Do you scrutinize about the ingredients in your skin care products the same way you consider food ingredients?
I know I’ve had a big awakening in recent years.While I’ve long subscribed to a whole foods diet, I haven’t always been as careful about my skin. As the largest organ of the body, it absorbs everything it comes into contact with into the body.
So, what we choose to put on our bodies is as important as what we put in them–right?
Then I met my skin care goddess, Jody Berry who owns Wild Carrot Herbals. Along with all their wonderful food-grade skin care products, she’s been an invaluable source of knowledge for me over the past three years.
And she’s completely transformed the way my whole family cares for our bodies–from dry skin to acne to sunscreen.
For Mother’s Day, I sat down with Jody to ask her about the connections between whole food and skin health. I left buzzing with new insights and information about some of our favorite foods–and their benefits for the skin that I’d love to share with you.
So, here are snippets of our conversation, plus a DIY rhubarb face mask to treat yourself this Mother’s Day and beyond.
Skin Care With Whole Foods
Lynne: What should we really be looking at in terms of skin products that truly nourish us?
Jody: Our background is very simplistic in nature. We’re more of the old school. We’re looking at the ancestors and at other cultures to learn what they have used to nourish the skin.
We avoid anything that based in petroleum. Anything that is synthetic in nature. You’ll see propylene glycol. You’ll see parabens. You’ll see mineral oil. You’ll see urea, which is urine. It’s a by-product of CAFOs, of factory farmed operations that gives you “results.”
When you use something like mineral oil, it creates a barrier on your skin. And so it gives the illusion that your skin is soft and that it feels hydrated, but it prevents anything from actually penetrating into your skin or resolving any issues that you’re having with your skin.
Even isolates. We don’t use things like Vitamin C or Vitamin A or standardized extracts. We believe that the plant in its whole form is the best way for our bodies to actually utilize those nutrients.
We use a lot of plant ingredients in our products–herbs and plants.
ALternative Plant sunscreens
Jody: You mentioned the topic of sunscreen, which is a huge topic in skin care.
We have all these oils that in their unrefined state are highly pigmented. If you have an avocado oil, it’s this deep emerald green. But if you were to buy an avocado oil on the grocery store shelves, chances are that if it’s not in its virgin organic state, it’s going to be clear. In our sunscreen we use cotton bud oil that is like an amber brown color. We use St. John’s wort oil, which is bright red.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that plants have these pigments to protect themselves from the sun and this UV exposure and that translates to sun protection for humans. That’s the whole idea behind our Sun Salutations serum is using those highly pigmented oils that have been used by other cultures and by our ancestors for sun protection.
Lynne: It’s so exciting to hear about real food being used in your skin care products. It completely makes sense, but why is this so fringe?
Jody: The Western world is really caught up in science. And I don’t know if you experienced it when you were a new mom, that self doubt that so many mothers go through. That you won’t know what the right thing is to do for your child, you won’t know how to help them when they’re sick… Oftentimes there’s that deferral: Ask your doctor.
There’s definitely been a disconnect in that wisdom that was passed down from generation to generation. I feel like in skin care if it’s not scientific, if it’s not something that was doctor recommended then people don’t believe in it.
Children have been my biggest teachers. Because they have really shown me that a little bit goes a long way. That less is more. There is really subtle medicine in skin care.
Lynne: So let’s talk about some specific whole foods, whole plants for the skin.
Jody: Burdock is a plant that comes to mind. We know that tap root. Burdock is incredibly nourishing for the skin. We actually make our own burdock infused oil by macerating the plant material in oil, and then infusing it and then pressing the plant material out.
Burdock infused oil has very cooling properties and is also very supportive to the elimination system of the body.
Our thought process with the burdock is that this whole skin care line will help with the manifestation of acne. But if you also introduce to your skin this plant it will then go through your skin and into your blood stream and help to nourish the elimination system, to help breakdown those hormones, which is often times why acne is happening.
It’s kind of two fold. It’s helping to nourish the skin and working on the internal issue.
These beautiful young preteens that come in [to the store in Enterprise, Oregon]. And being a mom and having had the Seabreeze/Noxema burn-my-face-off experience, the first thing I do is [offer] something really gentle. “So let’s try honey.”
Lynne: What is it about honey?
Jody: Honey is amazing for the skin. It is so softening. It’s antimicrobial. So if there’s some sort of bacterial situation that’s going on with the break out that would really help to address that. It’s incredibly healing.
Those bee products…everything that comes from the bees. Life and sustenance at its core.
We take honey and infuse it with rose petals or lavender flowers [for Wild Carrot Herbals wild rose honey mask]. It’s kind of sticky and weird and counter-intuitive. I like to sit in the tub and the honey starts to drip into your mouth. And then you rinse it off and the residual honey is on your body and makes your skin so soft.
You can also make a face mask with turmeric. It’s super great for acne. You have to be careful about the ratio. I like fresh; some people use dried. If you use too much ground turmeric, it will make your face yellow. I find that if I use fresh, it’s not nearly as harsh.
Fresh turmeric infused in honey is my dream face mask.
On COconut oil and Hydrating Skin
Lynne: I have found coconut oil to be really drying instead of hydrating. What do you recommend coconut oil for?
Jody: A lot of people use coconut oil on their skin. You can get extra-virgin coconut oil that’s not bleached and dyed and processed. It is very drying to your skin, but it can offer a barrier to help protect your skin. I’m not a big fan of using coconut oil by itself. It is an ingredient that I look for in skin care combined with other things.
Olive oil is my absolute fave. There’s such a tradition of olive oil being used by Mediterranean women. But they’re also consuming massive quantities of it internally. I’m a huge believer in internal fats. All that consumption of all that fat, I think that really translates into luscious non dry skin, brain health, hair health…just all of it.
I should bring the avocado up. Because the avocado is the the number one amazing skin food. I like to take an avocado and mash it up and put it on my face. And I love doing it with my daughter because she thinks it’s just silly and super fun.
Avocado is so nourishing for the skin.
Again those fats. Those essential fatty acids. It’s also really high in vitamin E and it’s anti-inflammatory. It’s the main oil we use in our burdock cleanser. So really great for just balancing the skin.
Pumpkin is new ingredient in skin care. You’ll see a lot of masks with pumpkin. It is plumping to the skin. It’s super high in essential fatty acids. And it also is has enzymes that help to exfoliate the skin.
I’m not a fan of the big peels which ultimately destroy the acid mantle of your skin, its own ability to balance itself.
Rhubarb Face Mask Gifts
To cap off our visit, Jody shared her springtime rhubarb face mask with me. Rhubarb–the spring perennial I love for everything from chutney to jam–delivers Vitamin C and lutein directly to the skin, which helps to protect it from UV radiation.
The mineral-rich mask is also hydrating and promotes collagen and elastin production, according to Jody. Both the yogurt and strawberry are gentle exfoliates, and the lactic acid from the yogurt is also toning and balancing.
It is a wonderful way to treat yourself and your body to whole foods in a whole new way. At least it was for me!
I’ve never put food on my face before. It seemed like I should be eating this rhubarb mixture not smearing it all over my face. But after this 5-minute treatment and a warm-water rinse, my skin felt wonderfully toned and hydrated.
This is good food, I thought. And then I drank down the leftovers.
Rhubarb Face Mask with Strawberry & Yogurt
This is a delectable and nutrient-rich whole food face mask to make in your food processor. I've adapted the original recipe from skin care goddess Jody Berry of Wild Carrot Herbals to create a toning face mask with gentle exfoliation from the coarse sugar and strawberry. It has a wonderful scent with or without the lavender essential oil, and is so good, I couldn't stop licking my lips.
- 1 4-inch section fresh rhubarb, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 cup sugar in the raw organic
- 2 teaspoons plain whole milk yogurt pastured
- 1 whole strawberry, stemmed
- 1-2 drops lavender essential oil optional
Combine the rhubarb with the sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process until pureed.
Add the yogurt and strawberry and process until very smooth. Add the essential oil, if using.
Pour this loose mixture into a bowl and use right away before the sugar dissolves.
Apply the mask onto your face with your fingers and scrub gently in a circular motion.
Leave on for 5 minutes before rinsing with a warm washcloth. Then, finish this treatment with your favorite moisturizer.