So for someone who doesn’t know about your brand, how would you describe de Mamiel?
That’s always such an interesting question. People ask, “What’s your elevator pitch?”, and it’s like, “Ahh...I don’t have one!” It’s one of those things where the science is why it works. But everything comes from the treatment room. It’s been tested, and it’s been used creatively in the treatment room. de Mamiel sits on three pillars—I start at the very physical level of what the problem is on the patient’s skin, and then I look at the cellular level, and then I go to the emotional level. So everything has to work on those three pillars. Otherwise, to me, it’s not a complete product.
For someone who doesn’t know you, what kind of treatment rooms and patients are you talking about? Tell us a little bit about your background.
My first degree was a Bachelor of Science in Anatomy and Physiology. Then I studied chiropractic in Australia, and in the first three years we did the equivalent of pre-med in the US. That’s where my fascination with the human body started—actually it probably started before that. So looking at cadavers and wet labs and really getting an understanding of how the body works at that very cellular, small, level—even at the iron level—and how that impacts the rest of the body, and how that ends up on your skin. I then did my Bachelor of Science degree for Chinese Medicine in England, and then I did my internship in China.
Yea, which was just amazing! It was mind blowing watching doctors switch from Eastern to Western medicine. Whenever they found whatever was necessary, and what worked the best.
So they work with a duality?
So I did my Chinese Medicine, and then I did my aromatherapy. I really believe that I never stop learning. I am always searching, always trying to find new ways to think about things, to formulate things. I give everybody who uses the product something that is very holistic, in the truest sense of the word.
So when you came back you started your own practice?
Yes, I came back and I started my practice, which began around my interest in stress and how chronic stress ages us. I’ve found that people come to me when they’ve been feeling stressed and feeling really run down, and need that level of change. In my treatment I look at everything that’s going on in their lives, do a prescription based around their skincare, and give them tools to be able to breathe properly, and to be able to just ease the stress. For me it’s about living with the stress—we don’t ever want to get rid of all of the stress in our lives because stress gets things done!
We’d live in a bubble!
Exactly! Stress motivates us and actually gets things done. So it’s about changing how we perceive stress, and changing the way we deal with it, so that we can live with it, and with ease.
"DE MAMIEL SITS ON THREE PILLARS—I START AT THE VERY PHYSICAL LEVEL OF WHAT THE PROBLEM IS ON THE PATIENT'S SKIN, AND THEN I LOOK AT THE CELLULAR LEVEL, AND THEN I GO TO THE EMOTIONAL LEVEL."
Most Chinese Medicine practitioners really focus on internal herbs. What led you to create de Mamiel, which is essentially a skin, body, and aromatherapy range?
So the internal aspect, I think, is very prominent with the essential oils because with the ritual use of them we do make that internal difference. You breathe some of that product in and the constituents of the essential oil, they’re inhaled. They cross the blood brain barrier, and they go into the limbic system, they affect the limbic system. So it does work in that very internal way as well as the way that these products are formulated. They support the body to be able to make changes.
It’s a really unique approach. At what point in your practice did you think you needed to create your own skincare?
[laughs] I laugh because…I never thought that. If you think about my brand, it’s happened by consequence. It’s happened because I literally would make things and go and use them in the practice and keep refining them until I got the results that I needed. Then the patients would ask if they could have some, and I would just give it to them, and then I would come home and make more. My husband finally said, “You can’t keep doing that!” So around December 2013 we decided to put a label on them, make a website, and just see how it went. Everything about the brand sprung up organically.
That’s not that long ago.
No… It’s not!
And forever ago!! [laughing]
I had the seasonal oils and altitude oils in the first week of December, and then three weeks later Net-a-Porter called all of the products in, and we had a meeting early the next year, and things have just grown from there, which has been amazing! We’re really, really blessed.
I know your range is so specific and extensive, but do you have a hero product, or a product that people are naturally drawn to?
Interesting...it depends where people live. I would say the Intense Nurture Antioxidant Elixir or the Restorative Cleansing Balm are the two things. The Cleansing Balm is really interesting. It’s one of those products that people really get into. Sometimes a new patient comes in, and they’re super busy, and they’re traveling all across the world. When we go through the process of stopping, resetting, pausing, and breathing when you’re using the cleansing balm, they’re like, “I honestly just don’t have time for this.” I tell them to just do this for one minute every night. By the end of the week they’re texting me, “This is amazing! I’m spending ten minutes doing this and I can really see the difference in my skin.”
You’re almost giving them permission to take a meditation practice.
For me that’s a big part of it. Because in my clinic, meditation and mindfulness are such an important part of it. Not only using the product, but also creating it. To tell somebody that they really need that level of self-care, it’s saying they need to find an extra half an hour in the day to learn to meditate. You know, that’s not going to happen. So if I could get them to multitask in the best possible way, they really get into that. I do this to help people. That’s the point of all of this. These little tools that say, “Just do this in this time.” It makes such a huge difference, and when they can see that and feel that, it’s wonderful.
Tell me a little about the Sleep Series. It’s not brand new but it’s your newest launch.
Again, it’s very different!
Nothing is ever normal, is it?
[laughing] That’s a good thing!
The way I created the Sleep Series is that I started looking at my patient files and looking at some of these issues; you know, what’s keeping people awake, and what are the underlying imbalances in our bodies that are stopping us from falling asleep. I started at one of the basic pathways of: What do we need for sleep? One thing we need is melatonin. And so how do we create melatonin? By going down the biochemical pathways, backwards, we need serotonin as an element—there’s more, but this is one of the most simplistic pathways. And to get serotonin, we need tryptophan, and we get that through our diets, through amino acids in your protein.
Thanksgiving Turkey—if you’re American!
[laughing] Exactly! We can eat all of the tryptophan we want, but if we don’t have enough magnesium, selenium, and B vitamins to absorb the tryptophan, then it’s not going to make a difference. My starting point was looking at the very basic essential elements that could help support the body to absorb more of that tryptophan pathway. It’s that mind map of starting with the science, overlaying the Chinese medicine, and then adding the aromatherapy. I started with the sleep base of watermelon seed oil and passion flower, and a bespoke blend that I created that would give the body a bit of support. Then I looked at the elements of Chinese medicine.
Settle is about our shen not being able to settle, our heart and spirit that are unable to settle. When you look at that world, it’s about cortisol and inflammation and heat in the body. So to create a blend that would settle the shen, calm the heart, and help with inflammation, cortisol levels, and circadian rhythms were all really important. That’s how I create products. Soothe was about the process of how when we’re stressed and anxious, we feel it in our gut, in our solar plexus, and we’re churning. It’s that process of things going around and around around in our minds.
Which one was that?
It’s the Soothe.
That’s the one I need!
So Settle is like a download—when we’re thinking of a thousand things and we can’t turn our minds off. And Soothe is about one thought that consumes us and goes around and around and around and you feel it in your gut. It’s really digestive on us, and it’s like we can’t digest our thought. It’s really about the gut flora and looking at how we can support that. And Anchor—selfishly, I made that one for me! They’re all about the quality of sleep, but Anchor is about waking in the night, being restless in the night, continually waking up and not feeling rested. It’s about our liver energy, our hong, which is the spirit of the liver energy and creative energy that wanders off in the night and has nowhere to go back to. One of the big things about Sleep is it’s not going to work overnight, because these underlying balances have been there for a long time, so there’s no quick fixes with de Mamiel. It’s all about supporting the body and looking at what’s creating the problems and beginning to adjust that.
"PEOPLE WANT AN IMMEDIATE RESPONSE...GIVE YOURSELF SOME TIME, AND IT WILL HAPPEN."
What are some of the other things that someone can do to contribute to good sleep health or good sleep hygiene?
There are so many options, aren’t there? I mean, a big thing is just no electronics in the bedroom. You know, blue light and all of these things, they actually affect the rhythms of the brain. We know that when we sleep there’s different stages of sleep, and we need to get through all of those stages of sleep for healing to occur. At different stages hormones are released, which help repair the damage of the day, and things like blue light and electronics can actually interfere with that level of sleep. So that would be my first thing.
And I always have a sleep journal by my bed so that I can dump my thoughts, just get rid of them. That way you’re not thinking ‘I need to hold onto this, I have to remember this.’ Have it there, jot it down, so it’s got a route, an escape route basically. I mean, having a lovely bath is really, really nice. A whole bunch of things like looking at coffee and alcohol and what we’re eating and how we’re eating, because diet is just so important. But for me, one of the biggest things is electronics in the bedroom. Your bedroom is your special place for sleep.
Is there anything unusual that someone may not think of that’s important for skin health? We get a lot of people of all ages asking about inflammation in the skin, and breakouts in the skin. We’re always trying to get to the bottom of their unique issues, and we talk about diet, stress, and sleep—but is there anything that you would say that people should think about when they think about their skin health?
Breathe. Like honestly, your breath is so important. It’s really interesting, because our skin is not deemed a vital organ. Of course it’s vital, but when we’re stressed, when we’re really busy and we’re not eating the right foods, the nutrition and stuff is not necessarily getting to the skin because it’s getting to the heart, to the lungs, and to the liver first. So when we haven’t been eating enough or eating properly then those nutrients aren’t going to get to the skin. The breath helps oxygenate things. Breathing and facial massage make a really big difference.
Right. Do you have any skincare pet peeves that your clients do that drive you crazy?
Umm… blimey! People aren’t patient enough.
That’s a good answer! I agree!
People want an immediate response, but as I said before, a lot of this imbalance has been created by years of doing things or not looking after yourself or not taking time. I think for me, give yourself some time, and it will happen.
Well there’s that quote, where, you know, ‘You can’t walk ten miles into a forest and out in five.’ [laughing] Something like that, but you know, you took some time getting there.
Yeah, exactly! Exactly! In this world we want instantaneous change, but change takes time, and we have to make it a habit. We have to look at the whole picture.
I know it’s almost a cliché, but how do you practice self-care so you don’t feel depleted?
Good question, because you know I used to be really good. I’ve always been really good at morning time. Morning time is my time. I do my meditation, I will do some morning pages, and you know, every now and then I’ll do my qi gong to build my energy. I’m learning, I’m not perfect.
No one is!
Sometimes you feel like you should be doing something better, and that you’re not doing something right, but we’re all doing the best that we can. It’s a journey for us all.
What does the future hold for you and your brand?
So much excitement!
So in the way that I was saying that I choose the ingredients, and that everything is chosen on that physical, cellular, and emotional level—I’ve done two ranges that fit into that pattern. Botaniques was very much about the emotional side of things, and the beginning of the breathing. Atmosphériques was about the physical sphere and how that affects us. Over the next twelve to eighteen months I feel my life’s work is coming. The ten years of clinic and six years of researching will culminate in what I really feel is a massive game changer.
So it’s still a secret?
Ah, can’t wait! Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to chat with us. This was so illuminating.