Photography by Scott Gordon Bleicher

Beauty Water is The Book That Will Make You Rethink Your Daily Glass of H20

"What if we were to take hydration and turn it into a self-care ritual, water into a remedy, and think of plants as the body’s personal trainer?"

When Vancouver’s Tori Holmes was 21 years old, she became the youngest woman to cross the Atlantic ocean in a rowboat. After running into hurricane Katrina and breaking several ribs in a 60-foot swell, her desalinator broke, and she and her then-partner were without water for several days. It was a seminal moment that she describes in detail in her new book, Beauty Water, which launched this week. Holmes, a two-time cancer survivor and now a registered holistic nutritionist, has dedicated her career to the art of hydration and plant-based medicine, first with her Nectar juiceries, and now with this beautifully-designed recipe book of water-based elixirs for beauty, health and healing. We spoke to her about her favourite recipes, how the side effect of the medicinal Schisandra berry is horniness and why self care is going to change the world.

What inspired you to write this book?
To help people feel well so that they can do well. Through my time at Nectar, I had the gift of interacting with thousands of people in relation to their aspirational health goals and where they were at as well as what really scared them. I’ve been very dedicated to providing products and services that meet them where they’re at and just push the boundaries a little bit now. I think this elixir book is a little ahead of its time, but I think the world is awakening. What’s happening in our planet right now with the emissions is the globe saying wake up and personal accountability is really what it comes back to and how can we do good for others. Self care is something that I’m a huge advocate for and it’s not just about having facials and massages. What I’ve seen in my experience of coaching people into their optimal wellness or their personal potential is that if you strengthen yourself, your capacity to lead to hold space for others, too.

Why water?
I chose it as the conduit for the stories in the impact of these plants. My intention was to take hydration because, if you think about it, go East go West, any beauty or health ritual from the beginning of time comes back to hydration. So what if we were to take hydration and turn it into self-care rituals and water into a remedy, and think of plants as the body’s personal trainer? It’s a way to just elevate something that we already need to do. Even if you drink water for 30 days, you feel exponentially better, just the ritual of helping your cellular system turn over. Now imagine if you’re able to infuse antioxidants or vitamins and minerals or certain compounds that support the liver or the digestion?

How did you discover plant-based healing?
When I was at sea, I pushed every single one of the four pillars of wellness —movement, rest, nutrition and spirit—to the breaking point. So to come back to wellness, I had to invest in rest. I hit my personal hurricane on land surprisingly when I got early stage breast cancer on the left side of my body, which is where I had broken my ribs. When I went to the doctors, they were very dismissive and really didn’t include me in my healing. They didn’t hold me accountable. They didn’t ask me questions. That was a really big red flag for me. I had to invest in nutrition and I had to invest in my spirit and my behavior and movement because I was off track and these are literally like a cycle. It’s not what you do in one part. It’s the incremental investment in all of these things that creates a wheel of wellness that creates momentum in your overall health. So I went to school for holistic nutrition. I was really fascinated by symptomatology of Chinese medicine and how they used plant-based healing to support wellness. It was like almost like with your body at this tug-of-war. It’s like just this slight push and pull. I started to think of my body as a body of water, like an ocean. And when I was in good health, it was just sort of a subtle swell and when I was in out of alignment, there was like a huge swell and ripples and the plants were like these little boats pushing the swell along. That’s how I use them.

You have organized the recipes according to different goals, such as stress management, detox, mood, and sexuality. They are all so important—how does one know where to start?
The simple answer is it actually doesn’t matter. What’s going to create the biggest shift in your health is to just launch-and-learn. Choose one recipe. You could be choosing it based on flavor, you could be choosing it based on the ingredients you have in your home. Half of the health impact is just the commitment to using these recipes to support you, to just investing in yourself every day in a simple way. On a more directed answer, I believe digestion is at the foundation of all healing of our microbiome. So it’s the system that speaks to all the systems and if it is disaligned then everything is disaligned. That for me is the greatest pillar. So if I was going to pick up this book, I would choose one digestion recipe as foundational health and then I would choose one thing that is specific to my current need. I have a challenge sleeping and then some weeks, my mood feels better than others. So then I would choose a stress management or sleep or skin recipe to support my in-the-moment need.


There is a section of elixirs for women’s sexuality and libido, which is pretty cool. Tell me why that’s important, and what ingredients are the most potent.
Schisandra berry has all five flavours and supports the gall bladder, liver, spleen, and pancreas. It helps regulate the hormones in the body and it also supports the digestion. So for me, it’s the one herb that’s like the foundation of healing. I would love every woman to have an intimate relationship with Schisandra berry. The only side effect is that you feel horny!

In the Beauty elixirs section, you write “When you’re well hydrated and your mineral levels are optimal, your cells are thoroughly oxygenated and you exude more pheromones. You literally have the It factor.” We all want the It factor. What are some of the best ingredients to achieve it?
Antioxidants are a really great way to do that as they help bind oxygen in the body, called an ORAC [Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity] value. Some ingredients have a higher ORAC value than others. As an example, blueberries have about 15,000 units per hundred milligrams, and chaga, which is a medicinal mushroom, has 120,000 units per hundred milligrams. I have a love affair with chaga. It tastes absolutely incredible. The Chaga Coffee recipe is one of my favourites in the book. It’s how I get my game face on personally. Another of my tops is nettles—if I were going to have one food left on Earth, I would have nettles. It is so nutritionally dense. It grows wild all over B.C. It’s incredible for your skin. It’s incredibly high in minerals, it’s great for anxiety and reducing puffiness and it is a really great source of protein. It is a fully complete and complex food.

You talk a lot in the book about adaptogens. Can you explain?
An adaptogen is almost like your body’s personal trainer. It will respond to the stress response in your body and basically support your systems coming into regulation. So it doesn’t do the job. It tells your body to do the job, which is a great way to probably explain an adaptogen. It helps our body manage the effects of stress and all of us in the 21st century are facing stress, and conceptually, we understand that we need to work our muscles out to maintain a fit and healthy and taught body. Well, our organs are the same. Some of my favorite adaptogens are ashwagandha bark that supports the adrenal glands and the cortisol on the body and reishi, which is a mushroom that is really supportive to the liver and the nervous system.

What is your own go-to recipe in the book and why?
I love my blue green algae recipe for its agility. It’s something that children will love and it’s something that my parents love. It tastes incredible and it’s also just a really creative way to put a lot of nutrients and life in your body. It helps fight free radicals. I’ve served it as a lemonade, I’ve served it as a mocktail, I’ve even made it as a cocktail. I serve it as a hangover cure. I drink it when I feel like I’m about to get sick. So this is sort a go-to and I think everybody will love it. I also also absolutely love my Fo-Ti Fountain of Youth. It tastes like a Creamsicle and it’s a great way to manage the effects of stress on your body. For women specifically, it supports the hormones and it actually helps your hair to come back from graying after quite a few months. I grayed really young and so I love this herb [Fo-Ti] because it helps me break even with my gray hairs.

What do you hope people take away from reading and using your book?
I’d want them to go away feeling inspired to start a relationship of self-care, whatever that looks like. To feel good about feeling good, whether it’s with your children, at your job, or just generally in the world. And I would want them to know that wellness can be as accessible as hydration. Empowerment is at the foundation of everything, and I think self-care is what’s going to change the world because behind self-care can come personal accountability. When we are in a state to feel well enough to be present, we can just make better choices.

More Beauty & Grooming