Earth Day: The Roses and the Bees

Earth Day: The Roses and the Bees

It’s Earth Day today. And it is an important day, because while the “Hallmark Holiday” nay-sayers might call it a fake holiday, and the cliche-ers might say things like “every day should be Earth Day,” we have to face the reality that in our modern, mass produced, tech-driven society, every day is pretty much the opposite of Earth Day. While I’ve written about Earth Day, and other issues concerning sustainability and the health of our planet, my vibe today is a bit different.

This year’s Earth Day falls during Passover and following Easter. It’s a month past the Vernal Equinox, and a time in many other spiritual and cultural traditions that symbolize freedom, new beginnings, and rebirth. It’s also just over a week following the fire that destroyed much of La Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris.

While you might not think about that as significant information for an article about Earth Day since it is a manmade building in the middle of a manmade city, its burning during this time in history was also seen as many as symbolic of rebirth and new beginnings. A symbol of a paradigm shift from a masculine dominated society to a Divine Feminine one.

Bee on dandelionWhat really grounded that idea for me was not only that the iconic famed rose windows were saved (Rose is one of the most powerful and universal images of the Divine Feminine–but Rose’s energies are also balanced with the Divine Masculine because of its thorns), and the bees who lived in hives on the roof (set there as a Paris initiative to protect the declining bee population) survived.

To learn more about Divine Feminine archetypes and their relation to beauty and skincare, take the free Beauty Archetype Quiz HERE.

Let’s talk about those bees.

The honeybee is another longstanding universal symbol of the Divine Feminine. It’s not just the fact that they are governed by a Queen, or that the workers are female–it’s that everyone knows their role, and fulfills it in collaboration every day, for the greater good of the whole–of the hive–of Mother Earth. While all that they do may appear to be in service to the Queen, the Queen herself is a busy bee, constantly feeding and nourishing all the larvae to ensure the future of the hive. It is a cooperative, collaborative, intuitive society that exists to nourish the greater whole beyond the single hive. Without the bees, just about every other species of life on the planet would suffer, because their efforts ensure food at nearly every stage of the food chain on this planet. It is true that if bees go extinct, humans will too. Protecting them needs to be a top priority.

I have a complex history with bees because I used to be deathly afraid of them.

It started when I was a child. I was at my dad’s house and we were running back and forth from the kitchen to the back patio bring food outside for a barbecue. The sliding glass doors must have been open for quite awhile, because when I opened a cabinet to get plates, three or four bees flew out of the cabinet right at my face. I didn’t get stung, but holy cow was I freaked out. For years after (and probably still now, to be honest), whenever I’d get a buzzing sound near my face, I’d flinch, sometimes to the point that I’d give myself a neck spasm!

Carpenter beeWe have carpenter bees in our yard. They are extremely aggressive, torpedoing right at me, buzzing loudly while I’m gardening. These are the males–they won’t sting or bite but they will pelt you right in the face–in order to protect the females, which are busily nesting in my deck. I do not like those bees, but I also don’t want to kill them, because they are important community pollinators, and pollinators are declining.

I live in a very “Suburbia USA” type of neighborhood in the Philadelphia suburbs where most of the houses look the same, and most of the neighbors mow their lawns around the same time on the same day each week. The majority of my neighbors focus on getting green, weed-free lawns and use pesticides and synthetic fertilizers to achieve that. We don’t use those, and we also don’t mow often. That mostly started because my husband has really bad allergies and between both our schedules, we just don’t have the time. We certainly could hire someone to do that for us, but honestly, it’s just not a priority for us.

So our house kind of sticks out among our neighbors (much to their dismay, I’m sure), because it’s a little bit wild, with dandelions, violets, plantain, unruly raspberries and honeysuckles, mints, and lemon balms. Because of this, we also have a lot of bees. Tiny ones, regular honeybees, fuzzy and chubby bumblebees, and those big and shiny guardian carpenter bees. By being busy and, well, because of my husband’s allergies, we accidentally created a sanctuary of native plants in our yard for bees, butterflies, sometimes hummingbirds, and other pollinators.

I made the decision to take that further, and plant more native plant species in my yard to make it even more home for the pollinators.

Every year, I add more perennial native plants, in addition to my annual herbs and flowers. We also have a couple of stumps in our yard from trees that we sadly had to take down, that we are allowing Mother Earth to take back, rather than grinding them down. Our soil is mostly clay, but it is rich with fungi and other microbes, so it happened with the first stump way sooner than we thought, and is already happening with the one we had to take down last year due to storm damage.

This year, Earth Day is about the roses and the bees.

yellow rose

One of the roses from my unruly rose bush with an attitude.

Last fall, I planted bee balm, in addition to other native plants (Joe Pye weed, goldenrod, witch hazel, and elderberry to name a few). This year, I will add to that, starting today, with a new rose bush. My current rose bush is the bane of my husband’s existence because first of all, it houses some of those aggressive carpenter bees, and second, it laughs at his landscaping efforts. It grows so fast, and every time he trims it, the next day, it will sprout a new branch that shoots two feet up over the top of all the other ones. It makes me smile all the time.

You might wonder, aren’t I afraid of the bees in my own yard? I’ve never been stung in my own yard. Neither has anyone in my family. When my husband teases me about my knee-jerking, neck-spasming reaction to getting buzzed, I now tell him it’s fine. I have made peace with the bees and they are welcome on my property. I don’t love when they accidentally get in my house–don’t get me wrong–but if that happens, we gently help the lost bee get back outside rather than killing it.

Many Earth-based cultural and spiritual traditions view Mother Earth as a living, breathing deity that like most mothers, gives of herself without a thought to nourish and protect her babies. For millennia, humans lived cooperatively with Mother Earth and Her other inhabitants–taking what we needed, giving back what we took when we could. Modern life has changed that. The need for mass production, instant gratification, and convenience that a consumer-based society requires depletes Mother Earth’s resources, pollutes Her air, soil, and waters, takes without consideration for when and if more will be available, and thinks not of the wellbeing of other living beings that also depend on Mother Earth for survival. It ignores the importance of other beings that play an integral part of the food chain and food webs; as well as their roles in our planet’s air, water, and soil cycles.

The answer is not to find another planet to colonize once we’ve eventually destroyed this one.

The answer is to pick one thing to start with to heal the Mother we have. My one thing this year is more planting, in order to provide more food and more of a hospital backyard ecosystem for the bees and other pollinators.

Earth Day treesMother Earth still sacrifices for her children, though she is wounded and struggling.

And like the shift that happens in human life when the relationship of the parent caring for the child morphs into that of the adult child caring for the aging or sick parent, it is time for us–the children–to care for our Mother Earth.

For simple, every day things you can do in your life and in your business to give back and protect Mother Earth, check these out:

I also teach extensively about sustainable, Mother Earth-friendly ingredients, formulations, and business practices in my online Create Your Skincare Professional Edition course. 

How are you celebrating Earth Day this day and every day in your home or business?

Please share in the comments below!

*Carpenter Bee photo by Daniel Schwen [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]. Trees photo by Casey Horner via Unsplash.

Why Humans Need Handmade Now More Than Ever

Why Humans Need Handmade Now More Than Ever

If you were a fly on the wall in my house back in the 1980s and 1990s, you would have been one inspired fly. Now I’m not here to claim that my family was any more or less entertaining/weird/crazy/dramatic than anyone else’s was, but one thing we were for sure was creative. My mom was into handmade everything, whether it was homecooked meals (even though she was a working single mom, we had homecooked meals almost every single day), pottery, crafts with pressed flowers and dried leaves, actual paintings (Mom has an affinity for chickens and roosters), Halloween costumes, DIY skin care remedies–you name it. Some of her catchphrases that still echo in my head when I’m shopping are: “You know you could make this for half the price,” and of course “They don’t make them like they used to” (I’m sure you’ve heard that one too).

Although I used to roll my eyes, Mom was right. Though the popularity of the Handmade Revolution/Maker Movement has jacked prices of craft supplies and fabric up higher than they were in the ’80s and ’90s, the quality of mass-produced goods has gone down significantly. Even clothing purchased at “better” department stores is rarely higher quality than that purchased at discount and off-price stores. The fabric quality itself might be slightly better, but what does that matter if it still falls apart after just a few wears?

I have always loved handmade arts and crafts because I marvel at the amazing things people create from almost nothing; with just their hearts, souls, and own two hands.

Handmade doll

Me as a baby with the “Rachael doll” my Cioci (Polish for “aunt”) Stella made for me.

I credit that appreciation again to my mother, but also to all the women (and many of the men) on her side of the family. My aunt, great aunts, cousins–they each had incredible talent for handmade things like crocheted blankets, the Polish arts of paper cutting and painted eggs (wycinanki and pysanki–check out my cousin Felicia’s amazing work here), stained glass, doll making, jewelry making, pottery, figurine making, ceramics, you name it.

Some of the crafts I’ve enjoyed over the years are handmade skin care (obviously), pottery (although I’m really not that great at throwing pots), setting gemstones into jewelry (I have a gemology certificate), painting and illustrating, card making, polymer clay design, fashion design and sewing, doll-making, interior decorating, surface pattern and textile design, cooking, herb gardening, and handwork like knitting and crocheting.

While the Industrial Revolution certainly made certain aspects of life easier and more accessible, what it also did was disconnect us from our own innate creativeness.

It took humans thousands of years to get to the point where they were able to live off the land–feed, shelter, clothe, and care for themselves and their communities. To create art, music, theater, toys, and games. They may not have had many conveniences in life, but they knew how to be self-reliant individually, and within their own communities. In just a couple hundred years, we’ve managed to undo all that. And I’m not sure that we’re better off because of it.

Technology has helped us in many ways–my goodness, without the Internet, I would not be able to make my living doing work that matters to me while still being able to homeschool my younger daughter (using mostly online curriculum). It has removed certain barriers to knowledge that kept many people from being able to achieve their dreams or venture out from outdated societal roles. Technology in modern medicine–when used appropriately–has saved many lives. But technology and mass production have also depleted natural resources, polluted the air, soil, and waterways making humans and wildlife acutely and chronically ill, and have also disconnected us from our own connection to the land–and to ourselves.

When you use something handmade, you’re not only using the thing, and getting whatever result the thing is supposed to deliver.

One of my mom’s paintings, “King Rooster” by Cathy Moskal, 2003

You get someone’s expertise. You get someone’s own particular way of doing things that makes it just a little different from the craftsperson down the street. You get someone’s passion–their why in life–their creative spark. You’re getting their spirit and their humanity.

It shocks me how many people have no idea what’s in their skin care or have no idea where their food comes from.

It shocks me that people don’t know how to grow their own food, create their own art or make their own music. It shocks me that so many kids today–and so many adults–don’t know what to do with themselves when the power goes out or they go somewhere without wifi.

Not to get all dramatic or dystopian on you, but should some disaster happen, what would most people do? How would they find and prepare food? How would they maintain warmth and shelter? How would they clothe themselves? How would they tend to their sick and wounded? How would they create beauty, music, and enjoyment?

When entertainment is available on demand, there’s less need to create. When goods and services are just a click away, we no longer have the need to find creative solutions for our problems or ways take care of ourselves.

lemurian quartz crystal

My Lemurian quartz crystal made into a beautiful pendant by my cousin Terry.

I’m not saying we need to revert back to an agrarian lifestyle, or go off the grid. But I do think it’s time to find a happy medium and reconnect both to ourselves and to the earth. We need to find value in the little things–the simple things, and we need to recognize, value, and support skill and talent. By embracing the Handmade Revolution, we can do that. When we incorporate the value of handmade into our lives, we give ourselves the freedom to express form, invigorate the senses, and quite frankly, prevent the creative brain from going dormant.

We are all creative beings, and creative beings need to create as much as we need to eat, breathe, and sleep.

If we stifle our creativity, or discount its importance, we then create blockages in other aspects of life. That can hinder our ability to move forward in different areas like health, work, and relationships.

One of the things I love the most about expressing creativity through his that when you create; whether it is a complete garment begun from just one thread, or whether it is a scene or precious moment in time you’ve managed to capture, you leave a legacy. In a way, I believe that expressing creativity is the closest we get to immortality.

One of my own handmade skin care gift sets.

Make handmade, share handmade, buy handmade, sell handmade.

So whether it’s a simple doodle, beeswax candle, beaded jewelry, knitted scarf, mini succulent garden, herbal salve, or organic skin care product line–I encourage you to add handmade into your life. Teach your kids the wonder of how it feels to be able to say “I made that.” Use handmade crafts to reconnect your mental, emotional, and spiritual with the physical to restore balance in your life.

How to Indulge in a Chocolate Spa Day at Home

How to Indulge in a Chocolate Spa Day at Home

One of the biggest skincare myths of all time is that chocolate causes breakouts. Luckily, that myth has been busted many times! The truth is that not only does chocolate itself NOT cause breakouts (the culprits are actually the milk, sugar, and processed ingredients IN commercial chocolate), but it’s also extremely beneficial for the skin and uplifting to the mood. High quality organic chocolate (70% cacao or higher) is packed full of skin-healthy nutrition including essential fatty acids, vitamins like Vitamin C, minerals like magnesium, and flavonoid antioxidants. For nourished, resilient skin, I recommend incorporating chocolate into your diet AND topical skincare regimen. The great news is that you treat yourself to a decadent chocolate spa experience right into your own home! It’s a perfect theme for your next Love Your Skin Date.

I wholeheartedly recommend scheduling what I call “Love Your Skin Date” into your schedule at least once a month.

I feel so strongly about this that it’s actually part of my curriculum in my Create Your Skincare online courses. These are essentially self-care days where you unplug, send the kids to Grandma’s or out with friends (if they’re older), and devote the day to your own enjoyment–whatever that means for you. For me, I like to geek out with my crystals, read,  drink coffee, watch romantic comedies from the ’80s and ’90s, give myself a long bath and organic skin care treatment, and eat yummy treats. Sometimes I take myself out, but more often than not, I stay in.

As I wrote in my book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself, self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity. It is not selfish, and it is nothing to feel guilty for wanting or needing. I hear so many stories these days where women (moms in particular) feel like they need to go to a hotel room just for a day or night of undisturbed peace and quiet. And look–if that’s something that is accessible and enjoyable to you, then go for it. But if it’s not, then take out your calendar and block out an entire day within the next 30 days for yourself. Do it right now. Don’t worry, I’ll be right here when you get back.

OK now that your first Love Your Skin Date is on the calendar, here’s a simple recipe for your at-home chocolate spa day:

Whipped Chocolate Mousse Body Butter

This recipe is a take on one of the base formulae I give in my free Boutique Skincare Basics class. It doesn’t need a preservative since it doesn’t contain any water–just be sure it doesn’t come into contact with water or steam to avoid contamination!


  • 30g cocoa butter
  • 66g jojoba oil
  • 1g  Vitamin E oil
  • 1g organic raw cacao powder
  • 2g essential oils or CO2 extracts (I like a blend of chocolate/cacao CO2 extract from Nature’s Gift and Phytoscents Vanilla from Formulator Sample Shop)–this is approximately 40 drops total

You will also need:

  • Double boiler setup and stove or heating element
  • Scale and prep bowls/small containers
  • Whisk
  • Single hand mixer
  • Spatula
  • Mixing bowl with ice water (for the cooling phase)
  • Container for product—2 oz/60 g dark glass jar is best with plastic spatula


  1. Melt butters in your simmering double boiler
  2. Turn off the heat and whisk in the oils until your consistency is uniform
  3. Place your double boiler insert into your bowl of cool water to quickly cool the mixture, stirring consistently.
  4. As it starts to solidify, fold in your antioxidant and essential oils
  5. Once your mixture reaches room temperature, whip your mixture until it gets a lighter, airier texture, using your milk frother or hand mixer (on low setting)—but don’t overdo it or it will cause the butter to solidify more than you might want! The texture should be like chocolate mousse.
  6. Use your spatula to spoon into jar (making sure your mixture doesn’t come into contact with any water)
  7. Close and tighten lid

Makes approximately 100 g of product. Store in a cool, dry place away from heat, light, and moisture.

If your skin is on the drier side, or if the weather is cold and dry, you may be able to use this as a facial moisturizer as well. If your skin is on the oilier side, it’s probably best to use this as a body moisturizer.

Here are some delicious chocolate-based recipes to add to your chocolate spa-themed Love Your Skin Date:

chocolate mousseHolistically Haute Hot Chocolate. This sugar and dairy-free hot chocolate recipe will warm your senses and your body. It’s super simple to make, and easy to modify.

Holistically Haute Chocolate Mousse. Chocolate mousse is hands down my favorite dessert. Not only does it remind me of Paris (where it’s “mousse au chocolate”), but it’s actually one of the healthier dessert choices out there because it’s so rich, you don’t need much to feel satisfied. This recipe can be made dairy-free, and contains no added sugar.

Holistically Haute Apothecary Lip Balm. To make this basic lip balm recipe chocolatey, all you need to do is change out the essential oil recommendation. Again, I recommend a blend of chocolate CO2 extract and Phytoscents Vanilla.


What’s your favorite chocolate-based skincare product or chocolate spa treatment?

Please share in the comments below!

*Cacao butter photo by Will Power via Flickr

10 Skin Brightening Herbs That Actually Work (and Are Safe)

10 Skin Brightening Herbs That Actually Work (and Are Safe)

If you’ve ever tried a skin brightening skin care product or home remedy to improve the appearance of melasma, dark circles, or other forms of hyperpigmentation and got no results, you are NOT alone. The truth is that a LOT of people are struggling with this. In fact, the majority of the emails and Facebook inquiries I get are from people who ask what skin brightening herbs they can use to lighten dark spots.

To put things into perspective, hyperpigmentation in general is the second most common skin complaint in the United States (acne is the first). Roughly 6 million Americans struggle with some form of hyperpigmentation (whether it is melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, chloasma, sun damage, etc); the majority of them being women. While hyperpigmentation can affect all skin tones, they are more common in Fitzpatrick III and higher (medium to darker tones than light).

Conventional hyperpigmentation treatments may have limited efficacy, but have safety concerns.

MelasmaHydroquinone, retinoids, and corticosteroids are still the “gold standard” topical medication for hyperpigmentation both in conventional OTC products and prescription topicals. As I stated in this article (which is one of the most-read articles on this blog of all time, AND on a daily basis), while these drugs may appear to alleviate symptoms during use, they present very real risks to long-term skin and overall health.

Many more holistically-minded dermatologists and aestheticians have begun to recommend more natural ingredients such as kojic acid, and other specific phytochemicals like ellagic acid, and alpha arbutin. While these are shown to be safer than the pharmaceutical options, there is still a risk of long-term skin damage from applying highly concentrated doses of isolated phytochemicals to an area. The skin’s receptors can be overwhelmed and eventually shut down, which could then, in defense, produce a melanin reaction, which defeats the purpose of using them in the first place.

The safer, but still effective approach, is to use skin brightening herbs in a properly formulated, balanced skin care regimen.

As I mention in this article, though certain components of plants may show more benefit than others, those “others” may in fact be important nutrients which serve co-factors for the vitamin or phytochemical desired in the formulation. As my friend and colleague, Dr. Trevor Cates teaches in the Herbal Skincare SummitA lot of the time, we think if we see a little benefit in one thing, more is better. So we isolate it and boost it up–but then we’re missing the more balanced benefits that nature allows for us by using the whole plant.” 

Nature has a way of providing us with what we need, and for protecting us by making sure nutrients are offered in a way that aren’t too overpowering, but still have the ability to get where they need to go in the body so they can do their jobs.

While scientific literature is quick to point out that there have been few clinical trials that evaluated the treatment of hyperpigmentation with natural ingredients (not to oversimplify the matter, but DUH. There is far more research on pharmaceutical treatments because they are where the most profit is, AND they have greater safety risks which warrant this type of testing than natural remedies do), research has shown that several phytochemicals did show efficacy as de-pigmenting agents.

Melanin lossThe conventional approach would be to treat these phytochemicals as pharmaceuticals, by isolating them from the plant and concentrating them into extracts or active ingredients. These would then be formulated with preservatives and stabilizers to prevent degradation, and packed into a delivery system to be able to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin where melanocytes (melanin-producing pigment cells) live. This raises the cost of the ingredient, and also creates an ingredient that could be too strong for skin that is already inflamed and immune-compromised.

The more holistic approach I’m offering you today, is to use products that are made with skin brightening herbs and oils that naturally contain these studied phytochemicals. This way you are still getting the benefit of the “science based active ingredient” (that’s the term the “professional” skin care companies usually throw around). However, now get them in a dose that is safe for daily use, and with the support of the plant’s OTHER many therapeutic properties which help that active component absorb and perform optimally. This presents less risk of inflammation, less risk of interference with the skin’s natural functions (herbs support structure and function, not hinder or alter), and less risk of sensitization from overwhelmed receptors. While these compounds are noted to “inhibit” certain functions having to do with melanogenesis, in the whole plant form, they do so without risk of melanocytotoxicity (damage to the cells themselves). That is not the case with isolated or synthesized actives that inhibit or suppress these functions.

Here are 10 phytochemicals science has shown to help with hyperpigmentation, and the skin brightening herbs and foods that contain them:


Found in the leaves of the aloe vera plant (Aloe barbadensis miller is the preferred species), this compound has shown to act as a tyrosinase inhibitor. Fun fact: Tyrosinase is the enzyme that oxidizes the amino acid, tyrosine. This action is what triggers the melanocytes to produce melanin pigment (AKA melanogenesis). Aloesin is also known to prevent melanin overproduction in the presence of the sun’s UV rays. It works synergistically with arbutin.


German chamomileThis aromatic compound is found in the essential oil (steam distilled from the aerial parts) of German chamomile (AKA “blue” chamomile). It is also found in the essential oil from the bark of the Candeia tree (Eremanthus erythropappus), the Peakel (Smyrniopsis aucheri), the leaves of the Pogostemon Speciosus Benth, and the leaves of Salvia runcinata (a sage native to South Africa). It is effective on brightening hyperpigmentation caused by excessive sun exposure by inhibiting MSH (melanocyte stimulating hormone)-induced melanogenesis. Alpha-bisabolol is also one of the terpenes present in cannabis.


This is one of the more commonly isolated skin brightening herb compounds (also seen as alpha-arbutin and deoxyarbutin) in some of the safer hyperpigmentation treatments on the market. However, it is found naturally occurring in bearberry, California buckeye, pear, cranberry, and blueberry. This one is mostly effective for sun-induced hyperpigmentation (sun spots), and works by inhibiting both tyrosinase and DHICA polymerase (which is an intermediate in the biosynthesis of melanin)

Azelaic acid:

This compound is found in Rockcress (Arabidopsis), wheat, rye, and barley. It works to prevent defensive melanin responses by inhibiting mitochondrial oxidoreductase, DNA synthesis, and tyrosinase.

Ellagic acid:

Mixed berriesThis polyphenol antioxidant is one of the easiest to find in common fresh fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, guava, pomegranate, beefsteak fungus, and pecans. It is also one of the components of green tea, which has been studied along with catechins for improving the appearance of sun damaged and hyperpigmented skin.


Found in licorice root, this isoflavonoid acts as a tyrosinase inhibitor for dark spots caused by UVB-induced sun damage, and also has been shown to disperse built-up in melasma.


Also known as Vitamin P, this phytonutrient is widely available in fresh fruits and vegetables, and is the most active bioflavonoid antioxidant in citrus fruits. It is a tyrosinase inhibitor that facilitates the formation of Vitamin C;  an important antioxidant which is protective of the melanocytes, and also must be present for collagen and elastin production. Other fruits that contain hesperidin are grapefruits, plums, bilberries, and apricots. You can also find it in green and yellow peppers, broccoli, and buckwheat.


One of the main active constituents of licorice root, liquiritin also has been shown to disperse melanin in cases of melasma similar to glabridin. One 2009 study found that liquiritin was more effective in visible depigmentation and melanin dispersement than the standard prescription and OTC dosages of hydroquinone.


Not to be confused with proanthocyanidins, there are both A and B-type procyanidins which have shown to improve melasma with their strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They are also tyrosinase inhibitors and scavengers of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and other free radicals. The most prominent food source of A-type procyanidins are found in cranberries, while plums, avocados, cinnamon, and peanuts also contain them. B-type procyanidins differ due to their content of catechins and epicatechins, and can be found in “blueberries, blackberries, marion berries, choke berries, grape seeds, apples, peaches, pears, nectarines, kiwi, mango, dates, bananas, Indian pumpkin, sorghum, barley, black-eyed peas, black beans, walnuts, and cashews.”


milk thistleMilk thistle (AKA silybum) seeds are the main source of silymarin. It is also abundant in wild artichokes, turmeric, coriander seeds and leaves (cilantro); and trace amounts can be found in dark-skinned grapes, beet greens, black cohosh, peanuts, brewer’s yeast and most berries. Silymarin is mainly known for its liver protective benefits, but directly benefit melasma and other forms of hyperpigmentation by inhibiting tyrosine from hydroxylating into L-DOPA along the thyroid hormone pathways.

There are other phytochemicals that found in skin brightening herbs, fruits, and vegetables, which you can find in some of the sources below. Please note that I’ve used the cosmetic term “skin brightening” instead of “skin lightening” or “skin whitening.” These are medical claims and terminology that suggests that the ingredients alter the structure or function of the body, which are drug/health claims.

Care for hyperpigmentation inside out and outside in.

After reading through the above (and information sourced below), you will notice that in some cases, several of these compounds can be found in the same fruits and vegetables and that some of them work together. I always recommend to my Create Your Skincare students that they choose multitasking ingredients that share common constituents across multiple categories whenever possible.

It’s also very important to note that while melanin production, function, and dysfunction absolutely are influenced by the sun and what happens to the skin topically, the cells themselves depend on the right nourishment from within to form and function the right way. Melanin production is also closely tied to liver function and thyroid function (as noted above, and also discussed in my bestselling book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself). So if you struggle with hyperpigmentation, I recommend adding a wide variety of the fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes mentioned above to your diet, in addition to finding ways to incorporate them into your topical skincare regimen.

To learn how to create and customize all natural herbal skin care products for yourself or for your clients, check out my Create Your Skincare online courses, and start with a free class today!



*The content in this article is for educational purposes only, is not intended to prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease or disorder; and is not a substitute for medical advice or care. Please consult with your own licensed healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or regimen, and for advice on your own individual condition.

**Image 1 credit: Elord from Wikidocs [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]. Image 2 credit: Jfgouzer [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]. Image 3 credit: blumenbiene Echte Kamille (Matricaria chamomilla) via photopin (license) . Image 4 credit: William Felker on Unsplash. Image 5 credit Orfeu de SantaTeresa on Unsplash

Starting Your Skin Care Business: What’s Held You Back?

Starting Your Skin Care Business: What’s Held You Back?

When we want to do something big in life–I mean really big to the point that it could CHANGE our lives for the better, it often seems like it’s one step forward, two steps back. When I first started my skin care business, I have to be honest, I had no ideas what I was getting into. I had no cash, no actual business know-how, no idea how to use technology or social media to house and grow my business. I also had serious impostor syndrome (who was I to start a skin care business or teach others about holistic skin care?), had two very young children, and was coming out of a health crisis.

It’s been over nine years since I officially started the Holistically Haute blog, and 8 since I officially started my first skin care business (I have two). So clearly, I found a way to make it work. It definitely hasn’t always been sunshine and roses, but I can confidently say I wouldn’t change a thing, and I love what I do. Read more about my story here.

I’ve been so fortunate to have the privilege of learning from some of the best business and marketing professionals out there, and I’ve also had the honor of working with amazing skin care business owners. I’ve witnessed firsthand what it looks like to be sooo close to something huge, but then see it fizzle out before it even has a chance. By firsthand, I mean I’ve witnessed this in my own behavior, as well as in my colleagues and students. Why does this happen?

The Big LeapWell sometimes there are truly extenuating external circumstances that put the brakes on our dreams. But more often than not (again–I’m guilty of this too), we put up our OWN barriers to success. There’s a concept called “upper limit issues” in the book The Big Leap (an absolute must-read if you want to have a business), which basically states that we set our own subconscious limits as to how much success we believe we deserve to have. And when we come too close to achieving it, that subconscious ego does everything it can to snap us back into our comfort zone; our status quo. Well, I’m sure you’ve read that nothing life-changing ever happens in our comfort zones, and we have to stretch ourselves–or leap–to achieve the big goals we have in life. To do that, we need to be very honest with ourselves as to what’s actually holding us back–is it internal or external? Is it real, or is it a story we’ve told ourselves based on early conditioning or outright misinformation we’ve been told?

I’ve found that the biggest thing holding aestheticians and wellness practitioners back from starting their own skin care line is a combination of misinformation and mindset.

So today, I’m sharing the top 4 skin care business misinformation and mindset traps, and how to avoid them!

1. “It’s more expensive to sell your own skin care products than to carry an existing line.”

Well it certainly CAN be, but the good news is that the costs are up to you when you have your own skin care business. When you buy someone else’s product line, you pay for all of the manufacturing, operating, transit, storage, and various other costs that the manufacturer itself has to cover, as well as any middle man distributors. Even though you may pay a wholesale price, that wholesale price has already been marked up likely more than once. And what you likely don’t realize, is that many of the professional skin care product lines that aestheticians buy aren’t being sold direct from the manufacturer–they are, in fact, private labeled–and that drives your cost up even more.

If you want to be a private labeler yourself, then you incur the cost of wholesaling PLUS the cost of packaging, labeling, graphic design, printing, marketing, etc. When you buy someone else’s product line (wholesale or private label), you also have absolutely no control of what goes into that product–you’ll likely never know the source of the raw materials, and if they decide to reformulate or discontinue a product, you could really get stuck. What if your clients don’t like the reformulated products and you have to liquidate them so they don’t spoil? You might lose money on inventory you can’t sell (or send back), or labels you can no longer use.

When you sell your own handmade products, you have full control over every part of the process. You decide which and how many ingredients go into the product, where and how they are sourced, how much to make in each batch, what type of packaging and labels to use, etc. There are no middlemen or miscellaneous fees other than you ordering the raw materials themselves–but since you are choosing where to shop, that’s something you also have some level of control over. When you have the power to make only what you need based on your current and projected demand, you won’t have overstock. If you do decide to reformulate, you can do it in very small test batches to make sure the products still work for your customers.

2. “I can’t legally sell the products I make in my state.”

This is something I hear a lot from aestheticians, especially. Somewhere along the line, someone started the idea that state boards don’t allow aestheticians to use or sell handmade products in their spa, or that practice liability companies don’t cover businesses who use handmade products. This isn’t exactly true.

While it is true that some state boards and insurance companies do have more to say about it than others (I’m looking at you, Florida), it is legal to sell handmade skin care products in every state in the United States, as long as you follow the law, don’t make inappropriate claims, and set your business up properly. And by the way, there are more limits on selling private labeled cosmetics with most practice liability insurance providers than properly established handmade cosmetics. You just have to do your homework, set yourself up and operate correctly, and make sure you’re taking advice from people who actually know the industry.

3. I don’t have enough time to make skin care products.

Time management is key for a successful skin care businessStop it right now. I don’t want to hear it. For real–it is tough love time. There is a universal truth about both time and money, and that is we always find enough of both for the things we truly value. So if time is something that stresses you out now, I want you to take one typical day in your life and keep a log of how you are using your time. How much time are you spending doing work that only you can do in your business? How much time are you spending on busy work that could either be done more efficiently or either a person or computer? How much time are you spending in Facebook groups contributing to skin care philosophy debates that really don’t do anyone any good? How much time are you spending watching Dr. Pimple Popper? How are you using your time between clients? What policies do you have set up in your business already for late clients or no-shows?

I will tell you this straight, but with love. If you truly want to have a successful skin care business, you will commit to building your schedule around that goal–at least until you find your groove. Then it gets much easier (it really does!). And that applies to ANY goal you have in life–if you are actually serious that you want it, you will do whatever it takes to get it. Otherwise your dream stays a dream, and someone else gets to make it their reality.

4. “I’m not qualified to have a skin care business.”

You don't have to be a scientist to have a skin care businessThis is the one that tripped me up the most at first, because I kept telling myself the story that I needed to have a medical, microbiology, or chemistry degree to make effective skin care products. I told myself this even though I’d been making my own herbal skin care concoctions since I was a kid, worked in various aspects of the beauty industry since I was 17, and was a licensed aesthetician (and a darn smart one too). I told myself that even though my products were the best I’d ever used, there’s no way they’d work that well for other people. And then when I finally did get brave enough to share them with others, and heard that they were the best products THEY’D ever used, I still believed they were just being nice.

Imposter syndrome hits certain people no matter how many years of life experience they have, courses they take, certifications they earn, or degrees they have. Some people–like me and probably like you if you are reading this–are life learners who always strive to become a better version of themselves. And that is fine! But there comes a time in life when it’s time to trust yourself–that you DO know enough and that you DO have the sense to get the right support from the right people when you need it to make your dreams come true.

While many of my Create Your Skincare Professional Edition students are aestheticians, herbalists, health coaches, and aromatherapists, I’ve found that those are not pre-requisites for having a successful skin care business.

My most successful students have been the ones who show up, do the work, ask questions, manage their time wisely, hold themselves accountable, and ask for support when they need it. I promise you this–if you are truly serious that you want to have a successful skin care business and you are ready to buckle down, get your head in the game, and get to work–then you will achieve your goal.

My online course, Create Your Skincare Professional Edition can help!

The most important part of starting a skin care business is getting the right support from the right people, from the start. In CYS Pro, you will learn to design complete herbal skin care product lines either to sell as a signature range, or to offer to your clients on a custom basis. You will learn what you need to know to do so legally and compliantly. You will learn organizational business, planning, finance, and marketing skills to make sure that your formulation decisions are smart ones from the start. You will learn different business model options to bring additional revenue streams into your existing practice if you have one, or start a new business fresh.

Women supporting womenYou will learn at home with the convenience of online learning, but with the realtime guidance and accountability of a live instructor and classroom experience. You will benefit from a support group learning environment in addition to personal mentoring from me.

In short, you will learn all the skills and get all the support you need to start your herbal skin care business in just 16 weeks. Our next live semester of Create Your Skincare Professional Edition starts soon!

You can learn more and take our free Skincare Business Crash Course HERE.

Be honest–what’s held YOU back from starting your skin care business?

Please share in the comments below!

*Clock photo by Jiyeon Park on Unsplash. 

**This post contains affiliate links

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