Nutritional Bodycare: An Interview with Monique Meneses, Co-Founder of iota
We are thrilled to introduce you to Monique Meneses, Co-founder of iota - a Nutritional Bodycare brand that can be found alongside us at Credo! One of our team's favorites is the Superplant Body Serum, a luxurious treat for your skin post-shower. After falling in love with their line of body care products focused on skin health, we wanted to learn more about Monique's story and what inspired her to launch iota. We are delighted to have connected with her and learned about the importance of the skin microbiome and its impact on overall health, as well as how they perfected their formulas after 72 iterations. Monique also shared a pre-bedtime Tart Cherry Mocktail recipe that she loves. We hope you enjoy reading this and check out iota next time you visit Credo!
I would love to know more about your story and what inspired you to create iota!
I spent years trying to get pregnant via acupuncture and hormone medication. When I finally got pregnant, doctors found a tennis ball-sized tumor on my pancreas (thankfully all is ok). Then I was diagnosed with high blood pressure for reasons still unknown. With age and becoming a mom, I wanted to find small (realistic) lifestyle changes that could still make a difference.
Skin health is arguably the key pillar of health most overlooked today. Just like sleep, eating right and exercise, it’s essential for whole body health, and more studies are finding its link to bigger issues like autoimmune disease and heart health. As a mom, I was frustrated why the products we use merely clean, scent or only treat skin issues after they occur? Our mission is to address skin health head on and develop care that matters.
After years perfecting our formulations, we’ve made the first smart microbiome bodycare line made for our health first, focused on balancing your skin microbiome - the foundation of healthy skin and the key to addressing issues before they occur.
Can you share a crash course on what our skin's microbiome is and how it affects our overall health?
Skin is the human body’s largest organ and serves as our first line of defense against temperature fluctuations, damaging UV rays and environmental toxins. It helps prevent infection and is packed with nerves that keep the brain in touch with the outside world. Skin is made up of three main layers - the outermost is called the epidermis and this is where many microorganisms that make up our skin microbiome reside.
Think of the skin microbiome as a collection of ecosystems home to trillions of microorganisms essential for not only skin but comprehensive health. Our microbiome plays a vital role in fending off disease-causing microorganisms (pathogens), boosting barrier protection and aiding immune defenses. Maintaining a balanced skin microbiome involves a complex and dynamic interplay among microorganisms, immune cells, skin cells and more.
Recent studies have linked skin health to comprehensive health by potentially influencing the state of our entire body. Disturbances of the epidermis are implicated in allergies (eczema and food allergies), psoriasis, acne and skin aging, perhaps due to the microbiome’s potential ability to communicate with our immune system. Studies have also revealed the potential association between atopic dermatitis and autoimmune disorders and eczema and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
You spent years creating your products and formulas. Can you share more about the process and how you knew when you finally nailed it?
iota’s formulations took over 72 iterations and two years to perfect with our lab team and Lead Scientific Advisor/cosmetic chemist, Kelly Dobos, who specializes in formulations for the skin microbiome. We really wanted to nail the ideal blend of prebiotics and postbiotics that support a healthy, balanced skin microbiome AND an expansive composition of multivitamins and essential nutrients and actives that optimize benefits like hydration, radiance and smoothness. To finalize formulations where all of these factors worked in harmony was no easy feat, but worth the years of research and testing to see and hear about the changes our community has experienced.
What inspired the scent profiles of your body washes?
I love traveling and I wanted to take my favorite scents from places I’ve visited around the world and infuse them in our Body Wash+. For many, taking a shower is the one time during the day that’s completely your own which is in and of itself, an act of self-care. We wanted to create these deliciously unique, clean scents that turn the shower into a spa and make it feel sensorial, almost transportive.
I love your Superplant Body Serum. Can you talk about what makes it so special?Thank you! Here are a few reasons why it’s unlike any other moisturizer:
- It’s a complete nutritional boost for more glow. The first award-winning hydrator for complete nutritional and microbiome support in one — the essential foundation to better skin. 15 superfood multivitamins, minerals & face-grade actives fill essential nutrient gaps.
- It’s a full face-grade routine for your body. All-in-one toner, essence, treatment, gel mask, hydrator. More benefits, less effort.
- It’s an easy way to support whole body health. Skin strength breaks down as we age, which can be linked to allergies, cardiovascular and autoimmune disease. Maintaining a healthy skin microbiome is an essential part of your health routine.
Your products are like a super smoothie for your skin. You have a wonderful ingredient glossary on your website and recipes on Instagram. Do you have a favorite smoothie or healthy recipe that you've been loving?
Yes! I recently found out that tart cherries may help with insomnia by increasing the amount of melatonin, a sleep hormone. They also contain a small amount of tryptophan, an amino acid used in the production of serotonin and melatonin. I’ve been drinking a tart cherry mocktail before going to bed at night – and am loving it!
Recipe below: The Tart Cherry Mocktail
- ½ cup tart cherry juice
- ½ can of prebiotic lemon lime prebiotic soda from Olipop
- Fresh squeezed lime juice
I love seeing your grandmother on your Instagram and learning about her beauty routines that she has passed down to your mom and then to you! What are your favorite self-care routines or techniques that they have taught you?
Thank you! My earliest memories of my grandmother revolve around small practices of self-care. I used to watch her do her 10-step skincare routine every night for an hour — we would talk while she lovingly and slowly went through each step. She was also the first to teach me breathing and stretching techniques at the age of 5(!) that I use to unwind to this day! I learn something new every time I visit her. The latest beauty technique I’ve been obsessed with is the face slapping technique she uses to put on sunscreen and makeup – it helps with a natural finish to the products.
What does wellness mean to you?
The idea of wellness, for me, ladders up to our brand ethos. Our philosophy for self-care, wellness, life is that big things can be achieved through patience, persistence and dedication to doing the small things right. iota — defined as “an infinitesimal amount” — is rooted in the belief that the attainment of one’s maximum potential consists of the sum of many small productive actions taken consistently, with discipline, throughout life.
Can you take us through your full body care routine?
- Dry Brush, Supervitamin Body Wash+ Brightening, Superplant Body Serum+, Le Prunier Plum Body Oil, Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm.
- Bonus Additions: Ancient Minerals Magnesium Bath Flakes, Korean Bath Mitt.
- Treatments: Acupuncture, Cupping Therapy, Infrared Sauna.
Congratulations on your recent launch at Credo and Best of Beauty awards! What's next for iota?
Thank you so much! Over the next 12 months, we are launching several exciting, brand defining products and we can’t wait to share them with you!