KL: please introduce yourself!
Mary: I am Mary Taylor, a local holistic esthetician with a focus on nutrition and herbalism. I teach classes and workshops on how to use herbs internally and externally for radiant skin health, and am currently designing an online course so that it can be accessed by people anywhere in the world! I work out of Balans Organic Spa in Boston and hope to open my own studio in the next few years.
KL: Why is non toxic or natural beauty important to you? What got you into natural skin care?
Mary: While I was in college studying nutrition I began paying more attention to ingredients in products I was using on my body. I spent years studying and concerning myself with what I was putting in my body that it suddenly dawned on me that I wasn’t giving my skin, our largest organ, that same care. When I moved to Boston after graduating I began working more closely with skincare brands pioneering the non toxic cosmetics industry as a buyer and representative, getting hands on experience and training.
Non toxic beauty is important to me because I think everyone has the right to self agency. Meaning, you decide what kind of medical care you want, what you eat, what you put on your body, etc. But the cosmetics and personal product industry is not regulated in this country and the education on ingredients is essentially non existent, leaving consumers at the mercy of businesses making a profit from their ignorance.
How can someone make the best choice for themselves or their families when they don’t even know what they’re looking at? Cetaphil is marketed as a “gentle cleanser” but there’s nothing gentle about that ingredient deck, and I’ve never met a client that actively uses it who was happy with their sensitized skin. But they genuinely don’t know any better, and there’s no shame in that. We live in a world that’s designed to keep you from knowing any better, and that’s why I do what I do.
The other factor is that every product we use washes down our drains, and the production of it, the entire cycle affects the planet we live on. This planet is in rough enough shape as it is. As much as I believe that individuals choices matter and do make a difference, to me this is a huge responsibility for businesses to take accountability for.
KL: What should people look for in their beauty products?
Mary: I recommend looking for products with as minimal ingredients as possible and ingredient transparency. I worked directly with the brand Evan Healy for a year and I admire their commitment to ingredient quality and responsible sourcing so much. I also tend to recommend more oil based products than water. Water is a breeding ground for bacteria and encourages the use of preservatives, including parabens, that are linked to endocrine disruption. I would avoid anything with sulfates, especially common in cleansers, as they disrupt the skins natural barrier function leading to sensitization. (I cleanse with an oil at night, I’ve used something as simple as just organic almond oil. One ingredient!)
If you’re just trying to switch your personal care products over – it can be overwhelming. Don’t be too hard on yourself! This is not a competition over who’s “cleaner.” As you finish one product you have, simply swap it for a different option. You’re getting to know yourself, your skin, and your own preferences through this process.
KL: What is your self care routine?
Mary: Self care is crucial as a practitioner! It’s easy for a lot of us to get caught up in taking care of other people and forget to nourish ourselves the same way.
Starting my day with no screen time until after a morning tonic and reading is almost non negotiable. Blue light can wreak havoc on our systems, including our skin, so I try to avoid it as much as I can.
For my skin I typically use gua sha in the morning (or at night if I have an especially early day) with an oil (right now I’m using one with CBD) to really lift and sculpt my face before I even head out. It sets me up to feel like my best self and its become this little meditative ritual before beginning the day. I really try to take my own advice and I always tell my clients to take their time and really massage the product on to their skin this time of year. One of the biggest benefits to getting a basic facial is the facial massage, releasing all those muscles and fascia, softening expression lines, getting lymph and circulation moving.
Since it’s winter, once a week I take a hot bath with Dr Singhas Mustard bath, Epsom salts, and essential oils. I really go all out and light candles, put on binaural beats, and even throw in some fresh flowers if I have them. Bath rituals are so powerful and doing something like that for myself makes me feel like a goddess. Not to mention the ingredients in this one are amazing for encouraging detoxing.
KL: What is one skin care tip you would like people to know?
Mary: Put honey on your face! I’m not kidding! I tell all my queens to use Manuka honey at least once a week this time of year to improve hydration and soften the skin. It’s also loaded with antimicrobial properties that can help heal break outs. I call this mask my secret weapon: Manuka honey, marshmallow root powder, French rose clay, and chamomile tea as a liquid to mix.