Golden State giants of natural unisex brands on how California inspires their life and work
Words by CAROLINE CAGNEY
In a beauty industry traditionally dominated by women, it’s been refreshing to witness three Los Angeles-based men make their mark by advancing the movement for nontoxic self-care with their unisex lines. J.P. Mastey of Corpus Naturals deodorant, Douglas Little of Heretic Parfum, and Matthew Ruggieri of skincare company Onekind have all established companies dedicated to creating formulations with clean, high-grade ingredients — and the chic packaging doesn’t look bad on a bathroom countertop, either. We asked the founders to share how California inspires them, what drove them to create eco-conscious brands, and their own clean grooming and at-home self-care routines.
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J.P. Mastey is a veteran of the grooming world — his former line, Baxter of California, was a cult favorite for stylish men everywhere before he sold it to L’Oreal in 2013. Two years ago he founded Corpus Naturals, a deodorant company whose water-based formulas not only smell divine — think bergamot, cardamom and orange blossom — but also moisturize and even skin tone.
Why did you create Corpus Naturals?
It is a story often heard: Necessity is the mother of invention. It was when I was expecting my first child, four years ago, that I became hypersensitive to the products we used in our household. The audit included household products like cleaning and laundry products and, of course, personal care products. It was in my search for a natural deodorant that I saw the need for something better … effective, aesthetically pleasing, scent profiles that were akin to the world of fine fragrance and not simply single-note essential oils.
What is the story behind the packaging?
Package design is a borderline obsession of mine. However, the aesthetic comes second to a product that really works. Deodorant is something you use every day. But what elevates ordinary objects into extraordinary experiences is good design. A grocery store-bought deodorant may serve its intended function, but a good product should be both purposeful and elicit happiness. To be exceptional, the product must feel good — the weight, proportions and texture all must come together, to be pleasing to all senses. There’s a difference between a product we love and a product we simply use.
In what ways does California inspire you?
California is home. I was born and raised in the Los Angeles area. Like anyone, I am a product of my environment. My previous brand, Baxter of California, was also deeply rooted in my home state. California is so rich in nature, from the beaches on the coast to the mountains and deserts; it’s that landscape, along with the laid-back lifestyle, that inspires me.
Do you have a morning grooming routine?
My grooming routine is very unique. I commonly use a slew of experimental lab samples. We’re always tinkering with new products for face, body and hair, so it’s my job to road-test as much as possible. Some of my favorite products in the clean category are: Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, for face, body and hands; True Botanicals Pure Radiance oil and vitamin C Booster; Jason toothpaste. My breakfast routine is inspired by my wife, Jessica, who got me hooked on a morning smoothie recipe (kale, cilantro, spinach, ginger, wild blueberry, hemp, spirulina, orange) that not only tastes great but has become my substitute for vitamins. Three days a week I make sure to get in a morning run in my neighborhood.
How do you practice self-care?
At night, I use the same lab samples and True Botanicals formulas for face as I do in the morning. An evening shower really helps me wind down and prepare for bed. I’ve also been experimenting with CBD products in an attempt to get better sleep, and the one I’m currently loving is Flora + Blast age adapting sleep tincture. I’m of the mindset that you simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.
What do you do to alleviate stress?
Playing with my 4-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son are great reminders to not sweat the small stuff and stay present. My wife and I schedule a weekly date night to give ourselves the opportunity to focus on each other, even if it’s just for a few hours. I also tend to find my escape from stress, work, etc., by watching a good TV series such as Money Heist, The Handmaid’s Tale, and I am a very late entry into Breaking Bad.
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Since launching in 2015, Douglas Little’s clean fragrance and candle collection, Heretic Parfum, has garnered a prominent following for its intoxicating blends and risque branding. Little famously collaborated with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop to create four unique scents, including the This Smells Like My Vagina candle.
What made you want to become a perfumer?
Nature is my greatest muse and mentor, and I’m constantly discovering new facets of her beauty. I also love being able to share my passion with other people.
Why do nontoxic fragrances appeal to you?
The idea for Heretic Parfum was to go against the grain of the traditional toxic aroma chemicals and to create a radically transparent collection of fragrances made from 100 percent naturally derived materials blended in organic sugarcane alcohol. I believe what we put in our bodies is just as important as what we put on our bodies.
In what ways does California inspire you?
California inspires me with its physical and metaphorical space. I uprooted and moved to New York for five years and quickly realized that, while the city may have its charms, California gave me physical and mental space to think, dream and create. I will never regret my time in N.Y., however, I will say that I am thrilled to be home.
Any products you use to jumpstart your day?
I am obsessed with Athletic Greens Ultimate Daily supplement powder and always start my day with it. For my face, I use the Goop Exfoliating Instant Facial scrub followed by Codex Beauty Skin Superfood. My favorite body wash is Goop G.Day ginger and ashwagandha energy body wash. I worked on the fragrance for this and for Goop G.Day black pepper and rosehip energy body oil. I am also loving the Neroli deodorant by Corpus Naturals, and of course, my signature Heretic fragrance, Dirty Ginger (it takes one to know one).
What do you do to wind down in the evening?
I’m trying to develop better habits and not relinquish the day in a glass or two of wine. My new nightly routine includes using Goop The Martini Emotional Detox Bath Soak, an intense blend of frankincense, rosemary, cypress, myrrh and vetiver. It takes the edge off the day and helps me reset before bed. I like to use Codex Beauty Bia facial oil to wash my face, although I am not sure that’s what it’s for, but I love the results! I then moisturize with the Codex Beauty Skin Superfood. Just before bed I put a drop of Oman frankincense and oud on my forehead. I find that I sleep deeper and more sound with this scent ritual.
What’s one thing you do every day for your mental well-being?
I write down on a piece of paper the things I do not want to follow me into the next day and burn the paper.
Shop Heretic Parfum.
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Matthew Ruggieri and his sister, Madison Ruggieri, created Onekind to provide an edited-down, direct-to-consumer clean skincare line at a fair price. They launched the range last fall with just three products — a moisturizer, a nighttime serum and a facial formula — made with all skin types in mind.
How did you come up with the idea for Onekind?
Madison and I have spent 10 years in the prestige skincare industry, so we know what it takes to manufacture really effective and beautiful products, but we’ve become frustrated with the exorbitant prices … with no real way of explaining why. So we knew that we wanted to launch a brand that sold thoughtfully crafted skincare directly to the customer through our own website — that are, most importantly, priced fairly.
Does California inspire what you do?
I love that California is home to amazingly rich oils (hello, avocado and olive) and other aromatherapeutic botanicals that I’ve used in many of our products, including eucalyptus, citrus and lavender. I’m inspired by these natural ingredients and use them in their purest forms.
What’s your daily routine look like?
I wake up around 7a.m. and try to attend a hot yoga class. If I don’t take a class in the morning, I’ll do my best to catch an evening class after work. After that, I’ll make myself a breakfast smoothie with almond milk, banana, oatmeal, chia seeds and a vegan protein/superfood powder. Sometimes I’ll toss half an avocado in as well. I try to make this for myself every morning. Grooming-wise, I shower in the morning and use the Port Products detoxifying daily cleanser, a gentle glycolic acid gel cleanser; Port Products botanical protein complex shampoo, which does a surprisingly good job getting hair product residue out of your hair without stripping it, and Buckler’s moisture-rich bar soap (extremely moisturizing with almond oil and shea butter). I’ll finish my routine with a day cream and face oil that I’m currently working on developing for Onekind.
What products do you use at night?
My evening routine is pretty simple: I wash my face with the same cleanser I use in the morning. A few times each week, I’ll use the Onekind Pore-fectionist Refining Facial, which is a gentle detoxifying mask for “grown-up” skin, with willow bark extract (a natural form of salicylic acid) and lactic acid. I’ll finish with the Onekind Dream Cream nighttime moisturizer and Midnight Magic PM serum. I love lighting a candle and drinking tea at night to calm me down and will often write down a few notes that I don’t want to forget for the following day.
What’s one thing you do every single day to stay grounded?
Writing lots of “to do” lists keeps me sane.
Feature image: Products by CORPUS NATURALS.
May 29, 2020
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