Do You Suppress or Support Your Skin?


Beginning again – starting the process of rebalancing your skin.

This is written specifically for those who are experiencing severe breakout in any area of their face (mainly symptoms of Acne, Rosacea, hormonal pimples, cysts or cystic acne, and could include dry or wet splotchy spots, flakey areas, spots that look like hives or allergic reactions) but can apply to anyone who is feeling imbalanced or wants to move from SUPPRESSIVE (drugstore/beauty counter/pharma-style) skin care to SUPPORTIVE (holistic herbal) skincare.

It’s not easy to know where to start and what is normal when you are giving your skin (and health) and major turnaround.  Here are some steps and ideas to make it easier.  Maybe you have made the decision to make an appointment and come see me in Brooklyn or maybe you live far away and can’t do that, but following this guide will make your transition easier.


1. First, it’s great to get your expectations in order.  I do not wave magick wands or prescribe potions, topical “solutions” or pills.  Most of my clients find some type of immediate relief in their skin problems—but nothing is “fixed” right away.

2. Here is the recovery rule of herbalism: It takes about one month of SUPPORTIVE treatment to balance out every year or SUPPRESSIVE treatment.

3. That means—if you have only recently come across these problems, it CAN be a quick fix, but if you have been struggling and trying out everything on the market for years, it may take a little longer.  But it’s not like you will have months of peeling, red skin and break out! While we are getting down to the bottom of your problem you just may have a few more months with a pimple here and there while you are enjoying softer, younger-looking, smooth skin.


  1. Create the box of broken dreams: To begin, I would like you to gather all of your current skin care regimen.  This includes: cleansers, lotions, creams, pimple potions, dying agents, toners, essential oils, scrubs, treatments, retinols, serums, soaps…get it?  EVERYTHING –I would prefer if you added any face make-up (tinted moisturizers, foundation, powders, cover-ups) too, but if this is not an option, please include any make-up that has salicylic acid, tea tree, “blemish fighters” or chemical sunscreens to your collection.
  2. Put them in a shoebox (or for some of you, a trailer), close the lid tightly and mark it on the outside “Box of Broken Dreams”  with a date 3 to 6 months from today.  You are not going to use these things for at least 3 months.  If, at the end of your holistic trial, you decide that you wish to go back to those products they will be there waiting for you—Lord knows they probably have enough preservatives to last at least that long… Note:  I have the expectation that when you reach the date on the box, you will want to get rid of everything inside and never look back! I actually have a collection of photographs that my clients have sent me over the years (a client termed it it the “Shelf of broken dreams” a long time ago) of “before and after” photos of their skin care regimen and bathroom shelf.  If you wish to join in this legacy, please email your photographs to me through our contact page. 
  3. In my opinion, it may not be best to dump your unused skincare down the sink or flush it.  There are too many things that may be toxic to the fish.  At this point, your best option is to recycle the empties, but put full or unfinished product in the trash.

OK, back to the present time:  I am going to lay out a basic skin care routine that works for most everyone:

You have made your commitment, created your time capsule of failed skincare attempts and are standing in your bathroom with some amazing-smelling “stuff” that doesn’t resemble anything that you have used on your skin before—what do you do?

1.  Sow Your Wild Oats:  Choose ONE time a day to use this delightful grain cleanser.  I have always preferred to use it on myself in the morning or before taking a shower.  It makes me feel like I sweat more evenly during yoga, gives me a fresh, clear outlook, and morning is the time when I am up and awake before my family so I have that time to myself.  Also, I don’t wear make-up.  For you, your day may look different.  Maybe you feel the need to “wash off the day” before bed.  This is totally valid.  Go ahead and pick a time that is right for you! (Read a little more about Oats HERE.)

  • Put one teaspoon into the palm of your hand (that’s about the size of a flattened quarter) and add a little water to form a slightly runny paste.  You can use regular tap water, filtered water, any type of fancy water or one of our hydrosols to mix it.  (just don’t use a hydrosol from someplace where it may have additives such as preservatives, aloe, alcohol, essential oils or you don’t know the properties of the herb that has been distilled)
  • Massage onto your face using gentle upward circles.  Make sure to focus on areas such as the corners of your nose and the sides of your cheeks.  Don’t rub too hard onto areas that may have pus or breakout—we don’t want to scrub off the skin!  SYWO is very gentle—it dissolves as you use it—but it continues to work until you rinse it off!
  • Use tepid to luke-warm water to remove.  You can splash using your cupped hands, blot and wipe with a washcloth or jump into the shower and use the running stream of water to get of all of the incredible mix of skin re-balancing organic herbs and plant materials.  (I mean it…this stuff is SPECIAL!)

2. Nourish & Replenish: You are going to use this oil twice a day.  Morning and night is perfectly right.  It is important to remember you don’t need to drench your skin in oil to “force” it to take the oil.  My general recommendations are 4 drops in the morning –ALWAYS mixed with water– and 8 drops at night –ALSO mixed with water—again follow the above guidelines for what counts as water.

  • Start with clean skin.  Either use SYWO or do a quick wipe with a damp washcloth.  (If you wear make up or have other concerns, please see Q&A below)
  • Count drops into the palm of your hand.  4 in the morning, 8 before bed.
  • Add water—either a little dab from the faucet or 4-8 squirts from your hydrosol.  I mean it.  Add water.  Even if you misted the hydrosol on before you applying the oil.  Even if you left your skin damp post-shower.  Add water to the oil before applying it.
  • Massage into your skin taking care to concentrate on your areas of concern.  (Read this info on WHY OIL if you need a primer on why we are doing things this way, otherwise, just trust me.)  And you can find a download of our “daily Facial Massage Chart” HERE)

These two products are enough to make a difference and I have seen many cystic acne sufferers (as well as those with much less traumatic skin problems) find relief and gain beautiful skin simply by following these guidelines.  But—be aware that this may take some time.  Remember the recovery rule of herbalism which explains balance and getting the old, suppressed stuff out of your system—what I call “The Ghosts of Pimples Past” and, if you have CURRENT imbalances  (I mean deeper imbalances—like physical and chakra stuff) you are going to need to make some lifestyle changes to completely resolve your skin issues.

By Emma Graves


Justice Holding Scales
Parmigianino  (Italian, Parma 1503–1540 Casalmaggiore)


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