From our very first call with Shae Johnson (@northandstate_estheticsstudio) — esthetician and founder of natural skin services destination North & State — it was apparent we had met someone as passionate about plants as we are.
A staunch advocate of hemp’s ability to holistically heal mind, body and skin, Shae is part of a new wave of estheticians bringing plant medicine into treatment rooms and using it to repair clients’ compromised skin.
We caught up with Shae for conversation on self-care, feeling beautiful in your skin and how our favorite flower helps skin thrive. Read highlights from our chat below and during September tune into our Instagram for exclusive education, tutorials and a behind-the-scenes facial with Shae.
Muri Lelu: For those who aren't familiar with you or your work, please introduce yourself!
Shae Johnson: Hi yes, my name is Shae and I am an Esthetician specializing in plant focused and natural skin care services at North & State - a private studio outside of Minneapolis, MN. My focus is relaxing and healing facials as well as brow art!
ML: How did your journey into being an esthetician begin? How did you end up opening your practice today?
SJ: So I always say I grew up in the industry & my mom is still a practicing barber/cosmetologist of 40 + years! I became fascinated by the work of Estheticians as a young adult when I first learned it was such a niche group of service providers at the time. I really liked the dynamic of the Estheticians I began to know in the industry. I started out in makeup (of course) and quickly realized I was way more intrigued in advancing my practice beyond just making people look and feel beautiful with cosmetics.
ML: Muri Lelu is all about unlocking the holistic benefits of all botanicals, including ones that have been overlooked or considered taboo. For a plant like hemp which (unfortunately) still carries a stigma, how do you typically get your clients to begin considering its beautifying benefits?
SJ: It’s so funny because I think it’s ridiculous that people can legally smoke cigarettes knowing what we know but then we still have to regularly defend a plant with more healing benefits than you can keep track of. And that’s exactly how I explain it to my clients and to anyone who will listen really. So many mainstream commercial brands and products out there are either using plants, or more often synthetic ingredients that act like plants - it makes more sense to me to use ethically harvested plants with proven potent benefits to cure and heal us vs synthetic ingredients or animal derived chemicals that don’t even preform with the same efficacy.
ML: What types of skin would you typically recommend products with full flower hemp for? As an esthetician, what do you see as the most impactful benefits of this super ingredient?
SJ: I regularly suggest that anyone use full flower hemp, or at least try it in their skincare routine if they have not. It’s so effective in what it can do for dry or sensitive skin but I also suggest clients to use [it] for hydration and and balance - keeping that outer layer of our skin healthy and bright. It’s also sebum balancing - so we know if someone is over producing bacterial oil, full flower hemp can help regulate that. I really do believe anyone can use [this plant] for healing skincare purposes.
ML: You champion the healing powers of plant medicine across both your esthetician practice and your own wellness and self-care practices. What drew you to more holistic modalities of healing and what were some of the easiest things you did to begin making a more conscious shift in your daily routine?
SJ: So I think every year I feel a little more connected with nature than the last. Growing up and still to this day, my mother takes great pride in gardening. She always instilled in us the importance of eating things from the earth. We spent a lot of time in the garden and outside as kids and I grew akin to trusting plants and nature as being the most beneficial things for our body. The “easiest” shift for me was quitting alcohol! I know that sounds extremely difficult - and it is in this world - but when I quit drinking I started to become more and more interested and aware in the ways of preserving my body and caring for myself.
ML: The definition of self-care continues to expand and shift, sometimes drifting far from what it is at its core: a well-rounded practice of replenishing the self. When you strip it all back, what do you consider essential acts of self-care?
SJ: At the absolute core of self-care to me means caring for your nervous system, your mind and body. Massaging your face for even 60 seconds a day can shift your mood and mental well being. Being given a facial massage for 60minutes can reset your nervous system and calm your anxiety. Of course rewarding ourselves with acts of kindness and the occasional material possession is instant gratification, but to deeply care for yourself and/or schedule time to be taken care of, is invaluably beneficial.
ML: When do you feel most beautiful in your own skin?
SJ: When I am in the water and in the sun! I always feel my best externally and internally when I am near or in water for sure.