Sit down with Nadine Artemis, founder of Living Libations, a skincare brand focusing on organic and pure renegade beauty products located just north of us in Haliburton, Ontario. Nadine's products are endlessly flying off Health Hut's shelves, and we wanted to hear what makes her line coveted by so many.
We asked about her essential oils (of course), her take on natural oral care, how she safely lets in the sun's rays, and what she'd be doing if she was not the founder of a natural beauty company.
HH: Your essential oils have a reputation for being some of the highest quality and integrity around. Tell us a little about your process and criteria for sourcing these oils.
NA: That is a great question! All essential oils are not equal. Discernment and due diligence is needed on a few levels if you want only really pure and authentic botanical oils.
For over 20 years we have sniffed out and nurtured personal relationships with artisan distillers and family farmers around the globe so that we may secure authentic oils and extracts that are purely and fairly produced. We can track our oils from the plant growing in the field to the oil arriving on our doorway. Every flower, every plant, requires personal attention and a unique distillation process to create the very best essence, and many of the highest quality plants and flowers used in plant oils are indigenous to the developing world. The people native to those regions learned from their families the ancient craft of distillation, and they make the most beautiful botanical creations for us.
HH: We can barely keep Best Skin Ever Seabuckthorn on our shelves. What makes this product so special and loved by so many?
NA: Seabuckthorn Best Skin Ever is a skincare superhero, and once people try it, they are hooked and so happy with their skin. Our super-critical extract of the bright orange seabuckthorn berry is perfectly packed with omega fatty acids, more than 190 bioactive substances, forty-one carotenoids including beta carotene, and seventeen phytosterols. When applied to the skin, it really sinks in, feeds our cells, and diminishes imbalances from the inside out. Seabuckthorn synergizes with the other botanical essences in the Best Skin Ever to make an all-in-one cleanser, exfoliator, and moisturizer that gives the skin the botanical blessings of radiance and smoothness.
Besides the beauty of the botanicals in our Best Skin Ever, the product revolutionizes how women are cleansing their skin. When we think of skin solutions to heal and seal our skin, we need to step away from the bottles soapy surfactants and foaming cleansers and begin washing with oils. It may seem strange, washing with oils. People think that oil will leave their skin feeling oily and less than clean, though this isn’t the case when organic, authentic, fresh-pressed botanical oils are used to cleanse the face. A lotion is made by combining an oil and water with an emulsifier, so washing with oil makes a fresh lotion on your face. There is a power of nowness to it; it is a fresh aqua oleum.
Indeed, not all oils are created equal. There are many “natural” oils that will never go near my skin! Grapeseed, peach kernel, sunflower, and almond oils are often rancid right off the shelf. Beyond the ick-factor of putting rancid oils on the skin, the rancidity can create free-radical damage. Moreover, they are often contaminated by solvents and additives in the refining process.
Yet pure, organic oils, such as gorgeous golden jojoba, are loving lipids that lubricate the skin so that makeup and dirt are gently whisked away, and natural skin oils are left intact. In fact, cleansing with these oils also stabilizes our native, friendly skin bacteria and enhances protection from pathogenic bacteria. Soothing serums of seabuckthorn and jojoba deliver phospholipids and balance the biome, keeping cells perfectly plump. Jojoba is a liquid plant wax that settles overactive sebaceous glands. This liquid wax is perfect for the task because it is symbiotic with our sebum. No more nitpicking pores! Jojoba unplugs pores by dissolving oxidized sebum.
HH: What was the first product you made?
NA: In 9th grade, I re-created L’Air Du Temps by Nina Ricci with essential oils. I had just discovered a book that was full of ancient Egyptian-style cosmetics and perfume recipes using essential oils, and it fascinated me. My mom and I drove into the city to find the right essential oils to recreate this classic perfume. That was my first botanic success. Later on, in university, I made a leg rejuvenating cream for spider veins, called Waitress Legs, for friends who worked long hours in restaurants.
HH: We're in peak summer right now. Tell us why you're not afraid to "let the sunshine in!" and ways you embrace and enjoy the sun's rays safely during these warmer months.
NA: We have been told and sold on shunning the sun, and we fear exposure of the sun’s rays reaching our skin. While overexposure makes our skin vulnerable to sunburn, and recurrent sunburns can cause visible damage, there is more to the story than the sun being the sole perpetrator of hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and melanoma.
Why deny our skin the sun’s warm wavelengths of creation that blood and hormones need for cosmic pollination? Without sunbeams stimulating our skin, we drain our innate immunity and lose the lipids that lubricate our skin from within. Including sunshine as part of our hygiene is one of the deepest ways to be clean. Sunshine activates anti-microbial peptides that boost immunity by feeding and stabilizing the skin’s flora.
Our interaction with the sun need not be "all or none!” Here is the best protocol for wisely imbibing with solar wavelengths:
- Start slowly but surely, and start in the spring so that you may create a protective tan with phased-in exposure.
- Eat a sun-kissed diet. What we ingest determines how our skin responds to sunlight. Skin cells must be strengthened and nourished internally with real food and water to receive the full blessing of interacting with the sun and well-nourished skin responds better to sunlight. We can create an internal SPF with an antioxidant-rich rainbow diet of sun-grown superpower foods, herbs, and luscious fats brimming with nutrients.
- Recover your skin's integrity. The skin’s outer layer contains a thin coating of sebaceous oils that provides natural anti-bacterial, anti-wrinkle, and sun-screen protection. The integrity of this layer is damaged by surfactants, scrubs, chemical peels, and synthetic moisturizers. Washing and moisturizing the skin with essential oil serums and botanical oils regenerates the skin's top layer.
- Botanical oils preserve the juiciness of your sun exposure. Plants, too, require wise interaction with the sun, and plant oils do offer a range of protection that can gracefully extend our time in the sun. Essential oils, the distillates of plants, are especially adept at harmonizing the sun’s rays with our skin and further enhance harmonizing our skin with solar rays when added to lipid oils such as coconut and jojoba.
- Wear sunglasses only when necessary. Sunlight in the eyes is the most direct path of communication between the sun and our brains, and our good health and good mood hinges on it. When the full spectrum of light rays is intercepted in the retina, it is positively encoded in the brain and sets in motion the juicy hormones and neurochemicals that help us stay happy and healthy, including melatonin. Melatonin is most widely known as the circadian rhythm hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. This process works even if we are in the shade, but not if we are wearing shades.
HH: Another popular (and unique) collection of products you offer is Oral Care. What inspired this line and to someone who is new to natural oral care, where would you suggest they begin?
NA: Once, when I had just started to work with essential oils, I was at the dentist's office and the hygienist saw a spot, the beginning of a cavity, on one of my teeth. I had been telling her about my skincare creations with botanicals and essential oils, and she told me to go home and make something with those ingredients come back in a few months. So, I did, and the spot was gone! This was an epiphany moment for me. It inspired me to rethink about teeth health, oral care, and oral care products, and I began to research everything I could about oral care and its history. My sustained, piqued interest in natural oral care resulted in a book, Holistic Oral Care: The Complete Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums.
If you are new to natural oral care, begin by following these eight simple steps to successful self-dentistry.
- Rinse with saltwater.
- Scrape the tongue with a tongue scraper.
- Add a drop of a botanical serum to a dry toothbrush and gently brush the gums.
- Polish the teeth using a dry, round-headed electric toothbrush with a drop of a botanical serum, botanical toothpaste, or baking soda.
- Check the gums with a rubber-tipped gum sulcus.
- Vigorously swish and spit with saltwater.
- Check the mouth to see if any area needs special attention with a botanical serum.
HH: In your opinion, what's the best and worst part of the beauty industry?
NA: Beauty is an ideal, and from the beginning of humanity, beauty has been considered an inherent characteristic that has inspired us to love, wonder, create, and worship. At its best, the beauty industry can preserve this ideal and help each one of us bring our own unique beauty into light. Yet, the current culture of beauty is industrialized. The fantasy of female is advertised, leading our thoughts to compare and overanalyze. It’s made beauty “gooey,” as perfection-promising potions that are a cash-cow quagmire of chemicals that cannot see the beauty of the forest through the trees. I think it’s time that we truly feel beauty is a light in oneself.
HH: If you weren't the founder of a skincare company, what would you do?
NA: My hands have worked at the pleasure of plants since I was a little girl sitting in mud puddles mixing up potions of mud, berries, and flowers. If my life’s work didn’t include essential oils, which I can hardly fathom, I would be involved somewhere at the intersection of the botanical world and women’s health and happiness because that’s my source of jouissance and my vocation. Or maybe I would write poetry.