How Do You Practice Self-Care AND Still Nurture Others?

How Do You Practice Self-Care AND Still Nurture Others?

How do you balance self-care while still being the everything to everyone? That seems to ask the age old question women (especially moms) get asked all the time. How do you give to others while still making your own needs are met?

What it really boils down to is the idea of finding balance. I remember being on a business retreat a couple of years ago, and the idea of finding balance when you’re a mom who also runs a business came up. What surprised me was how triggering the word “balance” was for so many of the women there. After a bit of discussion, the group consensus was one of two things. Either “balance means whatever you need it to mean to feel balanced,” or “balance doesn’t really exist.” 

I get asked about my own balancing act as a busy mom with busy kids and busy businesses all the time.

It can be a challenge to balance self-care!My answer usually has something to do with the fact that my own self-care is non-negotiable and I don’t feel the least bit guilt about it. I even wrote a chapter of Love Your Skin, Love Yourself about how self-care is not selfish. So how do I do it? How do I practice self-care without neglecting my kids or my responsibilities?

There are several strategies that work for me, and I am NOT one of those perfect Insta-moms who always has it all together all the time. But I do have part of it figured out, at least for me, and how I do it has become a major tenet in how I live my life, raise my kids, and share my mission. It’s a little bit old school and maybe a bit cliche, but it’s worked for me.

Teach others (your kids, your co-workers, even your spouse!) self-care WHILE you practice self-care.

Teaching is powerful aspect of both the Mother and Priestess Beauty Archetypes. Take my Beauty Archetype Quiz HERE if you haven’t already!

This whole idea all started for me years ago, when I was trying to lose a large amount of post-pregnancy pounds, clear up my skin for good, and also put the brakes on some chronic health issues that had begun to manifest. As I also wrote in Love Your Skin, Love Yourself (which I kind of call my “skin care self-help memoir”), I tried all the conventional diets, worked with a personal trainer, (and am sad to admit that I even tried diet pills) and did not get results.

It wasn’t until I decided to try a plant-based diet that incorporated things like food combining, eating light to heavy, cutting gluten, dairy, and sugar (gasp!), and adding fermented foods that I had my first big challenge with trying to nurture my family AND balance self-care.

I mean, I had a toddler and a kindergartener. And a husband (who happens to be a chef which means he is picky, but works crazy hours so he doesn’t actually do the cooking at home) to consider. Would I have to become a short-order cook and prepare everyone different meals? How could I make them all eat what I needed to eat to achieve my own personal health goals? 

I taught them how to shop for and prepare the foods that I needed to eat for my own goals, but that they also liked and were still balanced and healthy to suit the needs of growing children (and an overworked husband).

When I used teach self-care and healthy shopping at health food stores

Flashback to when I used to teach health food store tours!

Yes, they were young. But I took them shopping with me, and treated the experience like the health food store tours I used to give back in the day. I taught them where all the healthy stuff was and why it was healthy, also taught them why some of the other stuff was not a great idea. I let them help me make the shopping list, pick out their own produce, and put what they wanted in the cart (as long as it was on the list).

I had them help me prep veggies, soak grains, and make homemade sauerkraut and kombucha. As I watched shows on Food Network and poured through healthy cookbooks to get flavor inspiration, my kids watched with me and looked at the books with me. To this day, they still watch cooking shows before cartoons.

Was it always perfect? Heck no. Did it take longer than it would have taken me to do it myself? Heck yeah. But the early results were this:

  • Kids who rarely got sick (despite attending the slimy, microbial petri dishes known as preschool and kindergarten)
  • Kids who understand why certain foods are good for us and others are not
  • Kids who were able to make themselves small meals and snacks at a very young age, which took a ton of pressure off me.
  • My husband’s severe allergies improved to the point that he no longer needed to take allergy medicine
  • I lost 80 pounds and cleared up my skin

Fast forward nearly 10 years (yikes!), and here are the results we have today:

  • Organic chicken and kale curry salad

    Organic chicken and kale curry salad made by my then-11-year-old daughter. 100% her own recipe, made from scratch with no help from me.

    My kids both love to cook and are really good cooks (I post pix of their food often on my Instagram)–better cooks than I am, in fact! These days, I only need to prepare meals once or twice a week. The kids handle the rest both for themselves individually (breakfast, lunch, snacks) and for our family.

  • My kids are still ridiculously healthy. When they do get sick, it’s rarely nothing that can’t be handled with herbal teas and homemade chicken soup.
  • My kids could handle grocery shopping themselves if they needed to. They understand how to “shop the perimeter” and what to look for when choosing things like meats and eggs. They also understand how to read labels for things that we do buy packaged, so they know how to pick the ones that are the least processed.
  • My kids are also both honor students and elite classical ballet dancers who are strong and recover quickly from injuries.
  • My skin is still clear and vibrant looking (at nearly 42 years old), and my teenage daughter, who is predisposed to acne (thanks, genetics!) is able to manage it well when she listens to me about her topical routine.

Yes we still eat out from time to time (probably more often than we should–but it’s at places like Whole Foods or quality local restaurants rather than fast food). Yes we still have sweets from time to time and “break the rules.” 

For me, healthy cooking was a big stressor, but it is also one of the most important aspects of self-care because without it, there’s no way anyone can look or feel their best.

As I learned to get healthy, I taught my kids. As I learned how to manage my time as an entrepreneur, I taught my kids. As I continued to go back to school for my various certifications, I demonstrated good study habits to my kids and invited them to do their homework with me the whole time. As I continue to fall in love with nature and using plants for skincare and to keep us healthy, I teach my kids what I’m learning, and I invite them to share their own experiences.

We cook together, we clean together, we do “homework” together, and sometimes we exercise together. And we make herbal skin care together.

Because I’ve taught as I’ve learned, many time-consuming parts of my life are now shared. This leaves me with time and energy to practice self-care meaningfully, while still nurturing my family AND giving them the skills and resilience to do the same as they mature.

And I encourage you to do the same, whether it’s with your own kids if you have them, or whatever that looks like for you–your staff, partner, extended family, anyone who you need to nurture in your life.

Do you need help improving your own skin care or self-care practices?

Teaching my daughter to practice self-care with handmade skin careI encourage you to take this opportunity to involve your kids–invite them into your learning process, so that as you learn to give your skin and body what it needs, so will they.

My online course, Create Your Skincare Personal Edition is an AWESOME opportunity to learn how to make all natural, herbal skincare together. It teaches how to choose the right ingredients for your skin whether you’re “of a certain age,” a young teen with acne, or anything in between. You’ll then use those ingredients to make cleansers, toners, exfoliants, masks, moisturizers, lip balms–anything you can imagine!

It’s the perfect way to combine nurturing, creativity, and teaching while working towards your own goal AND empowering your family to practice self-care.

How do you balance self-care and nurturing in your life?

Please share in the comments below!

*Photo credits: Balance photo by Bekir Dönmez on Unsplash. Health food store tour photo by Barb Sherf. Photo of my daughter and I by Julia Lehman Photography.

4 Ways to Easily Get Your Holistic Skin Care Goals Back on Track!

4 Ways to Easily Get Your Holistic Skin Care Goals Back on Track!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the New Year lately–about resolutions and goal setting in particular. If you are anything like me, you made a LOT of goals at the beginning of the year. Let me guess–you had skin care goals, weight loss goals, financial goals, or something else along the lines of self improvement. Am I right? If you are like millions of other people, those goals aren’t quite accomplished yet. You might have even forgotten what you even wanted to do in the first place.

Let’s get your skin care goals back on track today!

Rachael Pontillo...your holistic skin care Yoda!I like to think of myself as your personal holistic skin care Yoda. It is my goal (and my absolute pleasure) to help you focus on something that I know matters to you….getting (and keeping) gorgeous skin for life!

You want a SIMPLE holistic skin care regimen that’s made up of products that WORK (without the expensive add ons that you really don’t need anyway), so you can find them easily in your medicine cabinet, and put them on quickly…I’m talking 5 mins or less. You want SAFE products that don’t contain toxic or even questionable ingredients.

You want to avoid that panic of “will these foods make me break out?” whenever you go out for lunch.

You want to wake up every day with clear, smooth skin and know that it will stay that way, because you’ve set your diet, skincare, and lifestyle up to make it so.

But then a few months pass, and you’ve fallen off the wagon.

I understand getting off track. It happens to the best of us! People are busy, and some details are easy to forget.

So today I’d like to offer you some advice for getting your holistic skin care goals back on track (so you don’t find yourself making the SAME resolutions come next January!):

1. Take inventory.

Skin care supplementsGo through your skin care products, makeup, and dietary supplements and THROW OUT anything that has expired or that you haven’t opened in 3 months or longer. Don’t replace them! Focus on keeping your supply of the stuff you actually USE replenished.

2. Give your lifestyle a reality check.

Take out a piece of paper (or open a new doc if you’re not a pen and paper kind of person), and write down a truthful account of a typical day in your life. How much sleep you are getting, how much water you are drinking, what you eat, what times of day you find yourself feeling stressed, how you currently manage that stress, how often you find time for exercise/movement–stuff like that. BE HONEST with yourself. Then pick ONE thing in your typical day to focus on improving for the rest of this week. Next week, add another one. And so on.

3. Ask yourself how you can make your daily holistic skin care regimen easier?

Was your skin care regimen too expensive? Were you using too many products? Were you getting tripped up with complicated healthy recipes? Were you trying to collect lots of spiritual swag (candles, stones, incense, a special cushion, New Age music, etc) before starting your daily meditation routine? What specifically were you finding too complicated or overwhelming in your regimen? Identify one aspect and simplify it. Use fewer, but more targeted skin care products. Download a guided meditation app. Make mealtime easier with a slow cooker or Instant Pot.

4. Get an accountability partner.

Get a skin care accountability partnerFind a friend, colleague, or family member who’s also interested in getting back on track with similar goals. Schedule brief check-in calls weekly to set ONE small, attainable goal for the week, and then report back next week to report your progress and set another goal.

Those are 4 actions you can take RIGHT NOW to get inspired and reinspired to start thinking about your style again.

Need more holistic skin care guidance and accountability?

If you want more personalized help on your style journey, I’m here for you!

In honor of getting back on track, I also have a special bonus for YOU. If you sign up for my Must Have Secrets for Gorgeous Skin e-course (10 really fun, easy-to-follow videos delivered via email), you’ll also get my bonus “DIY Skincare Gift Guide + Recipes.”. You also get access to our private student Facebook group where you can ask questions and get my feedback personally! You can get all that holistic skin care goodness for just $29.97 HERE.

Is this a bribe? Heck yes! Well…let’s call it a little positive reinforcement 🙂

Consider it a little shortcut to the clear, smooth, vibrant skin that will soon be yours! If this is still a goal for you, then there’s no better time than now, to get my professional help, right?

So if you want to wake up January 1st with one less “resolution” on your list, let’s do this now 🙂

*Supplement photo by Kayla Maurais on Unsplash

Teen Acne: 6 Ways to Help Your Teen Help Themselves

Teen Acne: 6 Ways to Help Your Teen Help Themselves

Back in 2013, when I wrote my first (and now bestselling) book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself, I made a bold statement:

“I’ll be damned if I let acne or any other skin condition ravage or destroy my children’s beautiful skin and beautiful souls. Not gonna happen, not on my watch.”

Wow! Just rewriting those words brings it all back: the years I spent avoiding mirrors and windows, hiding in the back of a group photo, and plastering myself with makeup to cover the blackheads, white heads, and redness. It also brings back the feelings I had that because of my teen acne (and later on, adult acne), I didn’t get to have the great things in life that the girls with clear, glowing skin got to have. Things like the confidence to get up in front of people and speak my mind, have all the hottest guys fawning over me, stuff like that. But most importantly, I remember the paranoia–feeling that people were always staring at me, gossiping about how gross my skin was, thinking I was unclean.

Acne and other visible skin conditions REALLY take a toll on your mental, emotional, and spiritual health by affecting your self confidence, self-image, and feelings of self-worth.

I was dead serious when I wrote those words back in 2013.

The problem?

I didn’t HAVE a teenager back then. I do now. And thanks to genetics (my husband also struggled with teen acne), my daughter is prone to breakouts. You know what I noticed though? It’s not because of her diet, or lack of sleep, or a sedentary lifestyle. She eats more fruits and veggies than I do, is better with sleep than I was at her age, and also is a classical ballet dancer (trains about 20 hours a week). It’s also not because of a lack of high quality skin care products and treatments–I make her a simple, yet targeted organic skin care regimen.

So what is the issue?

In a nutshell, she’s a typical teenager. She doesn’t always listen to me and has her head in the clouds half the time. In the morning before school, she’s usually rushing to get out the door, and at night when I ask “did you do your skin care?” she absentmindedly answers “Mm hmm.” But when I go to kiss her goodnight, it’s clear that she hasn’t.

What I realized is that when my daughter does what she’s supposed to do for her skin with her topical regimen, remembers to drink enough water, and is good with other aspects of hygiene (changing pillow cases and towels, not touching her face, etc), her skin is pretty clear. But like with many things, she needs a little help with reminders and motivation.

Here are a few of my favorite strategies to help my daughter manage her teen acne:

1. The My Skin Buddy™ AKA “MSB”

My Skin Buddy

Get FREE shipping on the MSB with code RPBEAUTY!

Teens love technology. That’s no secret. So I figured, there must be a skin care gadget out there that would make my daughter want to use it on a daily basis. Enter the My Skin Buddy (get free shipping on the MSB with code RPBEAUTY at!). I found this at the International Congress of Esthetics and Spa a few years ago, and since then have noticed that many of my Create Your Skincare students who are aestheticians use and recommend it. This little gadget helps to deeply cleanse the skin without the danger of over-exfoliating or stripping the skin’s lipid barrier, like some of the other cleansing gadgets do. It also helps to support clear skin with the assistance of LED lights, and only takes a few minutes a day. My daughter likes this because she says it feels relaxing on her skin, and because it’s a gadget. She actually uses it almost every night, with the custom cleansing lotion and herbal toner I make her.

2. Fitness and wellness tracker apps

So much of having clear skin has to do with lifestyle factors like movement, sleep, and water. Luckily, there are many apps that track those things! Our favorite is the BellaBeat app, which you can use with or without their wearable wellness trackers to log things like water intake, meditation (it even comes with pre-recorded guided meditations), exercise, and menstrual cycle. If you purchase one of their products, you get additional tracking options. Apps like this gamify certain aspects of daily life that otherwise, might go unnoticed. It’s been hugely helpful for my daughter (and me too!).

2. Basic hygiene upgrade

Other than the “wash your face, brush your teeth, brush your hair” daily routine, there’s a lot that can be added to a teen’s hygiene routine to manage teen acne that might not seem immediately obvious. Pillow cases, sheets, wash cloths, and towels need to be changed regularly. Pathogenic bacteria, mold, and yeast can build up in linens, and exacerbate acne. Towels and washcloths should be changed daily, and if your teen has severe acne, so should pillowcases. If it’s not severe, 1 to 2 times a week is fine. Phone hygiene is also a must–cell phones accumulate high levels of microbes, most of which should NOT be on one’s face. Using ear buds or speaker/video options and sanitizing the phone often are a huge help.

3. Gua sha

gua sha

Some of my rose quartz, jade, and marble gua sha, acupressure, and facial massage tools.

Gua sha is an ancient practice that comes from Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda which uses a small gemstone (traditionally jade) or metal (copper) tool for massage that helps to support healthy lymphatic circulation. Gua sha was multiple skin benefits, and while it shouldn’t be used directly on pustular acne, there are many different protocols that can be done at home to support the skin and improve the appearance of teen acne. It’s especially helpful to help relieve congested/clogged pores and improve the appearance of acne scars. It’s also a gadget–though not an electronic one–and gua sha tools now come in a wide variety of shapes, cut from many beautifully colored stones. Gua sha can be overdone though (like anything else), so I recommend taking your teen to an acupuncturist or holistic aesthetician trained specifically in this modality to learn the right at-home technique.

4. Teen acne facials

If you’re a parent of a teen, you surely know that they are often more likely to listen to pretty much anyone else before they listen to you. Facials have been great for my daughter, not just because of the facial itself, but because she’ll actually have a conversation with the aesthetician and listens to what she says. It doesn’t matter that I’m an aesthetician myself–to her, I’m mom. Just make sure you find an aesthetician who vibes with your teen and also who is a good fit for your own philosophy towards skin care.

5. Focus on quality from the start

I’ll be blunt–most of the products marketed to teens are absolute crap. And most of the influencers they follow on social media are also peddling crap. But the teens (and sometimes the parents too) don’t have the ability to understand that, and it can be really hard to see past the marketing and hype. Explain to your teen how it works. Explain that influencers are paid to push products, and that their reviews are more often based on money than actual results. Explain that everyone’s skin and lifestyles are different, and that works for a rich celebrity or influencer who gets products for free is not necessarily what’s going to work for your teen. Explain that for many things in life, you get what you pay for, Skin care is one of those things.

6. Get your teen skin care help from someone who’s not you!

Must Have Secrets for Gorgeous SkinI can help! As someone who’s survived teen acne and also who’s a licensed aesthetician who makes skin care products, I’ve got street cred with the teens (tip: use the word “legit” when you describe me to your teen…works every time with mine!).

I’ve got a great video skin care course called Must Have Secrets for Gorgeous Skin that teaches exactly what strategies I used to clear up my acne and keep it gone. It’s a great companion to my book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself, and both come with bonus DIY skin care recipes.

  • Get Must-Have Secrets for Gorgeous Skin + bonus recipes for just $29.97 HERE.

  • Get Love Your Skin, Love Yourself + different bonus recipes HERE.

Ultimately, it’s up to your teen to manage their acne.

You can buy them all the products and tools. You can give them reminders. You can buy them healthy food and supplements. You can take them to the spa. But they also need to learn that if they want something in life, they need to actually put all those tools and advice into action. Sometimes as a parent, we need to let things get worse before so they can get better. We also have to be OK with the fact that it’s not always going to be perfect (it’s usually NOT going to be perfect).

How do you help your kids manage their teen acne?

Please share your tips in the comments below!

*This post contains affiliate links

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

If Facial Oils Are So Great, Why is My Skin So Dry?

If Facial Oils Are So Great, Why is My Skin So Dry?

Facial oils are all the rage now in the world of holistic skincare and green beauty. They got their start as a traditional herbal remedy. Herbalists have been using gorgeous plant-based oils to nourish, soothe, and protect the skin either in blends of different fixed (AKA carrier) oils, pressed from nuts or seeds–or infused with the oil soluble therapeutic properties of herbs. They then expanded as exclusive boutique skincare products, handcrafted in small batches by artisans or herbalists, and sold in small spas, Etsy shops, and local health food stores. Now you can find facial oils just about everywhere, from drug stores to department stores, to cosmetic chain stores, to spas and wellness centers–and of course from a multitude of online suppliers. While facial oils offer a ton of skin benefits, they might not be enough to give you the moisture your skin needs–especially if you tend to run dry, or if the weather is harsh.

Why are facial oils so popular?

Facial oils make a lot of sense for a lot of reasons. First, they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids–all nutrients the skin needs for a healthy barrier function and happy microbiome.

Create Your SkincareSecond, the nutrients in facial oils are more bioavailable than in creams and lotions, or water-based serums. The skin is a semi-permeable barrier. It’s meant to keep certain things out, and allow certain things in. The skin’s barrier is comprised of a mixture of dead skin cells, and a lipid matrix (a combination of fatty acids, ceramides, and cholesterol). An article from the International Dermal Institute uses the analogy of bricks and mortar to describe the skin’s barrier system. The dead cells are the bricks and the lipids are the mortar.

This barrier is hydrophobic–which means it repels water, bit lipophilic (oil loving) which means it will attract other lipids. Therefore lipids and oil-soluble nutrients are more likely to absorb into the deeper layers of the skin, where they can nourish and protect the delicate cells below the surface. And it does this so easily, in a super-concentrated dose! Unlike water soluble nutrients or active ingredients which have to be synthesized into a lipophilic delivery system in order to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin, facial oils are already naturally able to do that. No human involvement necessary.

The biggest reason facial oils are so popular now is that from a formulation perspective, they are easier to work with because they generally do not require a preservative. This makes people who buy based on “free from” claims (not that I’m recommending that–read THIS) happy, and requires less labor and resources from a formulation perspective. That doesn’t mean that oils don’t require special handling–some of the are very fragile and can oxidize and degrade quickly–but they don’t support microbial growth (though contamination from improper storage, usage, and handling are possible).

Do facial oils work for everyone?

The short answer is yes…but.

The but has to do with the fact that there are several variables that if, and how well an oil will work for someone. Factors include the overall level of skin hydration, compatibility of the essential fatty acids in the oil with the lipid matrix of the person using it, level of saturated fats in the oil; whether the oil has been processed, stored, and used correctly, etc.

To answer this question, let’s focus on the “but” that has to do with the overall level of skin hydration. To be fully moisturized, and to be able to take in nutrients, the skin has to be hydrated. While it is important to drink lots of water and eat hydrating foods throughout the day, the water (and nutrients) that we consume internally first nourish and hydrate the internal vital organs. By the time they reach the skin, there’s only about 10% left. This is why it is important to hydrate the skin on the outside with water-containing ingredients (but not water itself–check out my interview on The Healthy Me to learn why).

Why your facial oil might not work

Oils do not hydrate the skin on their own. While they definitely help seal in existing moisture, they cannot bring water into the skin because they do not contain water or any other aqueous substance.

Read more about that HERE.

There are different dry skin types–alipidic skin, or “oil dry” skin is a lack of oils or slow sebum production, in which case, a facial oil might be the solution, in addition to more healthy fats in the diet. However, the biggest reason for dry skin is dehydration.

If you are relying on your facial oil to hydrate your skin–especially if it’s dry, and especially if it’s cold out or you have dry interior air–I hate to tell you this, but you’ll likely find yourself disappointed. If you are relying on an anhydrous (not water-containing) skincare regimen consisting of oils, butters, balms, and salves, you also might find yourself disappointed.

I often see well intended skincare advice on blogs and social media recommending that if your facial oil absorbs too quickly, or “dries” too quickly, that all you need to do is use a heavier, thicker, more saturated oil. I still recommend that you do that–because if your skin is soaking up your oils to the point where you feel like you have to use a ton to feel moisturized, then you clearly need different oils in your blend. There are THOUSANDS of oils, and billions of people–there is no perfect oil or perfect blend that is right for everyone. But even the most carefully selected facial oil blend will not provide complete skin moisture, because the skin also needs hydration–from water or a water containing ingredient.

In my next post, I will give you suggestions on how to provide your skin with BALANCED moisture, with both water and oil–whether you’re a purist or you like a big, elaborate regimen. I’ll also share what happened when my OWN skin freaked out at the beginning of this season, and what I had to do to calm it down.

In terms of facial oils, I can tell you that the first thing you need to do is choose the right ones for your unique skin type. I teach you to do that FREE in my online mini-course, Boutique Skincare Basics.

Click HERE to sign up for that!

*Dry skin photo by Ser Amantio di Nicolao – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The Secret to Making DIY Skincare that Actually Works!

The Secret to Making DIY Skincare that Actually Works!

If you’re into DIY skincare, or skincare in general, I’m guessing that at some point you’ve heard these pieces of advice:

  • “You should use skincare that’s for your skin type.”
  • “Only use skincare with ingredients you can also eat.”
  • “You don’t need anything fancy for your skin. Crushed up aspirin, lemon juice, raw apple cider vinegar, crushed up Vitamin C, and baking soda are all you need.”

I totally get it. These pieces of advice make a LOT of sense. If you are struggling to find all natural skincare products that are safe for your skin, or have been dabbling in DIY skincare recipes online, you might have tried one or more of these approaches. And you probably didn’t get the results you wanted. And then you probably blamed yourself or your skin. Am I right?

It’s easy to think there must be something wrong with YOU. Why is it so easy for eveyone else to get clear, vibrant skin? What are YOU doing wrong? What’s wrong with YOUR skin?

Nothing. No, I mean it. You aren’t doing anything wrong. There isn’t anything WRONG with you or your skin, and there actually are some truths in (some of) that advice. The only problem is that that advice only works for SOME people but it doesn’t work for EVERYONE (and some of it–like that last one–is just downright dangerous). If it did, then everyone would have clear, youthful, glowing, perfect skin and there would be no need for a multibillion dollar skincare industry. This is the key difference.

Not all DIY skincare advice is GOOD advice.

Truth time. People in the skincare industry (myself included…I’ll admit it) have very strong opinions that their way is the best way (if not the only way). And while I would love nothing more than to tell you that there’s one magical path to skincare success, it’s just not true. There are many ways, and there are pros and cons to each.

If you are anything like my awesome Create Your Skincare students, you’ve likely already had some DIY skincare successes…and quite a few not-so-great attempts (notice I did not say “failure” because I don’t believe in failures–just learning opportunities!).

Researching DIY skincare recipesYou might find yourself on the other end having done a lot of work in researching DIY skincare recipes online, but not getting any of the results promised by the beauty or wellness blogger or Instagram influencer who posted them. You know why? Because most of those recipes were created by that person in their own efforts to help their own skin situation. Most of the time, the people who created them don’t know much about the skin, skincare formulation, or skincare ingredients. They just happened to find a remedy or recipe elsewhere, tweaked it a little bit to make it their own, and then published it online. That’s all well and good, but that really won’t help YOUR skin.

You deserve better than generic DIY skincare recipes.

My people (that’s you) tend to do better when they do things a different way. You love how rewarding it feels to create amazing things from scratch, and you love the idea of taking your skin into your own hands. You’re also ready to ditch the glitzy, glossy cosmetic campaigns that try to convince you that if you buy V,W,X,Y,Z products–personally used (meaning, endorsed) by Celebrity Turned Woo Woo Wellness Guru, THEN you’ll have the skin of your dreams. Nope, you’re smarter than that. You also probably know the importance of understanding your skin–what it loves, what it reacts to, how it changes from season to season. And finally, you love nature and know that it’s medicine–plants, stones…heck, even dirt–and want to use that power in your products. I get it, because that’s me too!

Why does this work for people like us? Because instead of following the status quo, and doing what everyone else does to get skin results, we focus on learning the hows and the whys behind it, and how it relates to our own skin. And then we take matters into our own hands.

The secret to making DIY skincare that really works is that you have to set yourself up from the start to succeed with the right prep, the right ingredients for your skin, and the right technique. And I’m gonna teach you how. For free.

That’s why I created my Boutique Skincare Basics course.

Rachael Pontillo making skincareI’m so tired of awesome people like you getting brandwashed and greenwashed by the skincare industry. I’m tired of you having to read blog post after blog post to try to find a DIY skincare recipe that doesn’t contain coconut oil and won’t burn the heck out of your skin (I know you know what I’m talking about). I’m tired of amazing people like you diligently using those products, or following those recipes, LITERALLY getting burned by them, and then feeling like a loser because of it.

Boutique Skincare Basics is a free online course for people who just want to make simple, all natural skincare products with ingredients they know will work for their skin. That’s all. I know it sounds like a tall order, but it’s really not! If you’d like to finally learn how to make gorgeous products that are customized to your skin, and not have to waste hours of your time searching for recipes and ingredients online, this would be a good place to start.

Listen, you can keep doing things the way you’ve been taught but I doubt much will change because you’ll never be the type of person those ways will work for. And trust me, you are in good company, because I can’t do it either.

You’ll continue to spend lots of time and money, try a bunch of products and recipes that don’t work, that give you results that are just meh, or worse–that actually injure your skin. But, seriously, who wants that? Not when you can learn exactly what ingredients to choose for your unique skin and whip up two simple, versatile, and EFFECTIVE products in your own kitchen, that will FINALLY give you the results you want.

Click HERE to take my free DIY skincare class, Boutique Skincare Basics.

Trust me! Your skin will thank you. And by the way, from 11/19/18-11/21/18, I’m doing a Boutique Skincare Basics 3-Day challenge in my free Handmade Skincare Enthusiasts group on Facebook. Click here to join that group!

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