Happy four years of skin care at Watershed Wellness to me!
March 2019 marks four years of holistic skin care services at Watershed Wellness PDX. Over my career, though, I'm 13 years into doing facials and I still love every minute of it. Despite my intense love for the work I do, and the Portland community, I’ve been feeling like I need a change of scenery! It's always good to shake things up a bit, to continue to feed the creativity that lies at the heart of what I love to do.
I’ve decided to come out to Watershed Wellness Astoria for a pop-up skin care event!
“Pop-up event”, “guest appearance”……whatever you’ll call it, I’m venturing out to the coast for a day in April to offer my skin care services to the Astoria community. You can book appointments at the clinic or online. Further, if people turn out to be very interested, this could turn into a more permanent Astoria skin care program for WW. Fun!
Skin care at Watershed Wellness is a “no frills, no fuss, no fancy spa culture” approach to facials.
Facials have commonly been associated with fancy spas and salons, or have only been available to people with plenty of expendable income who can afford $175+ for one facial treatment. While that’s a nice treat, I’ve made it my mission to bring affordable skin care to everyone who needs it. It’ll be a relaxing treatment for sure (stress is one of the leading causes of health problems, and we work hard to reduce that at WW), but it’s a facial with a purpose.
What is a “facial”, exactly?
A facial is typically a 60 or 90 minute service involving many elements. First, I’ll wash your face with green tea and a face wash for your skin type. To follow that, I’ll scrub the dead skin from your face with either a physical or a plant-based chemical exfoliant. Then, comes a series of potent vitamin-infused potions, facial masks, and detoxifying/firming facial and upper body massage designed to leave your skin looking beautiful and feeling healthy. Lips and eyes are always treated to a lip balm and an eye cream. SPF is a necessity, unless you’re an evening appointment and then I’ll send you home wearing a reparative night cream instead.
If you'd like to learn more about the basics of my facials and my approach to skincare, listen to this episode of the Watershed Wellness podcast!
I’ve had a facial before. What’s unique about your facials?
My facials include follow up via email, Eminence organic skin care product samples, and every facial is tailored to what’s going on with you currently. No cookie-cutter treatments to suit the general population. On-going product recommendations and as much information I can possibly give you about your skin, is always a key component of my practice. No question you can ask me is “dumb” or “too obvious”.
What types of products do you work with?
I work with a skin care line called Eminence Organic Skin Care from Hungary, and it’s plant-based, small batch, and incredibly effective. The price point could be considered a little pricey ($40 for face wash, $60 for masks/serums, etc) but it lasts 2x as long as any drugstore product. It’s incredibly concentrated and the whole line is basically a huge fruit and salad buffet for your skin. It’s especially effective at treating environmental damage and aging concerns.
What if I don’t have any major skin concerns? Why should I get a facial?
Your skin might be good now, but imagine if you could stop the clock on your skin (so to speak). Creating good skin habits now, ensures that you’ll have healthy, functional skin for years to come. Also, everyone could benefit from detoxifying facial massage. Do you enjoy a few glasses of wine a week? I can decrease some of the fluid retention/bloating in your face, simply by giving you a facial!
Ready to go? So am I. I don’t need much of an excuse to leave Portland for the coast, to be honest. I’m looking forward to uncovering your best, most healthy skin and contributing to your Astoria skin care options!
UPDATE: Because of the huge popularity of this event, we will most certainly be bringing Amanda back for more events. If you're interested in hearing more and getting the first notifications of her availability, just sign up for the interest list. You can unsubscribe at any time.
The Watershed Wellness podcast is back in action. When we went on hiatus in the summer of 2018, we did so after two fun interviews with Amanda Koennecke, and she's back again, this time to lay out the basics of her approach and what makes her facials so unique. She also reports back on her time at the latest Eminence Organics regional conference & hints at exciting things to come in her future practice!
We're moving the podcast archive over to the Astoria clinic page, which is why you're seeing this blog post here despite the fact that AK practices in Portland. But, this is also a clue about something coming up in April… more on that in the next blog post. 😉
For now, check out the podcast by viewing it on your podcast app on your device, or by visiting our Buzzsprout page for this episode.
Thank you – we're glad to be back!
In this final installment of the 3 Vitals for Beautiful Skin, we’re going to explore a topic that I’m asked about often. We’ve already covered the vitals of Antioxidants and Collagen, why they are necessary for great skin health, and where to find those vitals. In the last article of what’s important for your skin health, we’ll look at probiotics, where to find them, and why they are a key player in the quest for glowing, functional skin.
First, let’s understand what it means to want “glowing, functional skin”
We’d like our skin to look supple, not too oily or too dry. Even skin tone and texture is always a plus. We’d definitely like to not have acne or breakouts. Is all of this feasibly attainable, 24/7/365 days of the year? Likely not. We may have two or three of those desirable conditions nailed down, but in my experience with skin care, something is always bothering my clients about their skin condition.
Now, what are probiotics, exactly?
Probiotics have been much discussed in recent years, highly touted for their ability to place good bacteria in the gut, which then helps to heal the gut and thereby aiding the body to address a number of conditions that start in the gut. Conditions like acne, joint inflammation, heartburn, food allergies, can and often do start in the gastrointestinal tract. With that said, imagine if we could begin to heal some of our most pressing skin issues, simply by taking good care of our guts? It’s entirely possible!
Those experiencing adult acne or hormonal acne will especially want to take note of probiotics, as it could help to clear up your skin.
Acne is not usually caused by external factors (minus climate and pollution, to an extent), but instead, internal factors. Also remember: acne is an inflammatory disease, so if you can reduce inflammation in your gut, you can reduce the inflammation on your face. This will also aid people with flushed or sensitive skin.
Aside from trying to heal acne/breakouts, having great internal health through your gut can lend a certain radiance to your complexion. Ever heard how eating dark, leafy greens or darker berries (acai, blueberry) can make your skin look amazing? It’s not necessarily the fruit or veggie itself, it’s how your body digests the nutrients and antioxidants and how easily it can be delivered to your skin via a healthy digestive tract.
Lastly: where can you find probiotics?
There are a number of places to look, both natural and effective. Probiotics come in capsulated form, and you can take them in the morning with a full glass of water. If you’re looking to incorporate them in different ways, look for probiotic-rich foods. Fermented soy products like tempeh or tofu, as well as kimchi, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, certain yogurts (kefir and lassi come to mind)….making these a regular staple in your diet is a great move. Also, for those wondering–probiotics can reduce bloating as well.
Our excellent Naturopathic Doctors could easily help you find a great probiotic for you, as well as discussing other aspects of eating, digestive health and more! We have many patients who utilize both Naturopathic medicine and natural skincare regimens to great complementary effect!
We’ve now effectively covered all the ways to naturally take care of your skin, internally! Certain fruits and veggies (Vitals #1: Antioxidants). Bone broth and supplements (Vitals #2: Collagen). Kimchi and apple cider vinegar (Vitals #3: Probiotics). Whether or not you decide to incorporate one or all of these into your routine, it’s important to point out that 80% of a client’s skin condition is accounted for at home. The treatment room, and an esthetician’s expertise, only accounts for 20% of your skin. A BIG 20%, as we give you the necessary tips and tools to succeed, but a lot of the process ends with you.
Happy to help, and here to continue lending a helping hand. Schedule a facial today to chat about your options and a regimen that fits your lifestyle. And check out the Fall Special for esthetics – designed for teens looking to feel their best moving into the school year.
Welcome to the second installment of our practitioner spotlight series (you can view #1 with Rowan Everard, here). Today, we shift our focus to a person who not only provides the best organic facials in Portland, but also provides invaluable energy & organization to the whole clinic. Amanda Koennecke has been a part of the clinic since we moved to the larger Ladd's Addition location – and we hope she sticks with us until the bitter end. Amanda K has a way of relating to people that puts them immediately at ease – a great boon for new patients coming to the clinic. We don't know what we'd do without her!
Read up on what Amanda enjoys outside of work, and what makes this native Portlander a unique asset to our practitioner team at Watershed Wellness!
What do you love most about the Pacific Northwest?
Probably the immediate access to fresh plants and ingredients! Foraging!! Farmers markets! Farm to table cuisine! What a dream.
Thai or Vietnamese.
What was the last awesome concert you went to?
We are a concert-type of family, and my dad, sister, and brother and I all went and saw The Pixies in November at the Roseland. Great set and amazing night for my dad with all of his kids!
If money was no object, where would your next dream vacation be?
Hungary—>Spain—>Iceland—>England. For the skin care/spa culture and a tour of the Eminence Skin Care farms, for the food and wine, for the scenery and the natural hot springs surrounded by ice caps, and for the music festivals and the english countryside. Respectively, of course.
What’s your favorite neighborhood in Portland and why?
St Johns/North Portland. Close second is Sellwood/East Moreland. They’re the last real neighborhoods in PDX with a community sense and vibe. The walkability and scenery of those ‘hoods is magical, and small businesses are surviving+thriving. Can’t ask for much else.
What’s in your Netflix queue right now?
Wild Wild Country documentary, Santa Clarita Diet, Jessica Jones S.2, and always The Office.
If you weren’t a healthcare practitioner, what would your next career choice be?
Probably an event planner/party pro/caterer. I love throwing parties and cooking amazing food. Or a writer with a cookbook/lifestyle book based on my life growing up in Oregon in a lumber family.
Out of the five elements of CM (earth, air, fire, water, metal), which one do you identify with the most?
It’s your day off and you have no responsibilities. How are you spending your leisure day?
Cleaning my house, meal prepping for the week, maybe catch a movie, brunch with a few friends is always a go-to….in the summer though? Finding the nearest body of water/waterfall and walking/jumping in.
Your top five favorite movies?
Desperately Seeking Susan, Closer, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Beetlejuice, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
What’s your favorite season of the year?
Spring and Fall, equally. The equinoxes.
Tea or coffee? Favorite teamakers or roasters?
COFFEE. I cut way back on caffeine in the last year, which was huge for me. But I really enjoy making my own cold-brew coffee at home and customizing it with local honey and nut milk. I enjoy it twice a week now, as opposed to every day. My skin and digestive tract are thankful for this.
Read a book or listen to a podcast?
TOUGH. Depends on my mood. Lately, listen to a podcast. Huge fan of “My Favorite Murder”. If you’re into true crime and hilarious women, check it out. Now, I’m tearing into “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark”, as the Golden State Killer was finally apprehended after 40+ years.
What was your “aha!” moment that made you realize you wanted to be a healthcare professional?
This is a big question! By nature and as an esthetician, I am a product of the beauty industry by default. My biggest “aha!” was deciding that I wanted to take a more natural, holistic, healing approach to skin care. I decided that I wanted all of my clients to experience quality skin care and realize that a facial is not a pampering spa service, but more of a basic self-care option.
I enjoy educating clients on this factor and have been actively working to change the stigma surrounding facials–instead of “treating” yourself to a facial, make it a part of the normal regimen. It’s an important cornerstone of the skin care department here at Watershed Wellness.
Three words that describe your personality?
Sassy, straightforward, warm.
Where are you from originally, or where did you first call “home”?
Fifth generation Oregonian, loud and proud! Our family immigrated to Sandy, OR, from Germany in the late 1800s, and started a lumber company there. Then it moved to CherryGrove, OR, and eventually landed on Sauvie Island in the early 60’s, which is where I was born and raised. I’m incredibly lucky to have been raised in the “country” with quick access to the “city”.
What’s in your music queue right now?
Blood Orange, Gary Clark Jr., Queens of the Stone Age, and always a heavy rotation of Depeche Mode, Bauhaus/Peter Murphy, Sisters of Mercy, Chromatics, Chelsea Wolfe….anything industrial/goth/involving a synth.
What was your favorite part of medical school/trade school?
My instructor and mentor, Denise D’Angelo. Such a magical human with love and information to give to her pupils. She gave us a solid education and 13 years later, I still keep in touch with her and bother her occasionally for advice haha. She’s the head of faculty for the cosmetology department at Mt Hood Community College–FANTASTIC beauty program they have curated over there.
Where do you hope your practice lands in the next five years? (and/or) What’s your biggest goal and hope with what you do?
I’d really love to elevate my holistic skin practice with a European approach to facials. This means a “9-function” machine, where I can perform lymphatic drainage with a skin vacuum, microdermabrasion, dermaplaning (physically shaving the skin with a scalpel for intense exfoliation for acne scarring), and many functions to create electricity in the skin to banish acne bacteria and to lighten sun spots/age spots. It’s a whole thing. Incredibly effective.
What is a health care modality that fascinates you, that you’d like to learn more about, or that you just greatly admire?
Nutritional therapy and energy work. These are two outfits that greatly support skin care. It’s actually possible to control your skin’s condition through diet, exercise, and mindful intent–to an extent. Example: if you are stressed out or depressed, your skin is the last organ to receive vital nutrients to survive, and it can start producing acne or excessive dryness/oiliness as a result.
If you can stave off stress, and feed your body the nourishing fats and plant matter that it craves, you really CAN improve the health of your skin. Energy work is also great. Clients can feel the intent and message of a facial through your hands. To be able to give someone a great facial with quality products, but to boost it with sound nutritional advice and relaxing energy work to reset a client’s mindset, is dreamy. And amazing.
One of my favorite parts of my job as a skin therapist, is to educate people on current skin trends and why they may or may not matter to their specific needs. By “trends,” I’m mostly referring to buzz words and new products on the market.
Not everybody needs the same skin care advice, because the reality is–we don’t all have the same skin type, or same skin needs! Easy enough, right?
But what happens when you keep seeing the words “Retinol” and “Microdermabrasion” pop up in the media and among friends/family/co-workers? You start questioning whether you should care about these things. Clients ask me all the time about skin trends; it often starts with something like “should I care about Retinol? Is that a thing?” or a general statement of “I feel like I should be doing else something to take care of my skin, but what?”
It’s hard to know what’s right, when there is so much information to sort through out there. So, as we dive into the newest article in my Skin Vitals series, I’d like to talk about a buzz word we hear very often in relation to skin care. The word that I’m thinking of, is:
Most of us know that this word is often associated with dry/aging/mature skin, and that it's discussed allthe time in magazines and other media when discussing skin health. But what does it mean? I’m going to break collagen down into two very simple aspects:
- What it is + why we want it
- Where to find it!
What is collagen?
Collagen is the main structural protein in your body. It is what your skin and connective tissues are primarily composed of. The word itself has Greek and French origins: the Greek word kolla which means “glue”, and the French word gene. Collagen is your genetic glue! It’s what binds you together, and we are born with an abundance of it.
Why should we care about collagen?
One word : REGENERATION. It has the ability to rebuild and repair itself, and up until the age of 25 that process is rapid and smooth. After 25? Collagen production starts to slow down and isn’t as quick to rebuild in your body. Now you see why aging skin concerns and collagen go hand in hand. Collagen is much discussed and highly sought after, because it is what keeps us youthful, inside and out.
When we lose collagen, our skin doesn’t look as plump or firm. Cheeks can look a little sunken, jawlines can start to sag, a deep crease may slowly appear on your forehead from years of raising your eyebrows. Lines may appear at the corner of your eyes, from squinting or rubbing them when you’re tired. When healthy collagen production is happening, it gives your skin back its bounce & elasticity.
Can collagen be restored?
Definitely, and people do so in diverse ways, for diverse reasons. The most common conventional way to work with collagen challenges is using botox or collagen injections. Whether or not you agree with injectables, the fact of the matter is that to be educated on skin trends, we must examine both sides to make our own judgement call.
Botox or collagen injections for the face (not the same product at all, but both administered the same way) are used to physically fill in fine lines or to freeze the facial muscles to encourage the skin to stay in one place – getting people closer to their skin appearance goals.
On the more medical treatment oriented side, collagen injections are frequently used by doctors to heal ligament and cartilage damage for people who have suffered severe physical trauma (car accidents, surgery, etc).
These treatments aren't without challenges, however. Some of these treatments have produced severe allergic reactions, and even impaired speech or motor function. They are definitely not for everyone, and anyone seeking this type of treatment should do plenty of research to ensure a safe treatment.
Are there other, less potentially challenging, ways to restore collagen?
Collagen supplements and bone broth: Because collagen cannot actually be absorbed through your skin, we must ingest or inject collagen to physically supplement what we already have. Two natural remedies that are highly effective and widely available, are supplements and bone broths. Collagen peptide powders can be purchased online or at a natural food store, and can easily be dissolved into water or a smoothie. They also make collagen coffee creamer that can be used in your morning cup of coffee! How handy.
Bone broth is an amazing food packed full of nutrients to aid your quest for complete health and wellness. It is one of the best natural sources of collagen, and it’s simply a product of simmering bones and water over the course of a day or two to release collagen, proline, glycine, and a few other health boosters.
Not only does bone broth restore collagen health for skin related purposes, but it may assist in repair of leaky gut syndrome, ease joint pain, and have diverse positive impacts on immunity. Many grocery stores offer bone broth on their shelves now if you don’t have the time to stew it yourself.
What about protecting the collagen you have?
What about the actual collagen that you were born with, that’s still in your skin’s deepest layers regardless of how much you actually have left? There are simple, natural ways to stimulate natural collagen production in your skin.
Get a facial!
Facial massage nourishes the natural skin tissue and muscles in your face and neck, and flushes any toxins or unhelpful lymphatic fluid to drain from your face and allow for beneficial ingredients to do their job. Massage can send a signal to the deepest layers of the skin to get your collagen to “wake up” and start producing once again.
Skin becomes more full, plump, and regenerated, thereby allowing for healthy natural collagen production to take place quicker. Going weeks or months without a facial can leave your skin tissues stagnant and potentially inflamed, and inflamed tissues will always act out of emergency and never operate the way that they’re supposed to.
Seek out plant-based Retinol alternatives for your skin
Medically prescribed retinol (commonly known as Vitamin A) acts on the deepest layer of the skin, creating a “wound”, and the tissue acts accordingly and tries to repair itself, thus producing more collagen. It’s like when you scrape your knee, and you watch the wound heal itself over the course of a week or two. That is collagen, working to repair and heal the skin.
There are plant/botanical-based alternatives to the medically prescribed option
Two to know: swiss green apple stem cells, and tara tree. Both are two powerful ingredients that naturally encourage the regeneration process, to help spur collagen production. A few of my favorites: Eminence’s Coconut Age Corrective Moisturizer, and Bamboo Firming Fluid, which both contain the aforementioned ingredients that spur natural collagen production.
Big, bold words, that clearly identify what every person expects when they come in for a facial. Beautiful skin. Glowing skin.
Working at a wellness clinic is wonderful for me as a skin care specialist. We have so many talented practitioners that educate their clients (and each other) on the importance of health and wellness, these interactions enrich everyone's practices. That said, because of this wellness focus, sometimes I find myself getting a little obsessed with skin health and wellness. Sometimes, this can result in my losing sight of a simple truth – while my clients care about the health of their skin – what motivates them is having BEAUTIFUL SKIN.
Think about a time that you’ve complimented someone on their skin. Most of us don't automatically say, “your skin looks really healthy.” Instead we typically say something like “your skin is gorgeous/beautiful/glowing.”
So while of course skin healthy and beauty are interrelated – I never want to lose sight of the importance of beauty
I’ve made it my life’s work to bring happiness and health into the lives of my clients. And making someone feel beautiful when they look in the mirror is a big part of that. What, exactly makes skin beautiful? Is it pure ingredients in facial products? A structured skin care routine involving multiple products? Is it booking a facial every month to maintain perfect skin conditions, or to treat ongoing skin conditions? What else is important to regularly achieve the goal of beautiful skin?
It is, of course, all of the factors listed above – and more. But, very simply, we can start our journey to consistently beautiful skin with the important knowledge of what your skin needs to survive – and thrive. In the next few articles, I'd like to very simply explore some of the vitals you need to build not just healthy skin, but BEAUTIFUL skin. And, hopefully, also help to unpack and explore the idea of beauty I am coming to understand as a skin therapist in a wellness clinic.
The first “vital for beautiful skin” we will explore is ANTIOXIDANTS
Antioxidants are soldiers in the fight against free radicals, which can ravage and cause lasting ill-fated conditions in your skin. Antioxidants are agents that find free radicals, and prevent them from
taking effect in the body. What are free radicals? They are oxidizing elements introduced to the body through environmental pollution, stress, and a by-product of things that we take into our bodies regularly. In other words, free radicals are a part of our everyday lives. When free radicals attack the body, they can damage proteins and elastin, which forms the major structure of the skin.
Where can you find antioxidants? How do you ingest them or apply them so they’re effective? It's easier than you think. Looking at labels on food, skincare products, and other products in your environment can help you identify the best sources of antioxidants. Eminence skincare products are, of course, chock full of antioxidants of various kinds – but foods and herbs can often be a powerful source as well.
Here is a short list of some important and easy to find allies in your quest for beautiful skin
- Any kind of dark fruit or berry. Blackberries, blueberries, goji berries, cherries, plums, acai, the darker the better. Look for these ingredients in your skincare products to maximize benefits.
- Oregano, turmeric, cinnamon, cocoa. Powerful herbs or seeds that are highly touted in recent years for their anti-inflammatory benefits, but also double as powerhouses in the fight against free radicals. Not only do these ingredients warm the body from the inside out to flush out sickness, but leave lasting benefits to reveal beautiful skin. I enjoy concocting a homemade yogurt masque with pure cocoa powder this time of year, not only does it smell amazing but it’ll leave your skin looking delightful.
- Green tea. Life giving! Packed with wholesome antioxidants. I actually use green tea in place of water during my facials at Watershed, in order to impart extra antioxidants into my treatments. Treat yourself to green tea by brewing some to keep in the fridge, and simply chug a glass in the morning. Or even better–boil up some green tea and steam your face at home with it, by hanging your head over a bowl of tea and using a towel around your head to trap the steam and concentrate it towards your face. Elegant and noticeable results.
What questions do you have about building and maintaining beautiful skin?
Why not come in for a facial and we can discuss building a personalized routine to get you the beautiful, healthy skin you desire?
The coldest, darkest season of the year is upon us, and with it can come the cold, high winds. Also along for the winter ride? The uncomfortable onset of seriously dry skin. You know the feeling… Parched, stripped, lacking in moisture, desperately seeking relief!
In the winter time, no question is asked more of me than how to take care of dry skin
It’s a feeling we’re all familiar with. Even if you tend to be more on the oily side, you may experience dryness elsewhere such as your hands or your scalp. Your regular face lotion (moisturizer) isn't quite doing the trick like it did in the summer. Maybe an hour or two after you apply moisturizer, it feels like you didn’t even put any on. Maybe it hurts to smile or open your mouth due to cracks at the corners of your lips. So, in an effort to rid my clients of their dry skin troubles, I’m here to provide as much education as I can on the subject!
To start to understand what's going on, we need to address two questions…
- How do oil and water affect the skin?
- What causes dry skin in the winter? (Or, really, any time of year?)
Let's start with the first – the impact of oil and water on your skin. It's crucial to understand that water alone cannot hydrate the skin. Most skin care products on the market contain water, as it’s the cheapest filler to increase volume. But as we know, water evaporates. In fact, water can sometimes LEACH hydration and nourishment from the skin! As an example, consider people who wash their hands 10+ times a day (i.e. service industry workers, hospital employees, etc.). The skin can be extraordinarily dry in these cases! Water slides onto the skin, then is immediately wiped off and left to air dry. The skin puckers from this effect, thus creating a look of dehydration with fine lines.
What if there was a way to trap water in the skin, so it had a chance to hydrate the skin without evaporating so quickly?
This is where oil comes into play!
Applying oil, in many forms, is the trick to trapping water in the skin. Not only does oil create a physical barrier on the skin to lock in water and other beneficial ingredients, but oil actually nourishes skin tissue to create a more supple layer that functions smoothly. It makes sense when you think about it. A car’s engine cannot run without oil to lube it up. So how is your skin supposed to function correctly if it’s not lubed up on a deeper level? Try using a facial or body oil. I recommend Eminence’s Facial Recovery Oil for the face, and the Apricot Body Oil for the body. Lightly massage the oil into the skin. The warmth of your hands will help the oil to penetrate more deeply – and it's relaxing to boot!
If you’re an oil-phobe, and don’t like the idea of an oil slick on your skin remember you’ll only need a few drops for the face and maybe an ¼ tsp for the body.
Oil should be massaged in slowly, so it doesn’t sit on top of the skin. This can be done morning or night, but a nighttime application gives oil a chance to rest and work while our body is in repair mode. Do continue to use your regular moisturizers and lotions, just remember to pick a time to swap those out for an oil application. I like to use my moisturizer in the morning and an oil at night. Others will alternate days: one day they use a moisturizer morning and night, and every other night they use an oil. Easy enough.
Now, the second question, and ultimately what will help us understand our dry skin woes.
What causes dry skin in the winter, or anytime? Lots of skin experts will say “dry skin conditions are caused by a lack of moisture in the air”. This can be true, but it is not a hard and fast truth because it doesn’t apply to everyone. Think about the Pacific Northwest. It’s the wettest corner of the country and we’re still dealing with dryness and dehydration. Our skin is drier in the winter because of the drop in temperature. When it’s cold outside, oil moves at a slower speed or even hardens! Coconut oil is the best example of this–when it’s warm, coconut oil turns to liquid. When it’s cold, it hardens. So if our oil production slows down, our skin loses the ability to hold hydration from water. Tissue becomes less lubed up, and starts to dry out.
See why oil is so important to treating your skin in the winter now?
One of the best things you can do for your dry skin is to get a massage. Facial massage, body massage, it’s all incredibly beneficial. In my treatment room, facial massage is the chief focus of facial services. It makes the skin function optimally, decreases the depth of wrinkles and fine lines, and makes your existing skin products work a little harder and longer within the deeper layers. Combined with warm tea to wash the skin (yes, tea instead of water to wash your face!), and a warm bed to create comfort, you can see why facials will greatly benefit your overall health.
Vitamin C has always had its place in an esthetician’s tool belt. Why?
It’s essential for our health on multiple levels. Many know it as a helpful ally in fighting off the ravages of cold and flu season. You may also remember that vitamin C is essential for fighting free radicals, which can cause cellular and physical damage throughout the body including teeth, bones, and blood vessels.
What does this have to do with skin care?
Collagen! That other lovely word that starts with a ‘C’! The component of smooth and strong skin that’s at the top of everyone’s wish list. Here are a few quick things you should know about collagen, to better aid you in it’s importance to skin health:
- Collagen is a primary building block of bones, connective tissue, and skin
- Collagen is a hard, insoluble protein that cannot be absorbed through the skin. It must be administered orally or through tissue/muscular injection (as in Botox)
- Humans are born with a surplus of collagen, more than what we need, and continues to regenerate naturally AND through food and supplement intake
- Collagen production slows down dramatically after age 25
- At this point, the collagen that was abundant in our body starts to break down slowly
Now that you’ve conquered Collagen 101, we can begin to make the connection with Vitamin C being the key player in stimulating natural collagen production, and why it’s important to your skin!
Without the presence of collagen, skin begins to take on a dry, thin, wrinkly, less-cushioned appearance. “Smile lines” become deeper. Forehead creases become more prominent. Your jawline starts to sag a bit. The tiny indent by your left upper lip, from using straws all those years? It starts to stick around and never go away.
Again: Collagen is necessary for strong, healthy skin
Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “What about collagen supplements? Collagen protein powders? Collagen injections?” Supplements and powders are a wonderful addition to your diet. In particular, I really enjoy a brand called Vital Proteins – here's a link. But those supplements are just that–a supplemental, one time fix for the body. They don’t stimulate production; they just make a one-time deposit to the collagen source.
With Vitamin C, on the other hand, you can get the assembly line of collagen moving within the body, and it’ll continue to work for a long period of time.
Here are a few fun ways to get some more Vitamin C into your life:
- Vitamin C-infused skin care products! Cleansers, masques, serums, oh my! When present in skin care, it will deliver powerful antioxidants to bring renewal and plumpness to the skin.
- Foods rich in Vitamin C: rosehips, broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruits, parsley, seaweed.
- Supplements: powder packets that can easily be dissolved into warm or cool water and ingested as part of a morning routine.
Interested in treatment that will incorporate these principles? I am running a winter facial special that is 15 minutes longer than my normal treatment, and specifically packed with Vitamin-C to give your skin the holiday boost it needs.
A trip out to the Oregon wilderness afforded me a massive harvest of fresh rosehips, which i’ll be using as a cleansing tincture through the facial. Pink grapefruit and broccoli sprout-infused products play a big role in sloughing off dead skin cells, and provides a vitamin-rich masque treatment to illuminate the skin on deeper level.
Polish it all off with wrinkle-release facial massage and stress reduction, and you’re guaranteed to be whistling a healthier tune once you walk out of the clinic.
conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially through cleanliness.
When sitting down to write this article, I had to really stop and examine a few things, and think about why I chose to take it upon myself 12 years ago to advocate for bright, healthful skin and the practices surrounding it.
- Why do I consider facials to be a necessity, and not a luxury service like it’s traditionally been considered?
- How do you educate clients on how vital good skin hygiene is?
What stuck out to me the most in those two thoughts, was the word “hygiene”. Because that, in fact, is what good skin health is all about. Basic hygiene. Healthy skin is a basic hygiene standard, not a beauty standard.
In a society where self-care and strict hygiene practices seem to be normal, when did the cost of great skin only become available to people who had hundreds of dollars to spend at a fancy resort spa? Is it because we think that cleansing and moisturizing, are extravagant steps to take in our daily regimen, and the only time to carve out for those steps is when you’re on vacation and pampering yourself?
Not the case. Skin health is a necessity, because our skin is the largest functioning organ in and our on body, and is directly connected to ALL of the other organs in the body. Good, healthy skin is actually our first line of defense in protecting our overall health.
Now, the second question: how do you educate clients on the importance of this? I’ll make it easy. I’m going to bust out a good ol’ formula we learned long ago in beauty school, and one that I have used time and again as a skin care educator nowadays. It’s the six primary functions of our skin; how it affects the body, and it’s arranged in a cute acronym to make it easier to remember.
- P: Protection. Your skin protects harmful foreign invaders (smoke, pollution, unfiltered sun rays, etc.) from physically entering the body. Also keeps your vital organs locked up and from literally falling out of your body.
- A: Absorption. Your skin absorbs essential vitamins, nutrients, and botanicals to survive.
- S: Secretion: Your skin’s way of pushing out oil and sweat combined to form a protective barrier on your skin, making it less susceptible to environmental pollution damage.
- S: Sensation: Your skin’s way of determining heat/cold/pain/pressure.
- E: Excretion. Your skin’s way of pushing out excess amounts of salt or toxins that don’t need to be in your body.
- R: Regulation. Your skin’s way of maintaining your body’s core temperature.
All of these basic skin functions can be compromised due to poor skin health.
Some of the conditions I’ve seen in my career stemming from poor skin hygiene, include:
- Acne (an inflammatory disease, “zits”/”pimples”, can be caused by poor diet, genetics, environmental stress/pollution)
- Dry, scaly patches
- Uneven skin tone; red and flushed in some spots, dark circles under the eyes, even broken blood vessels
- Yeast infections (yes, on the face!)
- Sweat or oil gland disorders (producing too much oil, not enough, sweating profusely which can result in uneven skin tone, not sweating enough which can lead to internal infection or disease)
Are all of these conditions treatable? Yes, to some extent. Am I a doctor and able to diagnose conditions? No. But as a skin therapist, am I able to coach you, the client, on maintaining good basic skin health and taking your lifestyle and commitments into account when making recommendations? Absolutely. So, as a skin therapist, I perform facials to promote great health. Facials include cleansing, balancing, and massaging the skin with a variety of cost-effective products and timeless techniques to restore your skin to ultimate health.
It’s not all candles and aromatherapy and $350 face creams and painting egg whites on your face!
There’s a rhyme and a reason to what we do, and it’s a very holistic health approach that seems to resonate with the relatively common desire to improve self care habits. Next week, I’ll be rolling out a few ideas on how to maintain your skin, and I’ll be listing some of the lifestyle choices that can lend a hand in keeping those skin health results long-lasting. Prefer to speak about it in person as well?
With a promising season of lush greenery and fresh blooms around the corner, spring will present us with an opportunity to engage the tradition of renewal. It's a time to watch the natural world emerge, and to help ourselves do the same. In Portland, spring will bring back the lilacs and cherry trees, filling the city with color and a heady floral fragrance.
Also relevant this time of year: the need to detox and start thinking about an active spring and summer season ahead
In order to take full advantage of what the warmer seasons have to offer (more hiking, swimming, boating, gardening, picnicking, trips to the farms and farmer’s markets…), you’ll need to be in your best physical shape and health.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what makes me feel healthy, and some small steps I can take to modify my normal routine in order to ease into better habits. As a skin therapist, that means many things to me. Diet, exercise, and general self-care are my top priorities, and it’s always a reflection of my esthetics practice here at Watershed.
“What does being a skin therapist, or facials, have to do with your overall health,” you ask?
A lot, actually. What if I told you I could actually detox or aid you in a personal cleanse just by giving you a facial?
It’s simple, really. Lymphatic drainage, a common form of massage and routinely touted in Eastern medicine as a necessary component, works to move stagnant lymphatic fluid that carries toxins and waste to the lymph disposal system, which detoxifies the body.
A number of noticeable benefits, like reduced puffiness, leaner jawline, and more energy, are just some of the ways in which lymphatic drainage is important. This type of massage, combined with natural skin care products and a variety of in-house concoctions, are all carefully designed to give you your best looking skin ever.
Sounds like a great start to spring, right?
Here are some other small steps I’m recommending for a rite of renewal.
- Throw away your old spices and clean out your pantry. The desire to make clean, healthy dishes is a great way to kick start good routines, but not with 1-2 year old spices. Restock your ground ginger, turmeric, cumin, smoked paprika, and all other goodies to ensure a healthy pantry.
- Stretch in the morning. The minute you wake up. Even if it’s just for five minutes, it’s better than not stretching at all.
- Switch up your daily water intake. Add some herbs or citrus fruits to encourage good circulation and better hydration. Buy a new water bottle or thoroughly clean the current one you’ve got.
- Clean off your feet and give them a good rub before you go to bed. Clean feet in a clean bed, along with a foot rub, will ensure relaxation and no grime from walking barefoot around the house. If you’re feeling spry–rub some tea tree or oregano oil on your feet before bed.
Last but not least, I’ve designed a Spring Detox Facial as my seasonal facial, available in a 60 or 90 minute** version
In addition to the classic serums and masques from Eminence, you can expect:
- Sparkling water infused with fresh lemon slices and vanilla-scented black tea, for cleansing the skin. This concoction will serve up refreshing antioxidants and polyphenols with a caffeine kick to revitalize. Lemon and sparkling water provide a cooling, invigorating tonic.
- Lavender aromatic steam towels, to promote relaxation.
- A detoxifying lymphatic massage to aid in waste elimination through the skin, combined with a relaxing facial massage to follow.
- An arctic berry polypeptide cream, to finish with true radiance.
**The 90 minute includes a detoxifying menthol-camphor foot treatment and an ice compress application at the end of the treatment. Feels truly amazing.
You might want to try pairing it with a check-in with one of our Naturopaths, a series of Acupuncture treatments or a therapeutic and relaxing massage. Treat yourself right as we move into spring!