An INTERVIEW with KRISTI BLUSTEIN
In a time when the term 'plant-based' is casually bandied about to signal both a belief in the protection of our fragile environment and the need to eat more fresh food, there are some who have taken the term and its meaning to a whole new level. Meet Kristi Blustein, founder of the Ayurvedic botanical beauty brand Khus + Khus. Having been one of the first ones on the CBD scene a few years ago, Kristi has been busy innovating and expanding her line ever since. To define Khus + Khus as simply a 'green beauty' brand would be a gross oversimplification. For Kristi, plants are not only our "allies" but sentient beings whose innate intelligence and complexity we depend on to both survive and thrive. We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Kristi about her love of yoga and the perfect smoothie, the evolution of her brand and what the past year has taught her.
We always wondered.... what is the meaning behind the name Khus + Khus and why were you drawn to it?
You speak frequently about plants being our "allies". Can you elaborate?
Oh wow, tough but a fun one! I'd take D DROP humectant factor because of the French peppermint hydrolat- it's cooling and calming to the skin, it clears heat from the body and reduces inflammation.
I'd also take our BLEU body wax. Coconut oil is considered a natural sunblock, I believe it cuts out about 30% of UVA rays and the formula for this is great for sun relief.
Right now I'm so loving the KAI repair balm, I think this would be a great product for island life. The green caviar oil is very similar to hyaluronic acid in its hydration properties and texture.
In the morning a splash of water, ESPECIAL K toning mist and either THE FIX or RESQ potion. At night I cleanse with THE GOLDEN MILK followed by SEN hydrolat or D DROP humectant factor and KAI repair balm. I do a mask once a week and regularly do derma planning about every 4-6 weeks. Simple. But in terms of providing stability to the skin. complex.
Oh and I eat a clean diet, drink lemon water, take herbal supplements, get fresh air, a little sun, reduce my stress levels with pranayama, meditation and sound baths daily.
Skincare health is healthy living in its entirety. Your skin is the manifestation of all of your lifestyle practices, as taught by Ayurveda.
How would you describe your hair care routine?
Well first, I don't wash it too much. Hey, I went to western herbalism school so I learned some things from my hippy classmates. You need the oils intact to protect the hair follicle, so I only wash only once every 8 days or so using a gentle cleanser and a certain hair treatment by Hair Therapie.
I also do oil my scalp a few times a week with an Ayurvedic blend made of bhringraj and brahmi oil which are slightly warmed and then I wrap my head. Ayurveda uses oils for everything, Snehana is the sanskrit word for oil, but also means love. There are a lot of channels on the head and the crown chakra. To open these channels we use herbs on the head and third eye.
You are a vegan and have been for some time. When and why did you transition to this way of eating and do you eat Beyond meat?
Well, my husband loves making Beyond Meat vegan burgers. It's not my favorite but I will eat it. The digestive system doesn't really recognize processed vegan meats, so they have the propensity to create digestive issues if you eat them too often. I've been plant-based since 2007 when I left the Ashram and I used to be very dogmatic about diet, but feel now this can create another identity but one around food. So if eating out with family or friends I won't freak out if there's dairy in something but generally, I try to avoid it at home. But I choose not to eat animals, as they carry Karma and this can affect spiritual development as you are digesting everything that animal went through into your system. Ayurveda states that you should give the body what it needs to heal even meat if necessary in times of emaciation or extreme depletion.
Let me clarify though, Yoga snd Ayurveda are not vegan diets, there's a lot of dairy involved in both practices, ghee, raw milk etc .....food is medicine and it is used in both practices as such. However, my yoga Teacher Dharma Mittra has a big influence over the diet of his students and advocates for a strict vegan diet. I've been a student of his since 2008. I do my best to follow his teachings as he is one of the last true Yogic Gurus currently in the west still teaching yoga.
Your social media is full of you showcasing your stellar yoga skills. Why is yoga so important to you?
Wow, I feel like this is a complex question. Yoga is a complete healing system for the mind and body. I think there's the perception that most people have that it's just these crazy postures or a class at the gym or something. It's way more than either of those things, it's a complete system to heal the body and mind of past trauma. A perfect system to evolve into self realization, the only true purpose we have in this body at this time. It creates a more peaceful life and provides the tools to uncover your true nature and inner peace. It helps you to unlock the matrix as my teacher would say. It helps you to gain a clear vision regarding manifestation and helps you realize you can create any life you want.
Your mind is the creator of everything, but you must go within and find your power. Yoga helps me to realize these things so I continue to make it a priority in my life because it has radically changed my life with its teachings. I will never turn away from this practice because it has given and taught me so much and it continues to teach me every day. I have so much respect and reverence for it and I have been blessed with amazing teachers in my life. It is such a gift to have found this practice and to dive deep into it. It has given me everything I ever searched for.
My views on Covid can easily described in two words- completely confused at this point. If there was ever a time in my life where I could say I know nothing it's on the topic of Covid, even when I thought I had somewhat of a handle on what is happening it turns out I'm completely ignorant on the subject. But, I will say I think this is possibly the goal to keep us confused which is terrifying to think about.
It did impact my business because it greatly affected retail and the stores I work with. Before Covid we had been in the process of moving into hotel retail and spa market. When Covid hit these businesses were down as much as 25% capacity for quite some time, which was quite unexpected. However at the same time we did see so much growth in our direct to consumer base and growth on our website so, in the end, everything seems to be balancing out.
In early November 2021, I came down with a bad case of Covid after not so much as a cold in years. This really shook me and I ended up hospitalized which was just scary in and of itself. I was released from the hospital after 4 days and placed on oxygen as I had pneumonia in both lungs. I really feel this was a profound experience for me. Because I have worked with really ill patients before in my Ayurvedic practice, so to have to be my own patient was a really interesting process. I think it has made me a better healer as I was forced to draw on my whole knowledge base to heal myself.
In order to heal I had to dig deep into my own mind and behavior patterns just to force myself out of bed and walk up 5 steps and down again to get myself moving. Within 3 weeks I went from holding a handstand in full lotus for a straight minute to not being to hold my arms in front of me for 10 seconds or to go up and down the stairs to my living room. I became emaciated and lost 15 lbs, was on oxygen, steroids, and looking pretty bad as I had was sick from Nov 8th, hospitalized on the 17th of November, released from the hospital on the 21st. It would take everything inside of me for the following 3 to 4 weeks to heal myself.
After I got myself out of bed and stopped wallowing in my illness, I created a healing protocol. It consisted of the use of herbs inside and out, a really clean diet, sound bath, sunbaths, asana, pranayama, hours in meditation, dry brushing, abhyanga, anointing oils used for spiritual development and healing, kirtan music playing all day. This went on for days and weeks. I was spending the majority of my time healing myself. I would just prostrate in child pose and cry not because I was sad but because I felt blessed to have this practice and now I was able to truly apply it. After this I was able to be back in my yoga class within 3 weeks of leaving the hospital and off oxygen in 8 to 9 days.
I attribute my recovery to yoga, Ayurveda and my healer Lisa. She worked with me twice a week and I continue to work with her every three weeks. Trauma is no joke and you must release it or it manifests as illness in the body later.
It was one thing to be doing these practices (most I do all the time anyway) but it was another to see them working in this way, so profound. I can say I had a deeply spiritual and even religious experience healing myself from Covid. It was beautiful and while also being the hardest thing I've ever lived through all at the same time. I have no regrets, accept the hospital bill it's ridiculous.
Where do you see yourself and your brand in the next 5 years?
I think moving into more premier resorts and helping to create custom spa experiences. We have distribution deals in the Middle East and South America, these are already in the works. Growing organically and creating the most effective plant-based skin health products on the market.
- Favorite meal: anything with hand made pasta in it
- Favorite vacation spot: I like New Mexico but also Paris and most of France to be honest
- Yoga wear: I switched to Alo for a while but eventually went back to Lulu lemon (sorry they just last forever) and are not evasive during practice which is what you want when you're doing a rigorous practice
- Favorite yoga pose: every single one is perfection, but lotus twist, parvrtta ardha padmasana
- Coffee or tea: I'm going to say tea because it's probably better for you and higher in anti-oxidants but both have them. Coffee is an herb too and has it's place.
- City or country: Los Angeles maybe but I'm from Miami so I should say city?
- Favorite smoothie: I make a mango smoothie with coconut milk, chia seeds, shredded coconut and mineral salt. It's amazing and probably my favorite