Warming Massage Oil: To Give & Receive

Gift hunting for the Earth lover in your life isn’t as easy as one might think. This all-natural warming massage oil from Stony Creek Aromatics is sure to check all their boxes.

Gift hunting for the tree hugger in your life isn’t as easy as one might think. You’re searching for something beautiful, useful, and made from natural materials. Not so practical as to be mundane, but not so extravagant it gets tucked into a secret drawer and forgotten until next year. Bonus points if it’s a small-batch item made with love and recyclable packaging. The Warming Massage Oil with Juniper Berry and Ginger from Stony Creek Aromatics? Check, check, aaaaand check.

Our Founder, Jessica Goniea, is a certified aromatherapist and she developed this invigorating oil to use with clients here at the spa. It makes an especially lovely wintertime gift because the high-quality plant extracts warm the body and rejuvenate sore muscles, tendons, and joints – something an oil with synthetic fragrances will never do.

Why They’ll Love this Warming Massage Oil

Soothes sore, stiff muscles

Thanks to essential oils of marjoram (Origanum majorana) and ginger (Zingiber officinale), which have both been shown to have analgesic properties, this oil soothes sore muscles and helps ease stiffness. Juniper berries also have a long history of easing the occasional pain associated with sore, stiff joints.

“Marjoram tonifies and circulates Qi-energy, clears cold phlegm, and calms the mind,” writes Gabriel Mojay in Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. “Marjoram oil’s Qi-moving action results in very distinct antispasmodic and analgesic properties. It may be applied in this respect for conditions such as muscular stiffness and pain, nervous spasm, intestinal colic, and osteoarthritis.”

Tones and decongests the lymphatic system

Juniper berry (Juniperus communis) shines here. From a Chinese medicine perspective, “Juniper is a powerful tonic of the body’s warming and stimulating yang energy, especially of the Kidney-yang,” writes Mojay. “It is both a diuretic and lymphatic decongestant. In respect of its action on the Kidney-yang and urinary system, juniper oil’s warming, invigorating effect benefits tiredness, cold hands and feet, lower backache, and oedema (fluid retention).”

Juniper oil

Fosters health at the cellular level

Ginger, marjoram, and juniper berries all have antioxidant properties, neutralizing free radicals with a stabilizing electron.

Without an adequate supply of antioxidants, free radicals would steal electrons from other molecules, damaging cells and DNA in a process called oxidation. Juniper berry is especially noteworthy here. In a study with yeast cells, juniper berry essential oil was shown to block the oxidation process by increasing activity of various antioxidant enzymes.

And inflammation? Because oxidation triggers the body’s inflammatory response as part of the healing process, neutralizing free radicals also means less inflammation at the cellular level.

Promotes microbial balance

Research suggests that ginger, elemi, marjoram, and juniper berry can each help stop pathogenic bacteria from proliferating. Compounds in ginger called zingiberene and α-curcumene are believed to disrupt the cell membranes of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. Elemi essential oil also showed antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus.

Studies have shown that marjoram is active against microbes, though researchers suggest further studies to validate results. Similarly, experiments with juniper berry essential oil have shown antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activities.

Red Clay Lavender

Two Ways to Gift this Warming Massage Oil

1. Buy a bottle of the Warming Massage Oil here

Looking for a set? Pair the oil with a long-burning beeswax candle for calming massage ambiance, and a bar of Meadowroot’s Red Clay & Lavender Soap for bath-to-body alchemy.

2. For Ann Arbor locals: We use this uplifting massage oil in many services at the spa. 

Book an appointment through the links above or give your loved one a gift certificate for services at the spa.

A warming massage oil made with high-quality extracts from real plants will create an experience a synthetically-fragranced oil simply can’t imitate. Stony Creek Aromatics’ Warming Massage Oil with Juniper Berry & Ginger is sure to bring relaxation and delight to the grounded, earthy folk on your list, making it a perfect gift this holiday season.

Pssst. Are you an esthetician or spa owner who’s interested in carrying Stony Creek Aromatics’ Warming Massage Oil with Juniper Berry & Ginger as a wholesale product? Place your order here.

Benefits of a Body Scrub + Herbal Soak

Learn about the benefits of a body scrub and soak, plus the process we recommend to leave your skin soft and glowing

Goddesses, come hither. It’s time to adopt new rituals that honor your body and spirit – and emerge with soft, glowing skin. Jessica’s Apothecary &  Spa is in its new location with a copper tub and can now offer the rejuvenating benefits of a body scrub followed by a luxurious herbal soak. The experience is otherworldly, deeply reinvigorating, and great for your skin. 

The Body Scrub + Herbal Soak is meant for anyone who lives with stress, whether you’re fighting for reproductive rights and gun regulation, working to protect the health of the planet, or supporting a neurodiverse loved one. As I wrote a couple of months ago, a stressed-out state of mind can lead to increased inflammation and a slower healing response — more proof that we simply can’t give (and keep giving) from an empty cup.

If you’re wondering what the Body Scrub + Herbal Soak is like, I’ll walk you through it step by step. And for those who wish to create this spa-like experience at home, I’ve crafted a Stone Crop Body Collection with special pricing. Read on.

Benefits of a Body Scrub

To begin, your practitioner will use a high-quality body scrub to slough away dead skin cells on your body, excluding the face and neck. Your skin cells do shed naturally, but the process slows with age, leading to a buildup of dead cells that leave skin looking dull, and can block pores.

Exfoliating benefits of a body scrub:

  • Smooth, fresh, and glowing skin
  • Stimulates circulation and skin cell turnover
  • Draws out impurities
  • Minimizes clogged pores and frees ingrown hairs
  • Allows moisturizer to penetrate more deeply

We use Eminence Organics’ Stone Crop Body Scrub for body exfoliation. This scrub is formulated with finely ground raw sugar and rock salt to polish skin without being abrasive. The stone crop, a succulent, moisturizes and brightens while antioxidants from green tea, lemon peel, and turmeric enhance the skin’s resilience to damage from everyday stressors like UV light and pollution.

Follow With an Herbal Soak

After the scrub, you’ll head to the copper tub for a botanically-infused bath. Soaking amidst herbs from my garden bundled in a sisal pouch, carefully selected salts, and essential oils, you’ll gently rinse away the body scrub.

Relax for up to 30 minutes, surrounded by aromatherapeutic scents, calming music, and the flicker of a beeswax candle. 

This time spent in relaxation deepens the restorative benefits of a body scrub. That’s because our bodies regenerate best when we’re in “rest and digest” mode, not the “fight or flight” mode in which many of us might spend our days.

Why the Copper Tub?

We’re drawn to copper for its beauty, but it also carries an elemental signature that makes it great for baths.  Copper:

  • Conducts and retains heat well, making it ideal for long, relaxing soaks. 
  • Has antimicrobial properties. According to the EPA, copper offers natural protection against viruses and bacteria that’s an extra assurance in these times.
    • May support skin health at the cellular level. Skin that comes in contact with the tub’s surface will absorb small amounts of copper. Although research hasn’t shown whether that copper is bioavailable, if so it would help upregulate production of collagen and elastin while supporting wound healing.
  • Can be recycled at the end of its useful life. It’s nice to enjoy a luxury and know it won’t leave a trace.

After Your Soak

After you’ve toweled off, nourish your skin with our organic body oil. This will deliver antioxidants, penetrating deeply, and lock moisture in for lasting firmness and a radiant glow.

Book a Body Scrub + Herbal Soak (with the option to add on-on a relaxing facial or massage!)

DIY Spa Hour: Body Scrub + Herbal Soak

Get the benefits of a body scrub and herbal soak at home with our Stone Crop Body Collection:

Stone Crop Revitalizing Body Scrub

This is the same fine-particle scrub we use at the spa to exfoliate and hydrate your skin without irritating or abrading it.

Stone Crop Body Oil

This lightweight oil absorbs quickly to soothe and soften skin, while nourishing it with antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Bonus: You can also use this as a massage oil or add 1–2 capfuls to a bath.

Stone Crop Body Lotion

This formula hydrates and tones skin while helping reduce the appearance of age spots and dark patches. Bonus: It’s nice to have this lotion on hand for dry hands, or dry skin anywhere.

Scrub + Soak Method: 

  1. Draw a bath, adding your favorite herbs, bath salts, or diluted essential oils. Add atmospheric music and light candles if you wish. 
  2. Apply the body scrub. Massage in circular motions on legs, hands, arms, elbows, or any part of the body that needs smoothing. 
  3. Enter the bath and soak for as long as you like, rinsing the scrub off well with warm water.
  4. Drain the tub and pat skin dry. 
  5. Follow with a 50:50 blend of the Stone Crop Body Oil and Stone Crop Body Lotion.

We’ve bundled the scrub, oil, and lotion together so you can create an at-home experience for a fraction of the cost of a spa appointment. Purchase the Stone Crop Body Collection for $87 to save $29 on the trio.

In Closing,

Whether you book an appointment or bring the spa home to you, I’m wishing you a restorative experience with all the benefits of a body scrub and luxurious herb-infused bath. A toast to the good work you’re doing in this world. Happy soaking, goddesses!

Get Glowing: 5 Questions to Ask Your Esthetician

Consider asking your esthetician these questions to get the best results during a facial or skincare consultation!

You know how, during a facial, your esthetician gives your skin the exact treatment it needs to look its best? Well, what if you could get inside your esthetician’s head for a half hour, channeling that same expertise to inform your morning and evening skin care rituals? In truth, day-to-day skin care routines might matter more than facials — and that’s exactly why consultations were invented. So you can bring the knowledge that’s relevant to you out of the spa and into your home. After years of having these conversations with clients, I’ve crafted a list of questions to ask your esthetician that will help you get the most value from your facial when you decide to book.

5 Questions to Ask Your Esthetician

1. What’s my skin type?

Think you know your skin type? It’s still helpful to have a professional take a close look. Many people have mixed types and don’t know it. Plus, our skin’s needs change over time. Your esthetician’s trained eye might see signs of change you haven’t noticed yet.

For example, you may think you are dry when, in fact, your skin is actually dehydrated. It’s an important distinction because exfoliation is very beneficial to dry skin, but can be damaging to dehydrated skin. Dry skin lacks oil, while dehydrated skin lacks moisture. Dehydrated skin feels rough and flakey but can still produce oil underneath a dehydrated skin surface, often leaving clients confused as to how to address their needs.

2. What’s the best daily skincare routine for me?

Skin care recommendations from friends and influencers are powerfully persuasive. But what works for your friend or even your sister might not work for you. In fact, what worked for you in your 20s probably won’t in your 40s. And lifestyle changes — a career shift, for instance — can change your skin care needs if it means you’re spending more time outdoors or in front of a screen.

Part of aging gracefully is developing a skincare routine that works for: 

  • your skin type
  • your lifestyle
  • your environment, including climate
  • your concerns and goals 

This made my list of questions to ask your esthetician because a professional will have the objectivity and expertise to help you take a realistic look at your current products and routine and make adjustments that fit your life.

One example of a routine change based on lifestyle, is for someone with acne prone skin who also works out almost daily. Acne prone skin needs extra attention after sweating. The heat stress and bacteria can exacerbate unwanted lesions (i.e. pimples). I recommend using a salicylic acid product or a botanical astringent within 10 minutes of heavy exercise. Whether you work out in the morning, midday, or evening will affect the custom home care routine provided by your esthetician.

3. What results can I expect from this treatment?

Realistic expectations are key, and you’ll see different results from regular facials over time than you will from occasional, sporadic ones. I like to tell clients what benefits they can expect immediately and what effect treatments should have long term.

After one facial, the skin will have a luminous glow that comes from professional exfoliation, botanical anti-inflammatory ingredients, stimulating massage, and layers of hydration. Issues on the superficial layers of the skin, like soft lines around the eyes, will be plumped and diminished. Sagging skin will gain some tone and elasticity. Blackheads are extracted.

Some changes aren’t immediately visible, but are still a very effective part of the treatment. One example: Collagen and elastin production is increased in the process of receiving a facial, though they’ll take some time and continued attention to add density.

Another benefit that takes a while to set in is the stress relief you receive. Psychological stress increases cortisol levels and inflammation, damaging cells over time and weakening the skin’s resilience to environmental stressors. A high quality facial should deactivate your stress response, reducing the cortisol that causes inflammation in your skin and helping to strengthen the skin’s barrier function.

4. What products do you use on your skin?

Seeing how your esthetician puts knowledge into practice can make abstract concepts more tangible and give you insights into how products work together.

For instance, I give my routine a 180 from summer to winter, and I love coaching clients on how to switch their seasonal lineup without wasting a drop of the high-quality products they’ve already invested in.

How do we accomplish this? By moving our richer winter products to the evening for summer, and lightening up daytime products. Some winter products are set aside for next year, some get used up before the seasons change, and some get incorporated into their summer routine.

Here’s what I’ll be using this summer. This routine balances my skin care desires and goals: caring for my skin as it ages while minimizing hyperpigmentation and some mild acne.

These products are all from Eminence Organics. I use this line because it combines the intelligence of nature and the latest scientific findings to make botanical products that nourish my skin for a truly healthy glow. The ingredients are ethically grown organically on European farms and certified by Biokontroll Hungaria. The entire line is free of harsh chemicals.

Day

  • Bright Skin Licorice Root Exfoliating Peel
    Lactic and mandelic acids gently exfoliate dead skin cells while licorice root, African potato, and tara tree brighten the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
  • Neroli Age Corrective Eye Serum
    This award-winning serum nourishes and hydrates the delicate skin around the eyes with neroli oil, coconut water, and green apple stem cell technology.
  • Citrus & Kale Potent C + E Serum
    In this formula, vitamin C salts convert to vitamin C on contact with the skin, minimizing degradation of antioxidants before use. (How cool is that?) And vitamin E from avocado nourishes and protects the skin.
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Concentrate (launching this month!)
    Botanically-sourced hyaluronic acid meets vitamin-rich strawberries and rhubarb in this skin-plumping and nourishing blend.
  • Stone Crop Whip Moisturizer
    This moisturizer is great for summer. Succulent stone crop cools sun-exposed skin and brings regenerative properties to support healing and rejuvenation throughout the day.
  • Lilikoi Daily Defense Moisturizer SPF 40
    Lilikoi (passion fruit) seed oil moisturizes while cocoa seed extract, satsuma mandarin peel, and mineral-based SPF 40 protect the skin from sunlight, blue light from screens, and pollution.

Night

  • Firm Skin Acai Cleanser
    Antioxidant-rich acai berries, sea buckthorn oil, and hyaluronic acid from marshmallow plants, revitalize mature skin at the end of a summer day.
  • Birch Water Purifying Essence
    Nutrient-rich birch water purifies the skin while botanical collagen increases elasticity and improves barrier function, helping the skin retain the benefits of subsequent products.
  • Eight Greens Youth Serum
    Concentrated whole plant yucca, chasteberry, and flax seed extract tighten and brighten skin with phytoestrogens, omega-3s, and antioxidants.
  • Facial Recovery Oil
    Calm, balance, and hydrate with ylang ylang, clary sage, and olive oils. Antioxidant sage leaf extract rejuvenates and tones.
  • Marine Flower Peptide Night Cream
    Peptides inhibit aging, and applying them to the skin ensures your body has the materials it needs to make collagen, keeping your skin plumper, firmer, and more radiant. Eminence sources its bioactive peptides from marine algae!

5. What’s the best way to pamper my skin between facials?

Last but not least, this is one of my favorite questions to ask your esthetician because it shines in a one-on-one format. We’re used to seeing messages that imply one product can work wonders for everyone. Not true.

Some people may benefit from a super-hydrating mask. Others may need a peel. Results can even be influenced by the other products you’re using. Ask your esthetician how you can further your skincare goals on those days when you have a bit more time to spare.

In Closing,

A facial doubles as an opportunity to chat with your esthetician, whose trained eye can pick up signs you’ve missed or lifestyle details that reveal a skin care need. This is skin care gold, saving time and money ill spent on products that aren’t right for you.

However, digesting the wealth of information your esthetician can provide takes time. Consider asking just one of these questions with every appointment. We want to ensure that you also get the benefits of relaxation that come with your treatment! (More on those rejuvenating benefits and how to get them here: The Science of a Relaxing Facial.)

Live in the Ann Arbor area and want the skin-toning benefits of regular facials from an experienced esthetician with personalized skin care tips on the side? Book a facial at Jessica’s Apothecary & Spa.

Think you’re ready for the full download? Book a virtual skin care consultation with me today. We’ll take a closer look at your skin type and the elements your skin is up against daily. I’ll also recommend revitalizing, plant-based products for your skin. Schedule a virtual consultation with Jessica to receive custom, personalized responses to each of these questions, and more.

Calendula for Skin Care: A Must-Have for Sensitive Skin

Calendula is a time-tested herb for skin. Learn why and uncover my three favorite calendula-based skincare products.

In today’s frenzied world, we’re up against triggers that irritate and inflame our skin every day. Pollution. Ultraviolet light. Even the food we eat can be a culprit. Over time, inflammation can dull our natural radiance. A normal part of aging? Sure. But by using calendula for skin care, we help stave off some of that damage.

Calendula (calendula officinalis) is a particularly good fit for sensitive or inflamed skin, and can help prevent other issues like acne, fine lines, or hyperpigmentation. In this post, I’ll explore three benefits of calendula for skin: its antioxidant constituents, anti-inflammatory effects, and skin-soothing properties. I’ll also share three products with calendula that I often recommend to my clients, and the reasons they’re effective (as usual, there’s special bundle pricing at the end!). 

A few interesting facts about Calendula officinalis 

  • This cheerful yellow flower is a member of the Asteraceae family (also home to daisies and sunflowers).
  • You may know calendula as pot marigold, a sunny flower that’s as useful as it is beautiful — attracting pollinators even as it keeps aphids away from other plants. 
  • Outside the garden, Calendula officinalis can soothe minor skin irritations and skin disorders, making it a perfect plant to try if you want to improve the overall appearance of your skin. 
  • The earliest known records of calendula show its traditional use as a medicinal herb. One of these, Andrea Cesalpino’s De plantis libri XVI (1583), says, “it is called Calendula in the vernacular, because it blooms monthly.” But I’m not sure this is to be taken literally, since I harvest the flowers every morning!

Why Use Calendula For Skin Care?

So why would you want to put products made with this flower on your face on a regular basis? Three reasons. 

Antioxidant Constituents

Calendula’s antioxidant constituents neutralize free radicals, protecting the skin from the oxidative damage that breaks down collagen and speeds aging. Oh, and because it contains antioxidants, calendula is also being studied for its potential ability to prevent cancer. (No big deal, right?)

Finally, the same flavonoids that offer antioxidant support play a role in the soothing power of calendula for occasionally irritated skin (more on that later).

Anti-Inflammatory

I’ve experienced the anti-inflammatory powers of calendula first hand. Years ago, I slathered sunscreen on 

my daughter after handling some irritating plant oils in

the garden. She broke out in a rash — but after washing with a calendula cleanser and applying calendula oil, it was gone in 10 minutes.

Studies reinforce my personal experience, suggesting that calendula extracts have anti-inflammatory properties. Because inflammation can contribute to breakouts and inflamed skin conditions, regular use of calendula can be a first line of defense against minor skin concerns. 

Calendula preparations can also be used topically to minimize inflammation from acne and to soothe irritated tissue. There is also some evidence that calendula cream or ointment is effective in treating radiation dermatitis.

Personally, I haven’t seen evidence that calendula is skin-firming in itself, but it does have a preventative benefit on fine lines and wrinkles. When we minimize inflammation in the skin, we keep our skin barrier healthy, minimizing fine lines and wrinkles.  

Skin Soothing

Calendula has a long history of use in enhancing the body’s natural ability to recover from minor wounds. Although a systematic review found weak evidence of this traditional use, it concluded not that calendula was ineffective but that more research was needed. In one promising clinical trial, calendula significantly sped the body’s natural healing response after C-sections. This ability makes calendula ideal for acne-prone skin.

Botanical Skin Care Featuring Calendula

Below are three products that all take advantage of the benefits of calendula for skin. All are from Eminence Organics, a line of plant-based products that combines biodynamic farming practices with the latest research in skin care. 

What’s biodynamic farming? It’s in the same constellation as organic and regenerative farming — but goes a little further. Seeds are planted and crops are harvested according to moon phases. Farmers regenerate soil using crop rotation, composting, and interplanting. They also save seeds. Generally, the farm is considered a living, self-sufficient system within an ever-changing cosmos. Demeter is the official certifying body for biodynamic products, and two of the three products in this collection are certified by the agency.

Eminence Organics never uses parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, propyene glycol, or animal testing. And thanks to these high standards, they consistently produce award-winning results. Each of the products below has won at least one industry award — those are listed when you click through to the product descriptions.

Sea Buckthorn Masque

Vitamin-rich sea buckthorn meets carrot juice and

 calendula, protecting skin with antioxidants and soothing dry, sensitive skin. Restorative jojoba oil revitalizes the

appearance of the skin, leaving it balanced and hydrated without clogging pores. This is a balancing and

conditioning masque for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

To use, mix a small amount of product in your hand with a few drops of water and apply evenly over the entire face. Include the neck and the décolleté if desired. Allow to dry for 10-20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water or a face cloth, and apply your favorite serum and moisturizer. (Keep reading for a moisturizer containing calendula!) Recommended use is 1-2 times per week.

Purchase the Sea Buckthorn Masque here.

Apricot Calendula Nourishing Cream

Relieve dehydrated and sensitive skin with apricots, echinacea, and aloe. Apricot replenishes the skin’s moisture barrier. Calendula calms and protects with antioxidants. Yarrow soothes and rejuvenates. This powerful combination will support your skin’s natural healing capacity while flax seeds regenerate and revitalize to produce younger-looking skin.

To use, apply a layer of moisturizer over the entire face and neck area. Leave on. For a lighter application, emulsify a small amount of moisturizer in your hand with a few drops of water, tonique, or serum. For extra hydration, apply a serum underneath, or the Rosehip + Lemongrass Repair Balm on top.

Purchase the Apricot Calendula Nourishing Cream here.

Calm Skin Chamomile Cleanser

Chamomile gives this gentle cleanser its name, but 

calendula oil plays a strong supporting role in calming the skin and providing antioxidant protection. Arnica helps with delicate capillaries, grape leaf extract boosts the

antioxidant content, and rosemary rejuvenates and soothes. This calming cream cleanser is perfect for sensitive skin that is prone to redness.

To use, dispense half a pump onto finger tips of freshly washed hands. Apply directly to dry skin. Add a bit of water to finger tips if desired and massage cleanser onto your

face in a circular motion, covering the face and neck for 1-3 minutes. Completely remove by splashing with water or using a damp face cloth. Finish with an application of toner. (Stone Crop Hydrating Mist is a revitalizing and

healing toner for all skin types, particularly uneven skin.)

Purchase Calm Skin Chamomile Cleanser here.

Ready to see the benefits of calendula for skin care?

Purchase the Soothing Calendula Collection for $122 (Special Savings of $40)! 

Calendula for skin is a wonderful herb

 

Aromatherapy to Enhance a Facial Treatment

Aromatherapy is the use of aromatic compounds to create a desirable therapeutic action. The most commonly known Aromatherapy practices involve essential oils, the volatile oils found in the secretory structure of aromatic plants. Essential oils are often diffused, applied topically at various concentrations, or added to wash off bath and body products. An esthetician has a unique opportunity for integrating essential oils into her practice and can make a profound impact because of the intention she sets for a relaxing and rejuvenating client experience. Most importantly, essential oils can be safely applied, not by adding them to skin care products (because that would often be too harsh for the skin), but by using them on hot towels. Simply dropping one or two drops on the towel positioned on the client’s chin, and allowing them to breathe it in for a minute or two, is enough to positively alter the facial experience.

I change the Essential Oils used in my facial room seasonally. After being closed for 4 months due to COVID-19, I had to reflect on which oils would help people the most as they re-enter to the Apothecary. Returning to touch, while living much of our day socially distancing, requires trust. To ease any anxiety and to help people relax deeper into the experience, I have carefully chosen specific essential oils to use on the warm towels throughout the facial.

🌸 In the beginning of the facial, I created a blend of Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana) and Melissa (Melissa officinalis) . Cedarwood is a base note which means that it has a larger molecular structure and slower evaporation rate. It is grounding and fortifying. One of my favorite descriptions of Cedarwood is by Gabriel Mojay in his book, “Aromatherapy and Healing the Spirit”. He says, “Steadying the conscious mind, it helps us to resist the sudden events and powerful emotions that threaten to undermine our confidence and morale.”

Melissa, or lemon balm, is a powerful anxiolytic. I have personally helped a loved one out of a panic attack within just minutes of administering inhalation of this oil. My teacher, Florian Birkmayer, MD, in his years as a Psychiatrist, Equine Therapist, and Aromatherapist, says that in addition to relieving “overstimulation, stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, (Melissa) lowers high blood pressure, and calms over-rapid breathing and heartbeat”.

🌸 In the middle of the facial, to help create greater ease in the body and mind, I use my Stony Creek Aromatics Restorative Mind-Body Diffusing Oil. I’ve sung the praises of this research conducted on the five oils in this blend in my article, https://jessicasapothecary.com/aromatherapy-the-stress-response-cycle/. This blend of Sweet Orange, Lavender, Sandalwood, Patchouli and Rose sinks us deeper into our heart center, reminds us to take a deep breath, and lowers heart rate and cortisol.

🌸 To conclude the facial, I choose either Corn Mint (Mentha arvensis) or Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi). Both essential oils are top notes that help give a mental lift after the hour-long trance of a facial. Corn Mint, or Wild Mint, contains menthol that awakens the senses. Andrea Butje, director of the Aromahead Institute, describes it best when she explains how the plant part used in the distillation has an effect on the therapeutic action. As in the case of corn mint, she says, just as leaves allow the plant to breathe, “We can use oils made from leaves to support respiration and deeper breathing. They can help us breath when we feel stress and anxiety, while supporting expansion and creativity.”

As with all citrus oils, Pink Grapefruit contains d’limonene, which can relieve anxiety and give a sparkle that lifts the mood.

Integrating essential oils into our facials helps to create a more holistic experience. Not only is our goal to rejuvenate the skin externally, but foster well being that promotes the longevity of skin health! For more on how mental health effects skin health, check out Psychological Stress & Skin Barrier Function.

Psychological Stress + Skin Barrier Function

Skin is our first line of defense against irritants, pathogens and environmental stressors. The epidermis contains sebum (a mixture of lipids, wax esters, fats, and fatty acids) (1), layered with keratinocytes and corneocytes (skin cells in the epidermis) that help seal in moisture while keeping viruses, bacteria, and allergens out. The barrier function is easily disturbed, however. External factors, namely UV exposure and pollution, are well known to compromise the barrier of the skin. In my studies I have discovered that increased cortisol levels and inflammation that occur during psychological stress also contribute to the deterioration of the skin barrier. This blog will focus on the science behind psychological stress and its role in the disturbance of the skin’s barrier function. Don’t worry, I will also tell you what you can do to protect and strengthen it too!

Stress activates two major neuronal pathways: the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) Axis and the Sympathetic Nervous System (2). In my blog, Aromatherapy & the Stress Response Cycle, I mention the HPA Axis and how high levels of cortisol, our primary stress hormone, can lead to imbalance in the body. To recap, during acute stress the Hypothalamus in the brain sends signals, via the pituitary gland, for the release of corisol by the adrenals. An exciting finding is that various organs in the body, including skin, have their own peripheral HPA mechanism. In this way, the skin “acts like an endocrine organ” (3).

The way in which cortisol is released into the skin is via an enzyme in our Keratinocyte cells. That enzyme is called 11 beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 (HSDI), or Cortison reductase. It activates endogenous, or naturally occurring, cortisone and converts it to cortisol. HSDI is also activated by UVB light, which then increases cortisol in the epidermis (3). This is one of the factors responsible for delayed wound healing, the disturbance of keratinocyte proliferation, as well the destruction of fibroblasts which are responsible for the creation of collagen and elastin in the dermis (4,5). Stress is a major factor in delayed healing of acne lesions, dull or thick skin, a dehydrated or rough skin surface, and loss of elasticity and density. Psychological stress triggers HSDI and disrupts homeostasis, the delicate balance in the skin.

In addition to the HPA Axis, stress also activates the Sympathetic Nervous System (2). According to the research gathered by A. Garg, “The peripheral nervous system and the skin are intimately connected via free nerve endings that extend to the epidermis” (6). Nerve fibers (and cortisol levels) activate cytokines, or stress mediators in various cells, and have an inflammatory effect. During acute psychological stress the skin’s immune cells are the target of a cytokine assault. Specifically, nerve fibers activate mast cells and cortisol activates Th1 cells to product cytokines (7). Immune cells can become overreactive and cause allergic reactions and itching, and even auto-immune disorders like psoriasis.

The collateral damage of these complex neuroendocrine and immune responses is that they “impair the ability of the skin to respond to environmental challenges” (8). When the skin barrier becomes compromised, it no longer functions effectively. Water loss (called Transepidermal Water Loss, or TEWL) occurs when the barrier can no longer keep water from evaporating. Dehydrated skin with a compromised barrier exacerbates inflammation and disease and can lead to various dermatological disorders. Dermatitis, Psoriasis, Eczema, Acne, Rosacea, and allergic reactions can all become worse when undergoing psychological stress.

If you skimmed through the scientific breakdown in the last few paragraphs, we have finally reached the point of discussing the ways you can improve barrier function! Managing stress addresses the skin from the inside, while treating with lipid rich and anti-inflammatory skin care products supports it from the outside. Looking inward, for individuals struggling with depression, studies show that taking an SSRI decreased the levels of HSDI in the skin (3). Also, created to support a decrease in cortisol and relief from depression, I recommend using my Stony Creek Aromatics’ Restorative Mind-Body Massage Oil. Clinical evidence shows that the barrier function can be improved by inhaling essential oils with a sedative effect (3), in particular the rose, sandalwood, and lavender in this blend. In a zoom class I attended this month with Aparna Ishvari on Abhyanga massage, I learned that in Ayurveda the application of plant oils is understood to “anchor the nervous system” by providing calm to the nerve endings. In a base of Jojoba, Apricot Kernel, Almond, and Avocado, the Restorative Mind-Body Massage Oil can be applied to the full body, excluding the face, every day to support wellness.

As I mentioned in opening, the skin barrier contains lipids, fats, wax, and fatty acids. Healthy skin contains adequate amounts of linoleic acid, according to Brian Goodwin, International Educator for Eminence Organics Skin Care. Linoleic Acid is the omega 6 fatty acid and can be found at high levels in many of my favorite plant-based fatty oils. Looking at a typical analysis provided by Mountain Rose Herbs, some of the fatty oils with the highest amounts of linoleic acid are Grapeseed (containing 65-85%), Evening Primrose (containing up to 72%), Sesame (containing up to 45%), Borage (containing up to 38%), Argan (containing 29-36%), Baobab (containing 24-34%), Apricot Kernel (containing 19-33%), Almond (containing 7-28%), Sunflower (containing 3-20%), and Olive (containing up to 17%). When plant oils are applied to the skin they help to occlude the barrier and seal in moisture. The Eminence Organics Facial Recovery Oil contains Olive and Sesame Oils and have been shown, in third party studies, to increase hydration in the skin up to 53% in 28 days. For those of you that are acne prone, rest assured that the healthy fats in the Facial Recovery Oil plus the antimicrobial, anti inflammatory, anti fungal essential oils of Tea Tree and Clary Sage will improve your condition. Mixed with the Rosehip & Lemongrass Repair Balm, which contains plant waxes, this combination creates a semi-occlusive barrier that helps the skin recover from damage as well as supporting it to prevent further compromise.

To address the constant struggle with inflammation that our skin is undergoing, choosing products that are high in anti-inflammatory ingredients is vital to the strength of the barrier function. One of my favorite summer moisturizers is the Eminence Organics Arctic Berry Peptide Radiance Cream. It contains 4 arctic plants that are rich in anti-inflammatory properties, and peptides to soften fine lines. The Birch Water Purifying Essence contains Reishi mushroom which is an adaptogen that may decrease inflammation and mitigate the skin’s stress response. Lastly, protect your skin from inflammation and increased cortisol with the all-natural mineral based sunscreen, the Lilikoi Light Defense Primer SPF 23.

If my research presented here from the new field of psychodermatology wasn’t exciting enough, consider one more finding that brings this psychosomatic research full circle. There is evidence that “stress-enhanced inflammation (can), in turn, effect the brain since neuroendocrine mediators and cytokines released during inflammation cause a feeling of malaise.” (7) This reciprocal effect shows us that self care is critical for our mental health. Keeping the skin healthy also keeps our brains happy, which is needed now more than ever. The good news is, research shows that inhibiting HSDI may reverse barrier damage (5), so if you need a visualization while you are practicing mindfulness during this social distancing time, try to imagine your nerves becoming calmer and your skin cells stronger, to protect you from this world.

Video of this blog available on my YouTube channel.

1. Pappas A. (2014) Sebum and Sebaceous Lipids. In: Zouboulis C., Katsambas A., Kligman A. (eds) Pathogenesis and Treatment of Acne and Rosacea. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg
2. Jafferany, M. (2011) Psychodermatology: When the Mind and Skin Interact. Psychiatric Times V 28.
3. Choe S., Kim D., et al (2018) Psychological Stress Deteriorates Skin Barrier Function by Activating 11B-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase 1 and the HPA Axis, Scientific Reports
4. Tiganescu, A. etal. (2014) Increased glucocorticoid activation during mouse skin wound healing. The Journal of Endocrinology 221, 51-61
5. Terao, M., Tani, M., et al (2014) 11β-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase 1 Specific Inhibitor Increased Dermal Collagen Content and Promotes Fibroblast Proliferation, PLOS One
6. Garg A., Chren M. et al (2001) Psychological Stress Perturbs Epidermal Permeability Barrier Homeostasis Arch Dermatol. Vol 137
7. Peters, E. (2015) Stressed skin? a molecular psychosomatic update on stress-causes and effects in dermatologic issues. Journal of the German Society of Dermatology.
8. Bin Saif, G., Alotaibi, H. et al (2018) Association of psychological stress with skin symptoms among medical students, Saudi Medical Journal, 39.

“At Home” Facial

Many of our clients have expressed how much they miss our facials at the Apothecary. Facials provide a much needed break from the world as well as increased radiance and skin tone! Our services also foster a trusted relationship that you may have come to value. While I cannot offer much more than a virtual face-to-face at this time, I can give you some instruction on how to build and maintain healthy home care rituals that support your skin care goals and help you manage stress.

This 2-part “At Home” Facial includes practices I have cultivated during this pandemic for health and beauty. Part one involves self care steps you can take in the evening and part two details a routine for morning. You can pick and choose aspects you personally want to embrace, and for specific product recommendations don’t forget to reach out for a free skin consultation!

Part one- Evening:
1. Cleanse
2. Masque and Tonique
3. Gua Sha with Rosehip Oil
4. Restorative Mind-Body Ritual Oil
5. Night Cream

In the evening, I recommend cleansing as soon as you know you are “in” for the night. This will ensure that you are not too tired for your self care routine. Apply a masque of your choice and go about your evening with whatever you need to do (check emails, knit, read a book…). For a list of masque suggestions and their benefits check out my recent blog post: Botanical Masques for Self Care. After 10-20 minutes remove your masque, dry your face, and pat with your favorite tonique. My tonique of choice these days is the Eminence Organics Mangosteen Revitalizing Mist because it increases the skin’s ATP and delivers micronutrients. Then, apply a generous amount of your favorite face oil and find a comfortable place to sit for Gua Sha facial massage. Massage using this simple tool helps promote detoxification and increases microcirculation. I find myself spending 15 minutes on this step because it is very soothing. When you’re done, apply the Stony Creek Aromatics Restorative Mind-Body Ritual Oil on aromapoints and pulse points. Instructions for Gua Sha and the Restorative Mind-Body Ritual can be found here. Lastly, on top of the face oil, apply a lightweight moisturizer like the Eminence Organics Lotus Detoxifying Overnight Treatment or the Arctic Berry Peptide Radiance Cream.

Part two- Morning:
1. Steam
2. Cleanse
3. Exfoliate
4. Finishing Products
5. Sun protection

After coffee and breakfast I have been starting my day with an old fashioned steam. In a pot of hot water add one drop of cypress essential oil and 1 drop of eucalyptus globulus and inhale for 10 minutes with a towel over your head. Cypress is high in pinene and cinene, and Eucalyptus is rich in 1,8 Cineole, chemical components that helps fight infection and clear respiratory mucus. I can blend them for you order you can order high quality essential oils from Aromatics International. I recently started incorporating eight quick lung strengthening and clearing breathes during my steams. I learned the technique from my friend and Ann Arbor area yoga instructor, Natasha Schaffer, in this video tutorial. After your face and lungs have been purged, cleanse the impurities from your skin. Following your cleanse I recommend stepping up your exfoliating routine by applying the Eminence Organics Firm Skin Exfoliating Peel or Bright Skin Exoliating Peel. Leveling up to the use of acids on your skin increases the cell turnover and promotes a healthy skin surface. Choose the Firm Skin if you want to see a decrease in fine lines or the Bright Skin if you are concerned with hyperpigmentation. Both of these peels are around 4% so using them every day is safe as long as you are following up with a moisturizer. Now that spring is finally here, don’t forget the sun protection too!

As with everything during this pandemic and in life, don’t let what you see other people are doing on social media make you feel like you aren’t doing enough. Try choosing just one or two things you could incorporate that helps you feel healthier and happier. You are worthy of love and care, and deserving of positive self thoughts. Stay healthy!

For more tips on how to give yourself a facial at home, visit “How to do a facial massage at home” by Eminence Organics.

“At Home” Facial VLOG:

Rosebud Woman- Intimate Skin Care

Over the last several decades there have been many products on the market for a woman’s intimate area, but many of them are designed to medicalize or sexualize a woman’s body. Rosebud Woman is a woman-owned small business that has created products to care for the labial area. At the Apothecary, we believe that the quality of care for the delicate labial skin is just as important as the care we give to our faces. Having conversations in our store is not always as comfortable as “which eye cream is best for me?” so I thought I would take a moment to detail the benefits and uses of our new pelvic skin care line!

Rosebud Woman’s flagship offerings:

HONOR- Everyday Balm 1.7 oz $90
Honor promotes skin density, structural stability, tissue regeneration, moisture content, and repair of microabrasions. Honor supports woman who are experiencing dryness due to a decrease in estrogen during perimenopause and menopause. It’s also wonderful for breastfeeding mom’s to apply to their nipples. It’s safe for ingestion and child safe! Bisabolol, a constituent found in Chamomile, is one of many high quality plant-derived ingredients in Honor. This cream to oil makes a nice lubricant.

SOOTHE- Calming Cream 2 oz $40
Soothe addresses redness, chafing, swelling, abrasions, razor burn, eczema, itching, and bruising. It has all of my favorite ingredients; arnica, chamomile, comfrey, calendula, peppermint, and aloe. Vitamin E also adds some healing benefit.

AROUSE- Stimulating Serum 1 oz $75
Arouse is not a lubricant! Arouse was designed to stimulate the Bartholin Gland and activate mucus membranes. There are many factors that contribute to a lack of sensation and/or lubrication of the tissues but the progressive use of Arouse can train the body to reteach body lubrication. Arouse utilizes a plant called Spilanthes Acmella, or Buzz Buttons, to stimulate blood flow and push the body’s natural moisture to the surface. Damiana and Maca are a few other plant-based ingredients that support an aphrodisiacal effect.

REFRESH- Cleansing Spray 1.7 oz $40
Refresh is a gentle leave-on cleanser and toner. It is not intended to perfume or deodorize you! The vulvar tissues are not self cleaning, but they are too sensitive to wash with soap. We recommend using just warm water and the application of Refresh when you get out of the shower or bath. It supports a healthy pH and has antimicrobial ingredients like tea tree, lavender, and hydrogen peroxide. If you prone to UTI’s Refresh should be your friend.

I am so proud of Rosebud Woman. Their timing couldn’t be more perfect in introducing a line with the intention to shift the narrative around women’s bodies. The owner, Christine Mason, has also written a book that we are carrying called The Invitation: daily love for your intimate self. She also has a fabulous BLOG.

Rosebud Woman products are soy free, gluten free, cruelty free, vegan or beegan, organic whenever possible, allergy tested on humans. No petroleum products are used.

Rosebud Woman products can be purchased on our website.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Stone Crop

Eminence Organics has a NEW Summer launch. Can we ever have too many Stone Crop products? The 4 H’s remind us that Stone Crop can be beneficial to us all summer:

-Hydrating
Stone Crop adds hydration when the summer sun takes moisture from our skin

-Healing
Stone Crop has regenerative properties that heal damaged skin

-Hyperpigmentation
Stone Crop brightens and lightens pigmented skin

-Heat
Stone Crop removes heat from sun exposed skin

My review of the new Stone Crop line:

Everyone knows I love scrubs and oils. My new farmhouse has a well and septic system. So, while I say goodbye to water bills I also had to say goodbye to my handmade scrubs because we want to reduce how much oil we put into the septic. At first I was skeptical about the new Stone Crop Revitalizing Body Scrub because I love my abrasive salt scrubs and this one by Eminence is so gentle. My skin gets very cracked and dry looking when I go out into the sun. How was this water based exfoliant going to cut it? I was pleasantly surprised that when I applied it correctly (to dry/slightly damp skin) that the fine sugar and rock salt refined my skin surface quite nicely. Aiding in the smoothing and brightening effects are other fabulous ingredients like Green Tea, Turmeric and Lemon Peel.

After rinsing off a scrub it’s a MUST to apply a lotion or oil. Really, the skin’s barrier function stays much stronger if you apply a lotion or oil after EVERY shower or bath. I prefer oils because their large molecular structure makes them more occlusive to better protect the skin against moisture loss. The Stone Crop Body Oil tends to be a little light for me, even though it has nourishing Avocado and Rosehip oils, making it perfect for those that like a “non-greasy” oil. But mixed with the Stone Crop Contouring Body Cream, I get the perfect amount of hydration!

Pro Tip from our Lead Esthetician and resident Eminence Organics Training Specialist, Tiffany: Add a few drops of the Stone Crop Body Oil to your bath. The Arnica soothes sore muscles and when you emerge you feel “magical”.

For those of you who love a lightweight body lotion, the Stone Crop Contouring Body Lotion is lovely. The Caffeine and the Algae doesn’t hurt either, for those of us with some cellulite.

I give the new summer launch a thumbs up, but only time will tell if my cellulite agrees.

Spring-Summer Skin Regimen

This just in from our Esthetician, Tiffany Genter.

“As we move into spring, now is a great time to adjust your skin care regimen for warmer and sunnier weather!!  While I will be heading into winter when I get to Australia it will still be very sunny and the temperatures will be in the 70’s.  Here is a look at what I am taking down under with me and how I am prepping my skin for the change in season:”

Morning:

Eminence Bamboo Firming Fluid – it has a Natural Retinol Alternative minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while the coconut water tones and balances pH.

Eminence Rosehip Triple C + E Firming Oil – while I usually like a daytime moisturizer this oil absorbs really quickly. The rosehip oil improves moisture and the seabuckthorn oil brightens.

Jane Iredale Power-Me SPF Dry Sunscreen- since my daytime moisturizer/oil doesn’t contain a SPF, I will be using this dry sunscreen to protect me from the harsh rays. It is a broad spectrum, physical barrier SPF 30.

Eminence Bright Skin Moisturizer, SPF 32 – I will be taking this SPF with me for my sister. She loves this since it not only minimizes her hyper pigmentation but also protects her from the sun!

Night:

Eminence Lavender Age Corrective Night Concentrate – this not only softens fine line and wrinkles but adds hydration along with antioxidants to help with free radical damage.

Eminence Monoi Age Corrective Night Cream – since my skin is always dry this moisturizer is a staple for me year round. The argan oil, shea butter and evening primrose soften and hydrate my skin, especially if I accidentally get too much sun.

Eminence Clear Skin Targeted Acne Treatment – this amazing spot treatment will definitely be going with me. This contains tea tree, salicylic acid, and cucumber to reduce redness and inflammation and kill bacteria.

And of course I will be using the Eminence Tropical Vanilla Body Sunscreen SPF 32 so I don’t get burned while I am there.