Healthy, Tasty Food Made Easy? Yes Please!

Healthy, Tasty Food Made Easy? Yes Please!

I love talking about skincare products, making skincare products, and different herbs, oils, and other natural skincare ingredients more than just about anything else. But the truth is that topical skincare wasn’t enough to help me clear my skin, and it’s not enough for most people. You’ve got to make positive changes in your diet, lifestyle, and mindset too, which I talk about in my bestselling book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself. That was my first book, and really has become my holistic skincare manifesto. Besides Create Your Skincare and the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance, it’s also what I’m most known for.

But did you know I wrote another book just about a year after Love Your Skin, Love Yourself was published? I actually co-wrote it with my husband Joe, who’s an award winning chef (like serious award winning chef–he’s placed in the Culinary Olympics and Hotelympia international competitions, Societe Culinaire Philanthropique, in addition to others). It’s called The Sauce Code, and it has seven really versatile sauce recipes, but more importantly, it teaches busy families how to save time and money in the kitchen, and make just about any meal healthier by adding simple, delicious, plant-based sauces. It truly does teach you healthy, tasty food made easy.

The Sauce CodeIt’s a great little book, but I don’t get asked to talk about it that often, since it’s not about skincare directly (even though adding more veggies to your meals and snacks can only benefit your skin). So when Brodie Welch invited me to talk about the connection between what we eat and how that impacts our skin, as well as strategies for getting out of a “food rut” and how to implement healthy eating in an easier way, I was so excited to talk about this great little book, in addition to Love Your Skin, Love Yourself and some of my other work.

In Healthy, Tasty Food Made Easy, Brodie and I talked about:

  • What does being a health coach have to do with skincare?
  • The important role a health diet plays in having healthy skin.
  • What is the “Skin Trigger Trifecta?”
  • Once you have removed some of the trigger foods in your diet, what is the next step to having clear skin?
  • What it was like to write a book with my chef-husband.
  • How preparing sauces in advance can be beneficial for those with busy lifestyles.
  • The benefits of looking at a home kitchen as a professional kitchen.
  • What foods we should avoid buying on sale. 

Give my episode, ‘Healthy, Tasty Food Made Easy’ a listen below:

You can download this episode, and subscribe to A Healthy Curiosity on iTunes HERE!

A Healthy Curiosity’s mission is to explore what it takes to be well in a busy world, offer self-care strategies and support around what gets in the way, and demystify natural healing modalities. Host Brodie Welch, L.Ac., is an expert in Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, as well as a teacher and practitioner of qi gong, meditation, yoga, lifestyle and diet counseling who tries to walk her talk about health and mindfulness as a recovering Type-A, parent, and business owner. The podcast blends interviews with fellow experts in Chinese Medicine and natural health care about the conditions we treat and strategies we use clinically, with simple self-care tips to help you feel calm, centered, and energized; and personal chats where we explore what gets in the way of our best intentions: perfectionism, big goals, habits and routines, chronic pain, overwork and overwhelm, boundaries, limiting beliefs — and what it takes to overcome such obstacles mindfully.

Love Your Skin, Love YourselfWant to grab copies of my books?

They are both available on Amazon!

  • Get Love Your Skin, Love Yourself HERE (available in paperback and Kindle)
  • Get The Sauce Code HERE (available in Kindle only)

Oh and please leave a review after you’ve read them! I greatly appreciate it 🙂

What was your biggest takeaway from ‘Healthy, Tasty Food Made Easy?’

Please share in the comments below!


Ode to the Multi-passionate Entrepreneur

Ode to the Multi-passionate Entrepreneur

Are you a Jack (or Jane) of all trades? Or what’s now often referred to as a “multi-passionate” person or multi-passionate entrepreneur? That’s me too, and for a long time, I thought it was a bad thing. So many people (parents, teachers, successful friends) asked me why I can’t just focus on one thing? Why do I need to explore more interests, earn more certifications, pivot in my business when I can just focus on doing one thing really well and make a ton of money? First of all, that’s not necessarily realistic–but second of all, it’s just not my nature. And if you’re reading this, I’m guessing it’s not in your nature too. So today I want to celebrate us multi-passionate entrepreneurs and people, because what I’ve come to figure out is that there are a LOT of good things about being like us.

If you are a multi-passionate entrepreneur, I’m sure you can attest to this: when someone asks you “What do you do?” It’s really hard to give a simple answer.

When I was in both nutrition school, and when I studied marketing, branding, and even PR later on, I was asked to give my “elevator pitch,” which is typically an introductory statement that is typically given in one minute or less, to tell people what I do. And like many other people, I was really tripped up with that, because it’s not easy to say everything that I do. I can’t exactly say “I’m an author, blogger, holistic skincare entrepreneur, skincare formulator, skincare educator, herbalist, Reiki practitioner, health coach, aesthetician, metaphysical minister, qi gong practitioner, speaker, mentor, intuitive, skincare business and marketing coach, copywriter, editor, and curriculum developer.” Not if I want the conversation to continue beyond “What?” or “Oh, that’s nice” (with a glazed over gaze).

I was able, years and years later, able to narrow it down to holistic skincare entrepreneur. OK fine, sometimes I get a little more descriptive, and I say holistic skincare coach, educator, formulator, and author. Those are all different descriptors of what I do. But really, my main thing is holistic and integrative skincare, and I run two businesses that serve people in that world.

But my multi-passionate entrepreneur self didn’t want to be pigeonholed.

Luckily, In that holistic skincare realm–which of course is part of the beauty, wellness, and health health industries–there are all sorts of different offshoots in which holistic skincare can spring into, which is a really good thing, because multi-passionate entrepreneurs tend to get bored easily! If this is you, you know what I mean.

Now, there are certainly some entrepreneurs who find their one thing, and they love that thing enough that they make a whole lifelong career out of it. And that is amazing if that’s you. That’s just not me.

Skincare is my thing now, and it probably always will be my main thing, because I keep coming back to it. That’s how I know that the way I’m meant to deliver my life’s purpose in this world. Whatever that “big plan” is, it’s through skincare. I just had to figure out what within skincare I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it.

And before I got to this point, I was one of those people who took a really long time to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. And I hear this from a lot of people who have their own businesses now as well. So I’m just going to tell you a little bit about how I got here.

But before I do that, I wanted to tell you that I now offer a free class called Skincare Business Crash Course. If your multi-passionate entrepreneurial spirit has an inkling of desire for starting a skincare business, or if you already have a business in the skincare world, and you want to see what else you can do with that that might include custom formulation, or having your own signature skincare brand, I can help you with that. Register HERE.

Back to the story of how I became a multi-passionate entrepreneur.

I want you to know that if you are a multi-passionate entrepreneur, it’s great. You’re perfect just the way you are. You don’t have to only focus on one thing, and feel like you’ll never be able to experience all of these amazing other things that you’re interested in and you’re passionate about in your life.

It’s really OK to have a lot of things that you love doing; but the biggest pitfall that I’ve seen, that I’ve observed from other multi-passionate entrepreneurs in my life, both friends and family members, as well as some things that I experienced in the earlier stages of my business, is that it can be a little bit distracting. When you find yourself getting bored with one thing and then moving on to another thing, you spread yourself really thin. It might seem like a lot gets done, but it doesn’t always get done effectively, well, efficiently, or cost effectively.

I tell the whole story of some of the challenges I experienced as a multi passionate person in this video:

Click HERE for a list of things I wish I knew before I started my businesses.

The moral of the story is that I found ways to infuse all of my loves–all of my passions–into my two businesses. They don’t always show up in the same ways, and I am sensitive to the fact that people come to me from diverse backgrounds–but I feel that as women, connecting with the Divine creatrix within is something that is so needed in today’s white male-dominated world.

Being a multi-passionate entrepreneur has helped me create a beautiful life.

Both my businesses are doing very well. And, I’m a mom. I have two girls who are amazing. They’re 13 and 10, and they’re ballet dancers, and one of them I actually homeschool. I actually am able to make time for all of that. I have time for these incredible growing businesses, which are like two other children in my life. But I also have time to be a very present mom for both my kids. I have time to be a very present wife for my husband. I have time for my pets and for my volunteer work. And I also do ballet myself, and I have time for that. I make time for it.

I think that being a multi-passionate entrepreneur is fantastic, because it makes you really good at multi-tasking. It makes you really good at coming up with quick solutions, and making strong connections that might not makes sense to everyone. But when you draw from different strengths that you’ve accumulated through all of these interests, and you’re able to unite them, it makes your thing really special and unique. And it makes you able to offer something that other people just can’t, because it is uniquely yours.

So if you are a multi-passionate entrepreneur, pat yourself on the back. Hug yourself. Because you’re awesome.

You have all of these incredible, incredible strengths and talents and interests and messages that you’re just dying to share with the world. And they’ve been sent to you for a reason. You’re the one who’s meant to deliver them.

But what I want to encourage you to do, instead of getting a little bit distracted and jumping around and having that butterfly shiny object syndrome, instead of just hopping from one thing to the next to the next to the next, see how you can connect them. See how you can make them a logical path. And see how all of these things can be your toolbox.

Are you a multi-passionate entrepreneur too?

I’d LOVE to know how you nurture all of your interests and how they enrich your business. If it’s something you find challenging, I’d love to hear about that too. Please share in the comments below!


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A Simple Story About Small Gestures at Whole Foods Market

A Simple Story About Small Gestures at Whole Foods Market

This post is not about holistic skincare. And honestly I didn’t intend to write a blog post today. But something really cool just happened to me on the grocery line at Whole Foods Market that I wanted to share. And by the way, this isn’t the first time I’ve had good things happen at Whole Foods Market, which is the biggest reason I choose to shop there, despite the fact that they are certainly not the lowest priced store. Oh and if anyone from Amazon happens to read this…I truly hope you strive to keep the culture and ethos of Whole Foods that allows for cool things like this to keep happening.

But on this busy evening, I was so affected by this experience, that I put my groceries in my car, grabbed my laptop, and went back inside to write this.

It’s a simple story about small gestures, and I hope it makes you smile.

It was about 5 pm on a Monday evening, on the seventh day of Hanukkah and just days before Christmas. The store was crowded, and every single line was long. I got on what seemed to be the shortest of the long lines, and it was soon made clear that I had not chosen the fastest of the long lines. You know when you seem to get behind the person that has a TON of groceries, and then there are questions, or coupons, and conversation…and it just seems to take forever? Yup, that was the line I chose tonight. But as I looked around, I really had no idea if changing lines would have gotten me out of the store any sooner. So I decided to wait.

My makeshift Whole Foods Market “office” where I wrote this blog post after this event transpired.

I noticed that the cashier was very friendly, and was very chatty with each customer. That might annoy some customers–and I’ll admit, if I was in a rush, it would have annoyed me. But clearly I wasn’t in a rush because I’m literally sitting in the store, writing this now. The customers ahead of me had smiles on their faces as well, so clearly they were enjoying the conversation.

It was finally my turn–and I had a full cart full of groceries unloaded on the belt–when a gentleman came up behind me with only two things. I told him he should go ahead of me. He declined, saying I was there first, and that he didn’t mind waiting. I said, “no–you only have two things, please go ahead.” He thanked me, and as the cashier was finishing up with the customer ahead of me, the gentleman said to me “you know, I never mind waiting for her. She’s a kind and wonderful person.” Still, he went ahead, and the cashier recognized him immediately, came out from around the register to give him his receipt, bag, and a Happy Holidays hug.

I was finally up, and the cashier and I exchanged hellos. I asked how she was, and she said she was grateful to have woken up today, because not everyone got to. The rest of my checkout experience was pleasant–the cashier commented on how yummy this was, and what a great price on shampoo that was, and then complimented me for my fairly low bill, having chosen all organic foods, AND stocking up on shampoo (it was about $160 for a week’s worth of groceries and four bottles of haircare products for my family of four).

She then told me how much the store appreciated kind gestures like mine, and that my organic grape tomatoes were on the house.

I wanted to share this story for a couple of reasons.

1. We don’t always have to be in such a rush. It’s OK to wait on line sometimes, and it’s OK to be patient while others enjoy a nice conversation.

2. Have conversations. In this digital world, we all have a deficiency of human connection and actual conversation using spoken words. Take the time. Use your words. Make eye contact. Smile.

3. Do something nice just because. I didn’t let the gentleman go ahead of me to get free tomatoes. I simply didn’t see why he should have to wait for my big order. But it made him feel good, the cashier feel good, and me feel good. So one small thing positively affected three people.

4. Be kind to people in retail, restaurants, and at the checkout in the grocery store. Be kind to delivery people, sanitation workers, and customer service representatives. Always, yes, but especially during the holidays. They are working ridiculously long hours. Mostly on their feet. I know because I worked retail for a good 16 years of my life. I was yelled at, had things thrown at me, got cursed at, and witnessed extreme selfishness and pettiness–all for what? A few saved minutes? A couple of saved dollars? Come on.

The commercialization of the holidays has turned me into quite a grinch. But small moments like these–people slowing down, having kind conversations, and just being polite and decent, gave me faith that there are still good people out there.

Be one of them. Often.

Got any random acts of kindness or stories of humans being good humans to share?

I’d love to read about it in the comments below 🙂

*Image credit: Kate Ter Haar


Whole Food Nutrition in Your Skincare Products

Whole Food Nutrition in Your Skincare Products

Humans have utilized plants for healing and health since the beginning of their existence on Planet Earth. Though animal nutrients from animal foods are beneficial for many people in the diet, and may be used for topical skin health, plants are abundant and offer a wider range of uses in topical skin preparations. Just like the phrase “you are what you eat” rings true for foods consumed internally, one can just as easily make the argument pertaining to topically applied “skin food.” Though vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and other nutrients may be synthesized in a lab, or isolated from the whole and offered as a dietary supplement or isolated topical active, there is no substitute for whole food nutrition for gorgeous skin and a healthy body.

What is whole food nutrition?

Simply put, whole food nutrition is obtained from foods–plants and animals–that are in a form as close to its whole, living form found in nature. In nutrition, this means getting vitamins from foods that naturally contain them instead of from supplements or processed foods that have been fortified with synthetic versions of the nutrients. In skincare, it means using ingredients in your skincare products that are minimally processed, and often processed using traditional means, rather than mass produced in a laboratory. Examples are unrefined, unbleached oils that have been cold pressed from nuts and seeds such as jojoba oil or shea butter; in addition to herbal preparations made from using natural solvents like alcohol, glycerine, or a carrier to extract the nutrients from freshly harvested plant parts (flowers, stems, roots, seeds) or even the whole plant itself.

For more about different ways herbs are prepared for topical use, click HERE.

Studies have shown the benefits and efficacy of individual phytochemical constituents on the skin, such as isolated antioxidants branded as Resveratrol® Pycnogenol®; as well as amino acids and peptides. While these, in addition to isolated vitamins and minerals may have measurable benefit, absorption and delivery is often an issue because when you separate an individual part from the whole, its benefits begin to degrade and its bioavailability is reduced. This is why so many ingredients like these contain hidden ingredients–they need to be packaged into phospholipids and other delivery systems, and also must be preserved before they’re even added to a formulation. That, by the way, is something that will not be disclosed to a customer, or even necessarily, to the product manufacturer.

Why does this happen?

The reason is that 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. Co-factors are “‘helper molecules’ that help in the biochemical transformations.” Co-enzymes are a type of co-factor, and for the purposes of this article, will be referred to as co-factors. They are needed to enhance the star nutrient’s bioavailability—meaning its ability to be recognized, absorbed, and utilized by the body. Skincare nutrition that’s introduced to the skin in a form as close to whole as possible, with the least amount of processing possible, contains the necessary co-factors for bioavailability and therefore, efficacy.

Let’s consider Vitamin A as an example. Retinols and other Vitamin A metabolites and precursors are some of the most common—and most controversial ingredients in skincare. Though there are known, scientifically proven benefits of Vitamin A for various skin conditions including acne, there are problems with many forms of Vitamin A used in skincare. The most commonly used retinols in over-the-counter products are low quality. Higher quality cosmetic grade retinols (retinyl palmitate, pro-retinol) have concerns with absorption, leading to topical oxidation and inflammation, in addition to phototoxicity. Pharmaceutical retinoids such as tretinoin and retinoid acid are known to be skin irritant, drying, and also phototoxic. Other Vitamin A precursors such as retinaldehyde and retinyl propionate are known to be less sensitizing and more bioavailable, but are less stable and more expensive—and while the skin is able to store these more than other retinols, these may still be too strong and sensitizing for some people. However, properly extracted plant oils that naturally contain carotenoid antioxidants plus cofactors, such as carrot seed oil, rosehip seed oil, or sea buckthorn oil, sunflower seed oils and others are easily recognized by the skin, and since many are oils, are more likely to absorb than water soluble actives can without further processing.

The same action is demonstrated in the world of nutrition. While certain individual vitamins show benefit for specific health benefits (Vitamin C’s positive effect on the immune system, for example), taking a vitamin in supplement form is not as effective or as bioavailable as consuming it in a whole food form (example: eating citrus fruits). And like with supplements, not all individual skin nutrients and chemicals are are created equal. The purity, quality, solubility, and many other factors determine efficacy and bioavailability.

The importance of bioavailability for healthy skin

One of the main causes of acne and other skin disorders is vitamin deficiency, “either because not enough of the vitamin is obtained from dietary sources (primary deficiency) or because there is a problem with the absorption, transportation or utilization of the vitamin (secondary deficiency).” Common deficiencies associated with acne are Vitamins A, B Complex, C, D, E, and K; in addition to mineral deficiencies of zinc and selenium. Vitamins A and D are co-factors of Zinc, Vitamin K is a co-factor for Vitamin D, many of the B vitamins are co-factors for each other, and so on.

While healthy skin cells are built from the inside out, it’s always been my belief that we must also nourish and protect the skin from the outside in. The skin’s barrier function is primarily a lipid barrier. Nutrients stand a much better chance to actually get absorbed into the deeper layers of the skin where they can do their job to nourish and protect the skin when they are introduced to the skin in the forms of oils, lipids, and fats. Water soluble extracts and actives have a much tougher job; though the skin does also need to be hydrated for maximum absorption potential.

Whole food nutrition as a skincare business focus

You may have noticed that natural plant oils and butters are highly on trend in the natural skincare market today. There are several reasons for this–mainly, because they do not harbor bacteria, mold, and yeast the same way water-containing products do–but also because they are highly effective.

What’s interesting is that licensed aestheticians used to want to exclusively use and carry “professional” skincare brands in their spas (click HERE to read more about what that actually means), but that’s starting to change. More and more aestheticians now seek out artisan skincare makers who specialize in top quality, organic oil blends. Brands like Laurel Whole Plant Organics, Annmarie Skincare, and Qet Botanicals have become extremely popular choices for holistically minded aestheticians to use to create custom treatments, and recommend to their clients for their homecare regimens.

Many of my Create Your Skincare Professional Edition students also focus on whole food nutrition in their boutique skincare and custom ranges, and have a preference for oils. So for the reasons of bioavailability, versatility, feasibility, efficacy, and popularity, it’s a fantastic time to start a whole food nutrition-based skincare business.

In the plant world, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts, and the parts depend on each other. The whole human body will always benefit more from whole plant and whole food nutrition, topically and internally. Thus it is possible to use food and plants as medicine.

Have you thought about starting a skincare business or adding customized skincare to your practice?

Create Your Skincare Mastermind teaches you to create and customize all natural, boutique skincare products from scratch–I even teach you how to choose the best ingredients for different skin types and create your own herbal skincare ingredients. Once you learn that, you’ll get certified as a Boutique Skincare Designer, and actually build (or solidify your existing) skincare business from the ground up. You’ll learn how to get your business started, how to be legally compliant, how to manage your time efficiently so you’re an awesome boss AND employee, how to craft your signature brand, what you need on your website, and so much more.

Click here to learn more and save your spot in our next class!

You can also get started today with a free class, where you’ll learn to make two simple, yet effective whole food nutrition-based skin moisturizers.

Click HERE to sign up the free skincare class today.

Gluten-Free Skincare: What You Need to Know

Gluten-Free Skincare: What You Need to Know

Gluten-free is big business these days. I remember just a few years ago when my father-in-law was first diagnosed with Celiac disease how difficult it was to adjust to the gluten-free lifestyle. Food shopping was difficult, as only boutique food markets and health food stores sold gluten-free bread and pasta (and there were very few choices), eating out was even more challenging (and stress-inducing). Well nowadays, just about every grocery store has a gluten-fee aisle, and most restaurants have a good variety of gluten-free offerings. There are even gluten-free food stands at stadiums and boardwalks. Though I still wouldn’t say it’s easy (or cheap) to be gluten-free, it’s certainly more accessible. Gluten-free is also big business in non-food categories like Play-Doh® for kids, shampoo, and of course–we can’t ignore the gluten-free skincare market.

I’m often asked for gluten-free skincare, hair care, nail polish, and makeup recommendations.

Though most people who ask don’t have Celiac disease, many of them do seek to avoid gluten due to allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities that may be the cause of their skin problems. As I wrote in my bestselling book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself, gluten is a member of the Skin Trigger Trifecta, and is known to perpetuate conditions such as acne, rosacea, and eczema. But is gluten something that really poses a problem when applied topically? Or are its adverse effects only related to internal consumption?

I’ve looked at the research from both the nutritional and topical perspectives, and here’s what I’ve concluded at this point, bearing in mind the fact that new research comes out all the time, so this conclusion may change.

First and foremost, if you have been diagnosed with Celiac disease, wheat or gluten allergy, or functional diagnostic testing you’ve had indicates that you have a sensitivity or digestive intolerance to gluten or wheat, I recommend you consult with your licensed health practitioner on this matter, and my rule of thumb is that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk whether or not topical exposure to gluten poses a risk to those with known gluten-related health issues.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Dermatitis Herpetiformis

As of now, the scientific and medical communities agree that Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and gluten sensitivity–in addition to certain skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, or dermatitis herpetiformis (a type of eczema specifically linked to gluten intolerance) is caused by the autoimmune response that occurs from internal consumption of gluten or gluten-containing grains such as wheat, barley, spelt, or cross contaminated grains such as oats. Research does not indicate that topical application of products containing any form of gluten is problematic, since gluten is a molecule too large to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin where it could be absorbed into the blood stream. Doctors do acknowledge that these ingredients could enter the body through broken skin, mucus membranes, and of course accidental ingestion (lip balm, lipstick, or even eating with one’s hands after using a hand cream containing gluten)–but it’s unlikely that ingested gluten would exceed 20PPM (the FDA’s cutoff point for gluten-free designation).

From a topical perspective, it is true that gluten itself is a large molecule, like many other proteins (collagen’s a common one), that when applied topically, will not penetrate the skin without help. By help, I mean with the assistance of steam, electric current (iontophoresis, nanocurrent, LED), oils (may allow the ingredients to enter via hair follicles), or special processing pre-formulation. Another issue is that cosmetic ingredient manufacturers and formulators know about penetration issues, which is why proteins and other large molecule substances are hydrolyzed and may also be packaged in a phospholipid or other type of liposomal delivery system to increase the likelihood of penetration and bioavailability. We see this often with collagen and hyaluronic acid–two common cosmeceutical ingredients with molecular size issues.

As a formulator myself, I can tell you that the majority of cosmetic or pharmaceutical grade ingredients have been hydrolyzed or packaged in a penetration-enhancing delivery system. It’s not always possible to know how much gluten a product actually contains. “Unfortunately, suppliers of raw materials don’t always certify the concentration of gluten in the raw materials that they provide skin care companies. And since the raw materials are not standardized with each batch (meaning they adjust each batch to contain a constant amount of gluten) the gluten content could fluctuate…” according to Dr. Diana Howard, in an article from the International Dermal Institute.

That being said, it’s still hard to say how much of the ingredient will actually be absorbed.

It’s absolutely true that the skin is designed to keep invaders out, and since many (but not all) gluten-containing ingredients are water soluble, they will already have a tough time penetrating through the skin’s lipid barrier. However, that’s assuming that the person’s barrier function is intact–and an intact barrier function requires all the immune functions of the body to be working optimally, and for there to be little presence of inflammation. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, and the presence of food sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies also often indicate the presence of inflammation and autoimmunity. Because of that, it’s safe to say that many people–especially those with known autoimmune disease and food-related health issue–have compromised barrier functions. Therefore, the ingredient’s chance of penetrating and absorbing is increased.

al_absorption_by_skinWe also know that ingredients absorbed transdermally bypass the digestive process and therefore may not go through the same metabolic processes that lead to the autoimmune and inflammatory responses that happen when gluten is ingested internally. That being said, if someone has an allergy to a substance, any form of exposure to even a single molecule of that substance is enough to produce a reaction. Sensitivities act similar to allergies, in that the substance does not have be internally consumed and digested for it to cause a reaction. The difference is that the reaction is typically delayed, and is more mild than an allergic reaction. So if someone who has gluten intolerance or Celiac disease knowingly uses a topical skincare product containing some form of gluten and they get a rash or other sign of a reaction, it’s possible that they are having an irritant or allergic reaction, not an autoimmune reaction. It’s also possible that the reaction might be from something else in the product, such a synthetic fragrance or preservative.

What’s my verdict about gluten-free skincare?

Again–if you have a known gluten-related health condition, or are experiencing allergy-like symptoms that haven’t yet been explained, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry. However, the judicious use of the term “gluten-free” in skincare and personal care products has become just as problematic as the terms “cruelty-free,” “organic,” and “all-natural.” It’s just another form of greenwashing, or in this case, healthwashing that is more meaningful to the company’s bottom line, than it is for actual benefit. That being said…

Here are the most common gluten-containing ingredients used in skincare, hair care, and cosmetics.

There are many versions of these ingredients, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid products that have any mention of the English or Latin names of wheat, barley, oats, corn (Wait, corn? Keep reading to find out why…), and other gluten-containing grains.

Oats–‘avena sativa.’

Sources of glutenOats don’t inherently contain gluten but are often stored with and processed with and contaminated by gluten from wheat and other gluten-free containing grains.

  • Oat Hydrosolate–hydrolyzed oat protein
  • Oat Extract–Lactobacillus/Oat Ferment Extract Filtrate
  • Colloidal Oatmeal
  • Oat amino acids (avena sativa)
  • Sodium cocoyl hydrolyzed oat protein
  • Sodium Lauroyl Oat Amino Acids

Wheat–triticum vulgare, triticum aestivum:

  • Wheat amino acids
  • Wheat germ extract
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Wheat seed extract
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Hydrolyzed wheat gluten

Barley–hordeum distichon:

  • Barley extract

ancient_corn_type_-_mexicoCorn–maize, zea mays:

Corn contains its own form of gluten which is not the same as that from wheat, barley, etc. Some people with Celiac tolerate gluten from corn just fine, others do not. So if you’re using gluten-free skincare and are still having weird reactions, check to see if your products contain contain corn-derived ingredients.

  • Hydrolyzed corn protein
  • Cornstarch
  • Corn silk
  • Corn hydrosolate
  • Glucono delta lactone/gluconolactone

Other cosmetic ingredients that are either sourced from or contain blends of glutenous grains:

  • Beta gluten (this is often derived from oats, wheat, and barley though it is possible to source it from mushrooms)
  • 1,3 beta glucan
  • Samino peptide complex, sodium C8-16 isoalkylsuccinyl
  • Vitamin E –tocopherol–(may be sourced from wheat germ, though this is less the case these days–GMO soy is a bigger issue. I recommend either sunflower derived or bioidentical forms of Vitamin E)
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein–questionable sources, wheat, oat, barley often in the mix
  • Plant-based keratins–contain hydrolyzed corn protein, hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Beer extract–very trendy these days! May contain wheat, barley, hops
  • Plant-based peptides: hydrolyzed wheat protein or hydrolyzed wheat gluten. Examples are Trylagen® PCB, Aldenine® PBC, Pentacare® NA-PF
  • Ferulic acid–often sourced from the grasses of wheat, oats
  • Different blends–enzymes, antioxidant complexes, etc–often contain wheat germ
  • Dextrin
  • Maltodextrin
  • Enzyme-modified gluten
  • Malt extract
  • Phytosphingosine extract
  • Whole grain flours, ferments, or extracts

This is just a sampling of ingredients. New ones enter the market constantly and go by many names. It’s always my belief that just like with the food you eat, the only way to know what’s in your products (and how much of each ingredient, the source and quality of the ingredient, etc) is to make them yourself. You may see it recommended on other health and wellness websites to just use coconut oil or jojoba oil. While this might be OK for some people, your skincare routine really should be something that’s customized to your skin’s unique needs.

Learn to make your own customized, natural facial oil and facial butter in my free online class!

Do you use gluten-free skincare?

What’s been your experience? Please share in the comments below!


*Image 2 by Madhero88 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons. Image 3 by Christopher Exley ( [CC BY 1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons. Image 4, public domain. Image 5 by Celinebj (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Appeal of the DIY Facial Mask–Recipe Inside!

The Appeal of the DIY Facial Mask–Recipe Inside!

A good DIY facial mask is one of my most popular “do you have a good recipe for a ______?” requests. For a long time I wondered why. Masks aren’t typically part of a daily skincare regimen. I used to respond with “why do you want to make a mask? Why not a cleanser or toner?” The most typical response to that was something along the lines of “Oh I could never make something like that. Masks look simple.” And that’s true–you can make a good DIY mask out of just about anything you have in your kitchen, pantry, or garden. You might just need to add a few little extras like clay or seaweed powder, but even those are optional.

Simplicity is definitely one of the draws of the DIY facial mask.

Delicious green smoothieThe more I thought about it though, the more I realized that the reason people love masks so much goes beyond simplicity.

Daily skincare regimens typically consist of cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen. They are most often rushed upon waking in the morning, and performed sleepily at night. They are seen as more of a necessity to keep skin in check, rather than something that’s actually pleasurable.

The facial mask is different. There’s nothing rushed about it, since it needs to sit on the surface of the skin for a period of time before being removed. You can’t just slather it on and then run out the door because well, it’s usually green, gray, brown, or opaque white. You apply the mask at a specific time of a skincare regimen–after the cleansing, toning and maybe exfoliating, and before the moisturizer–so there it does require more of a ritual than a typical daily routine. You’ve got to plan for it.

The facial mask moves skincare past the daily regimen and into a self-care ritual.

That’s why people ask for it–it’s a subtle request for more self-care and pampering in their lives. Not everyone can indulge in a spa treatment or other typical pampering excursion on a regular basis, but we all need and deserve pampering. A DIY facial mask is the perfect way to give yourself a treat, an opportunity to slow down for a bit and enjoy some nourishment, and enjoy the lovely glow that follows.

My favorite way to make a truly nourishing DIY facial mask is to start with a freshly blended green or fruit smoothie or juice, and add clay.

Here’s one of my favorite DIY smoothie facial mask recipes:

French Green Clay, White Kaolin Clay, Rhassoul ClayIngredients:

  • 2 cups baby spinach (rich in A vitamins and essential fatty acids)
  • 1 cup diced pineapple (contains bromelain–an enzyme that promotes gentle exfoliation)
  • 1 kiwi (Rich in Vitamins C and E)
  • 1 avocado (Naturally moisturizing with healthy fats, and rich with carotenoid antioxidants)
  • Juice from half a lemon (Vitamin C, citric acid)
  • 1 cup of spring or filtered water (hydrating, also may contain minerals depending on the source)
  • 1 tablespoon of mineral-rich Bentonite, Rhassoul, French green, or white kaolin clay (or a combination of clays–but use the kaolin if you have drier, or more sensitive skin)

Click HERE to read more about different clays and muds.


  1. Add all ingredients into a high speed blender, except the clay. Set aside 2 tablespoons of smoothie in a small prep bowl, and pour the rest into a glass or mason jar.
  2. Add your clay to the smoothie in the prep bowl, little by little, until you get an opaque, paste-like consistency.
  3. Apply it to the entire face and neck, avoiding the eye area and lips
  4. Leave it on for 15 minutes, and drink the remaining juice or smoothie while it sets
  5. Remove gently with a soft cloth and warm water.
  6. Tone, and apply moisturizer

Rachael DIY Facial MaskI hope you try this smoothie facial mask recipe yourself!

Please leave a comment below and let me know how it goes.

Here’s a picture of me in  my own DIY facial mask. I’d love to see yours! Post it on Instagram and tag me @rachaelpontillo 🙂

If you liked this recipe, click HERE for a similar one.

Also, if you want to learn how to up your mask (and other skincare product) making skills, check out my online course, Create Your Skincare!

*Image credits Rachael Pontillo.

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