A Natural Retinol Alternative for Beautifully Aging Skin

Eminence Organics’ Natural Retinol Alternative offers a wide array of benefits without the uncomfortable…

Retinol is commonly seen as a skincare panacea that can soften fine lines, even out skin tones, and even help prevent acne. Unfortunately, strong results can come with strong consequences, many of which are even counterproductive to your skincare goals.

For example, people often report redness, irritation, UV sensitivity, peeling, itching, and other uncomfortable side effects after regularly using retinol-based products. 

At Jessica’s Apothecary, we prefer to take a more balanced approach. With this in mind, we’re pleased to offer several Eminence Organics products that feature a Natural Retinol Alternative that comes with all the same benefits as the synthetic version but none of the uncomfortable side effects. 

What is Retinol?

Retinol is a synthetic derivative of Vitamin A, which is essential for healthy skin and eyes. Retinol is a type of retinoid –  a generic name for any topical product that contains a vitamin A derivative. The term “retinoid” is often used for stronger, prescription skin care products containing retinoic acid, whereas retinol is a bit less potent and is available in over-the-counter skincare products. Don’t let the phrase “less potent” fool you, though, both retinol and retinoids are powerful products that come with the host of uncomfortable side effects mentioned above, and neither of them is safe to use during pregnancy.

Why would anyone use a product with so many uncomfortable side effects? Well, it truly is effective in a number of other ways. The benefits of retinol are:

  • Removes dead skin cells
  • Clears congestion
  • Shrinks large pores
  • Smooths uneven skin texture
  • Minimizes fine lines & wrinkles
  • ​Keeps skin firm and plump
  • ​Fades dark spots

A Natural Alternative to Retinol

Eminence Organics has created the Natural Retinol Alternative Complex that uses a blend of chicory root and tara tree extract and was developed by scientists from Pfizer. This unique blend provides the same results as conventional retinol, but without the uncomfortable side effects.

Chicory root is a stimulant containing oligosaccharides that tricks the skin’s cells into a healing response. During this response, cellular turnover is increased – just like with conventional retinol. Increased cellular metabolism enables your skin to shed dead layers more efficiently and replace them with healthy new cells. This process activates collagen and elastin production to soften fine lines. When mixed with tara tree extract, this Natural Retinol Alternative increases collagen levels by 25% in just 6 days!

This wonderful alternative is a primary ingredient in the following three products. 

Neroli Age Corrective Hydrating Mist

Eminence Organics' Neroli Age Corrective Hydrating Mist with Natural Retinol AlternativeThis milky white moisturizing spray is fabulous for all skin types, especially mature. It contains Eminence Organics’ Natural Retinol Alternative to lift and tighten the skin, and their custom PhytoCellTec Swiss Green Apple Stem Cells that help delay visible signs of aging by strengthening the skin’s cells. Mood-boosting neroli oil is included in the mist to soften the skin, and coconut milk helps moisturize and nourish. 

To use, spray 1 or 2 spritzes directly on your clean face and neck, avoiding the eye area. The mist will soak into your skin, so there’s no need to wash it off. Reapply any time throughout the day that you need a refreshing lift. 

Order your Neroli Age Corrective Mist today. 

Bamboo Firming Fluid

This natural product helps achieve tighter-looking skin and has won more awards than we can count, including Favourite Firming Serum, Aesthetician’s Choice Awards, 2018 and also Best Skin Serum, International Beauty Awards, 2017. It’s great for normal to dry skin, and especially mature skin. Eminence Organics' Bamboo Firming Fluid with Natural Retinol Alternative

The Bamboo Firming Fluid contains Eminence Organics’ Natural Retinol Alternative along with bamboo, which is packed with antioxidants, proteins, vitamins, and more. It also contains coconut oil to restore the skin’s moisture barrier and coconut water to help balance the skin’s pH.

To use, apply a thin layer to clean skin once or twice daily. Follow with a moisturizer that’s best suited to your skin and the season. For dry winter skin, consider the Sweet Red Rose Whip Moisturizer.

Order Bamboo Firming Fluid, here.

Neroli Age Corrective Eye Serum

This is one of our go-to products for fighting the visible signs of aging that appear around your eyes, like crow’s feet and fine lines. It’s effective for all skin types, especially mature.

Eminence Organics' Neroli Age Corrective Eye Serum features their Natural Retinol AlternativeThis rich serum includes Eminence Organics’ Natural Retinol Alternative along with neroli oil, which refreshes and hydrates the tired eye area. It also includes coconut milk to moisturize, nourish, and soften, plus carrot extract, a fabulous source of antioxidants and nutrients.

To use, apply a thin layer to the clean skin around your closed eyes. Blend it in until it’s fully absorbed, then follow with an eye cream (The Marine Flower Peptide Eye Cream is a particularly lovely choice).

Order Neroli Age Corrective Eye Serum, here.

Save with a Bundle

Save by purchasing all three of these products together! Use the following link to purchase these three items for $119 (valued at $158). 

Purchase the Natural Retinol Alternative Collection, here. 

To learn more about retinol alternatives, or to discuss your skin’s specific needs with a certified esthetician, schedule a virtual consultation with our owner, Jessica. This low-stress offering is designed to help you create (and stick to!) a personalized skincare routine that supports natural radiance and beautiful aging.

Learn more about Eminence Organics’ Natural Retinol Alternative, here.




Eminence Organics. (2019). What is retinol? Benefits, side effects, and a natural alternative [Blog Post] Retrieved from https://eminenceorganics.com/us/blog/2019/07/10/what-retinol-benefits-side-effects-natural-alternative

Glamour. (2020). Retinoid vs. retinol: When to use each and why [Online Article]. Retrieved from https://www.glamour.com/story/retinoid-vs-retinol

Kafi R, Kwak HSR, Schumacher WE, et al. Improvement of Naturally Aged Skin With Vitamin A (Retinol). Arch Dermatol. 2007;143(5):606–612. doi:10.1001/archderm.143.5.606

Treat Yourself to a Luxurious Winter Facial at Home

As the colder weather starts to blow in across the country, we’re collectively beginning to experience 

As the colder weather starts to blow in across the country, we’re collectively beginning to experience all the tell-tale signs of dryness, like chapped lips and flaky skin.


If you live in a cold climate, then you’re probably used to stocking up on extra lip balm and creams as the season shifts. This year, consider taking your skin care routine one step further by assembling a winter facial kit for yourself or as a special gift for a loved one!

A winter facial is a fabulous way to nourish your skin with deeply penetrating fatty oils infused with natural, botanical benefits. We’ve outlined two of our favorite winter facial regimens below – one for morning and one for the night. All of the products we’ve featured are also age-preventative and age-corrective, making them a wonderful choice for anyone over the age of thirty (it’s really never too early to start protecting your skin against fine lines and wrinkles).

A winter facial is more than moisturizing, it can be a healing ritual in and of itself. Light a candle, make yourself a steaming mug of your favorite herbal tea or spiced milk, and settle in for a special treat. While you’re pampering yourself with this skin care ritual, consider taking some time to meditate on what you’re grateful for or simply share some positive feedback with yourself. 2020 has been a challenging year for so many of us, but fortunately, there are simple and affordable self-care tools, like botanical facials, aromatherapy, and meditation, that can help lift our spirits and refill our emotional cups. 

A Morning Winter Facial

A morning facial is typically more focused on revitalizing the skin through gentle exfoliation. Your skin needs a boost in the morning in the same way that your body needs high levels of cortisol to get the day going. Here are the products we recommend using, in order.

Step 1: Monoi Age-Corrective Exfoliating Cleanser. The first step to any facial is to wash away dirt and impurities. This lovely Eminence Organics cleanser is a great starting point for a winter facial because it exfoliates and moisturizes. Finely ground olive seeds and fruit extracts serve as the all-natural, biodegradable exfoliators, but the star ingredient in this cleanser is monoi oil. Monoi oil is made by soaking the petals of Tahitian gardenias in coconut oil. This aromatic scented oil has been used by French Polynesians for centuries as a skin and hair softener and is quickly gaining popularity in Europe and the U.S. 

Step 2: Firm Skin Acai Exfoliating Peel. This gentle peel can be used daily to deeply hydrate your skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. (If you use this peel on a daily basis, then make sure to balance the treatment with plenty of nourishing oils and fats.) This much-loved product is packed with antioxidants from acai berry, grapefruit, and goji berries, along with lactic and glycolic acids to increase skin’s firmness and collagen production. 

People tend to fall in love with this exfoliating peel after using it. It won Elite Magazine’s “Best Firming Peel” (Green Beauty Awards, 2016), and it was also included in Yoga Journal’s list of “Editor’s Must-Haves” (2017). 

 Step 3: Lavender Age-Corrective Night ConcentrateEven though this treatment is labeled as a “night concentrate” it is light enough to be used in the morning, as well, especially in colder climates. Think of your moisturizing regime as layers the same way you would layer clothing in winter (see our blog post Layering is a Balancing Act for more info about moisturizing layers). In this case, the water-based serum is the cotton, the lipid-based serum (like this lavender concentrate) is the wool, and the moisturizer (mentioned below) is your coat. Winter skin care is more expensive in this way, but we think your skin is worth it! 

Lavender has been used for centuries for its gentle, skin-soothing effects, and this decadent concentrate also includes argan oil, jojoba oil, and shea butter to deeply hydrate your skin and help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Jessica Goniea holding lavender concentrate

Step 4: Coconut Age-Corrective Moisturizer. The final step of your morning winter facial is to lock in the moisture from your lavender concentrate while also adding another deeply hydrating layer to soothe winter dryness. This luscious cream features both coconut oil and coconut water to moisturize the skin. With each application, you will feel your skin noticeably tighten and lift due to the Natural Retinol Alternative made from chicory root and tara tree. This is part of the reason why we love this moisturizer for a morning application!

This popular cream won 1st place for “Best Natural Moisturizer” in the Aestheticians Choice Awards (Dermascope, 2017). 

Coconut Age Corrective Moisturizer

If you’re going to leave your house and wear a mask after your facial, then consider applying 1 drop of peppermint, ravintsara, or grapefruit essential oil to the outside of your mask. All of these essential oils are antimicrobial. Grapefruit also helps elevate mood, peppermint aids mental alertness, and ravintsara is a natural expectorant and bronchodilator. Choose the best essential oil for your needs that day!

(Do not apply essential oils onto the mask or anyone who is incapable of removing it themselves.)

A Nighttime Winter Facial

Winter has fewer daylight hours, which means all the more time to cozy up indoors with a decadent skin care ritual. Evening facials are especially beneficial during winter because you can apply multiple layers of thick, luscious creams and oils that protect your skin against moisture loss while you sleep. Here are the products we recommend for a moisturizing nighttime winter facial, in order of use.

Step 1: Stone Crop Cleansing Oil. This gentle cleansing oil is an incredible makeup remover (including eye makeup!) and also helps restore the skin’s barrier. As an added bonus, this lovely cleaning oil is infused with sunflower oil, jojoba oil, and microgreens to protect against drying environmental stressors, like wind, sun, and pollution.

Step 2: Bamboo Age Corrective Masque. The best part about a nighttime facial is that you’ll have more time to sit and enjoy this moisturizing masque that’s composed of some of the most powerful anti-aging technology in natural skin care. 

Set aside 5-10 minutes to let this masque work its magic. While you wait, listen to calming music or enjoy a Golden Milk Latte, a traditional Ayurvedic spiced milk made with anti-inflammatory turmeric. The ritual is part of the magic here!

After 5-10 minutes have passed, remove the masque with a clean, moist towel. 

(For more masque options based on skin type, see our blog post: Best Botanical Masques for an Organic Facial.)

Bamboo Age Corrective Masque for a winter facial

Step 3: Marine Flower Peptide Serum Now that your skin is clean and prepped, you can apply this easily absorbed, potent serum to diminish the appearance of fine lines and strengthen collagen density. This decadent serum is a cocktail of marine marvels for the skin, including nutrient-rich blue-green and red algae extracts and botanical peptides.

Insider’s tip: Through the month of November (2020) a half-ounce bottle of this collagen-boosting serum will be included as a gift with purchase for orders over $50. (Curbside, in-store, and online orders qualify, while supplies last.)

Marine Flower Peptide Serum for winter facial

Step 4: Camellia Glow Solid Face Oil with Gua Sha Stone Facial.  Are you ready for the most luxurious part of your at-home winter facial? This dewy product features highly moisturizing camellia oil, which is made from seeds of the tea plant. Combined with marula oil and hemp seed oil, this lovely face oil will give you a healthy glow.

For a spa-like experience, give yourself a gua sha stone face massage with this camellia oil. Gua sha stone massage originated in China, and it’s a simple practice that you can easily do at home to increase your skin’s circulation and reduce puffiness. Our esthetician friend Katie Westgate (who we now share a space with at K. WEST Skin Body Spirit) shares instructions for a rejuvenating 3-minute Gua Sha Stone Facial in this video

You can purchase a white jade gua sha stone as part of a Restorative Self Care Ritual, here.

Step 5: Rosehip and Lemongrass Repair Balm This ultra-rich moisturizer is perfect for a winter facial. It features rosehips, sunflower oil, edelweiss extract, and prickly pear serum to repair dry skin and reduce redness due to dryness. This repair balm is a lovely addition to this skin care ritual, but it can also be applied to dry patches as often as needed.

If you experience super dry skin due to dry winter air or other environmental stressors, then this balm is a great product to keep in your purse and apply to affected areas throughout the day. Learn more about this wonderful balm and its protective properties in our blog post Psychological Stress + Skin Barrier Function.

Step 6: Restorative Mind-Body Ritual Oil. When you’re finished with your winter facial and ready to sink into bed, take a few moments to apply this calming ritual oil to your pulse points. This beautiful blend is one of the flagship products in the new Stony Creek Aromatics line, and was created to help ease stress. It features an aromatic blend of rose otto, sandalwood, lavender, orange, and patchouli essential oils.

Don’t miss this video, in which we explain how to use this oil for a restorative self-care ritual!

Learn more about how these essential oils create greater equilibrium in the mind and body in our blog post, Aromatherapy & The Stress Response Cycle.

In Closing, 

An at-home winter facial is such a decadent way to treat yourself to something special while also caring for your body’s biggest organ – your skin!

You can mix up your routine and try a different masque every night by using these botanical masques or even trying our new Turmeric Energizing Treatment, which helps awaken and revitalize dull skin.

If you would like to discuss a targeted treatment for your specific skin type, schedule a virtual consultation today by emailing contact@jessicasapothecary.com or by calling 734.545.4303.

We are also open for in-person facials, during which we can discuss your personal skin condition and develop a winter facial specifically for your needs. We’re excited to move to a new location on November 12, so please take note of that new address if you book your appointment soon. (415 N. Main St. Suite 3, Ann Arbor, MI 48104; inside K WEST Skin Body Spirit.)

How to Treat Maskne + 3 Tips for Preventing It

If you’ve experienced an increased number of outbreaks since COVID started, you’re not alone.

If you’ve experienced an increased number of outbreaks since COVID started, you’re not alone.

 Beyond the fact that stress and anxiety can contribute to acne, masks also create a perfect storm for skin congestion. In fact, acne caused by masks has become so commonplace this year that it even has a nickname, “maskne” (although the medical term is “acne mechanica”). Prior to COVID, athletes were the people most likely to experience maskne due to the sweat, heat, and friction caused by exercising for hours at a time while wearing helmets and chin straps. Maskne may sound (and feel!) intimidating, but don’t worry, in this post we’ll cover how to treat maskne with a few preventative measures and the right organic skincare routine!

So what exactly causes a maskne outbreak? Put simply, when you breathe inside your mask for hours, it increases the amount of humidity around your face and creates a breeding ground for acne. Even though the environment within your mask is humid, cotton and disposable masks rub right against your skin and absorb the natural oils, thus drying your skin out over time. Dry skin can be more prone to outbreaks, plus, as the material continues to rub against your face, the friction of the mask can then block and clog pores. All of these factors combine to create an environment that’s prime for breakouts. 

Fortunately, with a combination of simple prevention and natural treatments, you can learn how to treat maskne without a huge investment in expensive, chemical-laden products! Because let’s be honest, who needs one more thing to worry about this year?

How to Prevent Maskne

Like most things, prevention is key. These are the three preventative steps we find most useful.

1. Wear a Satin or Silk Mask

When you’re shopping for a mask, look for ones made of satin or silk. While the price tag may be slightly higher, these materials won’t wick moisture out of your skin like cotton or disposable masks will. These are a particularly great option for anyone who’s been experiencing extra dry skin lately or who lives in a dry climate.

2. Wash Reusable Masks Between Every Wear

If you have reusable masks, then try to get in the habit of washing them between each wear. This is especially important if you wear your masks for long periods of time, or if you sweat while wearing your mask. By having a clean mask, you won’t reintroduce your skin to the oils, dirt, and even cosmetics that your mask absorbed the last time you wore it. The CDC also recommends washing your masks regularly for safety reasons, so this is a great habit to get into in general!

Some masks can be thrown in the washing machine and dryer, but others, like satin or silk masks, should be hand washed and air dried. To account for regular washings, make sure you have enough masks to get through at least one week without needing to do laundry.

Remember to wash your face mask regularly - woman folds laundry while sitting on the floor.

3. Find Safe Moments to Take a Mask Break

If possible, try to find moments throughout the day when you can remove your mask safely and let your skin air out, even if it’s only for a few minutes. You could do this when you’re taking a short break, driving in your car alone, or if you’re outdoors and maintaining safe social distance. 

If you feel like your skin is getting oily, then this could be a great time to apply a few spritzes of an invigorating mist. Our favorite one for this purpose is the Mangosteen Revitalizing Mist by Eminence Organics, which features a dreamy combination of antioxidant-packed mangosteen, energizing ribose, and pore-refining red clover. Make sure your face is completely dry before you put your mask back on.

black woman sitting outside smiling under the sun.


Note: During these times, it’s all too common to hear people say, “I can’t breathe” in reference to their masks. We’d like to gently draw attention to the fact that these were George Floyd’s last words. While masks can certainly be uncomfortable, the truth of the matter is that we ARE able to breathe, unlike those who have suffered, and even died, under the oppression of white supremacy and police brutality. In solidarity with the Black community, we’re making a cognitive effort to avoid using the phrase “I can’t breathe” when referring to masks or to our skin needing a break from masks.

How to Treat Maskne: Our 3 Favorite Products

You could follow all of the preventative steps above and still experience a breakout. When you find yourself wondering how to treat maskne, pay special attention to two critical steps of your natural skincare routine: exfoliation and hydration!

We looked through the timely new products in our Eminence Organics line, and the following three items all stood out to us as particularly helpful in regards to maskne. 


Three products to keep in mind for how to treat maskne

As always, all Eminence Organics products are organic, sustainable, and cruelty free. They’re also void of parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, and other ingredients that we find best to avoid.


Charcoal Exfoliating Gel Cleanser

Because maskne can result from irritated skin and clogged pores, it’s best to find a gentle exfoliating cleanser. Our favorite choice for this application is our Eminence Organics Charcoal Exfoliating Gel Cleanser. 

Why do we love it? 

  • The main ingredient, charcoal, is super absorbent, so it draws out oil, dirt, and other harmful substances from clogged pores. 
  • The crushed malachite gemstones are the stone of transformation, helping the mind release stress and feel optimistic and balanced – something we could all use more of right now! 
  • And the blue matcha (butterly pea flower) and peppermint are both rich in antioxidants that improve the appearance of vitality. The peppermint will feel cooling and soothing, just what you need when your skin feels inflamed. 

To use, simply mix a small amount of the cleanser in your hands with water. Apply to your face and neck, and then massage gently with your fingertips in a circular motion. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry. 

If it’s morning, and you’re getting ready to start your day, then finish with a moisturizer and a natural SPF. 

If you’re headed to bed, then finish with the Camellia Glow Solid Face Oil (below), and a  moisturizer to deeply hydrate your skin overnight. If you have a bit of extra time, then try the Turmeric Energizing Treatment after you cleanse for some added love (keep reading)!

Add our Charcoal Exfoliating Gel Cleanser to your Skincare Routine!


Charcoal Exfoliating Gel is a great choice when learning how to treat maskne

Camellia Glow Solid Face Oil

Because masks can absorb your skin’s natural oils and dry out your skin, you’ll want to add a super luscious and deeply hydrating oil to your skincare lineup. 

The one we recommend for this job is the Eminence Organics Camellia Glow Solid Face Oil, which is best applied before you go to bed. 


Camelia Glow Solid Face Oil


Why do we love this deeply hydrating oil?

  • The main ingredient, camellia oil, is pressed from the seeds of Camellia oleifera, better known as the plant that gives us tea. (Now you can drink your tea and wear it, too!). The precious oil is prized around the world for being highly moisturizing, revitalizing, and rejuvenating.
  • This luscious, solid face oil also includes crushed pink tourmaline, a gemstone that encourages positive thoughts. (Are you noticing a trend with gemstones that encourage positivity here? Because 2020 … ).
  • Another prized ingredient in this moisturizing blend is marula oil, which contains up to 60% more antioxidants than Argan oil. It also has antimicrobial properties, making it a perfect option for anyone dealing with maskne. Marula oil is rich in fatty acids and combats visible signs of aging due to drying environmental stressors.
  • The final ingredient in this luscious formula is hemp seed oil that’s rich in vitamins and antioxidants and can improve the appearance of aging.

To use, simply apply a pea-sized amount to your face and neck with gentle, circular motions. Oils and serums like this camellia product are a wonderful way to re-introduce moisture into your skin after a long day and restore your vital skin/barrier function. For best results, finish with a luscious, moisturizer.

Add our Camellia Glow Solid Face Oil to your Skincare Routine!

Turmeric Energizing Treatment

Even though the stress and anxiety of 2020 may be getting to you, (no judgement, us too!) this Turmeric Energizing Treatment reminds us that we can still look our best and treat ourselves to a little extra pampering.

Turmeric Energizing Treatment - How to treat maskne


This warm and invigorating powder is designed to awaken your skin and help it appear extra luminant. We recommend using this revitalizing treatment as an extra step before bed (before you apply your serum and moisturizer) because it’s warming nature can cause your face to flush slightly. 

Why do we love this invigorating turmeric treatment?

  • The main ingredient, turmeric, is a potent antioxidant that visibly brightens the appearance of skin and reduces the look of puffiness. Yes, please!
  • The crushed citrine gemstones lends an element of happiness that helps the mind and body feel recharged, motivated and energized.
  • Paprika often gets relegated to the spice cabinet, but we love its ability to invigorate the skin and leave it soft and glowing. As an added bonus, Hungarian paprika increases detoxification and circulation in the skin, which helps to purge acne.
  • Zeolite is this blend’s secret weapon. A deep exfoliator, it releases energy upon contact with water, resulting in the skin feeling warm and invigorated. It also improves the skin’s appearance by smoothing and tightening.
  • Clay is one of nature’s most incredible natural skin care products, and the kaolin clay used in this luxurious treatment is no different. It deeply cleans and softens the skin and gently draws out impurities without stripping away moisture.

To use, add 1 small scoop of powder (about 1 teaspoon) into the jar’s outer cap. Gradually stir in a few drops of water, your favorite tonique, or the Birch Water Purifying Essence until you see a whipped-mousse texture (the recommended ratio is 4 parts powder to 3 parts water)

 Apply a thin layer of the whipped mousse to your entire face, extend to your neck and décolleté as desired. Let dry for 10 – 30 minutes before rinsing with tepid water. As you rinse, massage gently to exfoliate. 

It’s natural to experience a warm, tingling sensation for a few minutes after applying this product. Please take note that this luxurious treatment is water activated, so the tingling sensation dissipates over time and will resume during rinse-off. If you use steam, hot towels, or warmer water you will intensify the heat.

Finish with Camellia Glow Solid Face Oil and the moisturizer of your choice before heading to bed. Sweet dreams, loved ones! 

Treat yourself to our Turmeric Energizing Treatment today!

In Closing,

When learning how to treat maskne, it’s important to keep our simple preventative tips in mind along with our motto of “Exfoliate and Hydrate.”

If you feel like your skin needs a little extra TLC (or you just need some pampering during these hectic times), then reach out to us about scheduling a spa day. A facial treatment is a great time to get specific feedback from Jessica about your skin’s unique characteristics. 

Schedule your appointment

Not ready to come back to the spa due to COVID or live out of the area? Reach out to Jessica for a 30-minute virtual skin consultation.

 Contact us, here. 

More in this VIDEO by Jessica.


Jessica's Apothecary owner wearing a satin face mask to teach how to treat maskne

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:

Best Botanical Masques for an Organic Facial


If you are like me, your skin is missing its monthly organic facial. The added stress from the pandemic, paired with a lack of routine, can lead to increased acne, dryness, and an overall lackluster skin surface. As you try to establish a new normal for yourself, consider adding a face masque twice a week. Feeding your skin with high-quality botanicals will keep your skin vibrant, and may even nudge you into feeling a little brighter on the inside, too!

At Jessica’s Apothecary, we stock a wide variety of masques! How would you choose the best one(s) for your organic facial? Allow me to present them to you by skin concern.

(In general, masques should be applied to clean, dry skin and left on for 10-15 minutes.)

Organic Facial: Masques for Dryness


Dryness in the skin is due to a lack of oil in the epidermis. Some people consider their skin dry even when it is just dehydrated, which is a lack of water. Dehydration can still coexist with an underlying condition of excess oil production. A masque can alleviate dryness, but a consultation with your esthetician can help get to the cause. Whether from a lack of oil or a lack of water, any of these botanical face masques are a good choice for your organic facial if your skin is dry. 


strawberry rhubarb face masque from Eminence Organics

Organic Facial: Masques for Dullness


The skin usually appears dull because of a lack of cellular turnover. As we age, our skin’s metabolism slows down. 


Citrus and Kale Potent C+E Masque

Organic Facial: Masques for Acne


Acne occurs in both oily and dry skin. 

  • Hands down the best acne-fighting mask I have ever used is the Acne Advanced Clarifying Masque. Not only can you mask your whole face with it once or twice per week, but you can spot treat and sleep with it on your pimples. The winning combination is sulfur (but you can barely smell it!), salicylic acid, and three different kinds of clay.
  • If you have hormonal acne and your skin isn’t too sensitive, lean towards the Eight Greens HOT
  • For mild acne and some dryness, the Strawberry Rhubarb Masque has a touch of salicylic acid but is also rich in hyaluronic acid. 


Acne advanced clarifying masque is a great choice for an at-home facial

Organic Facial: Masques for Hyperpigmentation


Pigmentation is best treated during a facial; however, masks extend the benefits of your organic facial at home. 

  • The Stone Crop Masque is a gel masque that balances uneven skin tone and increases moisture content in the skin.
  • For advanced hyperpigmentation on dry skin types, the Bright Skin Masque is very beneficial.
  • The Eight Greens Phyto HOT delivers plant-based estrogens to regulate hormonal acne and assist in oxygenation while lightening post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. 

All these options are best when followed up with a daily botanical lightener, like our Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster Serum or our Bright Skin Overnight Correcting Cream


skin brightening mask

Organic Facial: Masks For Fine Lines and Elasticity


  • The Firm Skin Acai Masque is loaded with hyaluronic acid and antioxidants to plump superficial lines on weathered skin.
  • The Bamboo Age Corrective Masque contains Swiss Green Apple Stem Cells to promote elasticity. It’s also in a shea butter and argan oil base for nourishing dry skin.


bamboo age corrective masque

In Closing,

I hope this helps you find the right masque for your mini, organic facial at home. If you still have questions, you can email contact@jessicasapothecary.com to set up a virtual skin consultation. All Eminence Organics products can be purchased on our website.


Collection of botanical masques for an at-home, organic facial

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:

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

Stone Crop has regenerative properties that heal damaged skin

Stone Crop brightens and lightens pigmented skin

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.

Layering is a Balancing Act

Want to know some of my Skin Care 101 RULES plus my new, spring nighttime regimen? Read on!

Skin requires great attention in order to stay healthy. Some of its needs include nutrients from our blood, supportive fibers like collagen and elastin, and a balance of water and oil. Skin care products can target various concerns but today I would like to talk about moisture retention, specifically the layering of products to balance the skin’s barrier. The barrier in the epidermis is made up of oil and water. When there is not enough oil, especially when our oil production drops in half at night, Transepidermal Water Loss, or TEWL, can occur. TEWL is one of the biggest factors in a dry, dehydrated, chapped skin surface, and even more severe issues like Atopic Dermatitis (as in the article “Skin barrier dysfunction measured by transepidermal water loss at 2 days and 2 months predates and predicts atopic dermatitis at 1 year” in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology by Maeve Kelleher et al). Dryness is the easiest skin condition for Estheticians to address because it usually requires just a shift in one’s home care routine. A little more attention and the right balance of oil and water can quickly change the skin from rough, flat, and gray to smooth, supple, and bright.

I love having conversations with my clients to problem solve their home care routine. Without giving them specific product or brand recommendations I can offer some basic rules of thumb. My number one rule in preventing dehydration in the skin’s surface is to cleanse with a creamy or oil based cleanser at night and a foaming or exfoliating cleanser in the morning. The reason for this approach is because oil based cleansers remove dirt and excess oil while leaving a protective lipid, or oil barrier. The foaming or exfoliating cleanser, on the other hand, will break down the oil-water barrier which is particularly helpful if you want your next layer (the exfoliant or serum) to penetrate deeper or if the skin is oily or acne prone. On a side note, a cleanser with a natural foaming agent (verses a chemical foaming agent like sodium lauryl sulfate) will be vital to the hydration level of the skin as highly alkaline cleansers more aggressively strip the skin of its hydration. Also, not all exfoliating cleansers are created equal so choose one with acids, enzymes, or a physical component that is best for your skin condition. In the case of a chapped, or dehydrated skin I recommend using a creamy or oil based cleanser both morning and night until the skin barrier comes back into balance. The reason we don’t cleanse twice a day with products that constantly breaks down the oil-water barrier is that it leads to dehydration. And for those of you who insist on cleansing only once per day, you only have one choice and that is a creamy or oil based cleanser!

Now that you have a cleansing routine thatprevents dehydration in your skin’s surface, we can look at appropriate treatment and protection products. Basic care only requires basic protection, like a light sunscreen product during the day and a rich moisturizer at night in a humid, summer season. However, in winter and for someone who wants a more corrective skin care regimen (one that addresses other issues like acne, hyperpigmentation, or wrinkles) the layering of products is often needed. Serums are used primarily to deliver corrective ingredients to the skin because they are highly concentrated. They can be formulated as water based, oil based, or somewhere in between. If you look at the full spectrum of oil-rich to oil-free, you can determine your need on that spectrum and make sure you also have the ingredients in your products to provide positive change to your skin.

The basic idea in creating an effective layering system is to first choose a corrective serum and then the right moisturizer to balance you out. In the case of a dry, winter climate someone with dry skin will likely need a lipid based serum plus a rich moisturizer. That same person in a humid summer climate can use a water based serum with a medium weight moisturizer. As spring is approaching in Michigan we now have a little more humidity in the air. It’s a transitional season where some of our rich winter products may need to be used up by applying them at night. We may be looking to lighter serums and adding a sunscreen product back in if we have neglected our UV protection. For myself, I have employed two serums and a moisturizer for my evening routine to provide the correction and barrier protection I need. First, I am using the Eminence Organics Marine Flower Peptide Serum with algae and peptides. Studies have shown this product to increase skin density by 50% in 90 days! I am turning 45 this year and with the decreasing amount of collagen with every decade, skin density is one of the aspects I am choosing to address with my home regimen and in the treatment room. I also have periodic acne breakouts so layered on top of my serum is the Facial Recovery Oil with Tea Tree, Clary Sage and Ylang Ylang. To occlude the skin from losing moisture I finish with the Lotus Detoxifying Overnight Treatment. It contains lotus and microgreens to fight environmental damage (therefore great as a lightweight daytime serum in summer) as well as spheres of jojoba.

When we choose to invest in cosmetics many considerations need to be made. Your Esthetician is there to help you navigate. Factoring in the season, your skin condition, and individual concerns can be complicated and the application of layers of products is sometimes necessary to achieve your desired results. Layering is a balancing act that can result in the most beautiful, healthy skin!

Date published: 21 March, 2019
Categories Facial Care