Melissa Legarda is a British-Filipina writer, traveller and coconut oil entrepreneur from London. She founded Virginutty, the sustainable coconut-based skincare brand.
Can you tell us a bit about the Virginutty collection?
Of course! Virginutty is a premium gender-neutral skincare brand that uses exclusively Philippine virgin coconut oil and plant-based ingredients. The range is cruelty-free, paraben free, organic, fair-trade, and vegan. Our current range consists of Skin Drink (moisturiser), Makeup Melt (cleanser), Hair Balm (mask), and Coffee Glow (scrub). Our organic coconuts are cultivated and cold-pressed under world-class conditions – the producers that I work with are incredibly secretive about their process!
Our product line was thoughtfully designed to evoke the husk of the coconut, the purity of its contents, and ultimately, to celebrate the coconut’s island roots. Virginutty’s ethos is to simplify people’s daily self-care rituals, and to empower the use of natural ingredients. Natural beauty alternatives are important, especially when so many drugstore and high-end cosmetic products are toxic cocktails of parabens and irritants such as alcohol. These ingredients are typically lazy manufacturing shortcuts used for profit, or to increase shelf life, and are counterintuitive to the concept of ethical skincare.
Why is Virginutty the perfect travel companion for any busy female traveller?
Virginutty’s skincare collection is stylish, sustainable, multi-purpose, and 100% natural. Busy female travellers (myself included) usually have to whittle down their carry-on luggage and make-up kits to the bare minimum. That’s why I bring Virginutty everywhere with me. It’s so versatile. Skin Drink, for example, multitasks as a body moisturiser, as a shaving cream, as a sunburn soother, and as bug bite relief – it can even keep you warm under the sea if applied before scuba diving!
Female travellers want to spend their time exploring the unknown, feeling carefree, and soaking up another culture. Unless they have a specific skin condition or are prone to acne, a natural skincare product like Virginutty streamlines all their skincare needs and saves them valuable space, time, and money on the road. Personally, Virginutty coconut oil has helped improve my daily and travel rituals. I want all my fellow wanderers to join me!
Why is coconut oil so nourishing for the skin?
Fab question. I’m going to get a bit scientific if that’s okay! Not only is coconut oil naturally antimicrobial, but it can stimulate collagen production, which improves skin elasticity and actively prevents wrinkles, and also helps the skin seal in moisture. The coconut palm is known as the ‘Tree of Life’ because its coconuts are bursting with life-giving nutrients and electrolytes. Coconut oil is made up of triglycerides, or medium-chain fatty acids such as lauric acid, which is found in identical ratios to mother’s (breast) milk. Mother’s milk provides growing babies with so much nourishment and nutrition. That’s why, with its similar chemical structure, Virginutty coconut oil can harness these powerful, life-giving properties to nourish our skin.
Did you always envision working on your own beauty line?
I always used to experiment with homemade beauty recipes I’d seen on blogs or in magazines. My first foray into DIY skincare was using olive oil and sugar to make a scrub when I was 13. I’d never envisioned having a beauty line, though. I studied Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths University, and after graduating, started working in journalism and media before becoming more entrepreneurially-minded. Moving to and travelling around Southeast Asia for a few years definitely opened my eyes to a simpler, more natural approach to skincare in comparison to the West. We wear a lot more makeup and tend to use way more beauty products here. Over there, it’s usually too hot to put on anything other than sunscreen!
How involved were you in the making of the collection?
Inextricably involved! The Virginutty brand has been a labour of love from inception. I spent a year researching coconut farms and travelling around the Philippines to source the highest quality producers. I originally designed everything from the logo to the label before finding two brilliant designers who helped me visually translate the essence of the brand. Every product in the collection is hand-bottled, quality-checked and date-stamped by me. I also package and post every online order, and handle sales personally. Being a ‘solopreneur’ has often been very challenging, with massive learning curves, but I love it. I’m very grateful for my support system, creative team, and business mentor, who all helped Virginutty’s first collection come to life.
What can we find in your travel washbag and make-up bag?
In my travel washbag, you’ll find multiple pots of Virginutty, because I use them so often for everything (and low-key love doing impromptu photoshoots for content if I’m staying in an aesthetically pleasing hotel)! I always travel with natural products, because my skin is so sensitive to unnatural chemicals now. I’ll flare up at the first sign of alcohol, even in perfume. I always bring Dr Bronner organic toothpaste, Sukin facewash, natural deodorant, and cotton pads to clean and tone my face with rosewater every evening.
When travelling, I tend to wear as little makeup as possible, especially if I’m on a beach. My makeup bag usually consists of mascara, which can double as eyebrow gel, concealer, bronzer, gold highlighter and a muted red or brown lipstick – just for an extra dash of sass.
What are your top five beauty buys for 2018 to take with you on your travels?
- Virginutty – Skin Drink
- Virginutty – Makeup Melt
- Poppy Austin – Rose Water
- Glossier – Boy Brow
- Becca – Shimmering Skin Highlighter
I use these five beauty products daily and would happily bring them around the world! I’ve been making a conscious effort to use and support cruelty-free, ethical beauty brands. My skin and body feel better for it too. It’s comforting to know my pores aren’t getting blocked up with or absorbing any worrying chemicals. Ultimately, I think investing in quality, natural beauty products is important. By choosing to support ethical brands like Virginutty, your money is going towards a brand that really cares about what they create, and about what you put on your skin. Hopefully, one day, natural and ethical beauty will be the norm.
More About Melissa
Melissa Legarda, the founder of Virginutty, is a British-Filipina writer, traveller and entrepreneur. At 21 years old, Melissa left her home in London and ventured to Southeast Asia alone to rediscover her Philippine roots. Whilst in Southeast Asia, she fell deeply in love with the nourishing wonders of coconuts and the all-purpose oil that could be pressed from them. Melissa travelled around the islands on a personal mission to source the highest quality organic coconuts and pressing processes – and to her delight, found that the world’s best coconuts were in the Philippines. Creativity struck, and soon she realised that the archipelago’s best-kept secret had to be shared with the rest of the world. She needed to take this mission from island jungle to concrete jungle. The rest, as they say, is coconut oil.
To order your own Virginutty products visit www.virginutty.co.uk