Oxidative Stress + The Power of Vitamin C

By Jessica Goniea

Vitamin C has a long standing reputation as one of the strongest antioxidants in skin care. Antioxidants protect the skin against external aggressors, namely UV exposure, but also environmental pollutants and harsh chemicals, or xenobiotics. We call this kind of attack on the skin “Oxidative Stress” (OS). “Extrinsic aging is driven to a large extent by oxidative stress caused by UV irradiation” (1). This blog will take a peak into Vitamin C products and how they work to improve skin appearance and function. While DNA, hydration, and lipids are all compromised by OS, I will be highlighting only the destruction of important proteins in the skin. I will discuss two different types of Vitamin C, l-Ascorbic acid and Tetrahexyldexcyl Ascorbate, and their powerful ability to keep the skin youthful.

The top layer of the skin, the epidermis, is equipped to deal with moderate exposure. It even contains its own Vitamin C! The second layer of skin (the Dermis), however, is more vulnerable to such stressors and the visible signs of aging. In the epidermis, it is the protein rich keratinocytes and corneocytes that are affected. Oxidative stress alters the “cornified envelope” (2) around cells, lessens its antioxidant capacity, and reduces the strength of its barrier function (1). In the dermis, it is the collagen and elastin that are negatively impacted by OS. These proteins provide strength, support, and flexibility to the skin but are disrupted by OS. Fine lines and wrinkles are the result.

Topical antioxidants, like Vitamin C, enhance the skins natural defenses (3) by providing sustained protection and reducing inflammation. The Eminence Organics Citrus & Kale Potent C + E Serum contains a 16% stabilized Vitamin C. 10% comes from l-Ascorbic Acid, 3% comes from Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, and 3% is from leafy greens and citrus oils. l-Ascorbic acid is notoriously unstable so Ferulic Acid from Bran and Vitamin E from Avocado have been added. Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate is actually as salt that the skin converts to Vitamin C. Without adding Vitamin C to the skin, it has been shown that protein oxidation and detectable unfolding occurs after only 30 min of UV exposure” (1). According to Eminence Organics, this formulation will stay in the skin for 72 hours, boost sun protection, and strengthen the skin barrier. In third party studies, the Citrus & Kale Potent C + E Serum reduced oxidative stress by 47% in 3 hours. This water soluble solution is best for supporting OS in the epidermis.

For deeper reaching antioxidant support, Eminence makes a lovely neroli scented face oil called the Rosehip Triple C + E Firming Oil. The Vitamin C, Tetrahexyldexcyl Ascorbate, is made from organic corn. Because it is oil soluble, the Rosehip Triple C + E Firming Oil can make its way through the intercellular matrix to provide antioxidant support to the protein fibers in the dermis.

As with everything else in the body, the epidermis and dermis are intimately connected. Treating the skin’s surface indirectly impacts the health of the deeper layers. And nourishing the underlying layers strengthens the top. For best age corrective results, I recommend using the Citrus & Kale during the day under your moisturizer and sunscreen. At night, apply the Rosehip C + E on clean, dry skin under a night cream. Or for optimal barrier function strength try it under the Rosehip & Lemongrass Repair Balm as recommended in my blog on Psychological Stress + Skin Barrier Function.

1. Rinnerthaler, M. et al, Oxidative Stress in Aging Human Skin, Biomolecules 2015
2. Elenor Candi, The Cornified Envelope: A Model of Cell Death in the Skin, Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, April 2005
3. Karen E Burke, Protection From Environmental Skin Damage With Topical Antioxidants, Clin Pharmathe Ther 2019

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:

Botanical Masques for Self Care

If you are like me, your skin is missing your monthly facial. The added stress and a lack of routine from this pandemic 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 mask 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 12 different masks! How would you choose the best one(s) for your home care routine? Allow me to present them to you by skin concern.

For dryness:
Eminence Organics Strawberry Rhubarb Masque
Eminence Organics Stone Crop Masque
Eminence Organics Bamboo Age Corrective Masque
Eminence Organics Yellow Sweet Clover Anti-redness Masque
Glymed Plus Hydrating Enzyme Mask
Milk + Honey Exfoliating Enzyme Mask

Dryness occurs due to a lack of oil in the skin. Some people say their skin is dry even when it is actually dehydrated, which is a lack of water. Dehydration can still have an underlying condition of excess oil production below the dryness. A mask 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 are a good choice. For dryness with some mild acne issues, choose the Strawberry Rhubarb. For dryness with hyperpigmentation choose the Stone Crop. For dryness due to a lack of oil choose the Bamboo Age Corrective or Yellow Sweet Clover. For dryness due to a lack of care and exfoliation, choose an enzyme mask. For double quarantine self care points (but who is counting?) double mask by first using an exfoliating mask, remove, and then apply a non-exfoliating mask to follow. This method allows for the second mask to penetrate more efficiently as the dead skin has been first removed.

For dullness:
Eminence Organics Eight Green Phyto Masque- HOT
Eminence Organics Firm Skin Acai Masque
Eminence Organics Bamboo Age Corrective Masque
Glymed Plus Hydrating Enzyme Mask
Glymed Plus Anti-aging Exfoliant Masque
Milk + Honey Exfoliating Enzyme Masque

The skin appears dull usually because of a lack of cellular turnover. As we age our skins metabolism slows down. For the most dramatic increase in circulation try the Eight Greens HOT with Hungarian Paprika. Your skin will get very flushed and may utilize the increased oxygen for the next fews hours. The Firm Skin Acai is antioxidant rich and best for less sensitive skin. The Bamboo Age Corrective is more nourishing with shea butter, argan oil and stem cells. To differentiate between the 3 exfoliating masks listed, consider the Exfoliating Enzyme if your skin is sensitive, the Hydrating Enzyme if your skin is dehydrated and rough, the Anti-aging Exfoliant if you have acne or pigmentation.

For acne:
Eminence Organics Acne Advanced Clarifying Masque
Eminence Organics Eight Green Phyto Masque- HOT
Eminence Organics Strawberry Rhubarb Masque
Glymed Plus Anti-aging Exfoliant Masque
Milk + Honey Charcoal Masque

Acne occurs in both oily and dry skin. To choose the right mask for your acne prone skin, consider these key features. Hands down the best acne fighting mask I have ever used is the Acne Advanced Clarifying. 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 3 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 has a touch of salicylic acid but is also rich in hyaluronic acid. The Anti-aging Exfoliant is the best all around exfoliant with lactic and glycolic acids, and salicylic acid to control breakouts. The Charcoal Masque draws out impurities and reduces oil production.

For redness/sensitivity:
Eminence Organics Yellow Sweet Clover Anti-reddness Masque
Milk + Honey Pink Clay Masque

The most gentle masks for our most sensitive skin types include the Yellow Sweet Clover for dry skin, and the Pink Clay for normal to oily skin. Neither will get to the cause of telangiectasia, or dilated blood vessels, but they will provide calming benefits.

For hyperpigmentation:
Eminence Organics Stone Crop Masque
Glymed Plus Anti-aging Exfoliant Masque
Eminence Organics Eight Green Phyto Masque- HOT

Pigmentation is best treated during a facial, however masks can provide assistance at home. The Stone Crop balances uneven skin tone and increases moisture content in the skin. The Anti-aging Exfoliant provides some brightening and lightening with fennel seed oil and lactic acid. The Eight Greens Phyto HOT delivers plant based estrogens to regulate hormonal acne and assist in oxygenation when attempting to lighten post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Best when followed up with a botanical lightener.

For fine Lines/elasticity:
Eminence Organics Strawberry Rhubarb Masque
Eminence Organics Bamboo Age Corrective Masque
Eminence Organics Firm Skin Acai Masque
Glymed Plus Hydrating Enzyme Mask
Glymed Plus Anti-aging Exfoliant Masque
Milk + Honey Exfoliating Enzyme Masque

The most effective ingredient found in home care products for fine lines and elasticity is glycolic acid, found in the Anti-aging Exfoliant Masque. Glycolic acid triggers fibroblasts in the Dermis to produce collagen. The Hydrating Enzyme and Exfoliating Enzyme Masques gently “digest” dead skin, creating a smoother appearance. The Firm Skin and Strawberry Rhubarb masques are loaded with hyaluronic acid which plump superficial lines. Choose Firm for skin that is normal to dry, and dull skin that is not very sensitive. Choose Strawberry Rhubarb for dry and slightly acne prone skin. The Bamboo Age Corrective contains Swiss Green Apple Stem Cells to promote elasticity and is in a shea butter and argan oil base for nourishing dry skin.

In general, masks should be applied to clean, dry skin and left on for 10-15 minutes. I hope this helps you find the right masque for your mini facials at home. If you still have questions, you can email contact@jessicasapothecary.com to set up a free skin consultation on facetime or zoom. All Eminence and Glymed products can be purchased on our website. Milk + Honey can be ordered via email.

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.

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!

Healing While Peeling


Cleopatra knew best. She bathed in lactic acid (likely from fermented milk) and herbs to soften her skin. Many concoctions have been made since, seeking the perfect recipe for baby smooth skin. Too much exfoliation and the skin ends up thin and raw, too little exfoliation and the skin slows and dulls. Peeling as it was in the 1980’s and 90’s has now been replaced with the understanding that the peeling done to the skins surface needs to be proportionate to the lipid, or oil, nourishment it receives in turn. In other words, the skin needs to be balanced. The healthy “wound” created by a peel needs to be properly treated so the skin barrier can be restored.

Eminence Organics just introduced a beautiful collection of resurfacing products: The Mangosteen Lactic Collection. The Mangosteen Daily Resurfacing Cleanser and the Mangosteen Daily Resurfacing Concentrate both contain a 2.5% lactic acid. The large molecular structure of lactic acid allows it to stay closer to the surface (verses its deep penetrating counterpart, Glycolic Acid) so it is great for sensitive skin. Lactic is the most hydrating acid and it also helps lighten hyperpigmentation. The “wound” it causes in this formulation is minor and therefore is easily balanced. In this collection, Eminence has provided lipid balance to the skin with vitamin E rich sunflower oil.

Beyond a healthy skin barrier is the way a product can feed and heal the skin as well as address a variety of concerns one might have. The stand out ingredient in the Mangosteen Lactic Collection is the Indonesian super fruit, the Mangosteen. The 43 phytonutrients in the rind increase microcirculation, which bestows a “glow” to the skin. It’s also naturally astringent, high in zinc (which kills bacteria), and is rich in vitamins B, C, and antioxidants. Eminence Organics has formulated their cold pressed products with active botanicals including Ribose (from organic corn seeds) to increase cellular energy and Red Clover, which refines the texture of the skin. Echinacea soothes the effects of eczema and psoriasis while Seabuckthorn heals cuts and rashes.

Organic skin care has come a long way. With products like the ones in the Mangosteen Lactic Collection we now have products that offer “healing while peeling” as an easy and effective step in our daily skin routine.

Algae in Skin Care

I will admit, you can easily catch me harking back to the 90’s when my adventurous soul craved all the information I could get on health and wellness. Cooking from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest, growing wheat grass, living in a tipi, making clay masks and kombucha… it was all fair game. So when over 20 years later Eminence Organics (our top selling skin care line) came out with their first algae products, you better believe I am almost bathing in in day and night. The first photosynthetic, oxygen producing organism on earth, which is 3.5 billion years old? Of course I’m sold! Algae regenerates the skin; so consider it an alternative to a skin thinning retinoid. It’s rich in vitamins and amino acids so it replenishes as well. The algae in the Eminence Organics Marine Flower Peptide Serum and Marine Flower Peptide Eye Cream come from 5 different pure sources around the globe.

The products also contain the Smart Collagen + Complex to increase dermal thickness (unlike the thinning effects of retinoids). Collagen density is critical to lifting and firming the surface of the skin. Loss of density occurs both intrinsically and extrinsically. Stress and hormones play a huge roll in the intrinsic loss of density, while UV exposure and environmental pollutants (see the Eminence Organics Detoxifying Microgreens Complex) have a drastic extrinsic effect. The Smart Collagen + Complex is made from rice, bulbine leaf, and algae. So, no animal ingredients here.

Since the Marine Flower Peptide Serum is water based, it should be used on clean, dry skin. A lipid based serum would be layered next, followed by a moisturizer. The Marine Flower Peptide Eye Cream, however, is in a beautiful lipid rich emulsion that includes avocado oil, rosehip seed oil, sunflower oil, and shea butter. It also contains the water soluble and ever popular (rightly so) Hyaluronic Acid from rice sugars to plump the skin.

Organic skin care has come a long way since the 90’s! Though I reminisce my unbound exploration, I am thrilled to find myself a business woman in my 40’s who can still choose health and work to support the wellness of other women in my community. And though I am now tied -or rooted- by work and family I delight in knowing that, because I chose to be part of this great community, a spirulina smoothie is just a short walk away.

4 Helpful Tips to Transition to Summer Skin Care

May is the time we want to see our clients transitioning to SUMMER PRODUCTS! We have 4 helpful hints for your spring/summer home care regimen:

1. Add a sunscreen
Hopefully everyone is getting outside more often now so if you are not already using a sunscreen, now is the time to make that change. Our Eminence Organics sunscreens are a moisturizer and sunscreen all in one! Use alone or on top of a serum (we prefer the latter).

2. Lighten it up
As the humidity in the air increases (we are in Michigan here where winters are very dry and summers quite humid), your products do not need to be as rich and occlusive. Lighten the lipid content in your cleansers, serums, and moisturizers. Your Esthetician can help you make smart purchasing decisions.

3. Use your winter day cream as your night cream
One of our favorite tips to help you avoid buying a whole new summer regimen is to use your winter day cream (unless it has an SPF in it) as your night cream. Even on those warm summer nights your skin’s oil production decreases by 50% so don’t forget to wash the day away and use a night cream.

4. Be less aggressive
Most people get enough sun exposure to warrant avoiding chemical peels, high percentage glycolic acid formulations, and strong vitamin A products in the summer. Using such products makes your skin more vulnerable to the damaging rays of the sun. Unless you are extremely diligent about protecting your skin from the sun consider using a gentle glycolic, mandelic acid, lactic acid, or enzymes instead.