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Tammy Fender’s approach to skin care can be summed up in one word: all-encompassing. At her West Palm Beach spa, and through her sensorial products, she seeks to treat your skin, mind and soul. If you are fortunate enough to meet with her, she will assess not just your skin, but your stress levels, your diet, your mental state and how you are sleeping. That’s what it means to be a holistic practitioner, caring for the wellbeing of a person, and working to heal them with ingredients from what she terms “nature’s pharmacy”.
While clean beauty is a buzz term, Fender has viewed skin care through a holistic prism for almost 30 years. “When I began, and up until 10 years ago, I was always considered ‘alternative’. People would say ‘She treats the skin alternatively.’” But the world is shifting, and for Fender it feels like a mission accomplished. “It’s such a tremendous breakthrough, especially because it’s being driven by consumer demand. It’s amazing to be in my position as a holistic practitioner, and to see it come to the forefront. It’s a dream come true.”
To find out more about Fender’s point of view, her sublime collection debuting at MECCA this month, and how we can all learn to live more holistically, we called her at her Florida home.
TM: Why is botanical skin care better for our skin?TF: “The skin is our largest organ, a vital organ and an eliminating organ—I always say it’s like a third lung or third kidney. We breathe through our pores and excrete toxins through perspiration. Like all parts of our body, the skin is made up of cells that need nutrients and oxygen to survive. So, what we put on our skin needs to feed it nutritious content. The reason I love plant-based medicine is because plants are a natural food source and they’re also our medicinal source. The body assimilates them much more easily than anything synthetic. If you eat an orange freshly picked off a tree, the body is going to recognise the nutrients and easily assimilate it. If you took a synthetic vitamin C tablet, the body may not recognise it, and struggle to process it the same way. That's the difference between using plant-based skin care verses something synthetic. It works in harmony with our skin.”
Does that mean you see and feel the benefits quicker?“Absolutely. Everything we do in holistic medicine, which just means herbal remedies, is based on healing. My practices’ purpose is to speed up the healing of the skin, and the best way that I have found to do that is by utilising plants. When you use botanical ingredients not only is it feeding the skin but it affects us in other ways. Our sense of smell is the strongest of all of our senses, so even the aromatic experience can change the mindset and have a very calming effect. If you’re tired, lethargic, stressed or ridden with anxiety, just the inhalation of spearmint gives a level of clarity to the mind.”
What’s the best way to transition to all-natural skin care?“It's just like someone changing their diet. If you were transitioning to eating healthy foods, such as a plant-based diet, I would rather see you have an organic salad with all its nutrients than not at all—even with a side of French fries and coke. You’re still getting the health benefits of the salad either way, but if you had that salad with a sweet potato and a glass of water with lemon instead, well your body’s going to change at a more rapid pace.”
viewing of products
What’s your view on exfoliation? “In life we often search for quick fixes and want to see a result instantaneously, but that mindset is going to make you gravitate to products that are going to do something aggressive. When you take an aggressive approach, you create inflammation in the skin, so it has to repair itself. You get that fresh layer of skin, but at a cost. If someone gets sunburnt and it peels, you see that fresh skin underneath. It does look baby-like and glowy, but there was damage along the way. As a holistic practitioner, my job is to prevent that damage and take a healthier approach. I like to exfoliate gently, in a way that slows the ageing process and has more long-term benefits, as opposed to a more aggressive approach where, in time, you’re actually speeding up the ageing process.”
What is the best thing anyone can do for their skin outside the bathroom?“Sleep. The skin repairs itself when we’re sleeping, which is really, really important. Even if we didn’t use anything on our skin, the skin still knows how to repair itself all on its own. We all need sleep.”
What are the first steps to living a more holistic life?“It begins with paying more attention to your intuition. We all have it but often don’t use it. When something approaches you, whether it’s a thought, a person, a situation, something you see or read, think about how it made you feel. If it made you feel good, peaceful and happy, then you are on the right path, and you should continue to pursue more of that. If, on the other hand, it didn’t make you feel good, whether it’s a relationship or a food, recognise that as a guiding signal. The other way is to spend more time in nature. Nature is our healer. The more we can get in-touch with it, and simplify our lives, the easier it is to recalibrate, and that’s holistic living.”
How many steps should our skin regimes really have?“You need to allow the skin to breathe. Don’t overdo it. I’ve seen thousands of clients and treated thousands of faces, and typically people believe that the more steps, layers or products that they add, the quicker they’ll get to the end result. What I advise is that they eliminate from their regime and do less with the skin. Products are only meant to be supportive. If you’ve cleansed, used a tonic to rebalance the skin’s PH and used a serum or cream in the night, then you don’t need to cleanse again in the morning. I often begin my morning by just wiping my skin with a little rose water and then apply a serum or cream. Simplify and the products you are using will become more effective.”
What are your favourite ingredients to address anti-ageing?“Helichrysum is wonderful because it stimulates new cellular growth, increases skin elasticity and tightens the connective tissue. It’s a very powerful herb, and we use it in our Intensive Repair Balm and our Spontaneous Recovery Creme. It even has the ability to heal decades-old scars. It’s wonderful for treating inflammation, too. I created the Repair Balm to speed up the healing for any skin that has experienced trauma, and that is the powerhouse ingredient that does it.”
Do you have an all-time hero ingredient that you love working with?“I gravitate very much to rose. It’s the most powerful cell rejuvenator and it also carries the highest vibration of any plant on the planet. That means that it connects to the heart centre and the heart chakra. It can take five to seven thousand petals to produce one drop of rose oil, so it’s very, very precious, and tremendous in skin care. The other hero for me is organic rosehip seed oil. It has a lot of antioxidants and essential fatty acids in it. It works with the skin’s elasticity and helps speed up the skin’s healing process.”
Interview by Alexandra WhitingJuly 2018