As a child, Shannon Vaughn watched her “hippie” mother mix her own natural serums and balms. But it wasn’t until after years as a Ford model and time spent living abroad in France, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia that she confronted some personal health issues and realized the importance of approaching beauty from the inside out.
Vaughn had accumulated diverse knowledge while studying philosophy and the history of mathematics and sciences at St. John's College and various healing modalities at institutions like the Kripalu in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, The Rose Program in New York City and The American Institute of Vedic Studies in Rishikesh, India. Ultimately, she moved to New York City with an eye towards offering the detox treatments she created for herself to women all over the world. In 2014, she launched beauty wellness line Pursoma with a collection of consciously-created, detoxifying baths—harnessing the power of high-quality salts, clay and herbs to combat urban toxicity.
Here, Vaughn discusses the importance of cleansing the body and exercising the mind:
Live The Process: From where does your lifelong passion for health and wellness stem?
Shannon Vaughn: As a child, I was interested in skincare and formulations. I loved watching my mother create her beauty routine, as she made her own natural skincare products and applied handmade botanical serums. We led a natural and healthy lifestyle in almost every facet. I even drank green juice as a young girl, and that was more than 30 years ago. I had not thought to pursue wellness and alternative healing as a career until I learned that beauty truly exudes from the inside and is reflective of internal health. This was a part of my own journey. I wanted to find ways to package this and share it with women.
I try to be conscious of what I consume daily, especially when I am on the go, as this requires me to be even more focused. When I’m home, I have developed a healthy routine. Obviously, there are times when things need to be adjusted, such as when I was pregnant and had specific cravings. But I practiced being gentle with myself and ate as clean and organically as possible. I am also lucky to have a strong support system and amazing resources of wellness healers and stores where I live in New York City. Usually, I make it very simple for myself and my family by eating and creating meals that are as simple as possible. I look at a meal or food item and ask myself if I can see its origin, and, if so, whether or not it is a whole food. Overall, I always strive to eat foods that are as close as possible to their original raw forms or sources.
LTP: How did your own health issues inform the creation of your line?
SV: I created Pursoma because I faced a health crisis in my later adult life that I confidently believe was the result of environmental toxicity. Extremely stressful situations, poor nutrition in my daily diet and toxic hormonal disruptors in my daily beauty and skincare regime left me unwell. It literally stopped me in my tracks. One day I was on my bicycle, when I experienced the worst pain ever. I later learned it was an ovarian cyst, which is something that affects many women, but the only treatment is a lifetime of birth control pills and/or surgery. Unhappy with the solutions offered by traditional medicine, I engaged in holistic therapies guided by a nutritionist and homeopathic doctor, emphasizing detox and rejuvenation. Following my recovery, I worked closely with a nutritionist and biochemist to formulate potent, effective detox treatments that left me feeling vibrant and alive and gave me a sense of internal peace. It was the combination of this process of “soma” or transition to wellness, with the understanding I gained about true health, that inspired me to want to spread this message. I wanted to share the tools to help others achieve similar results.
The line launched in June 2014. I had just withdrawn from medical school at Georgetown and decided that Washington, DC was not the right city to garner the initial momentum I needed to launch a beauty brand. I moved to NYC and found a great team that was passionate about my mission. Our first account was Shen Beauty in Brooklyn, New York. Jessica has been our number one supporter to this day. She understood the line immediately.
LTP: What does it mean to promote detoxification?
SV: We create products to keep you well in modern times. Today’s world is filled with toxicity, pollution, environmental stressors, excessive technology and overload on the brain and body. Because of this, we feel that detox is an important part of the process of rejuvenation or “soma.”
A Pursoma bath treatment combines salts, clays and other natural ingredients that encourage the body to sweat out toxins, absorb nourishment from minerals and help neutralize harmful effects of too much tech exposure. When you get in the water with a very high-quality salt, it forces you to sweat and allows your pores to open. You release the toxicity from your system into water, which the clay then soaks up like a sponge. These treatments work from the inside out. You feel better, get more restful sleep and wake up energized. Your skin is smoother, healthier and more beautiful. We see a Pursoma bath as more than a relaxing evening ritual; it is an effective, active experience and a step toward health and wellness, similar to going to the gym. In order to be beautiful, you must be and feel well.
LTP: What are some key ingredients in your products?
SV: All of our formulations are created from pure ingredients that are organic and wild-harvested or sustainably farmed. Each has a specific, active purpose and is fresh-packed to ensure potency. We do not incorporate any preservatives or chemical additives or processes in the line, and we guarantee our ingredients are safe for the Earth and for your body.
We use French grey sea salt from the coasts of Brittany, harvested by hand and packed wet to maintain its high mineral content. Bathing with a pure sea salt encourages the body to open its pores and release toxicity.
Our extremely pure French green clay comes from the quarries of the Haute-Loire region. Most other commercially available clays are usually 60 percent clay and 40 percent sediment. This 99 percent clay and essential to the detox process.
Our North Atlantic seaweed is wild-harvested from the seashores of Brittany, France. This farm-raised algae is organic and grown in beds where it is harvested, extracted and dried on site to ensure quality, purity and freshness. Our algae and seaweed are rich in chlorophyll, which makes them superior detoxifying agents that are good for your system and great for your skin. Both are known to aid in preventing the absorption of radiation and easing symptoms from eczema and psoriasis.
There are many other lines that offer natural healing properties and so many good brands today that have integrity behind their formulations. I feel Pursoma may differ because we are a beauty wellness company that aims to create products to make you feel better. Looking better is a secondary result. We try to go deep down and have a whole body wellness approach to beauty. We launched our first collection with detox bath treatments and are currently working on other lines right now. In all of our endeavors, the beauty wellness component will remain paramount.
LTP: What is your current wellness obsession?
SV: Powdered vitamins that are close to their original food source. I add them to lots of smoothies. They have been dehydrated and turned into powder. We are currently working on creating these for a new line of beauty wellness products.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
SV: Happiness is a really good day, as I feel it’s important to be present. I can’t predict happiness in the future, nor can I compare my happiness in the past to what I have today. So I try to be present in each day. I feel contented when I am healthy and able to be productive and practice gratitude for what I have.
LTP: What does “Live The Process" mean to you and how can we all do this each day?
SV: My motto on this is: “I am as much part of it (the process) as I am also the creator of it (the process).” I majored in philosophy at St. John’s College, a program that is taught through reading the classics. We began the program with the teachings of the ancient Greeks and “praxis”—the process through which a theory, lesson or skill is realized. It is the activity of humans; humans doing something with the end goal being an action. Keeping aligned with the ancients, to “Live The Process” is to live fully in what you are doing, take your power of thought and put that into “praxis” or process, which will give you action. And that activity has an outcome that you can see. By living this fully, you will be invested with all your heart and soul and with that will come action. You will also learn from this process because there will be trial and error. It is truly in the doing that learning comes. Our actions affect others, so when I say I am as much a part of it as also the creator of it, I mean my process, my actions, are not exclusive to me. I must be conscious of that and act with more awareness, knowing that my process can have a positive or negative effect depending on how I choose my activity or doing. We are all part of an ongoing process called life.