• Winterize your skin- part 2

    If you haven’t adjusted your skin care home regimen for winter you may be feeling a bit dry right about now.  Forced air heat, cold outdoor air, and lack of humidity all contribute to moisture loss on the surface of the skin.

    The surface of the skin has a balance of water and oil that can easily be thrown off by environmental culprits.  Add to the mix bar soap, aggressive foaming cleansers, harsh acne ingredients, and even plain water to “wash” your face and the balance can really go off kilter.  Dry, tight, chapped, and flaky skin can result.

    When the surface of the skin experiences even the slightest of these conditions, the underlying support of collagen and elastin starts to break down and early signs of aging occur.   Many of the lines people see forming on their face from ages 30-50 have more to do with dehydration than from the natural aging process.  That means they are preventable, not with drinking more water (which would help in other ways) but with proper care of the skin.

    The skin needs GOOD FATS to protect itself from moisturize loss, especially in the winter.  Ingredients to look for are Alpha Lipoic Acid, Vitamin E, Shea Butter, all plant oils, ceramides, and squalane.  (Our favorite GO-TO products are Glymed’s Cell Protection Serum, Glymed’s Vitamin E Sensual Cream, Eminence’s Coconut Age Corrective Moisturizer, and Apivita’s Queen Bee Moisturizer with Royal Jelly.)

    We have designed a Winter Facial Special to give you the gentle exfoliation and rebalancing your skin needs!  Under steam, a 5% Lactic Acid will be used along with Pumpkin Enzymes to slough off dead skin.  Lactic is the most hydrating of all the acids so it’s perfect for winter.  And enzymes, because of their long molecular chain, do not penetrate deep or cause irritation.   You will be treated to a luxurious facial massage and then your finishing products will be customized to provide you with the right balance to WINTERIZE your skin!

    Coconut Oil & Coconut Water for Summer Skin

    coconut-moisturizer-hrThis summer your skin will not forgive you if you don’t add at least 1 coconut product to your regimen.  These warm, sunny spring days are just the beginning.  Coconut is the queen of cooling, and its oil, water, and “milk” provide a plethora of benefits.  Coconuts are high in free-radical fighting antioxidants so the damage caused by the sun (and harsh chemical sunscreens) can start to be mended with coconut.

    Coconut Oil (the result of the crushed and pressed fruit) provides nourishing fatty acids to the skin that protect it from moisture loss.  It contains 3 fatty acids- Capric, Caprylic, Lauric- that provide antimicrobial and disinfectant properties.  It is also high in skin healing Vitamin E.

    Coconut Oil can be found in: Eminence Coconut Milk Cleanser, Coconut Age Corrective Moisturizer, Coconut Cream Masque, Bamboo Firming Fluid.

    Coconut Water (the juice on the inside of the coconut shell) is high in Vitamin C, toning to oily skin, hydrating to dry skin, and rich in plant hormones called Cytokinins, which strengthen connective tissue and keep the skin elastic.  Coconut Water is also an aide in combating acne because it is anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-microbial and may promote scar healing.

    Coconut Water can be found in: Eminence Coconut Age Corrective Moisturizer, Bamboo Firming Fluid, Neroli Age Corrective Hydrating Mist, Neroli Age Corrective Eye Serum, and Coconut Firming Body Lotion.

    Coconut Milk (the liquid that comes out of the grated meat of the fruit) is high is fatty acids that can soothe the symptoms of many skin issues, includes eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis.  Coconut Milk moisturizes the skin and cools it after sun exposure.

    Coconut Milk can be found in: Eminence Coconut Milk Cleanser, Neroli Age Corrective Hydrating Mist, Coconut Cream Masque, and Coconut Firming Body Lotion.

    The skin experts at Jessica’s Skin & Body specialize in matching the right level of fats and water in a product to the needs of your skin.  No matter how dry or oily your skin, there is a coconut product that is right for you.

    Carrier Oil vs. Essential Oil

    In the past, I wrote about my summer and winter body oils in which I mention carrier and essential oils. Today, I thought it would be helpful to establish the difference between carrier oils and essential oils and the benefits of each one.

    Image by Ken Bosma under Creative Commons license

    Carrier Oil

    Carrier oils come from the oils of seeds, nuts, and kernels. They are rich in two main groups of essential fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6. In skin care, these acids are known for their abilities to nourish the skin.


    While there are a few different ways to extract carrier oils from seeds, nuts, and kernels, cold-pressed is the best method for extraction.  Cold-Pressed extracts oils from seeds, nuts, and kernels through the use of hydraulic press machines. These specialized machines crush the seeds, nuts, and kernels; thus, releasing the oils.

    What it Does for Your Skin:

    Carrier oils dilute and carry essential oils to the skin for absorption. Each carrier oil offers different beneficial properties such as the promotion of cell regeneration, calming inflammation, providing vitamins and minerals, and moisturizing the skin. Depending on the mixture, textures of these oils can be luxuriously rich or charmingly light.

    Essential Oil

    Naturally occurring aromas come from plants containing special oils known as essences. Certain cells and glands of these plants produce these essences to protect themselves against bacteria, fungi, and herbivores. After distillation humans can use these concentrated substances for similar purposes: to protect against disease and affect our skin and nervous system.

    Glass dropper with amber bottle
    Glass dropper with amber bottle

    Distillation Processes:

    The two most common distillation processes to extract essential oils from plants are steam distillation and solvent extraction.  At Jessica’s Apothecary, we only source steam distilled essential oils.  (In a couple instances a CO2 method of distillation comes into play but let’s keep things simple here).

    Steam distillation uses only heat and water to transform essences into essential oils. Plants are placed inside a still (a container) with pressurized steam. This steam circulates through plant material to open up the cells and glands to release essences. When the essences release from the plants they follow the steam to the condensation chamber to cool down. During cool down, the oil and water (from the steam) condense and separate themselves from each other.

    Solvent Extraction involves pouring a solvent compound (a chemical called Hexane) over the buds and petals of delicate flowers. The essences then dissolve themselves into the solvent.  Many essential oils on the market use this type of process.  Again, we don’t advocate the use of chemically extracted oils.

    Quality of Essential Oils:

    It is common to hear that an oil is “Therapeutic Grade” in a manufacturer’s attempt to express that their oils are more “pure” than another companies, but there are no established regulations on defining a “grade” of essential oil.  The purity of an essential oil is based on how they are grown, distilled, and packaged.  Jessica’s Apothecary only sources Certified Organic and Wildcrafted essential oils.  The plants will have the highest level of therapeutic effect when they are carefully handled.  We make sure that we only source oils that have been tested with Gas Chromatography (GC).  This quantifiable process tests for purity and identifies the constituents that make up an essential oil.  The oils then need to be protected against extreme heat and light as to not damage its therapeutic benefits.

    We are proud to offer the highest standard: Certified Organic, Cold-processed Carrier Oils and Certified Organic and Wildcrafted, Steam-distilled Essential Oils that have all been GC tested and packaged in amber glass bottles.  To see the blends we make visit our products page.


    Natural Medicine Suite 101. The Extraction of Carrier Oils <>
    Describes the extraction methods used for carrier oils.

    Aroma Web. <>
    Contains information about fatty acids found in carrier oils.

    Aroma Web. <>
    Defines carrier oils and how they can be used.

    Aroma Web. <>
    Describes essential oils.

    Aromahead. Free Introduction to Essential Oils,
    Defines essential oils and how they are distilled.

    Tisserand, Robert. Essential Oils
    Why plants produce essential oils.

    Young Living Essential Oils. Young Living Therapeutic Grade (YLTG). <>
    Describes the importance of therapeutic grade oils.

    Amrita Aromatheraphy. Essential Oils.
    Description of therapeutic oils.

    Aroma Web.
    Describes the gas chromatography process.

    Jessica’s Scrubs, Hydrosols, & Specialty Body Oils

    We have been busy!  There are 5 new products to introduce to you!

    ginger-lemon-salt-scrub4First off, I have created beautiful body scrubs from (mineral rich) Pink Himalayan Salt and Organic Sunflower Oil.  Directions for use:  Use once per week in the shower on body after cleansing.  Scrub in circular motion and rinse well.  For best results, follow with one of my body oils after bathing. The results are silky smooth skin like you have never experienced before!

    The Ginger Lemon is inspired by my favorite tea from back when I worked at Sweetwaters Cafe.  The Ginger stimulates the circulation in the skin while Lemon naturally exfoliates.

    The Pink Himalayan Salt Scrub is the same blend of Salt and Sunflower oil.  It has no essential oils added to it so we can customize it for you!   Consider a Lavender Rosemary blend, Orange Lime, or Eucalyptus.

    Next, we have HYDROSOLS!

    lemon-verbena-hydrosol1What is a hydrosol?  From Andrea Butje, owner of Aromahead Institute, a hydrosol is created when a plant goes through a steam distillation process.  Steam breaks open the structure of the plant that contains its essential oils and its fluids.  The oil and water are separated as the steam cools, leaving us with a hydrosol.

    One of the ways I recommend using my hydrosols is simply in place of a toner (after cleansing and before applying a moisturizer).  For other uses see the guest article I wrote for the Aromatics International blog.

    Lastly, but the 1st in my Specialty Body Oil line, is the Dancing Without Inhibition Body Oil.  Probably the most sublime product I have made yet, this body oil uses Certified Organic Neroli to lift the spirits and hydrate the skin.

    dancing-without-inhibition-body-oil-small3Visit our newly updated Products Page for details on all the products we make!

    Sunscreens: chemical vs. physical barriers

    Who knew I would need to post about sunscreens this early in the year!  But YES it is time for sunscreen.  If you are not already in the habit of using sunscreen all year long now is the time to SPRING into your new regimen.

    The most important question you need to ask when choosing a sunscreen is not the number associated with the product (15, 30, 45 etc.) but rather whether the sunscreen is a chemical or physical barrier.  Chemical sunscreens (like Benzophenone and Octinoxate) neutralize UV rays.  Physical sunscreens (like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide) are minerals that provide a barrier against UV rays.  Your skin type is an important factor in deciding what kind of sunscreen product to use.  If there is any sensitivity or inflammation in the skin the physical barrier is a must!  The reason being, it blocks the rays and keeps HEAT out of the skin.  Chemical sunscreens, while neutralizing rays, traps heat in the skin.  Fine for normal to oily skin with no sensitivity issues but a disaster for inflammed, sensitive skin.

    Next, ask yourself what NUMBER SPF you should use.  Did you know that higher numbers don’t protect you more?  They just protect you longer.  The number just means how much longer you can stay in the sun without burning compared to if you were not wearing sunscreen.  I found this handy equation on

    Minutes to burn without sunscreen x SPF number = maximum sun exposure time

    Lastly, don’t forget to make sure the product says Broad Spectrum!  We don’t want protection for the UVB (B for Burning) rays and no protection from the UVA (A for Aging) rays!

    Jessica’s Skin & Body Apothecary stocks both kinds of sunscreen to suite your needs.  Choose from the following sunscreens that are so lovely they make you want to wear them.  Broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and moisturizer all in ONE!

    Glymed Photo Age Gel 15 ($35.50 for 4 oz.) 

    Glymed Photo Age Gel 30 ($48 for 4 oz.) 

    Glymed Photo Age Cream 15 ($34 for 2 oz.) 

    Glymed Photo Age Cream 30 ($58.50 for 1.6 oz.) 

    cream-30“What is the difference between Gels and Creams?”

    Glymed Gel sunscreens are oil-free and use chemical barriers against the sun, leaving a light-weight finish that many people prefer, especially oily skin types.  Plus, they smell like cherries!

    Glymed Cream sunscreens are primarily titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, leaving a thick physical barrier against the sun.  There is a whiteish cast to the skin for a couple minutes, but then it absorbs.  The Cream 30 is also loaded in antioxidants!

    I gave you a lot to think about but I hope it helps you choose!

    Jessica’s Winter Body Oils

    Don’t let this beautiful spring-like day fool you.  It’s only mid-March and our skin still needs love.  During winter, it is important to use richer oils to nourish your skin.  The winter body oils that I created are blends of deeply enriching oils to protect the skin against the dry winter air.  They alleviate dry, cracked skin, and leave the skin supple.  As in my Summer Body Oil Post, body oils should be applied to moist skin, just minutes after drying off from a bath or shower.  This will seal in the moisture and give the skin nutrients that it does not get from lotion.  Lotion can be applied during the day if the skin still needs it, but you may find that you will not have to use as much lotion when you start your day with a body oil.  The body oil will absorb and will not transfer to clothes or sheets.  Avoid applying oil to bone-dry skin.  An additional benefit to using my oil is the luxurious feel it gives to the skin, while giving yourself a mini-massage every morning.

    Choosing an oil for your skin type

    For Very Dry Skin:  Nourishing Winter Body Oil, Nourishing Winter Body Oil with Enriching Essential Oils (Sandalwood and Frankincense)

    For Normal to Dry Skin:  Balancing Winter Body Oil

    For Normal to Oily Skin:  Balancing Winter Body Oil with Warming Essential Oils (Rosemary and Lavender)

    Certified Organic Carrier Oils

    Pumpkin Seed Oil: rich in vitamins A, B, D & E and fatty acids.

    Almond Oil: high in Linoleic Acid and Vitamin D.

    Sunflower Oil: high in vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and lecithin.

    Sesame Oil: a warming and grounding oil commonly used in Ayurveda.

    Jojoba: highly penetrating, resembles our skin’s natural sebum (oil), moisturizing and anti-inflammatory.

    Avocado Oil: strong UV absorption properties, a high degree of epidermal penetration, the ability to promote cellular regeneration, and a high sterol content, which is beneficial in arthritic conditions.

    Here’s what people are saying about my body oils:

    “Jessica’s organic, made to order body oils are amazing.  She has incredible knowledge of essential oils and how to mix them just right to create something that is unique.  My skin feels great every day!” -Ana, owner of A2 Yoga

    “I am so very pleased with the Winter Sandalwood oil.  I had two seborrheic keratoses spots on my face.  These are non-cancerous, dry scaly (and ugly) spots that often appear with age.  Since insurance will not cover the removal (approx $300 per spot), I decided to try your oil on my face, with particular attention to these two spots.  Well, after a few weeks, I noticed the spots were fading. I am happy to say that the spots have completely disappeared.  I can’t thank you enough.  I am so thrilled!” -Judy

    Date published: 14 March, 2012
    Categories Body Care

    Winterize your skin

    What a mild Michigan winter we are experiencing this year! Regardless of the snow or no snow, with winter comes forced heat (which dries the air in our homes), less humid outside air, and harsh, cold winds.  As we combat these conditions by applying layers of clothing to our body, we should also layer and protect our skin!

    For protecting your skin, I have a skin regimen that involves three simple steps:

    1. Cleanse
    2. Layer
    3. Protect

    1. Cleanse but don’t strip moisture.

    • For someone with dry, sensitive skin, this means using a creamy cleanser twice a day.  (Not a creamy cleanser once a day and plain water once a day- water is drying to the skin).  Try using:
        • Glymed Plus Mega-Purifying Cleanser
        • Eminence Organics Calm Skin Chamomile Cleanser
        • Pevonia Botanica Sensitive Skin Cleanser
    • For someone with combination or oily skin, use a sulphate free foaming cleanser once a day and a creamy cleanser once a day. (No facial pads. Oily skin people should resist the urge to cleanse twice a day with a foaming cleanser in the winter, as your skin will produce more oil when it gets stripped of moisture).  In conjunction with a creamy cleanser listed above try using:
        • Glymed Plus Gentle Facial Wash (with 10% Glycolic Acid)
        • Eminence Organics Citrus Exfoliating Wash
        • Eminence Organics Stone Crop Gel Wash
    • For acne prone skin, use a medicated cleanser once a day and a creamy cleanser once a day. (Resist the urge to cleanse twice a day with an oil free cleanser.  Breakouts respond positively to hydration. On the other hand avoid creamy cleansers with pore clogging mineral oils).  In conjunction with a creamy cleanser listed above try using:
        • Glymed Plus Sal-Ex Cleanser
        • Glymed Plus Skin Wash
        • Eminence Organics Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser

    2. Layer with a serum- when the skin needs fatty acids and a hydration boost.

    • For sensitive, dry skin, look for serums with Propolis or Alpha Lipoic Acid:
        • Pevonia Propolis Concentrate
        • Glymed Plus Cell Protection Serum
    • For dull, dry, or combination skin, look to the nourishment of fatty acids and vitamin C:
        • Glymed Plus Cell Protection Serum
        • Glymed Plus Stem Cell Power Serum
        • Pevonia Botanica “C” Complexe
    • For oily and acne prone skin, I recommend boosting your light-weight moisturizer with a layer of oil-free hydration and anti-inflammatory ingredients:
        • Glymed Plus Ultra-Hydro Gel
        • Glymed Plus Stem Cell Power Serum

    3. Protect skin against dry, harsh conditions with a daytime moisturizer.

    • For sensitive, dry skin, use a oil-rich moisturizer with calming properties:
        • Glymed Plus Vitamin E Sensual Cream
        • Eminence Organics Calm Skin Chamomile Moisturizer
    • For dull, dry, and combination skin, use moisturizers with fatty acids and stimulating ingredients:
        • Glymed Plus Vitamin E Sensual Cream
        • Eminence Organics Stone Crop Whip Moisturizer
    • For oily, sensitive skin, a light-weight, calming moisturizer works best:
        • Eminence Organics Rosehip Whip Moisturizer
    • For oily (not sensitive) skin, try a protective but not clogging moisturizer:
        • Glymed Plus Daily Mega-Moisture Repair Cream
        • Eminence Organics Sugar Plum Oil-Free Revitalizer
    • For acne prone skin, protection with active acne-fighting ingredients is best:
        • Glymed Plus Daily Mega-Moisture Repair Cream
        • Eminence Organics Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer

    This skin regime will help you protect your skin against the winter elements, as well as maintain balanced, healthy skin. Stay warm and protected this winter! Up next, moisturizing with winter body oils.

    Date published: 20 February, 2012
    Categories Facial Care

    Jessica’s Summer Body Oils

     My Body Oil Line is launched!  I have been using body oil after every shower for 15 years.  I started with Sweet Almond Oil and then Jojoba.  After a while, Jojoba just didn’t feel rich enough for my dry skin (though great in a blend and for oily skin).  I started learning about different kinds of plant oils and this summer I started mixing them.    Some are fragrance-free and some contain a beautiful blend of essential oils.  The essential oils are added to benefit the skin and not just for their aroma.

    Body Oils should be applied to moist skin, just minutes after drying off from a bath or shower.  This will seal in the moisture and give the skin nutrients that it does not get from lotion.  Lotion can be applied during the day if the skin still needs it, but you may find that you will not have to use as much lotion when you start your day with a body oil.  The body oil will absorb and will not transfer to clothes or sheets.  Avoid applying oil to dry skin.

    4 Body Oils are now available:

    Nourishing Summer Body Oil

    Nourishing Summer Body Oil with Cooling Essential Oils

    Balancing Summer Body Oil

    Balancing Summer Body Oil with Cooling Essential Oils

    The carrier oils used in my blends are:

    Pumpkin Seed Oil– rich in vitamins A, B, D & E and fatty acids.

    Almond oil– high in Linoleic Acid and Vitamin D.

    Sunflower oil– high in vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and lecithin.

    Avocado oil– incredibly beneficial in many ways including strong UV absorption properties, a high degree of epidermal penetration, the ability to promote cellular regeneration, and a high sterol content which is beneficial in arthritic conditions.

    Marula oil- a light, nourishing oil that is included in the summer oil because of its ability to heal sunburns. It also relieves Dermatitis, Eczema & Psoriasis.

    Jojoba– (really a wax and not an oil) is highly regarded because of its ability to penetrate the skin and its resemblance to our skin’s natural sebum, or oil.  It is very moisturizing and anti-inflammatory.

    One more thing… my “Summer” body oils are not just for summer.  They are just lighter versions of what is to come.  Winter blends coming soon…

    Date published: 23 September, 2011
    Categories Body Care

    Calendula- Anti-inflammatory Flower

    Calendula Flower

    Last week I was working in the garden with my new garden friend, Kristy.  She has graciously agreed to work in trade for facials!  My garden was in need of some love as 2 children under the age of 3 do not allow me to give it much attention.  We were pulling out the Sumac tree that was taking over a bed and Kristy pointed out some people are sensitive to the plant oils in Sumac.  Minutes later, without washing my hands (an Esthetician “no-no”), I applied sunscreen to Julia’s face and arms.  Shortly after, she broke out in a rash.  My first instinct was to make sure was had Children’s Benadryl in case it started to swell to the point of impeding on her eye sight.  Then I remembered the anti-inflammatory properties of the lovely Calendula, or Marigold, flower.  I use Weleda Calendula products on my children every day without much thought and now was the chance to see what Calendula could really do.  I washed her face with the Calendula Shampoo & Body Wash and then applied the Calendula oil.  The rash was gone in 10 minutes!  I am amazed at how our first instinct  will often be to seek relief first from the drugs that are overly accepted in our culture, with only little thought of the natural remedies that gave birth to modern medicine.  There is a place for both of course but it is my hope that more people make a place for the natural remedies in their lives.