When you feel healthy, vibrant, empowered and closer to nature, then you feel happy. Imagine a moment where you are on vacation, completely relaxed, everything looks perfect, a light smile is "stuck" on your face, you feel the sun shining and are in a relaxed state…
This happiness and tranquility is the goal of Kassandra Lefakinis, who thought of using the noteworthy properties of Prickly Pear to create the all-natural cosmetic brand Opuntia Luxury Oils. She perceived the true value of herbal aromas that even reach the Limbic System of the brain responsible for memory and mood. Opuntia's products offer a "taste” from the Mediterranean, with a key component being the seed oil of the Prickly Pear that grows rampant in the area. The plant and the ethereal aromas from nature are inspiration for well-being.
“We were ecstatic when we discovered the benefits of oil derived from Prickly Pear seeds. The medicinal use of this oil dates back to Ancient Greece.”
How did the idea come to create Opuntia Luxury Oils?
It came as easily and naturally as the development of the products themselves: I was so disappointed and frustrated by using ineffective creams on my face which were also toxic and had synthetic fragrance. I was always compromising when trying to care for my skin. I was also turned off by the flat, synthetic fragrances in them. At around 30 years old, the age you start having to pay better attention to skincare, the effects of stress and environmental elements became evident… I needed a solution. When I used botanical oil on my body one summer I loved the natural smell and texture - it was luxurious and effective, so I thought about natural oils for the skin as a real solution. One summer day on a secluded Mykonian beach, I told my partner and husband, Achilles, about my idea to make facial oils with botanicals that inspire you with fragrance and tend to your skin in a real way. He loved it and pushed me to persist. The way I felt that day on the beach, inspired by the vision, is the way I hope the users will feel… empowered, healthy, vibrant and close to nature.
When we were trying to find the ultimate botanical base oil to feature in each product we were ecstatic to discover the benefits of Prickly Pear Seed oil. With its rich yet light texture and presence all over the Mediterranean, we knew we had our star oil; it’s medicinal use even dates back to Ancient Greece.
As a base ingredient, you use Prickly Pear Seed oil. What are the benefits for the skin?
The texture is exquisite and it immediately makes your skin more supple and smooth without leaving it greasy. It’s the ideal beauty oil as it leaves the skin glowy and no residue. It is full of essential fatty acids Linoleic acid (61%) and Omega-6 which help protect the skin barrier, locking in moisture, as well as tone pigmentation.
It reduces inflammation helping heal the skin which can be effective towards burns, cuts and generally aids skin regeneration. It is anti-aging as inflammation accelerates skin aging. Lastly and to keep my answer brief, it has Tocopherol (vitamin E) in high numbers which is notoriously excellent for hydration.
What do you consider to be the greatest benefits of active natural ingredients?
The most powerful remedies can be found in nature and when using the best ingredients sourced from nature in careful combinations, little and great miracles can happen.
Vegetable oils are highly biocompatible to the skin and maintain the health of its outermost layer (the stratum corneum).
For me the biggest benefit is the investment in long term results; with synthetic ingredients, the side effects may not become evident until much later. My ancestors can even attest to that, having used organic natural products on their skin and preserved their beauty in this way until old age.
The benefits of natural fragrances (often overlooked) is also extremely healing and necessary for keeping our olfactory organs/system acute! Today’s world is simply FULL of synthetic aroma, when you go natural you will become more aware of the stuffy, monotonous manufactured aromas in everything including cosmetics and skincare and realize their lack of value as you realize the real value of dynamic natural fragrance from wholesome botanicals which reach deeper into your brain, even stimulating the Amygdala.
You have the slogan "1 bottle - 1 tree". How important is it to create actions that leave a positive footprint in the world?
A huge problem with the way we live today is that consumers do not consider the consequences of their purchases, how they’re made, what they are made from or how they impact the earth in the short or long-term. There is a movement however of holding companies accountable for transparency which is great progress.
It is inspiring to have this initiative incorporated into our brand which allows a collective effort towards healing the planet. It’s important to feel good about your purchases and with this initiative, we also hope the consumer feels empowered.
This effort is part of a greater ongoing effort in being responsible to each other and our planet and producing positive things and effects. Everyone seems so busy in this day and age, why not make doing good easy.
You also run a luxury yacht charter company. What are two common points of these two companies?
Valef Yachts is a family-run, luxury yacht chartering company established in 1969 in Greece with offices in the USA and in Greece. My sister and I took over the Greek end of the business in 2006. I find my two company’s endeavors very related as they both offer luxurious and holistic experiences which create lasting memories and more happiness. Both are holistic experiences; with each product, the oil and the Yacht Charter, we have taken into consideration the total experience of the user.
With the yachts, people want to trust the company they charter from and know that they will have an amazing time and that their money is well spent.
For the oils, it’s the same- the consumer wants to trust that the oils are top quality and that they will benefit and enjoy them and that the money is well spent.
Our oils offer a taste of the Mediterranean, with the base being prickly pear which grows everywhere and the intoxicating smells inspire a more balanced mindset, such as that of the vacation mindset.
Imagine a day, on vacation, where you are totally sunken into relaxation, everything seems perfect, a slight smile is fixed on your face, you feel you glow and are in an elevated and calm state of mind. This is the goal state for our clients of both companies.
In your opinion, how can women make even greater use of Greek raw materials, Tourism and Wellness to create export-oriented products and services?
Common sense and tuition need to meet – follow a personal need or gap you see in the market of tourism or wellness (intuition), down a road until you find a solution (common sense)– but look locally and look to our resources, exploited but not in the right way or unexploited. The idea that resonates with you will be so inspiring that you are compelled to make it or bring it into existence and that drive will be the proof that it belongs here! Get feedback along the way to fuel that drive and don’t forget when you embark on the journey of creating your product or service, a new network made by you will be your team of dream weavers – you don’t need to always do what’s been tried and tested or use suppliers/partners that have been around. Fall in love with your surroundings, your country, and its offerings and possibilities open up to you.
Learn more about Opuntia Luxury Oils and founder, Kassandra Lefakinis on our new website at www.opuntialuxuryoils.com, Opuntia Luxury Oils Facebook or @OpuntiaLuxuryOils on Instagram. Make sure you sign up for the newsletter to receive VIP specials and be the first to know about our upcoming new product release.