Exquisite Practices, Spring Revival: Week 1

An interview with Jessa Blades of Blades Natural Beauty, plus a discount code for a custom beauty consultation!

Every so often I am confronted with a situation that reminds me how important skin care is, and inspires me to revive my natural skincare routine. This time (I give you permission to call me dorky over this one) it was listening to the Stuff You Should Know podcast on ‘how makeup works’ — an info-packed hour on makeup and our largest organ, the dermis. Given that we’re on the brink of sun-drenched summer days, it’s time to take a deep look at how we care for and heal our skin… so welcome to May’s Exquisite Practice theme: Spring Revival! For starters, I turned to Jessa Blades, natural beauty expert and makeup artist, to answer some important questions regarding skin care. Once you, too, are ready to revive your routine, grab the discount code and head over to Blades Natural Beauty for a custom consult with the wellness extraordinaire herself!

Image 2, Gary Ashley
Photo: Gary Ashley

What is your philosophy about skin care? How and why did you become interested in it?

My philosophy about skincare and healing is to bring the body back into balance by using gentle, safe and plant-based products. I’ve been working as a makeup artist with skin and beauty for thirteen years and became passionate about the natural side of beauty and healing in an effort to heal my own skin, and once I did that – help others to do the same. The body likes using natural products, free of synthetics and chemicals and that’s why you end up seeing a real difference when you switch to healthier beauty products. The other part of this that is important to understand is because your skin is your largest organ, eating really clean and healthy, and working to heal skin from the inside out is the best way to see results. The skin doesn’t want to be covered in cystic acne- it is detoxing in the most efficient way it can and communicating to you that there is a problem. Your job is to listen to what your body is saying and to accept that you can heal any problem and start by getting to the bottom of what you are putting in (food, medicine), putting on (products), what your lifestyle is like (stress, sleep, and digestion).

The guys over at Stuff You Should Know mention some pretty horrendous ingredients in makeup, like lead and formaldehyde. Is this still true today? How do we avoid products that contain these poisons when there’s so much misleading marketing and lack of transparency?

This answer to this question is very long and complicated — but yes it is still true. There is still no FDA regulation with personal care and even though Senator Feinstein has introduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act, we have a long way to go until it gets passed. In the meantime, look up your products on the Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep Database to see their rating, be curious about what is in your products and if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, do some more research. There are also a lot of new healthy lines out in the marketplace and great stores selling healthy products (I know how confusing this can be, the quest to help people find healthy products inspired me to start my own shop). And finally, check out this list and read your product labels over and avoid these ingredients.

Image 3, Nicole Franzen
Photo: Nicole Franzen

Say I ran out of my skin care products on a Sunday at 10pm – what household or kitchen items could I use to wash and hydrate?

Great question. Raw organic coconut oil is the answer! Make sure it is unrefined, never heated, which is also described as virgin, depending on the company. And when buying it, choose one that is in a glass jar vs. plastic. To clean, you can massage it on your face for 1-2 min and then use a warm wet cloth to gently take it off and your face will be clean and hydrated. Raw coconut oil is anti-fungal and antimicrobial so it is great for cleaning. After you wipe it off, you can always add more oil to moisturize if your skin feels dry.

If I wanted to go minimal with my makeup, what are one or two essential products I should keep in my repertoire?

Mascara and lipstick. You can always put the mascara on and while it is wet, smudge it a bit on the eyelid for a little bit more of a dramatic look. And the lipstick is great for lips but swipe it onto your cheeks and voila- now you also have some blush.

Is there something we’ve been overlooking in our skincare routine?

If I had to choose one thing about your skincare routine that many people overlook, it would the need to be more gentle. Harsh toners, anything that stings, or hurts or burns is not good for you.

Gentle facials, gentle products, fragrance-free or lightly fragranced products are the way to go (using 100% essential oils vs. synthetic). Our skin needs to be handled in a gentle way and much of the redness and irritation comes, not from something wrong with us, but a reaction to the way we are treating our skin.

Image 4, Daeja Fallas
Photo: Daeja Fallas

How much does what we eat have to do with the way our skin looks? Are there foods you swear by?

What you eat has a HUGE impact on how your skin looks. Eating a diet filled with organic vegetables is a great place to start. I swear by eating two fermented foods a day for building up your gut flora and having healthy digestion, foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, yogurt, beet kvass, and kimchi. Also, bitters are a great digestive tonic for helping your body digest your food better, taken before or after you eat, bitters help your skin as they help your liver detox.

I’ve heard mixed messages about sun blocking lotion, i.e.: anything under 50 spf doesn’t do anything, or that the chemicals are worse for you than the sun’s rays. Do you have any wisdom about sun block?

My advice is to choose a sunblock with physical blockers (like zinc or titanium dioxide) versus chemical ingredients (like Oxybenzone as it can disrupt the hormone system, or Retinyl palmitate as it may trigger damage and is possibly cancer-causing.) Avoid spray sunscreens (they can be inhaled and they don’t cover skin completely), and watch out for SPF values above 50+ as SPF protection tops out at 30 to 50. And be sure to check out what the EWG says on their sunscreen guide: http://www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/

Image 5, Jessa Blades
Photo: Jessa Blades

Finally, what are two of your favorite products from Blades Natural Beauty?

My two favorites at the moment are the Elderberry syrup and the Chaga mushroom tea. Both are great for inner beauty as they boost immunity and help the body handle stress, AND they are delicious. They are also both made by two of my herbalist friends in Upstate New York who grow and harvest the herbs and I love supporting their work.

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Ready to revive your skin care routine? Head over to Blades Natural Beauty for a Virtual Natural Beauty Consult with Jessa via skype or phone. You’ll discuss all of your natural beauty questions and concerns and Jessa will create for you a personalized list of recommendations for diet and products. Discount code: freepeople.

+ Go Girls! Let me know how it goes in the comments section and stay tuned for more skincare info and recipes in the coming weeks – glow in your Spring Revival!

Image 7, Jessa Blades
Photo: Jessa Blades

Lead images by: Tory Williams

+More Beauty posts here!

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My favorite type of posts by far!!! Thanks so much for all the alternative beauty ideas.
-Amanda Machell

great ideas, wonderful post <3


Henna S.

Can’t wait to check out her store! This was a great post, and the photos are especially lovely.

Gotta check out that elderberry syrup! Love the photography for this as well!



Hello everyone, I have a question, Jessa Blades said “There are also a lot of new healthy lines out in the marketplace and great stores selling healthy products” do you have any idea what are those other healthy products in great stores? like some nice face powder? I surfed over her website and she has no face powder products, and it’s what I use everyday :( plus, I entered the “Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep Database” as she recommended and found out that Neutrogena and Phycisians Formula (my basic brands) contain highly toxic ingredients, so now I’m all concerned and… Read more »

Great post! My boyfriend said something that is forever engrained in my mind. “What you put ON your body goes IN your body.” Words of wisdom.

I quit makeup years ago but often wear the occasional eye and lip.


Love the photography for this as well!