With summer evolving into fall, it seemed timely to reach out to the brands that create seasonal skin care. After all, there are only a handful of them that emphasize a seasonal component as related to skin.
I wondered what distinguished a de Mamiel Autumn facial oil from Odacite’s An Autumn on the World. And it made me curious to learn why Lalun Naturals would use rose in winter, but change to lavender for summer. What influenced the different formulas and why develop products dictated by the seasons at all?
On some level, switching up our skin care based on environmental changes is a no-brainer. You’d think every brand would be doing it.
“You probably wouldn’t wear a winter coat in summer, so why would you use the same moisturizer all year?” said Maggie Mahboubian, founder of Lalun Naturals.
While such logic seems self-evident, there are less obvious reasons to consider as well. The emotional impact is certainly one area that I never weighed until Annee de Mamiel brought it to my attention.
In essence, each time period is a call to listen to our skin’s needs on many levels.
We take stock of nature’s grandiose displays like art painted on a canvas—sometimes wholly predictable and other times as unexpected as a snow storm in October or a summer drought. As we observe the fluctuations occurring around us, we also notice the way those changes affect the climate within us.
How well we respond to the transitions is often reflected in the condition of our skin.
“The skin is exposed to environmental forces that define the seasons: changing levels of sunlight, temperature, moisture, and wind. A seasonal skincare regimen is the best way to mitigate these changes to ensure the skin remains healthy and balanced,” said Mahboubian.
While the basic three-step process of cleanser-toner-moisturizer remains consistent throughout the Lalun Naturals range, subtle formula changes—often dictated by the rhythmic growth cycle of the ingredients—ensure a smooth transition from season to season. She said that neglecting to respond to signs of imbalance like redness, irritation, drying, cracking, and peeling can lead to premature aging.
Mahboubian explained the well thought out process in her product development. Her descriptions are so evocative of the dimension of each season, that it leaves little guessing why she patterned her work according to nature (all words are hers):
Each seasonal set is characterized by specific oil combinations, complimentary hydrosols, and botanical actives that are seasonally available for fresh extraction (this was intentional!).
Summer is characterized by the use of lavender which is ready to harvest around the summer solstice. Lavender is also helpful for oily skin control or blemishes.
Summer is the season of combustion when plants experience accelerated growth toward the formation of their seeds. This season of increased sunlight accelerates the growth of our skin cells as well. Rapid cell turnover can cause blemishes because old skin cells have not been sloughed off before new skin cells appear. The astral lightness of lavender balances sebum production and acts as a mild anti-microbial to help heal any resulting skin eruptions.
Autumn is characterized by calendula which I harvest until the end of the summer at which point I allow the plants to go to seed for the following year. Calendula is helpful for sensitive skin and autumn is the season when we become vulnerable to colds and viruses.
Autumn is when plants, having concentrated themselves in their seeds, “fall” back to the earth and impregnate it. In traditional cultures, the harvest is over and this is the time to prepare for the barren months ahead. Changing weather and decreasing humidity make the skin more sensitive during this time (and the body becomes subject to colds and viruses). The meteoric, protective powers of gold help calm the sulfuric tendencies of the skin.
Winter is characterized by rose, the dried petals as well as the rosehips that are ripe around the time of the Winter solstice.
Winter is characterized by decreased sunlight and colder temperatures that cause plants and animals to become dormant by slowing down metabolically and withholding energy in their vital organs. This “contraction” can lead to dry skin as a slower metabolism can result in reduced cell turnover. In winter the skin benefits from the fruits of the rose to nourish, warm and protect, increasing cell turnover and giving the skin an inner glow.
Spring is characterized by orange blossoms which bloom around the vernal equinox. I couple the use of neroli with rosemary that blossoms at the same time. In fact the plants grow side by side in my garden and I often watch bees fly from one to the other.
The spring Equinox occurs when the axis of the earth is aligned with the sun. Daytime and nighttime hours are balanced which stimulates plants to blossom and many species to give birth. Increasing sunlight stimulates hormones that generate skin cell growth. In order to maintain balance, mineral salts help nourish rapidly emerging skin cells and slough off old ones.
De Mamiel Skincare is a sumptuous, energetically infused line that bases each formula on physical, cellular, and emotional elements. The four seasonal facial oils, $114 not only take into consideration the changing climate, but also the shifting emotions that each season evokes based on Chinese medicine.
“Fall is about releasing and letting go,” said Annee de Mamiel, founder of the eponymous line, on the intention infused into the Autumn Oil blend.
“All of these emotions take up energy and almost prevent us from moving on. I like to reflect on the trees for this one in that some leaves persist, but if they didn’t go back to the earth there would be no room for the new ones to emerge in the springtime. So, when I meditate over the blends and formulate especially for the Autumn/Fall, it’s about finding a calmness within to allow us to move on. If we are not in sync with what is happening with nature we tend to feel a bit un-grounded and can lack clarity and purpose. So finding ease with where we are ‘now’ is all part of the blend.”
Autumn, according to de Mamiel, is all about supporting the metal element—the lungs and large intestine—as these organs hold grief and sorrow that need to be released.
But it is not enough to simply evaluate based on the coming season without taking into account the previous season and any residual damage that the skin may have sustained from the summer, a.k.a. heart element, months. The goal is to restore balance and flow so that transitions happen smoothly.
“This is a challenging time of year as our energy moves from the most yang and outward to going back in and becoming yin…looking inwards,” de Mamiel said. “Most of us aren’t great at that and so often there is a resistance. Formulating to make this easier is part of the process.”
“From an environmental perspective, I look at things like the change in temperature: things get windier, central heating gets switched on,” she said. One of her goals is to create a formula to improve the skin barrier function to be able to deal with the constant change in temperature but also to supply phytonutrients and omegas that become depleted during stressful times.
“Our skin is our bodies physical barrier to the outside world and it is the last place that our nutrients go especially if we are chronically stressed,” she said. Her line emphasizes the need to create rituals around self-care and slow beauty as a way to see a difference in skin health.
Black Elderberry Oil
One ingredient that gets special emphasis in de Mamiel’s Autumn Oil blend is Black Elderberry Oil, used widely to improve the immune system and reduce the onset of flu.
“Recent research has discovered that the fruit is rich in anthocyanins, a group of flavonoids that act as natural antioxidants which are believed to help protect cells from free radicals and support the body’s immune system,” said de Mamiel.
“Black Elderberries have almost 5 times as many anthocyanins as Blueberries and twice the overall antioxidant capability of Cranberries. Elderberry oil is composed of the key fatty acids which support healthy skin condition; in addition it contains elevated levels of natural lipid soluble antioxidants.
“Clinical studies demonstrate that Elderberry oil provides excellent natural emollience; it increases skin smoothness and elasticity whilst improving skin barrier function by reducing trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL).”
Helps with inflammation, it is unique in that it contains high levels of SDA, an immediate Omega 3 pre-cursor to EPA, the fatty acid more commonly found in fish oils and which regulates the body’s inflammatory response. Echium oil has been shown to reduce skin redness and to have a positive effect on wrinkle reduction.
Improves skin hydration and elasticity, improves skin barrier function, reduces moisture loss while softening the skin.
White Ginger Lily
Helps with inflammation and calming calm the nervous system and supports the respiratory system.
Valerie Grandury’s private collection is known as “haute couture” for the skin for good reason. You can count on the purest extractions with the signature freshency dates, naturally. But these are no generic blends.
“Each of these serums was originally custom blended for private clients to deal with seasonal issues,” she explained. Behind the private collection made by Odacite is a skin care philosophy that is not limited to the seasons but rather dictated by the changing needs of our skin on a daily basis.
“Just like you would not eat the same food every day, you need to feed your skin with different actives so it can stay fresh and healthy. Your skin is affected by the seasons but also by factors like pollution, stress, sleep, diet, hormones, so you need to customize your skincare to follow its specific needs. Alternating products is the optimum way to see amazing results, no matter what life is throwing your way.”
She described the primary function of each blend ($149 each):
“Winter often comes with dry skin, A Winter in Paris is all about optimum hydration.
“Summer often comes with sun damage and accelerated aging, A Summer in Hossegor is all about hyper pigmentation and fighting free radicals.
“Spring is a transitional season that can trigger blemishes and breakouts, A Spring In Tokyo is all about clear skin with an anti-aging approach.
“Fall often comes with dull lackluster skin after summer outdoors and back to stress/work, An Autumn on the World is all about Vitamin C to stimulate collagen synthesis, boost radiance and brighten the skin.”
Each oil can be used neat or by mixing 2-3 drops in moisturizer.
“I do this in the palm of my hand,” Grandury said. “This also warms the creme/serum allowing for better penetration.”
Listening to our skin’s seasonal needs points to a common theme among each of the brands and that is: to pay attention. If the passage of seasons proves anything, it is that the only moment we can capture is the present one so it makes sense to make it a good one. Our skin care rituals can enhance and enrich the flavor of time as it inevitably slips by.
Props used in photos: Four seasons cards by Majali on Etsy