Benefits of Marine Algae for Collagen Production

Marine algae is a peptide-rich, highly effective topical ingredient for improving collagen production and skin health.

Collagen supplements and skincare products have been on the rise for a while, and even grocery stores have jumped on board with collagen-infused drinks and edible powders on nearly every aisle. But are internal and external collagen supplements the most effective way to support our bodies, or is there another way to protect and encourage our skin’s healthy collagen production?

Collagen in the Body

Let’s first discuss the role of collagen in the body. Collagen is a fiber-like protein that the body naturally produces. It’s one of the main building blocks for connective tissue that supports skin, hair, bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Research shows that collagen is responsible for improving skin elasticity and hydration, as well as the structural strength of muscles and bones. There are around 16 different types of collagen created and used in the body. Today, we’re going to discuss collagen in our skin. 

Anima Mundi Collagen Booster

Although our bodies produce an abundant source of this powerful protein, production declines after 30 years of age and is also impacted by factors like sun, alcohol consumption, lack of sleep, and smoking. There are many animal-based collagen supplements on the market, but unfortunately, they can come with a high risk of chemical solvent contamination. Luckily, we can protect our own body’s collagen production and reverse damage to our dermal matrix by incorporating a sustainable, earth-friendly, plant-based source from marine algae.

Consuming external sources of collagen can support the body’s own production, and increase the health of the body and skin. However, in contrast to topically applied cosmeceuticals, the effects of dietary bioactive compounds are complicated.

When we ingest collagen sources, rather than apply them topically, they have a long journey through the gastrointestinal tract, crossing the intestinal barrier, entering the circulatory system, and finally reaching the target issue, the skin.

Including powerful peptides in topical products allows for an increase in bioavailability. In addition to the recently discovered benefits of ingesting collagen, a topical application of peptides and other valuable phytochemicals can be delivered directly to the skin, providing immediate benefits. Marine algae is a peptide-rich, highly effective topical ingredient for improving collagen production and skin health.

Marine Algae 

Marine algae peptide supplements taken internally and applied topically are both great options for those that choose a plant-based diet and are looking to improve the elasticity and hydration of their skin. From a sustainability standpoint, marine algae peptides provide the same health-boosting and strengthening properties as animal collagen without as much planetary impact. 

Marine peptides are sourced from ocean and lake-dwelling algae. These organisms, like blue-green and red algae, contain an impressive amount of protein peptides (about half their dry weight!) and are rich in amino acids, nutrients, and vitamins A, B, and C. Over time, marine algae have also evolved to contain antioxidant phytochemicals that protect against collagen loss.

Overall, marine algae host numerous health-enhancing benefits that are sometimes absent in animal-sourced collagen. Take a look at these highlighted benefits and how they affect the body: 

  • Marine algae peptides are a complete protein, meaning they host the nine essential amino acids necessary for human health.
  • Marine algae support the creation of new proteins by providing cells with amino acids
  • Marine algae host numerous bioavailable phytochemicals that protect against collagen damage, and reverse and repair any existing collagen damage caused by sun exposure.
  • Marine algae act as a humectant by pulling moisture into the skin or sourcing it from deeper layers of skin to maintain hydration. 
  • Marine algae contain metabolites that act as antioxidants, reducing signs of stress and aging. 
  • Harvesting marine algae doesn’t impact the planet as much as sourcing animal collagen.

Including marine algae in topical products can provide the skin with both active and preventative benefits, countering any current collagen damage and protecting the skin from any future imbalances.

Collagen Support Inside + Out

At Jessica’s Apothecary, we find collagen to be a highly beneficial ingredient for nurturing and improving the condition of the body and skin. A number of our skincare products support the body’s natural production of collagen ensuring a steady supply that helps us age gracefully.

Marine Flower Peptide Eye Cream 

Created with the eye’s delicate skin in mind, the Marine Flower Peptide Eye Cream improves the appearance of dark circles, soothes puffiness, and reduces signs of aging. The nourishing ingredients add moisture to the tender eye area and smooth out the deep ridges of wrinkles.

Smart Collagen+ Complex

Sustainably sourced, these marine algae peptides boost the elasticity of skin, leaving fewer wrinkles. The minerals and amino acids moisturize leaving the eye area smooth, firm, and glowing.   

Botanical Peptides + Red Algae Extract    

With peptides naturally derived from rice protein, this botanical ingredient stimulates the skin’s collagen production leaving it smooth and supple. The red algae extract is rich in nutrients that reduce the visible markers of aging through the soothing properties of minerals, vitamins, and amino acids.

Botanical Hyaluronic Acid (from Beetroot)

The botanical hyaluronic acid locks in moisture for long-lasting hydration. Hyaluronic acid binds water to collagen peptides, securing them in the skin for a radiant, youthful appearance.

Marine Flower Peptide Serum

Marine Flower Peptide Serum

A powerful, easily-absorbed serum that delivers wrinkle-diminishing peptides and botanicals for a brighter glow. With a handful of the same ingredients as the Marine Flower Peptide Cream (above), including the Smart Collagen+ Complex that smooths out the skin’s surface, and botanical peptides and red algae that enhance firmness, this Marine Flower Peptide Serum supports a youthful, dewy complexion. It also includes one powerhouse ingredient:

Blue-Green Algae Extract   

This extract is a wonderful alternative to retinol, supporting increased collagen production and reducing visible wrinkles. Blue-green algae is also rich in antioxidants, providing protection against collagen-reducing factors like sun exposure.

Anima Mundi Collagen Booster: Dirty Rose Chai  

The Anima Mundi Collagen Booster: Dirty Rose Chai is the perfect plant-based, vegan formula for those trying to add collagen support to their daily routine. With a blend of ancient herbs, adaptogens, and grounding, digestive spices, this delicious drink enhances the strength of skin, bones, nails, hair, and tissue and is easily bioavailable. Plus, it tastes amazing!

Anima Mundi Collagen Booster

Silica + Calcium 

The Collagen Booster contains herbs like horsetail and nettle, which naturally increase the body’s own production of collagen. These herbs are also rich in nutrients, like silica and calcium, that act similarly to collagen, strengthening connective tissue and repairing any damage to joints and skin.

Adaptogens 

Containing powerful adaptogens, like Fo-Ti and Gynostemma, this blend supports the body by balancing the stress response and regulating energy levels. Ongoing stress affects the integrity of skin’s collagen and can disrupt its synthesis, reducing collagen levels in the body. Adaptogens support collagen production and aid the body by regulating the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems and creating a higher resilience to stressful situations.

Because I want you to receive the most supportive, nourishing skincare available, I’m bundling these two Marine Flower Peptide products together and offering them as the Botanical Collagen Collection at a special price

You can purchase this bundle for $181, a savings of $31 on the pair. 

In Closing

With the reduction of collagen over time, the skin’s integrity can weaken and become dry with age. Marine algae peptides can provide invaluable benefits to the body’s collagen supply, enhancing the health of all connective tissue and boosting the radiant appearance of skin.

If you’re interested in providing your skin with the most effective care but don’t know where to start, request a virtual consultation with our botanical skin care specialist, Jessica Goniea. 

For more information on marine algae peptides, visit our blog post 30 Or Older? Plant-Based Peptides For Skin Can Help You Age Radiantly.

Botanical Collagen Collection

Probiotics for Skin: Meet our New Kombucha Microbiome Collection

Like the gut, our skin is home to an ecosystem of microorganisms: the skin microbiome.

From yogurt to kombucha – yes, the fizzy tea fermented with a culture of yeast and bacteria – our knowledge of digestive probiotics has flourished over the last couple of decades. When it comes to probiotics for skin? The concept might be newer, but is steeped in the same logic.

Formulated to balance breakouts, dry patches, and a dull or irritated complexion, probiotics for skin have arrived. I especially love the potential for Eminence Organics’ Kombucha Microbiome Collection to help balance inflammation, redness, and irritation associated with acne.

Read to the end for special pricing on a pair of products from this line, which I’m bundling as the Balancing Microbiome Collection. But first, let’s explore the concepts behind probiotics for skin and how they work.

Kombucha Microbiome Masque

Probiotics for Skin: How Do They Work? 

Like the gut, our skin is home to an ecosystem of microorganisms: the skin microbiome. These beneficial microbes are one of the body’s first defenses against pathogens that, left unchecked, can cause imbalance or disease. Additionally, a healthy skin microbiome supports a skin barrier that can keep moisture at the ideal balance.

When the skin microbiome is disturbed, the complexion can become dry and susceptible to irritation from everyday encounters with the elements: sun, wind, pollution. When the microbiome is supported, on the other hand, skin maintains its optimal state of balance and hydration, and is more resilient to stressors.

Kombucha’s Role in Skin Care: Different Than in the Gut

We know kombucha, the fermented tea drink, contains beneficial microorganisms that can help repopulate “good bacteria” in the gut, especially after use of antibiotics, exposure to chemical residues in food, or imbalance caused by health issues. Research shows that our complexion can reflect the health of our gut microbiome, so drink up if you wish. 

Applied topically, however, the benefit of kombucha is in its supply of postbiotics.

Postbiotics? Yes, you read that right. Let’s zoom out for a look at the big picture.

Happiness Blend Anima Mundi

Microscopic Support for Skin: Pre, Pro, and Postbiotics

The skin care products in the Kombucha Microbiome Collection don’t contain live cultures, but they do have pre, pro, and postbiotics. These work synergistically with microbes already on the skin to support a balanced and healthy ecosystem.

Prebiotics are substances that nourish microbes. By supplying certain microbes with their preferred “foods,” we encourage beneficial bacteria to flourish while keeping pathogenic bacteria at bay.

The two main prebiotics in this collection are:

  1. Inulin from chicory root, which fuels healthy bacteria on the skin. Additionally, as a natural humectant, it draws moisture into the skin, hydrating and strengthening the moisture barrier. (Inulin acts as a prebiotic in the gut too, encouraging growth of bifidobacteria. For a healthful boost to your morning coffee ritual, we carry Anima Mundi’s Happiness Powder: Herbal Coffee with roasted chicory root.)
  2. Fruit ​​oligosaccharides, which have been shown to promote and sustain the growth of beneficial skin bacteria while inhibiting Cutibacterium acnes, a bacteria associated with acne.

Probiotics (as explained above, under “Probiotics for Skin”)

This collection features:

  1. Lactococcus ferment lysate, which is not a live culture but is derived from one. The live culture, Lactococcus lactis, has been shown to inhibit growth of a bacteria associated with acne, propionibacteria. The lysate is produced when the cell membrane of the live culture is broken down, and is included in the formula to support the skin microbiota and replenish the moisture barrier, helping to maintain healthy-looking skin.

Postbiotics are compounds produced by probiotic activity – they were once considered microscopic “waste.” Now, it’s thought that postbiotics, which include essential fatty acids and amino acids, help create an ideal pH for the skin’s barrier function, encouraging good microbes to thrive.

The postbiotics in this collection include:

  1. Kombucha, which is rich in postbiotics to balance skin pH and microbial balance, bringing luminosity and radiance.
  2. Peptides, enzymes, amino acids, and polysaccharides from plant sources.
Kombucha Microbiome Balancing Essence

Botanical Support for a Smoother Complexion

To help calm skin that’s inflamed, red, or irritated – whether due to acne or another cause – The Kombucha Microbiome Collection is enhanced with skin-supportive compounds from plants, including: 

  • White Tea: Rich in antioxidants, white tea neutralizes free radicals before they damage cells, increasing the skin’s resilience to environmental stressors and encouraging a healthy glow at the cellular level.
  • Ginger Root: Another antioxidant-rich plant that scavenges free radicals, ginger root extract has been shown to protect against wrinkles caused by UVB exposure.
  • Jasmine Flower: Has a long history of traditional use in India, where it’s used to tone skin and relieve irritation, resulting in a more even skin tone.

The Balancing Microbiome Collection

The full Kombucha Microbiome Collection from Eminence Organics consists of four products featuring probiotics for skin:

As a whole, the collection is designed to improve the complexion by gently cleansing and supporting the skin microbiome.

Kombucha Microbiome Collection

I’m bundling two of these, the essence and masque, for a special price as the Balancing Microbiome Collection. Here are details on these two products:

Pat this essence on after cleansing to support the microbiome and prepare the skin for any products to follow. The biotics in this formula restore balance to skin that’s been stripped of natural oils essential to skin barrier function. White tea and jasmine flower calm dry skin and encourage luminosity.

Use this no-rinse masque three times a week as your nighttime moisturizer to restore the microbiome, which will in turn help strengthen the skin barrier and calm irritated skin. Ideal for all skin types, the masque has a creamy texture and is formulated to both hydrate and lock in moisture, giving skin a renewed, healthy glow.

Unlike our spa’s Nourishing Microbiome Collection, which aims to support skin barrier function during flare-ups of dermatitis and eczema, the Balancing Microbiome Collection uses probiotics for skin to balance inflammation, redness, and irritation associated with acne. (So much microbiome goodness around here. Can you tell we’re big fans of supporting your skin’s health rather than temporary, surface-level fixes?)

Purchase the Balancing Microbiome Collection for $104, a savings of $18 on the pair. 

In Closing,

A healthy skin microbiome is essential for a healthy complexion. With probiotics for skin, you can now gently nourish the beneficial microorganisms that will in turn support natural radiance and resilience.

Wondering whether this collection is right for you? Skip the trial and error and get personalized product recommendations.

Click here to schedule a virtual consultation with Jessica.

Skin Care for Teens

Simple, supportive skin care for teens is right around the corner. Learn which nourishing and hydrating plant-based products I recommend!

As a teen, getting into a skin care routine can be daunting.The mainstream beauty industry is constantly setting expectations for your skin, bodies, faces, and hair; however, I often find these ideas and chemical formulas to be damaging rather than nourishing for our health.

It’s fun to celebrate your unique body, and finding a healthy skin care routine that supports the normal and exciting changes that are happening is important. It can be a frenzied world out there, so I’d love to help guide you in the right direction with skin care tips and daily routines that support your skin and overall well being.

Think of me as your own personal, virtual esthetician!

You have so many things going on in your day-to-day life. School, extra-curricular activities, friends, hobbies…your skin care routine doesn’t have to feel like another tedious task.  A routine that incorporates self care is just as important as providing your skin with the nutrients and nourishment it needs. The collection below does both. It is all about natural skin care products that give you flexibility to show yourself some love.

The products below are special as they’ve become a staple for the three middle-schoolers in my house. Having knowledge about skin care for teens has helped them feel empowered as they are now able to take care of and feel good about their own skin. What’s exciting is, you can mix and match the products below, just be sure to follow the few simple steps – The power is all yours!  

So let’s dive into these beautiful-smelling, vegan plant products and see which one(s) stand out to you.

Calm Skin Chamomile Cleanser

Is your skin oily? Dry? Or somewhere in between? A cream cleanser covers all skin types and is at the foundation of good skin care for teens, even if you have some acne. This gentle product cleanses your face but leaves all the healthy moisture that your skin needs to stay hydrated and protected. A cream cleanser is a blend of oil and water, so you can wash your face gently without worrying about stripping the natural oils away. If washing your face twice a day is too much for your busy schedule, once/day is fine! Just make sure it’s the first step in your skin care routine, and if you’re doing it once a day, do so at night before bed. 

Featured ingredient: Calendula oil 

Calendula is a bright, sunny flower that loves to support the skin. When infused in oil, it helps reduce any puffiness and redness that may arise while gently soothing. It contains natural antioxidants that will help limit stress-induced breakouts and it also contains volatile oils that are similar to the oils in our skin, which lock in moisture.  

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Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser

Our second cleanser is for those surprise or frequent, mild to moderate breakouts. It does an excellent job of washing away sweat and bacteria so your skin feels cool and balanced. If you’re including anything else in your skin care routine, be sure to cleanse first. I find that adding it to your morning skin care routine or within 10 minutes of sports/exercise will give you great results.  Also, it’s gentle enough that you can use it even if you’re on acne medication from your Dermatologist.

Featured ingredient: Tea Tree oil

Tea tree oil is a star against breakouts. It has the same redness-reducing, soothing action as calendula, but will also wick away any unwanted bacteria that show up on your skin. This oil will help reduce the number of breakouts and the severity of them as well.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Hydrator

The Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Hydrator has an array of ingredients that support hydration. The small amounts of salicylic acid from the strawberries gently exfoliates while the rhubarb’s astringent qualities tone the skin for a glowing look. This hydrator has a lightweight texture and a unique blend of water-based properties that lock in moisture and keep the skin dewy. It is for all skin types. For your skin care routine, apply 3 pumps onto your fingertips and massage into your whole face. You can use it in the morning or at night after your cleanser.  

Featured ingredient: Hyaluronic Acid

Although it may sound scary, hyaluronic acid is naturally found in the body. It supports all tissues in the body to retain moisture so we stay well hydrated. Being the largest organ in the body, the skin uses hyaluronic acid to hold on to moisture. Adding a little bit of this to your daily skin care routine will support the body’s main source of hyaluronic acid, which gets depleted by the sun, so your face will always feel deeply hydrated.   

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Acne Advanced Clarifying Hydrator

This hydrator is more for the mild to moderate breakouts. It’s ultra-lightweight and will remove excess oil and shine from the face. If this sounds like your skin, use three pumps and massage gently into your whole face after you’ve cleansed. It’s good for morning or night and can even be used for the occasional spot treatment for breakouts! Just massage 1 dab into the affected area. 

Featured ingredient: Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is another naturally occurring substance found in plants. It gently exfoliates the skin, helping to remove any dead skin cells that may build up and cause clogged pores or itchiness.  Salicylic acid can also help reduce redness and support healing so nothing will stand in the way of your glow.  

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Organic Teen Collection

We’ve bundled all of the above products to create the special Organic Teen Collection. Purchase the Organic Teen Collection for $154, a special savings of $51! 

If you’re interested in learning more about skin care for teens or self-care in general, you can follow or reach out to me on Instagram

We also offer an Organic Teen Facial which is perfect if you find yourself stressed out with the day-to-day and need to treat yourself! It can also be a little reward for keeping up with your home care routine.  

If you’re a parent with questions, feel free to email me at contact@jessicasapothecary.com. I’d be happy to shed some light on any inquiries! 

How Stress Affects Your Skin Barrier + 4 Ways to Protect It

Learn how stress affects your skin and how to increase your skin’s natural resilience to stress with plant-based product recommendations.

Our skin is an intricate and astounding organ, protecting our bodies from harsh elements and pathogens every. single. moment. of every single day. And did you know that the everyday demands on our skin increase when we’re in a state of stress? If you are an empath or triggered by the violence that is rampant in our country, are a parent of a young child, fighting on the front lines to keep women’s rights protected, or living in support of a loved one with mental illness (as with me), you know stress. In this post, I’ll explain how stress, specifically psychological stress, affects your skin. I’ll also explore ways to protect and strengthen the skin’s barrier function with plant-based oils and antioxidants, and bring a little peace to your mind at the same time.

How the Skin Barrier Works

One of the skin’s main roles is to act as a barrier between our body and the rest of the world, keeping moisture in while protecting us from viruses, bacteria, and allergens. The skin barrier is in the skin’s outermost layer, the stratum corneum, one of several layers of cells and sebum (a mixture of lipids, wax esters, fats, and fatty acids) that make up the epidermis.

What degrades the skin’s barrier function? Many of us know about the damaging effects of UV light, pollution, excessive exfoliation, and harsh chemicals. But did you know that psychological stress causes inflammation that damages the skin too?

How Stress Affects Your Skin Barrier

A stressed-out state of mind can lead to increased inflammation and a slower natural healing response. How?

Stress activates two major neuronal pathways:

  • The sympathetic nervous system, which activates proinflammatory cytokines
  • The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which activates the release of cortisol

The Sympathetic Nervous System and Cytokines

The sympathetic nervous system is the fight-or-flight state that’s activated when we encounter dangerous or stressful situations. Our heart rate increases as cortisol boosts our alertness and energy levels. Cortisol also activates T helper cells to produce cytokines.

How stress affects your skin through cytokines: Cytokines are signaling proteins that, among other functions, spur inflammation. While inflammation is a natural part of the body’s healing process, it can cause damage over time. As demonstrated in this 2001 study, psychological stress degrades skin barrier function.

When the skin barrier is compromised, it no longer functions effectively. At a certain point, the barrier can no longer keep water from evaporating, which can lead to an excessive loss of moisture. The skin becomes dehydrated, which exacerbates inflammation and can lead to various dermatological disorders. This is one reason dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, acne, rosacea, and allergic reactions tend to flare when we’re under stress.

Moreover, an immune system in a state of hypervigilance can lead to allergic reactions and itching, or flare ups with autoimmune skin conditions. These responses can further impair the skin’s ability to respond to environmental stressors, according to a 2018 study

Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis and Cortisol
The hypothalamus has links to both the nervous system and pituitary gland. When we’re in a state of acute stress, the hypothalamus sends signals via the pituitary gland for the adrenals to release cortisol.

In short bursts, cortisol reduces inflammation. But if levels remain high for an extended period, dysfunctional regulation leads to inflammation. (For more on the HPA Axis and how to balance cortisol levels with plant-based preparations, check out Aromatherapy & the Stress Response Cycle.)

How stress affects your skin through cortisol: Cortisol is released into the skin through an enzyme in keratinocyte skin cells. This process disturbs keratinocyte proliferation, leading to delayed wound healing, which is why stress is a major factor in slowed healing of acne lesions, dull or thick skin, and a dehydrated or rough skin surface  It also degrades fibroblasts, cells we love because they synthesize the collagen that gives our skin structure and a youthful appearance. 

How to Protect and Strengthen Your Skin Barrier

If you skimmed through the scientific breakdown, we’ve finally reached the point of discussing the ways you can improve barrier function!

A great start to protecting and strengthening your skin barrier is to make sure you have healthy ways to process and release stress. Lifestyle practices like meditation and yoga can be helpful. In my NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Family-to-Family class, I also explored other aspects of self care that are very valuable, like expressing feelings, sharing your burdens, engaging in community, and seeking professional help.

Externally, you can improve your skin barrier function with lipid rich and anti-inflammatory skin care products. Here are four essential summer products I recommend to clients leading high-stress lives. Two of them actively nourish and support the skin barrier. The other two help prevent damage from stress.

Nourish and Support

Facial Recovery Oil from Eminence Organics
Healthy skin needs adequate linoleic acid to seal in moisture, according to Brian Goodwin, an international educator for Eminence Organics Skin Care. Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid that’s plentiful in many of my favorite plant-based oils. Sesame oil contains up to 45% linoleic acid, and olive oil up to 17%. Olive and sesame oils have been shown, in third party studies, to increase hydration in the skin up to 53% in 28 days. And if you’re acne prone, rest assured that the healthy fats in the Facial Recovery Oil plus the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree and clary sage essential oils will most likely improve your condition.

Restorative Mind-Body Massage Oil from Stony Creek Aromatics

Clinical evidence shows that the barrier function can be improved by inhaling essential oils with a sedative effect. I formulated the Restorative Mind-Body blend with rose, sandalwood, and lavender to do just that. The essential oils are in a base of nourishing plant oils — jojoba, apricot kernel, almond, and avocado — that support the skin barrier on their own. This may actually have some positive effects on your internal state, too. Evidence suggests that inflammation exacerbated by stress can cause feelings of malaise. Keeping the skin healthy may also keep our brains happy, and could be the start of a positive cycle. Restorative Mind-Body Massage Oil can be applied to the full body, excluding the face, every day on damp skin after bathing to ease stress. When applied mindfully and with deep breaths, you are supporting your skin barrier function and overall wellness of body and mind.

Prevent

Any kind of inflammation can disrupt the skin barrier, so our aim here is to protect against inflammation from oxidative stress and UV light. That way, our skin is less likely to sustain damage when psychological stress triggers inflammation, as explained above. In short, antioxidants and sun protection make our skin more resilient overall, which is why it’s doubly important to use them in the summer and in times of stress.

Citrus & Kale Potent C+E Serum from Eminence Organics

As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C protects against oxidative stress that can diminish skin barrier function at the cellular level. Because of its unique formulation, the vitamin C in this blend stays active on your skin for up to three days. It contains vitamin C “salt” (sodium ascorbyl phosphate), a stable compound that converts to vitamin C on contact with the skin to deliver maximum antioxidant protection. And the C sourced from lemon and grapefruit (L-ascorbic acid) is stabilized with plant-derived ferulic acid to help retain the antioxidant properties. Finally, research suggests that topical vitamin C is most effective when combined with vitamin E, which this formula does with vitamin E derived from avocados.

Lilikoi Daily Defense Moisturizer SPF 40 from Eminence Organics

Finally, protect your hardworking skin from inflammation caused by UV damage with this all-natural, mineral-based sunscreen. It is made with cocoa seed extract and satsuma mandarin peel, with SPF 40 from zinc oxide. It also protects against blue light from screens, and is suitable for all skin types.

In Closing,

Our skin is always working to keep us in a state of balance, protecting us from pathogens, allergens, and exposure to the elements. As a vital part of our Earthly experience, it’s only natural that we’d want to show our skin plenty of love in return. No matter how stress affects your skin, you can increase your resilience to it with plant-based oils, antioxidants, and mineral-based sunscreen. You might even find that your new skin care rituals leave you more centered and less stressed — perhaps it’s the start of a whole new way of being.

For personalized recommendations on plant-based products that will keep your skin resilient as you meet the demands of your day, schedule a virtual consultation with Jessica. 

Food That’s Good for Your Skin: Fruits & Veggies Edition

This post highlights food that’s good for your skin, not just to eat but to put right on it! With explanations and product recommendations.

Video

Did you know the same plants that are good for your body are often good for your skin too — as in, to put directly on it? It’s true. So today I’m talking about fruits and veggies, food that’s good for your skin inside and out.

Citrus

Our skin loves having plenty of vitamin C. This antioxidant vitamin minimizes signs of aging by: 

  • protecting skin from damage caused by ultraviolet light
  • stimulating synthesis of collagen, the protein that keeps our skin firm and elastic
  • supporting the skin’s innate healing processes

But human bodies, amazing as they are, can’t create vitamin C themselves. We need to get it from outside sources. When it comes to topical application, one review of scientific research showed that the most effective formulas contain both vitamins C and E, plus a delivery vehicle.

Kale

You’ve probably heard that this power leaf is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. True. It’s high in vitamins A, K, and C, with additional B vitamins, manganese, calcium, copper, potassium, and magnesium. 

And this mix of potent antioxidants and minerals is also great for skin maintenance and tone:

  • supporting the production of collagen, which begins to decline naturally after age 30
  • protecting elastin, part of the extracellular matrix that’s key to maintaining texture and tone
  • preventing free-radical damage

Try this: Citrus & Kale Potent C+E Serum from Eminence Organics

This expertly-crafted formula pairs vitamin C from lemon and grapefruit with vitamin E from avocado. It also contains vitamin C “salt” (sodium ascorbyl phosphate), a stable form of vitamin C that transforms into active vitamin C on contact with the skin. Kale extract brings an extra dose of antioxidants to protect elasticity and hydration for a healthy, more youthful glow. Speaking of kale and food that’s good for your skin …

Avocado 

The human body can produce almost every fatty acid it needs, except for two: linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid; and alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. While it’s great to eat foods rich in essential fatty acids, research suggests that our bodies can also absorb them through the skin. Avocado oil consists of 13% polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega 3 and omega 6. 

Both omega 3 and 6:

Omega-6 fatty acids: 

Omega-3 fatty acids: 

Try this: Restorative Mind-Body Massage Oil from Stony Creek Aromatics

This soothing and deeply nourishing massage oil combines the protective and supportive benefits of avocado oil. In addition to the benefits of omega 3 and 6 listed above, the lipid profile of avocado oil increases the bioavailability of fat soluble vitamins and phytonutrients in any formula it’s part of. And thanks in part to the presence of phospholipids, avocado oil bonds with the surface of skin, locking moisture in and helping to regulate skin cell production. Food that’s good for your skin? Definitely. 

Radish & Broccoli Sprouts 

Much like a cleanse would likely include plenty of greens, you can detoxify your skin with microgreens. Broccoli sprouts contain sulforaphane, a lesser-known food that’s good for your skin. This phytochemical:

  • induces phase 2 enzymes to detoxify the skin
  • acts as an antioxidant
  • neutralizes free radicals to protect against photoaging 
  • helps maintain collagen 
  • decreases production of reactive oxygen species (ROS)

Broccoli and radish sprouts also contain vitamins A and C, protecting skin from UV damage and free radicals, stimulating collagen synthesis, supporting healing, and improving texture and tone by protecting elastin.

Try this: Lotus Detoxifying Overnight Treatment from Eminence Organics

This blend is named for exfoliating and hydrating lotus. But in the background, Eminence Organics’ detoxifying microgreens complex — a mix of broccoli, radish, clover, and Swiss cress sprouts — works to protect against environmental stressors and reduce the signs of aging for a dewy complexion by morning.

Berries 

Berries are packed with polyphenols, plant-based compounds that help the body defend against pathogens and ultraviolet radiation. The specific compounds vary from one berry to the next, but generally speaking they’re potent antioxidants that help skin recover from external stressors from harsh weather to blue light. 

A few highlights:

  • blueberries have astringent properties, tightening and toning the skin’s appearance
  • raspberries are high in antioxidants, protecting against visible signs of aging
  • blackberries also have astringent properties, tightening the appearance of pores

Try this: Blueberry Detox Peel from Eminence Organics

During the summer we take a break from our pharmaceutical grade TCA Peels, and we love to heat things up with the Blueberry Detox Peel with Hungarian Paprika. Book a facial to try this professional product we use for our clients. It also contains a blend of blueberry juice, raspberry juice, blackberry juice and pineapple extract that naturally exfoliates, cleanses the pores, and tones the skin. If you’re not in the Ann Arbor area, use Eminence Organics’ Spa Locator to find an authorized esthetician in your area.

Almonds 

One way the food we eat impacts our skin is through the gut-skin axis, or the gut microbiome. Acne, for instance, has been linked to diets rich in high-glycemic foods and low in plant fiber (processed and sugary foods). That’s likely because the gut microbiome — the ecosystem of beneficial microorganisms in our digestive tract — helps regulate inflammation in the gut and throughout the body. Although more research is needed to understand exactly how the gut and skin communicate, many cases of acne appear to involve an imbalance in intestinal bacteria and increased gut permeability. This imbalance can be corrected by the food we eat.

Probiotics have gotten a lot of attention for helping rebalance the gut with beneficial bacteria. But prebiotics, essentially what you’re feeding your gut microbiome, may play a more important role over time. Many plant-based foods contain prebiotic polysaccharides and fiber. Almonds are one to note. One study found increased populations of the beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp. in people who ate almonds and almond skins, versus a control group.

Applied directly to the skin, Almond oil has been used in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic, and Greco-Persian medicine to soothe skin conditions including psoriasis and eczema. It’s rich in antioxidant vitamin E giving this oil similar protective and inflammation-regulating properties to many of the foods highlighted in this post.

Perfect Pairing: The Feed Your Skin Collection

Citrus & Kale Potent C+E Serum +  Lotus Detoxifying Overnight Treatment: 

This radiance-boosting pairing includes an antioxidant serum and a detoxifying overnight treatment. They’re suitable for a wide variety of skin types and are two of my favorite items featuring food that’s good for your skin. Both products are from Eminence Organics, a skin care line that combines the latest in scientific findings with nature’s ancient wisdom to keep skin feeling and looking its healthiest. The entire line is made to the highest standards: organically sourced, cruelty-free, and never made with synthetic chemicals.

Purchase these products together as the Feed Your Skin Collection for $157, a savings of $27! 

In Closing,

For your best skin, there’s no substitute for eating an abundance of fruits and veggies. Beyond what we eat, though, high-quality skin care blends can draw on the wisdom of nature to bring our skin’s health to the next level — a little extra love from the plants. I hope this inspires you to revel in botanical luxury, whatever that means to you. I’m off to make myself a kale, microgreen, and avocado salad garnished with berries, citrus, and almonds … See you soon!

To find the best products for your skin type that help you meet the demands of your day, schedule a virtual consultation with Jessica.

Get Glowing: 5 Questions to Ask Your Esthetician

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

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

5 Questions to Ask Your Esthetician

1. What’s my skin type?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. What results can I expect from this treatment?

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

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

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

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

4. What products do you use on your skin?

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

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

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

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

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

Day

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

Night

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

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

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

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

In Closing,

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

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

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

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

Get the Best Benefits of Exfoliation for Your Skin Type

Discover the best exfoliation routine and natural products for your skin type: dry, sensitive, mature, oily, acne-prone, and more.

You’ve heard that exfoliation leaves skin rejuvenated and radiant. But everyone’s skin is different, and everyone’s skin changes over time. Are you getting the maximum benefits of exfoliation for your skin type?

Done right, exfoliation can help correct imbalances in the skin, whether it’s oily, dry, acne prone, hyperpigmented, sensitive, or mature. As an esthetician working with every skin type, I’ve seen that the rejuvenating benefits of exfoliation apply to virtually everyone. My clients see best results when their product choices and rituals align with their skin type and age.

Below, I’ll touch on the general benefits of exfoliation and offer suggestions for organic products to complement your skin type. At the end, I’ll highlight a cleanser + peel pairing that’s beneficial for a range of skin types — and I’m offering special pricing when you purchase them together!

Benefits of Exfoliation 

First, a refresher on the benefits of exfoliation:

  • Removes dead, dry, and dull skin cells from the outer layers of the skin, resulting in a brighter complexion.
  • Helps moisturizers work more effectively and penetrate deeper.
  • Draws out impurities, unclogging pores.
  • Minimizes signs of aging.
  • Increases cellular metabolism.

Exfoliation and Skin Type 

Now for the lowdown on which type of exfoliants will work best for your skin type and why, along with loose recommendations for how often to use them. If you have an esthetician, ask their advice on what timeline would best suit you. (Or schedule a virtual skin consultation with me and we can discuss it.) As a general rule, however, in the early spring, plan to exfoliate every other day.

Dry or Mature Skin

Dry and mature skin have similar needs, and see similar benefits from exfoliation.

Dry skin is a skin type indicated by small pores, a dull complexion, and less elasticity. This might sound counterintuitive, but exfoliation can be great for dry skin. It allows the fatty acids in your serum or moisturizer to penetrate the skin’s visible surface and nourish cells beneath, firming skin from its deepest layers. Because dry skin produces relatively little oil, exfoliation is best done with a hydrating acid. Look for lactic acid or glycolic acid in the ingredients. These natural acids are considered “chemical exfoliants” because they exfoliate without abrasion.

Mature skin has similar needs to dry skin. While you’ll want to avoid physical exfoliants, you can still experience the benefits of exfoliation from a plant-derived chemical exfoliant. Glycolic acid (GA) is the go-to for most skin over 40 (that number could be higher or lower depending on genetics and lifestyle). This water-soluble alpha hydroxy acid triggers fibroblasts in the skin’s lower layer to produce collagen, the protein that keeps skin structured and elastic. GA is also hydrating and stimulates cellular metabolism.

Try this: Firm Skin Acai Exfoliating Peel

This firming peel hydrates skin deeply while exfoliating with glycolic acid for collagen production and lactic acid for intense hydration. The formula is packed with natural antioxidants from acai berry, grapefruit, and goji. Regular use of this peel will visibly increase skin’s firmness, restore its elasticity and reveal a smoother, softer, younger looking complexion. Wipe on, leave on. Use up to three times per week. Note: Your skin will be more sensitive to the sun while using this product. Use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit sun exposure.

Note: Dry and mature skin types are not the same as dehydrated skin, which feels rough and chapped, sometimes flakey. If your skin is dehydrated, don’t exfoliate. Instead, nourish the skin with hydrating products until the skin barrier is healthy enough for exfoliation.

Oily Skin

Oily skin also benefits greatly from exfoliation, which can remove excess oil along with dead skin cells. Here, you’ll want to look for a gentle scrub known as a physical exfoliant, which helps break down oil.

Try this: Charcoal Exfoliating Cleanser

This exfoliating cleanser uses charcoal to draw dirt and oil from pores as the exfoliating lather washes away impurities, dead skin cells, and excess oil, leaving you with a balanced complexion. Start every other day and work up to daily if your skin responds well.

Acne-Prone Skin

To see the benefits of exfoliation for acne-prone skin, I recommend salicylic acid. This naturally-occurring acid is found in willow bark and strawberries, and helps manage bacteria as it removes dead skin cells and prevents the formation of comedones. It’s safe for many different skin types because it can self-neutralize. It also reduces inflammation, helping minimize the appearance of blemishes.

Try this: Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant

Add this powder to your favorite cleanser for an exfoliating boost that reveals a brighter, radiant complexion. Strawberries contain natural salicylic acid to remove dead skin cells, and lactic acid adds a hydrating exfoliation. Rice powder gently buffs and absorbs excess oil. Finally, rhubarb infuses the skin with antioxidants. Start with every other day and work up to daily if your skin responds well.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin needs the gentlest exfoliants, whether chemical or physical. I recommend a formula with alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) in a cream base, which buffers them. AHAs are naturally-occuring acids that gently dissolve dead skin. If you choose to use a physical scrub, use a light touch. It shouldn’t leave your skin feeling raw or irritated.

Try This: Monoi Age Corrective Exfoliating Cleanser

This is the most gentle exfoliating cleanser we have, and the only one that I recommend to clients with dermatitis. The AHAs come from lemon, passion fruit, grape, and pineapple extracts The olive seeds are finely ground and not overly abrasive. Monoi itself is a fragrant Tahitian oil that hydrates and firms the skin. Start with once per week and work up to using it daily if your skin seems happy.

Hyperpigmented Skin

Hyperpigmented skin is a patch of skin that’s darker, and not accompanied by irritation. When exfoliating, we want to combine the acids that exfoliate with acids that brighten and help reduce hyperpigmentation. For instance, combining lactic acid with mandelic acid.

Try This: Bright Skin Licorice Root Exfoliating Peel

This award-winning natural peel combines exfoliating lactic acid with brightening mandelic acid. daisy blossom, and extracts of African potato and tara tree lighten the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Wipe on, leave on. Start with once per week and work up to as many as three exfoliating treatments per week. Note: Your skin will be more sensitive to the sun while using this product, so use sunscreen and limit sun exposure.

Dull Skin

Wondering where your glow went? Dull skin can be one of the first signs of aging, as the rate of natural exfoliation decreases. Awaken the skin with a warming exfoliant that also increases circulation. Bonus points if it draws out impurities with clay or charcoal.

Try This: Turmeric Energizing Treatment

This golden powder revitalizes skin with turmeric, zeolite, and kaolin clay. Turmeric is an ancient beauty secret and potent antioxidant that brightens skin and reduces puffiness. Zeolite exfoliates and brings literal heat to this formula. Kaolin clay gently draws impurities from pores, deeply cleaning and softening skin without stripping moisture. The treatment activates as you add water, transforming into a warming mousse. Try it once per week and add an additional weekly treatment if needed.

Perfect Pairing: The Gentle Exfoliation Collection

Monoi Age Corrective Exfoliating Cleanser + Firm Skin Acai Exfoliating Peel: I chose this pairing because it combines a manual scrub and a gentle chemical exfoliant. It’s gentle and hydrating for the transitions our skin faces, and beneficial for any skin type — even sensitive and mature. (Head back to the highlights under Sensitive Skin and Mature Skin to discover how these plant-based formulas work their magic.) Both products are from Eminence Organics, a skin care line that combines the best of cutting-edge science and nature’s wisdom for botanical products that get results. They’re cruelty-free and made with zero harsh chemicals.

Purchase these two products together as the Gentle Exfoliation Collection for a special savings! 

How to use this collection 

  • Start every morning by cleansing with the Monoi Age Corrective Exfoliating Cleanser. 
  • Apply on dry skin and emulsify with wet fingertips. 
  • Splash with tepid water to remove. 
  • Pat dry. 
  • Every other morning, wipe the skin with Firm Skin Acai Exfoliating Peel, using the cotton round provided. 
  • Finish with serum, eye cream, moisturizer, and sunscreen.

Purchase the Gentle Exfoliation Collection for $103 (a special savings of $18).

In Closing,

You don’t have to give up exfoliation because of the season — whether that means winter or, more poetically, a season of your life. The benefits of exfoliation apply to every skin type, as long as your skin care practice aligns with your environment, age, and the needs of your skin. 

If you’d like a personalized recommendation for how often to exfoliate and which products would be best for you, schedule a consultation with me today. We’ll take a closer look at your skin type and the elements your skin is up against daily. I’ll also recommend rejuvenating, plant-based products for your skin.

Schedule a virtual consultation with Jessica for specialized skin care recommendations. 

Dermatitis, Eczema, and What You Need to Know About the Skin Microbiome

Learn how the skin’s microbiome relates to dermatitis and eczema, plus receive best-care tips.

Itchy, red, inflamed skin isn’t exactly welcome anywhere on our bodies. But for most of us, the face is probably one of the last places we’d pick if given a choice. Alas, several clients have told me they’re experiencing dermatitis on their faces this winter. I love that I get to tell them there’s good news: research on the skin microbiome over the last 15 years has brought us new insights into the microscopic causes of dermatitis and eczema. And in response to this research, soothing plant-based face creams and oils can promote repair of this important barrier.

The topic of the skin microbiome is a big one. In this post, I’ll keep my focus on dermatitis and eczema — especially on the face — and share practical tips for how to avoid damage and promote repair.

The Skin Microbiome — What Is It?

The word “microbiome” translates to a “large community of small life.” So the skin microbiome is the ecosystem of tiny organisms residing on our skin. Mostly bacteria, but also fungi and viruses.

Like the beneficial microorganisms in our gut, microbes on the skin help protect against pathogens that could otherwise cause imbalance and bring disease. Beneficial microbes on the skin also appear to “educate” the immune system about threats and help break down natural substances on the skin’s surface. 

What Happens When the Skin Microbiome is Disturbed?

When the barrier created by the skin microbiome is disturbed, there’s a breech in the protective system. Your body becomes more vulnerable to disease — on the skin and elsewhere.

Let’s look at the most common type of eczema, atopic dermatitis. Two studies from 2017 showed that an imbalance of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria contributed to skin inflammation in flare ups of atopic dermatitis. The findings also suggest that a barrier of diverse beneficial skin-dwelling microbiota can indeed protect against pathogens.

Aside from pathogens, a disrupted skin barrier is more susceptible to dehydration because moisture escapes the body more readily. Dehydrated skin, in turn, is more susceptible to inflammation and disease, creating a downward spiral. 

What Causes Disruption of the Skin Microbiome?

As I’ve noted in previous posts, skin is our first line of defense against irritants, pathogens, and environmental stressors. Skin is a beautifully complex layering of lipids, fatty acids, wax esters, and cells that keep moisture in and pathogens out.

uv disrupts skin microbiome

What disrupts the balance:

  • UV exposure 
  • Pollution
  • Excessive exfoliation
  • Harsh cleansers
  • Psychological stress
  • Long-term use of steroid creams (while steroids can help relieve the discomfort and itching from irritated skin, they don’t solve the underlying problem, and long-term use of steroids is not recommended for a healthy skin barrier.)

In cases involving a genetic predisposition, the condition may worsen in response to: 

  • Food allergies
  • Skin infections
  • Irritating clothes or chemicals
  • Change in climate

Genetic predisposition? Yes, a gene mutation has been found to play a causal role in atopic dermatitis (the most common type of eczema). People with mutations in the gene coding for filaggrin, a binding protein in skin, are more likely to experience dry and irritated skin. Nearly 50% of severe cases of eczema appear to have at least one mutated filaggrin gene. 

How To Support the Skin Microbiome and Barrier Repair

Now for the good news. Plant oils can promote repair of the skin microbiome! Focusing on repair of the skin barrier allows the skin to use its own healthy bacteria, antimicrobial strains like Staphylococcus epidermis and S. hominis, to fight the atopic dermatitis.

“Plant oils are now being increasingly recognized for their effects on both skin diseases and the restoration of cutaneous homeostasis,” wrote the researchers behind a 2018 data review

After studying 19 oils — from common oils like coconut and olive to the rarer rosehip oil — they concluded that the constituents of plant oils (triglycerides, phospholipids, FFAs, phenolic compounds, and antioxidants) may act synergistically to:

  • promote skin barrier homeostasis
  • neutralize free radicals that cause oxidative stress
  • reduce inflammation
  • promote healthy microbial balance
  • support natural wound healing

Highlight: Virgin Coconut Oil

In a 2014 study of children with mild to moderate atopic dermatitis, virgin coconut oil applied to the skin decreased the severity of the disease and improved barrier function. Coconut oil also protected the skin from minor UV radiation, and the group treated with coconut oil showed lower levels of inflammation after exposure to UVB radiation.

Coconut oil is packed with monolaurin, which makes up nearly 50% of coconut’s fat content. This compound has been shown to help dissolve the lipid membrane of bacteria known to cause skin problems, including Propionibacterium acnes (linked to acne) and Staphylococcus aureus (linked to dermatitis and eczema). 

Because harsh cleansers can disrupt the skin barrier, I often recommend Eminence Organics’ Coconut Milk Cleanser to clients with irritated skin. One of its key ingredients is virgin coconut oil. This gentle cleanser was created to comfort dry, irritated skin while correcting irritation at its source — the skin microbiome.

Coconut Milk Cleanser
Camellia Glow for skin microbiome

Highlight: Camellia Oil

Here, the emphasis is on hydration and fostering resilience. Rich in oleic fatty acid (omega-9), camellia oil is highly transdermal — able to penetrate the skin’s outer layers, hydrating deeply. It also delivers vitamins A, B, D, E, and omega-3 — antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals — to the lower layers of the skin. Deep absorption also means camellia oil won’t leave skin feeling greasy or block pores. 

Because a disrupted skin barrier allows moisture to escape more readily, and dehydrated skin is more susceptible to inflammation and disease, I recommend Camellia Glow Solid Face Oil to clients experiencing dermatitis and eczema. It deeply moisturizes and nourishes with oil distilled from cold-pressed camellia seeds. 

With deeply penetrating oils such as camellia oil, biologists behind a 2020 data review recommended sealing the skin after use with coconut or shea butter. (I recommend two of my favorite moisturizers for eczema and dermatitis below.)

Perfect Pairing: The Nourishing Microbiome Collection

Coconut Milk Cleanser + Camellia Glow Solid Face Oil: Using the two products in this collection, morning and night during the winter, will best serve to repair the skin barrier function. Both products are from Eminence Organics, a skin care line with plant-derived, science-backed ingredients that get results. All Eminence products are grown and harvested using regenerative, organic farming methods. They’re also cruelty-free and made without harsh chemicals.

Purchase these two products together as the Nourishing Microbiome Collection for a special savings! 

Skin Microbiome perfect pairing

How to use the Nourishing Microbiome Collection

  • On dry skin, using clean hands, apply one pump of Coconut Milk Cleanser. Emulsify with wet finger tips and massage gently in circles for a minute or two. 
  • Remove cleanser with tepid water (not a washcloth), and gently towel dry. 
  • Next, apply a pea size of the Camellia Glow Solid Face Oil
  • Apply a moisturizer containing shea butter on top of the face oil. For morning or daytime use, I recommend the Calm Skin Chamomile Moisturizer, which contains shea butter as a key ingredient.  Or, for a nighttime skin ritual on top of the face oil, I love the Rosehip & Lemongrass Repair Balm. This contains Eminence Organics’ proprietary Natural Repair Complex, which uses rosehip and rosemary extracts to repair and calm dry skin as you sleep. 
  • When experiencing active atopic dermatitis, avoid exfoliation, including scrubs, synthetic retinoids, and alpha hydroxy acids. 
  • Pro-tip: Clients can still receive facials but, as the esthetician, avoid exfoliation.

Purchase the Nourishing Microbiome Collection here. 

In Closing,

Aside from itchy discomfort (which is bad enough), dermatitis and eczema on the face is likely a sign that our skin microbiome is out of balance. I’m grateful for recent research shedding light on the unseen causes of these skin irritations, and glad that I can offer clients plant-based, science-backed solutions that balance microbiota, replenish moisture, and support repair of the skin barrier at its source.

If you think your skin microbiome may be out of balance, then schedule a consultation with me today. We’ll take a closer look at your specific case, and I’ll recommend the best products for you during this season of life.

Schedule a virtual consultation, here. 

Jessica Goneia meets with clients during a virtual skincare consultation

The Science of a Relaxing Facial

Learn the science behind a relaxing facial, including pressure points, aromatics, my go-to products, and more.

It’s not uncommon as I’m wrapping up a facial for a blissed-out client, to hear the question, “Why are facials so relaxing?” It’s really no mystery. In fact, there’s a science to it. I’ve learned through experience and research that a relaxing facial requires understanding the body as an interconnected system, and putting that information to work with my hands — and the power of plants. Below, I’m sharing four ways I turn that knowledge into action, along with a few of my favorite botanical oils and creams that can help you take a facial to the next level of bliss whether you’re working with clients or treating yourself to a facial at home.

1. Vagus nerve

What it is: The vagus nerve connects the brainstem to the body, acting as a link between the brain and the heart, lungs, and other organs. It’s part of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates the automatic processes we don’t have to think about, like breathing, digestion, and heart rate. Specifically, it’s part of the parasympathetic side of the autonomic nervous system, helping to decrease blood pressure and heart rate, bringing the body out of tension and into a calm, relaxed state.

Why it’s important for a relaxing facial: “Vagus” means “wandering” in Latin,” because this long nerve meanders from the brain through the neck, into the chest and abdomen.

My facials include a neck and shoulder massage that stimulates the vagus nerve, prompting the parasympathetic nervous system to lower blood pressure and deepen the breath, initiating a cycle of further relaxation. My favorite blend for this part of the facial is Stony Creek Aromatics Mind-Body Massage Oil, which I created especially for this purpose. The blend contains calm-promoting lavender, mood-lifting sweet orange, rose otto to regulate cortisol, sandalwood to slow the stress response, and patchouli to help clear a cloudy mind. It’s applied to the neck and shoulders, and it’s key to my recipe for a relaxing facial.

Many thanks to Elaine Economou at MOVE Wellness, for pointing out how valuable the vagus nerve is to a relaxing facial.

2. Pressure points

What they are: Pressure points are specific areas on your body that connect with larger systems, or energy channels, throughout the body. These were developed by the longstanding system of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and are built on the same foundational knowledge as acupuncture: the idea that a blocked channel can create pain or discomfort. Stimulating these points on the body stimulates the larger internal system, directing the body’s innate healing forces to where they are needed.

Why it’s important for a relaxing facial: Pressure points are found throughout the body, but those on the face — especially those along the center of the face — are believed by proponents of acupressure and acupuncture to:

  • restore focus
  • promote calm
  • reduce anxiety
  • improve sleep

I like to enhance the relaxing effects of pressure points near the eyes — there’s one between the eyebrows and another at each of the temples — with Eminence Organics’ Lavender Eye Cream. This is an age-corrective cream formulated with leading-edge botanical science. Soothing and calming lavender is its star ingredient. It replenishes moisture as we work with pressure points, and relieves minor skin irritations. Both lavender and evening primrose bring aromatic benefits (more on that below), while Eminence’s unique anti-aging stem cell complex rejuvenates skin and leaves my clients’ skin radiant.

3. Energy meridians

What they are: The pressure points mentioned above lie along energy meridians, channels through which Qi (life energy) flows. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, these meridians link external points on the face, hands, and feet to internal organs — heart, lungs, bladder, intestines, kidneys, stomach, liver, and spleen — meaning a facial massage can stimulate and help balance the body’s internal systems. In Western medicine, energy meridians might be explained as the workings of the peripheral and central nervous systems, but these are really two completely different approaches to thinking about the body and its systems.

Why it’s important for a relaxing facial: Like acupoints, we can use knowledge of the meridians along the face to promote balance in the body as a whole. I love to use Eminence Organics’ Lavender Concentrate when I’m working with facial meridians. Like the eye cream above, this age-corrective formula is based on the latest research in plant-based skin care. It moisturizes and soothes as we move stagnant lymph fluid and blood, removing toxins and increasing circulation. This has benefits for the skin itself, and is another way a relaxing facial supports relaxation and balance throughout the body.  

4. Aromatics

What they are: Aromatics are highly scented plant extracts, typically sourced from fragrant herbs. You might be familiar with the term “aromatics” from its use in the kitchen. These plants are used in aromatherapy too, typically in the form of essential oils. The same volatile oils that hold the plant’s scent often possess constituents that benefit our skin and can even impact mood. 

Why it’s important for a relaxing facial: Different plant constituents have different effects, but my focus during a facial is typically on utilizing aromatics to relieve stress and reset the brain and body equilibrium. Lavandula angustifolia (common lavender) has a soothing and toning effect on the nerves largely due to its high linalool content. Research suggests the scent alone can alleviate tension and stress, and support healthy sleep. All of the products mentioned above — Stony Creek Aromatics Mind-Body Massage Oil, Lavender Eye Cream, Lavender Concentrate — employ the benefits of lavender as an aromatic in a relaxing facial. 

Perfect Pairing

Lavender Eye Cream + Lavender Concentrate: If you love lavender, you’ll love this collection, containing an eye cream and serum. Experience the relaxing power of lavender, with the added benefit of age-corrective skin care. Both products are from Eminence Organics, a skin care line that combines the best of nature and science for pure, plant-based products that get results. As part of your evening ritual, after cleansing, apply a lentil size amount of the Lavender Age Corrective Eye Cream to the entire eye area. Next, apply three pumps of the Lavender Age Corrective Night Concentrate to the entire face and neck. Finish with your favorite moisturizer.

Purchase the Lavender Love Collection for $117 (a savings of $21).

In Closing,

A relaxing facial is as much of a science as an art, and with a little knowledge and practice you can put these four factors to work for yourself.  Whether your giving yourself an at-home facial or you’re an esthetician in a spa setting, high-quality herbal preparations will help you take this experience from “nice” to “bliss.” You might want to get ready for that question: “What makes a facial sooooo relaxing?”

Gifting for others (or yourself)?

Schedule a facial or purchase a gift certificate to treat a loved one to a facial — or send the link to a loved one as an idea for a gift you’d be sure to use. 😉

Five Benefits of Rosehip Oil for Skin

Learn why rosehip oil is incredible for the skin, including its ability to slow signs of aging, reduce inflammation, and more!

When we think of a rose, most of us will envision a flower. But on some rose varieties, including the wild rose species of Rosa canina, the flower begets a small fruit. Called a “rosehip” it’s akin to a crabapple in shape, with a tart flavor. From the seeds of this fruit comes rosehip oil, a valuable, nutritive oil that can help protect skin from exposure to the elements. Below, I share five benefits of rosehip oil for skin, and how it’s used for protection and repair in three incredible products. 

Rosehip oil is pressed from rosehips, the fruit of roses.(If you’re as impressed with rosehip oil as I am, then be sure to check out the Rosehip Repair Collection for a special price on two of my favorite Eminence Organics products with rosehip oil!)

Five Benefits of Rosehip Oil for Skin 

  1. Promotes skin hydration and elasticity

Rosehip oil has high concentrations of essential fatty acids, according to a 2017 review of scientific literature. Notably, linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid). These promote hydration and elasticity, improving skin’s moisture and tone. Although rosehip oil is appropriate for any season, it can really shine in winter, keeping skin hydrated in spite of dry air.

  1. Prevents damage from environmental stressors

Rosehip oil also has high concentrations of fat-soluble antioxidants, which benefit skin by neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals are an unavoidable byproduct of normal cellular processes, but the body creates more during encounters with environmental stressors like ultraviolet light and pollution. Within the body, free radicals scavenge electrons from other molecules, damaging cells and DNA in the process. Coming to the rescue, antioxidants readily offer electrons to balance free radicals, preventing oxidative damage (hence the name, “antioxidant”). So when the tocopherols and carotenoids in rosehip oil meet the skin’s lipid layer, it’s a wellness party for your cells that can help prevent damage from exposure to environmental stressors. 

  1. Protects from inflammation

Because free radicals cause damage that triggers the body’s inflammatory response (a natural part of the healing process, but is also the cause of many skin disorders), the neutralizing effect of antioxidants prevents the need for inflammation. So one of the benefits of rosehip oil, with its combination of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants, is that it offers strong protection against both oxidative stress and inflammation.

  1. Supports wound healing

A 2019 scientific study demonstrated that rosehip oil significantly promoted wound healing and effectively improved the appearance of scars. The study’s authors speculated that it might work by speeding a cellular response that supports the growth of new tissue and slows a different cellular process that can contribute to abnormal scarring.

  1. Slows visible signs of aging

The benefits of rosehip oil cascade from skin’s health to its appearance. As mentioned previously, antioxidant tocopherols, carotenoids, and vitamin C in rosehip oil neutralize free radicals, preventing damage to cell structure and DNA. Because cell damage and inflammation both speed aging, antioxidant-rich rosehip oil prevents damage at the molecular level and creates the conditions for repair, slowing the effects of aging on skin.

Special thanks to Jade Shutes, director of education for the School for Aromatic Studies, for pointing me in the direction of the 2017 review of scientific literature linked in numbers 1 and 3 above. Jade is a former president of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, and my go-to for information on fatty oils. Her class, Aromatic Studies Monograph Database includes invaluable research on fatty oils (aka carrier oils).

Rosehip Oil in Action: Protection and Repair for Skin

The three products below leverage the benefits of rosehip oil for skin. They were formulated to enhance repair and regeneration at the cellular level, and offer hydration and protection. (The Rosehip Repair Collection includes the first two. The third is a bonus recommendation for our 20 to 30-year-old clients.) All three products are from Eminence Organics, a skincare line with uncompromising standards for quality, ethical production, and results. 

Rosehip Triple C & E Firming Oil

Appropriate for use with all skin types, Rosehip Triple C+E Firming Oil hydrates deeply to plump the skin and minimize the appearance of wrinkles. The ingredients in this science-backed firming blend combine to tone and protect skin, increasing resilience to the elements. 

As the name suggests, rosehip oil is a star in this blend. It’s rich in vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene — antioxidants that neutralize damaging free radicals, promoting repair at the cellular level. 

Rosemary leaf extract and vitamin C bring a double dose of goodness to the dermis, the layer beneath the visible epidermis that gives skin strength and flexibility. Eminence Organics’ rosemary leaf extract is a patented, organic formulation designed to: 

  • fight glycation (damage to cells caused by sugar molecules that can speed the aging process) and 
  • promote the production of collagen and elastin 

And while most skin products with vitamin C can’t penetrate the skin’s lipid matrix — they’re water soluble — Eminence’s oil-soluble vitamin C is absorbed into the dermis, delivering antioxidant protection to the cells that produce collagen and elastin.

This firming formula also employs jojoba oil to nourish sebum on the skin’s surface, and sea buckthorn oil brings an additional wealth of antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids.

To use, apply 2-3 drops of oil to your face and neck with circular motions once nightly. Alternatively, use 6-7 drops and give yourself a gua sha facial massage. Leave on. Follow with the application of the Rosehip & Lemongrass Repair Balm (below) for ultimate protection or the Rosehip Whip Moisturizer (also below) for a lighter application. 

Purchase the Rosehip Triple C & E Firming Oil here.

Rosehip & Lemongrass Repair Balm

Whether you’re up against drying wind, sun, or moisture-sapping winter air, this any-season balm is here for your skin. The benefits of rosehip oil shine in this blend, bringing essential fatty acids, and antioxidant vitamins C, E, and beta carotene to improve skin’s moisture, tone, and texture. 

Wax esters — jojoba esters, green wattle flower wax, sunflower seed wax — are also stars in this blend. Along with oil, wax esters are part of what make up your skin’s sebum. Waxes and oils are both lipids, have hydrophobic properties, provide antibacterial protection, and protect the skin against TWEL, or Transepidermal Water Loss.

Rosehip makes a second appearance in the balm as part of Eminence Organics’ signature Natural Repair Complex. Made from rosehip and rosemary, Natural Repair Complex speeds recovery of dry skin and protects from further drying. And the evolutionary wisdom of a cactus — prickly pear stem is rich in flavones, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals — brings soothing moisture while helping skin stay firm.

For ultimate protection against bacteria and moisture loss, use with the Rosehip Triple C+E Firming Oil. Apply the oil first, then the balm on top. This is most effective as part of your evening skin care routine, as the body naturally seeks to repair damages from the day while you sleep.

You can also use Rosehip & Lemongrass Repair Balm as a spot treatment anywhere on your body, (nostrils during cold and flu season, elbows, cuticles). Or on top of moisturizer before heading out for a winter activity, like skiing, to protect skin from further dryness.

Purchase the Rosehip & Lemongrass Repair Balm here.

Want the firming oil AND the repair balm? Purchase the Rosehip Repair Collection for $157 (a savings of $27). Note: The bundle does not include the moisturizer below.

Rosehip Whip Moisturizer

Rosehip and carrot combine forces in this whip to tone, soothe, and moisturize. Formulated for youthful, oily, or sensitive skin, Rosehip Whip Moisturizer uses rosehip extract to hydrate and improves tone and appearance. Of course, it’s also a rich source of antioxidant vitamin C.

Lemon, also high in vitamin C, assists in preventing oxidative damage, working to tone skin and reduce visible signs of aging. The whip also contains Eminence Organics’ unique BioComplex: a booster of antioxidants, Coenzyme Q10, and Alpha Lipoic Acid to minimize wrinkles and improve the overall appearance of skin.

To use, apply a layer of moisturizer over the entire face and neck. Leave on. Rosehip Whip Moisturizer is best for youthful, oily, and sensitive skin types.

In closing,

Exposure to environmental stressors — whether sun, pollution, or cold, dry air — is an unavoidable part of life. But skin that’s nourished with plant-based antioxidants and essential fatty acids can meet the elements with resilience, minimizing damage and supporting recovery. One of the top benefits of rosehip oil, then, is that it’s on our side in the quest to enjoy an active life and feel great in our skin.