Ko & Humble Oils

You've seen these oils pop up a few times on here over the past few weeks. Rightfully so! But a couple of key details set Ko & Humble oils apart from others on the market. Take the Sea Buckthorn Oil, which has been treated with pink clay to refine without heat, so the oil is light and lacks that staining orange color that we all despise. Or their deodorized Virgin Aragan Oil - using a cold, charcoal process - which eliminates the overbearing Aragan scent but still retains all of the antioxidants. Another oil that is sure to catch everyones' attention is certainly their rare cold-pressed Passion Fruit Seed Oil

I've personally really taken to their Marula, Passion Fruit and Sea Buckthorn oil, which I added to my summer DIY face cleanser/moisturizer/mild spf/make-up remover/tan extender recipe, here. But who am I to explain? I'll let co-founder Kate O'Rourke expand on why this small company in Brooklyn is quite sweet! 


Ha, not only are we into this, we know our sun sign to the minute!  Both of us have Sun in Aquarius; for me (Kate), it is the exact cusp between Aquarius and Pisces.  I vacillate between cerebral detachment and a deep need to mother everyone. 


We took “Ko” from the Japanese reference to filial piety, and the Humble is self-explanatory.  The idea was a mix of eastern and western influences, to use elements of traditional remedies, and combine them with modern technology and access to global sourcing of rare ingredients. To have a really pared down selection of what works and honor what came before. And, like many other tiny brands, we wanted to create (however small) a thing of beauty and goodness for the world.


These oils are unique by: curation, lightness, quality and responsible sourcing.  First we worked very hard to curate a selection of light yet effective oils.  Light because I am sensitive to scents and discount anything that smells overly medicinal or strong.  Efficacy was another criteria; we never want to sell an oil because someone else is; we want to sell it only if we know that it works, and that we can source it in an ethical way.  So first we spent time researching scientific journals on oil efficacy (you can see links to citations for every one of our oils in the Why section of the product page, like here).  Then we looked for sources, which was not easy for some of the more exotic things we sell. 

We source our Marula Oil from growers in South Africa, as we know that they have an excellent record with their workers.  The Rosehip Oil is sourced from Germany, probably the most expensive place to buy it.  The Seabuckthorn Seed Oil is from Siberia, or the Chinese side of the Russian border, where we know the growers well.  Everything is cold-pressed and tested for safety.


Summer:  Summer is the season for our tropical oils, the Passion Fruit Seed Oil and the Marula.  Both are incredibly light and absorb very quickly, with Passion Fruit Seed Oil having a consistency that is quite close to water, with an extremely faint nutty scent.  The Marula Oil is smoky like coffee or sesame seeds, a bit thicker than the Passion Fruit, but still very light, qualifying in the “Dry Oil” category. 

These two are terrific anti-agers as they have natural vitamin C and antioxidants.  Passion Fruit Seed Oil has linoleic acid, an Omega 6 fatty acid, which has been found to be deficient for many acne sufferers; using this oil can very gently, over time, help to regulate surface oils and the formation of minor blemishes.  For the face you can use them individually (you need only a few drops), layer (start with the lightest first, the Passion Fruit), or mix together in your palm, or with your moisturizer.  I like to layer these two as a brightening anti-aging serum on the face, for morning and night. 

Fall:  For cooler weather, keep your favorite of the above two and add our Argan Oil to the mix.  Virgin Argan Oil is ultra moisturizing, but the scent puts me off; I have been known to describe it as “goat-like.”  We have chosen to deodorize our version using a cold, charcoal process to retain all of the antioxidants but lose the strong scent.  If your skin feels especially dry or troubled, Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil is a very powerful treatment oil.  In Siberia this is a long known natural remedy, and there are stories of the fruit being fed to horses to make them appear healthier.  A few days of eating sea buckthorn fruits creates such a difference in their coats as to fool a buyer about their age.  Normally the oil is sold in unrefined form, which is typically a bright orange that stains everything, but we have a version that has been treated with pink clay to refine without heat, so the oil is quite light, with a milder scent.  Two drops are usually enough for the entire face.


For skin that is recovering from distress, (not open or raw skin though), I would use Passion Fruit Seed Oil or Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil.  Both have been used as part of traditional remedies for ages.  The Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil is especially healing and needs to be used very sparingly. 


I literally can’t live without the Passion Fruit Seed Oil, which has truly changed my skin. No matter what recipes or new products, and ingredients, I try in the course of my product development journey, there has never been a time when a treatment isn’t better with a few drops of this oil on clean skin prior to application.  I had to force myself not to use it for control purposes, and almost always my face appears less bright without it (and minor redness /unevenness returns).  


1)    We keep it in the family; we are a brother-sister team. 

2)    We are radical; using oils in your beauty routine is the ultimate way of deconstructing beauty; after all, most creams and lotions are emulsions or mixtures of oil and water, with binders and other active ingredients, fragrance, etc.  Using oils in their cold-pressed, purest form takes away all other components but often retains much of the essential benefits sought. 

3)    Quality makes a difference. 

The skin is such a sensitive organ, and such a mirror of our emotions, health, stress levels, and environment, that no one product can be a panacea for everyone all the time.  We focus on trying to be in tune with noticing changes and adjusting our routine accordingly.  We don’t want to be yet another skin care company that promises the moon.  So this is why the first products are a selection of oils you can choose yourself, based on what is going on with you.


Do:  Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan, especially great if you can do in the early evening, before sunset or in the early morning so you can see the beautiful 8 AM golden light.  Have a coffee with us in Dumbo before you start your walk! 

See:  Van Gogh’s Starry Night IRL at the MoMa; a view of the city from anywhere up high so you can see so much of Manhattan is vertical, like drinks at the Mandarin Oriental overlooking Central Park, or the new Freedom Tower

Try:   Take a Citi Bike tour in Central Park or ride along the West Side.  And the ferry is a great way to go between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Stay:  Somewhere downtown if possible, to give you an extra excuse to walk there more.  The idea is to just feel the energy of the city; TriBeca, West Village, SoHo, Nolita, then Brooklyn’s Williamsburg.  Fantasy hotel stay:  Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo.

Eat:  If you are here for the weekend, brunch at Prune.  Laid-back:  The Smile in NoHo, a hidden quiet treasure in a very busy street and lots of veggie options or DimesEataly has all kinds of Italian goodness in a multi-story space.  Amali is an authentic non-traditional Greek place.  The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is great as well.

Shop:  For independent design and something unique, many of the best places are now in Brooklyn, like the must see Concrete + Water and Bird in Williamsburg.  A concept store with coffee, American Two Shot in SoHo has great curation and events.  

Manifestation with Lacy Phillips