Nature As Teacher
Nature’s Calendar punctuates the year with two Solstices (Winter and Summer) and Two Equinoxes (Autumn and Spring). On the Autumn Equinox, the day and the night have roughly equal time in most places on Earth. Here in Brooklyn (which is in the Northern Hemisphere), the days then start growing shorter and the nights longer until the Winter Solstice. At this point, we reach the longest night and shortest day. Then, the days start growing longer, first reaching the Spring Equinox (once again, equal days and equal nights) and continuing through until the Summer Solstice. Following the longest day and shortest night, of course, we start moving toward the Autumn Equinox once again.
The seasonal changes we see here start with the air getting drier–and drier still once the steam heat kicks on in our buildings. The seed pods on the trees (acorns, pinecones, sweet gum balls, twirly-gigs, etc.) and the burrs of the burdocks come out in full force–ready to spread their gifts to the world. The leaves of the deciduous trees turn brown as the energy of the plant world moves down to the roots, preparing for the cold of winter. Finally, the last leaves (in Brooklyn, it is that sweetgum tree–also the last to get its leaves in the spring!) change to their crisp tones and let loose, falling in piles to the ground.
What does this mean for you, my dear seekers of nature’s wisdom?
As the air around you grows drier, you may find that sometimes your skin feels drier than it had been during the moist summer months. If you follow conventional (heroic) thinking, you might think, “I need a richer moisturizer to take care of this so that my skin doesn’t dry out.” Thinking this way is not wrong, but it does discount your skin’s incredible ability to make its own moisture.
I assure you, when you support your skin in how it functions, it will look more radiant and alive–despite the dry weather–because it has the agency to perform optimally when we silly humans get out of the way and allow it to do so.
The Supportive Skin Care Regimen
Our recommendation for everyone, whether you are using Brooklyn Herborium’s Between You & The Moon Products or not, is to follow a Support Skin Care Regimen: one that supports how your skin functions by giving it what it needs, when it needs it and lets your skin do the rest. This looks like this: Flush with water in the morning, then moisturize and protect. At night, cleanse your skin (you may want to rotate cleansers as needed), making sure to always remove cleanser (of any type) with a steamy washcloth. We recommend using a Mineral Mist at night, but refrain from using moisturizers before bed. We do this because we want to give the skin a chance to perform its functions while you sleep, eliminating wastes that will be flushed off the skin with water in the morning and creating a moisture barrier that will remain intact and protect you because you aren’t washing it off!
Quit Your Nighttime Moisture Routine
Suppose you are Oil Cleansing or using one of our Advanced Skin Care Line Cleansers and taking them off with a steamy washcloth. In that case, you should find that your skin feels plenty moisturized without moisturizing. If desired, a few pumps of your Mineral Mist can give you a pleasant dewy feeling, along with transdermal magnesium and other minerals that are known to help with sleep!
If you want to try letting go of your nighttime moisture routine with your current (non-Herborium) cleanser, I urge you to try it. There’s a good chance you will find that your body steps up to the challenge, and your skin will start enjoying a newfound glow. If, after a week, your freshly washed face still feels uncomfortably dry by the time you go to bed, you may have to consider that the cleanser you are using may be drying you out too much. If this is the case, but you L.O.V.E. the cleanser (or just have a bunch of it left that you don’t want to throw away because you are not yet convinced that you deserve better), then simply put it into a lighter rotation.
Moisture in the Morning: The Mistake Most Often Made
The ONE THING I don’t want you to do when the weather starts getting drier is to up the portion of oil in your Moisture Duo. DON’T DO IT. Stick to three drops of the oil (we can switch these up a little–more on this below) and at least 5 sprays of the Mineral Mist. You can do 6 sprays of Mineral Mist if it feels good to you. You can spray Mineral Mist on your face and then add 5 sprays to your ONLY 3 drops of N&R oil…but it does your skin a disservice if you add more oil. I know, it FEELS good to use the oil without the mist, but all it does is start you down a path of feeling more and more parched, feeling like you need more and more oil to get that good feeling again.
Transitioning into drier weather the Brooklyn Herborium Way
It’s pretty simple but surprising to many. If your Moisture Duo sucks up into your skin and you feel like you want more, do the process twice. This looks like:
- Drip 3 drops of Nourish & Replenish Oil into the palm of your hand and pump 5 sprays of a Mineral Mist directly into it and rub it together before applying…then
- Drip 3 drops of Nourish & Replenish Oil into the palm of your hand and pump 5 sprays of a Mineral Mist directly into it and rub it together before applying.
Do this for a couple of days in a row if necessary during transitional times, and soon you are back to doing it just once until the weather turns bitter cold again, and you may have to go back to twice in a row a few more times.
One More Time
Do not use straight-up oils, balms, or butters “as if” they were a moisturizer. They are not and will never be hydrating as they have no water. Sometimes, it can be helpful to use them over a moisturizer (or Moisture Duo) as protection when you are about to go out into a bitter, biting cold. However, this is not an all-the-time use, and the oil/balm/butter should be removed with a steamy hot washcloth as soon as it is no longer needed in order to prevent it from creating a stagnation problem in the skin. Remember: all of this holds for the skin on your body as well as the skin on your lips!
Uh-Oh, You Already Upped Your Oil?
Often, it just takes a few days of using the Moisture Duo (3 drops Nourish & Replenish oil with 5 sprays of a mineral mist sprayed directly into it and rubbed together before applying) twice in a row in the morning while continuing to not moisturize at night (Mineral Mist only) before your skin catches up and feels perfectly moisturized with the regular Moisture Duo again. Again, the point is to guide the transition so that your skin is making the amount of moisture it needs rather than us giving it more and more moisture.
However, suppose you have already started the cycle of upping your oil, using oil straight-up on the skin, laying balms or butters over moisturizers or oils and generally feeling like you just need more and more oil to satisfy your skin’s cravings. In that case, it may take a little more than just switching to 3 Drops + 5 Sprays. Unfortunately, if you have caused stagnation by doing these things, it takes a little effort to clear out the oil that has gotten stuck in the gland and get you on the right path again.
• If you can do it, the best option is to come in for an Integrative Therapy for Barrier Repair. This can be done on its own or as part of a Level II or Level III facial. Your Holistic Facialist (all of our practitioners are both certified herbalists and licensed estheticians) will get you heading back in the right direction in the fastest and most pleasant way.
• Second best would be to schedule a Holistic Skin Care Consultation. Meeting with one of our practitioners (either remote or in-person at one of our shops in Brooklyn) will not only give you precise directions on how to make Supportive Skin Care work for your particular needs but also answer all the questions you may have that we have not yet addressed here on our website.
• If you are going at it on your own, I would suggest getting the Vita-C Ten Minute Dry Serum (not the 10-day Wild Berry Treatment) and doing it twice in one week– four to five days apart, following the directions exactly. You may want to repeat this once or twice during the winter if it becomes necessary again. Eventually, you will have cleared the stagnation and it will no longer be necessary, just a lovely little boost you can use intermittently.
Sowing the Seeds of Change
So now, on to those of you who didn’t fall into the Moisture Trap this year, you must be feeling pretty good about yourself. I hope you do! Your skin is functioning beautifully. Most mornings, you rinse with water in the morning, use the Moisture Duo properly, and wear a hat when you are exposed to the sun. You rotate between Sow Your Wild Oats and Oil Cleansing with No Evil at night. You have a stash of our fabulous birdseye washcloths. You do a clay mask a couple of times a month and intersperse it with either Integrity Biome Mask or Herbal Steamer. It’s a good life and it shows in your skin.
You could be delighted with this, or there may be a few little things that you want to take care of, clean up a little, or focus on. Perhaps it’s a bit of uneven skin tone or some fine lines. When the skin is functioning as it should, the fall is the best time to apply a hormetic stressor to the skin, offering a challenge that builds resilience as it breaks down old cells and clears away any build-up that is no longer necessary.
Here are a few options for you
• The most gentle and all-natural shift is extraordinarily powerful. Simply replace your 3 drops of Nourish & Replenish Oil with Seeds of Change (you can use your usual Mineral Mist or switch up depending on which scent most appeals to you at this time) every morning for up to three weeks. At the same time, replace NO EVIL in your evening Oil Cleanse with Seeds of Change. It should feel a bit more luxurious to use this oil and you may have the desire to continue with it for longer…but don’t. The real magic happens when your skin starts to respond. Returning to your usual regimen actually increases the results!
• Another very popular option is the Vita-C 10 Day Wild Berry Treatment (Not the Vita-C 10 Minute Dry Serum mentioned above). Apply at night for up to ten days. Sensitive or reactive skin might do well leaving it on for 5-10 minutes and then removing it before bed. Super sensitive (like me, Emma) might do well with every other night. Hardened skin with deep scars may be able to use a thin layer and leave it on overnight. If you are unsure of what to do, send an email, ask in person at the Herborium, or schedule a consultation.
• Of course, once again, if you can get in for a facial appointment, we have some even better options as well as clear guidance on how to use Seeds of Change or Vita-C specifically for the current condition of your skin. The Integrative Therapy for Old Scars/Tertiary Conditions or the Integrative Therapy for Maintaining Radiance at Every Age can be custom-tailored to your needs as a stand-alone treatment or part of a Level II or Level III Facial.
Back to School
This past year, we have had just as many inquiries by people who want to start retinol-based products (because they have heard good things) as we have had people come to us looking for natural solutions as they have been using retinol-based products for a number of years and they are no longer satisfied with the results. It’s an interesting predicament for a holistic skin expert to be in.
The complaint I often heard when new clients came in with this situation was that although the conventional retinol products they were using caused irritation and dryness with regular use, when they stopped using them in a controlling way, their skin felt both rebellious and dull at the same time. They felt like they were addicted to the product and yet it was no longer giving them tangible results. Yikes.
The A+ products were developed to remedy both situations. Those who want to use a bit of Vitamin A-rich plants in a non-controlling way can use them intermittently without fear of going overboard. Those trying to wean off an already controlling situation can use it a little more regularly as they taper down to little or none, allowing their skin to rebuild its agency in the process.
Teacher says: Don’t be a dunce and try using these products your way and going against our recommended usage. Sure, you might get some kind of stronger/more immediate “result” by slathering on the oil night after night, but you aren’t doing yourself any favors that way.
***If you have a serious dependency or your skin has become more red and reactive in the past couple of years, we suggest starting with an Integrative Therapy for Redness and Reactivity which can be a stand-alone service or part of a Level II or Level III facial. If you are more interested in things like uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation, or fine lines, refer to Sowing the Seeds of Change (above).
The many ways we care for our bodies daily also shift with each passing season.
• Longer nights might lead to us needing more sleep, or at least times for quiet contemplation. Whenever possible, turn off the computer and your phone/tablets soon after dinner and long before bedtime. If that’s not possible, get some blue-light-blocking glasses for your screen time.
• Changes in the air might mean more breathwork is in order. If you find yourself getting congested and falling into the trap of Mouth Breathing, experiment with a tiny piece of sensitive skin medical tape over your lips at night. (Of course, this might night be a great idea if you have breathing problems–talk to your doctor).
• In years past, humans (like all animals in the fall) feasted on nutrient-dense harvest-season plants. The autumn months were spent gorging on the things that won’t survive long storage, knowing that the coming winter would bring months of bland, energy-dense stored foods. These days, however, fresh produce and nutrient-dense foods are available all year round. Eat them when they are in season (many of them NOW) and refrain from them through the winter until mid-spring, sticking to primarily bland foods with these things as “pops” of excitement.
• Keep it moving: keep your energy up and your bowels “taking out the trash” by remembering to include soluble fiber in your diet. Chicken Soup with Rice? Lentil Soup? Potato Pancakes?
• Make like a tree and … Send your idea seeds into the world–see what grows in fruition. Push your energy into your roots, making you both sturdy and flexible. Let go of that that no longer serves you; let it just fall away–you don’t need it anymore.
And One More Thing:
While we don’t want to have our clients locked in a monthly control cycle, forcing them to come back month after month because they need extractions to look clean or exfoliation to freshen up, we do recommend coming in for your facial services at least once per season. This is so we can ensure you haven’t gotten off track. It’s our job to nudge you back to 3 drops and 5 sprays or notice if you have been getting a little overzealous with your A+ as well as to remind you that you can switch over to Seeds of Change for a few weeks. It’s also a good idea to come back on schedule so we can continue to examine your self care and determine if it’s time for a shift–maybe that hormetic stressor I told you to hold off on last spring is a great option 8 months later! Self care is not something you set into place once and never need to examine again.
The main reason, however, our clients want to book at least four facials with Brooklyn Herboirum each year is that everyone feels and looks better after an energetic tune-up. An Alignment. Every single facial service we offer at Brooklyn Herborium concludes with A Body-Mind Alignment where we bring you to a state of deep relaxation and use Facial Point Stimulation (A form of reflexology) to encourage your body and mind to unite energetically and a Lymphatic Drainage massage to encourage your skin to let go of what is no longer serving it, allowing wastes to flow out and nutrients to flow in. As much as we can teach you some of the points to stimulate or have you follow the at-home lymphatic Butterflies & Rainbows Massage, there is nothing that can compare to the handiwork of one of our skilled practitioners.
We hope to see you soon!
Written by Emma Graves