Choosing Skin Care Products by Instinct October 19 2016 1 Comment

We get lots and lots of e-mails from customers and prospective customers asking us about a recommendation of a regimen for their skin type and skin concerns. Let's address a few points to help you choose products from our collection for yourself based on the descriptions of colors, textures, and scents, and based on the mentions of plants involved in each one. 

This approach is similar to choosing food to eat: most of us have not lost the natural instinct when it comes to choosing foods that our body wants or needs. In the heat of the summer, we crave cooling tropical fruits and cooling and water- and electrolyte-rich foods, such as watermelon and juice from young coconuts. In the fall and winter, we want warming and nurturing broths, roots, and squashes. 

Until the rise of green beauty, skin care products were formulated mostly by chemists who are fascinated by chemical makeups, good at creating balanced formulas to address a specific concern, and who are comfortable with the lab environment and chemical compounds without much worry over the plants' spirits getting bleached out or deodorized in the refining process. We used to get stark white, seamless lotions that did not require shaking to remix but for those among us who wanted to feel energetically or spiritually connected to anything in the jar, that was not possible. Even a very intuitive person would not be able to follow their instinct to choose a product for their skin type, their energetic body, temperament, or for the current season. 

But if a product is formulated with a special attention to preserving the plant's freshness and integrity, its scent, color, and constituents, and the whole formula is created with the energetic and medicinal qualities working in concert with one another toward a precise goal, then if we allow our intuition to be the guide, we should be ok. Don't let cold marketers convince you that you need to rely on them to teach you how to take care of your own skin, the skin you know inside out, to tell you the steps from one to four. Well, unless we want to believe that the next brand we try will use a top-secret ingredient that will erase 20 years from our face (the phrases I have been coming across a lot lately such as "the world's most powerful antioxidant" or "the world’s most nutrient rich botanicals"; really, can someone from a vantage point of one city in America think that they know all the worlds' plants and knew how to choose the "best" ones? I beg your pardon but the herbal healers who lost their hairs studying herbs for 30-50 years would be insulted, so would the botanists who are still discovering new plant species in the Amazon region). This is a separate topic, but "erasing" ingredients that force the skin to recreate its top layer at an unnaturally high speed, in my opinion, result in a short-term gain but long-term accelerated aged appearance; I know a few top green beauty formulators with the highest efficacy standards for their luxury products who will not use acids in their formulas for this reason.

But I digress. Here are a few examples of our products describing not so much the effects they promote (you can find that on each product's page), but the energetic qualities that you can consider when choosing products and creating your own routine. 

Catharsis Face Cleanser and Mask is a deeply cooling product with a slightly bitter scent (bitter taste corresponds to the heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine and it cools excessive heat). Its green color should attract the attention of a person whose liver may be stagnant (irritable, easily angered, often late, or with liver-type acne). For a person with a hot constitution or someone who is in need of bitter principle (difficulty concentrating, lethargic, eating too many sweets, insufficiently motivated, drowsy), it may benefit them all year long. Some signs of internal heat are red breakouts, rosacea, psoriasis, rashes, itchy skin infections, often feeling hot, and sweating easily. Then, someone with a colder constitution may only crave Catharsis during the hotter months. 

Being aware of our cravings can be helpful in two ways: on one hand, we can understand why a particular product lost its appeal with a change of season, and on the other hand, we may knowingly choose to ignore the instinct sometimes if our skin's appearance benefits from a product we started using. For example, Nap in the Meadow is a strongly cooling, primarily spring-summer product that will develop a sweeter fragrance in the warmer months (the geranium will come to the forefront some more) and will for many feel very satisfying, quenching, cooling, and refreshing. While during the colder months we may not have the swooning feeling over Nap in the Meadow in the same way, the anti-inflammatory, skin regenerating, renewing, and hydrating ingredients will still be beneficial to most of us and the results will be noticeable. It will be your choice whether to heed the instinct or the expected benefits. 

One example of a nurturing product that many customers are very drawn to during the colder months is Ferns and Moss Face Serum, and my intention when formulating it was indeed to make a product for fall and winter. Even the amber color and darker label to me say: use during the months of going deeper within, or during winter hibernation. Several of the oils in this formula are derived from pods and seeds collected in the fall, and there is the nurturing, warmer-scented copaiba resin and the ancient wound-sealing, balsamic, bark-like galbanum. The serum is thicker so it takes a bit longer to be absorbed which on one hand protects us physically from wind and cold air, and many of us resonate with the protective element on a spiritual level. The deeper scent, from tamanu, galbanum, copaiba, andiroba, and more is also what many of us enjoy during the colder, introspective months. 

Speaking of textures, when it comes to skin care products, I am a texture person first and scents person second. I do want the products to address my skin needs and concerns but if the texture and scents are unappealing, I won't stick with the product. For the texture-sensitive customers, we strive to show you photos of the products in the making or in a jar with the top off, so you can get an idea about the texture, and texture-color combination, and find your best fit. I don't believe that an emulsified moisturizer is the best way to moisturize or that an oil is the best way; pick some water or aloe containing products to supply the skin-compatible water elements and then pick some oil-containing products to make sure your skin is getting a range of healthy fatty acids for optimal moisture seal, smoothness, and softness. We recommend layering products from the fastest absorbing ones to the slowest absorbing ones, and using a physical SPF as the last skin care step (before makeup). 

For those of you who would like a cheat sheet to show examples of routines for different skin types, we hope to post one on our web site very soon, but whether you follow the cheat sheet or not, keep the above points in mind. Follow your gut instinct and choose by color or the image a product creates in your mind, but then decide to sometimes override your instinct for a good reason.