuff in concentrated levels. So… I study herbs, build these formulas, and work with a professional chemist, because I do believe that, you need to work with people in order to really expand on the vision.

So, it’s a collaboration for you?

Yeah, I didn’t have the time to become a professional formulator. I had the time to design and work with chemists and herbalists to develop the collection. That’s why I think it’s so good, because it’s not just me learning to make products and selling them to other people. It was me, collaborating with many people, but then ultimately designing the collection and offering it with specific herbs designed to work in synergy with one another. And that’s not just some marketing mumbo jumbo. What it really is, there are certain herbs that are paired together that work exponentially on the skin, and benefit the skin. Meaning my whole entire collection is designed around the anti-inflammatories and antioxidants and herbs that are very high in those constituents. When they’re paired together, they’re very powerful, and that’s where you get, you know, this extremely effective product.

Yeah, I think if I had to describe the Josh Rosebrook range to anyone who’s never used it before, it’s that it’s super, super effective.

Thank you.

It really is a results-driven range, which, you know, in the natural world, is not always a thing, it can be pleasant.

Right.

But it’s not always, “I used that mask and I look like brand new.”

Right.

So that’s something you’ve really nailed.

Thank you! Thank you.

Yeah, of course.

Well, I feel like for me, if I was putting out a product on the market that wasn’t extremely effective, I wouldn’t put it out.

Yeah.

Why?! You know…

You’re very specific. All of your products are made in California, right?

Yes!

I love that! So, you’re busy, you have your range, you’re all over the place doing things and you’re also— I stalk Josh on Instagram, maybe. And he has a really beautiful garden, and he has two really adorable dogs. [Laughing] You know, you have a very full life. I’d like to ask—how do you find your sanity and your balance? What do you do for self care? How do you nurture [touching heart]?

That is my life. Finding that balance. Daily. Moment to moment. That’s one of the things I like to incorporate when I’m talking about the line—the skincare, the hair care—how it works with the body. It’s always holistic. We always have to address every single aspect of our body and our lives when we’re addressing the skin. We have to address our digestion, and we have to address our lymph system, and physically and mentally.

For me, how do I find that balance? Really, true wellness is the art of moment to moment self-assessment. It’s not eating something particular every day, or you know, talking about anything in particular, or even your practice. It’s really about assessing what my needs are today, right now. And that is so open to so many billions of things. And that’s one moment of a day, and being able to be true to yourself. And that’s really, to me, how I do it. So whether I wake up in the morning—and some days, you know, my meditations in the morning are five minutes, and that’s it. And some days what I know that I need is a half hour. And then some days, the first thing I want is coffee, and then to meditate. And you know, some days I check my phone first thing. Most days I try not to, at least for a half hour.

Ohh, that’s a good tip!

It’s hard but you see, those are the things that throughout the day, with what I do for work—I work from home, and then I go into the facility. I work with a lot of people, but then a lot of times I work by myself. I have to always question what is right for me to be doing now.

Yeah!

Because there are so many moving projects. And so, it’s constantly questioning and checking in. I feel like I started doing that, you know, yeaaars ago, when it was just me doing the line with very little help. So today it’s still the same thing where it’s just constantly checking in, and knowing to stop and you know, put everything down, and go outside. Knowing when to stop the work day at 1 o’clock and sometimes I’m inspired to work until 8 or 9 pm.

Ok.

That’s listening to what’s right for me now, not doing something because I feel like I’m supposed to or because I feel more accomplished as a human if I do. I don’t define myself through busy-ness.

I love that.

Everyone’s busy!

Thank you for saying that!

When someone asks you ‘how are you?’ I think ‘I’m really busy’, I think ‘Don’t say that’, because we’re all busy!

[Laughing] I feel like that’s my response.

Yeah.

Busy!!

Busy! Yeah, but it’s like, well, does that mean that you don’t feel better or more accomplished because you’re busy? And some days I’m not busy because I choose not to be busy.

Because I think that doesn’t define you. I actually think that the more you can sit back and relax, and take care of yourself, and calm your senses, and get to a centered place, then you have so much more to offer than if you do so much. You’re giving 100% of yourself.

That’s a really good answer.

Thanks!

And I feel like your skincare is almost part of my own unplugging. I’m like ‘I’m just going to put some of this enzyme exfoliant on, and I’m just going to sit. And then I’m going to do my cacao mask.’ So I think, I mean, skincare rituals are a way for you to be gifting other people to give them a moment to take care of themselves.

I hope so, I hope so. Because I know, for myself, when I go to do my exfoliator and my mask, sometimes I’m very tired and I don’t feel like doing it…

And so it’s a thing where you start by walking, then you can start running. I start, I put my products on, and I have the sensorial experience. Then I realize that I’m caring for my skin, and then that connects me back to myself again. And then I realize ‘I’m so glad I did this’.

What’s next for Josh Rosebrook? The person and the brand! I know you just launched two incredible products.

I just launched two products… (Vital Balm Cream and Advanced Hydration Cream)

What! Let’s go!!… [Laughing]

Well, we’re kind of overwhelmed… they’ve been a really amazing success! I worked a long time on them, and they’re very unique and special. And they’re being received that way, and that’s really exciting. I have a few more products that I want to create. It’s a lot of work. I have a hair care product that I’m finishing up, and then I have another skincare product that I want to release. Sometimes it just becomes whichever one is perfect first! So, I never really know. [tosses hands in the air]

I know that you’re a perfectionist, so…

Urgh, suffering!

[Laughing]

I feel for you. Thank you so much for being here today to chat about your brand and your story.

 

Shop all Josh Rosebrook here.

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