Wendy Gardner is a former data analyst turned skincare alchemist. No one knows more about natural skincare and having luscious, beautiful skin than she does.
If you're looking for answers for your own skin problems, you've come to the right place!
Wendy Gardner is a Reiki Seichem Master, professional aromatherapist and artisan distiller (floral waters not whisky!) trained in ancient Essenic healing. Based in Devon, England, she makes extraordinary handcrafted and personalized skin care products that have been featured in British Vogue magazine.
After struggling with her own skin problems and travelling the world to find answers, she began to make her own complexion remedies. The results were so dramatic that people noticed and sought her out. Thus, Glow Skincare was born.
Remedywise was fortunate to have this exclusive interview with Wendy about...
In your experience, what causes the problems of dry, scaly, red or blotchy, wrinkled, sagging and blemished skin?
From what I've seen, skin issues are all a problem of damaged skin barrier - a healthy barrier will have the correct oil: water balance. Insufficient oil and the skin loses water. Too much oil then the skin suffers. Too little water and the skin suffers. All those 'problems', as different as they appear, are due to an imbalance/dysfunction of the skin's barrier.
The solutions start with nutrition, inner and outer. We can't build healthy skin cells if our digestive systems are fed rubbish or not absorbing properly. The same with what we put onto the skin, if we coat it in empty calories (synthetics), the skin is starved of what it needs.
Our skin is the last organ to receive the nutrition from our gut; this is why deficiencies in omega 3's, vitamin C, zinc etc show up so quickly, e.g. after a cold or flu. It also means that using products that contain natural vitamins, e.g. pumpkin seed oil rich in zinc, our skin will recognise it as a food and then be able to use it for repair etc.
What is the biggest mistake people make with their skin care or beauty routine?
Biggest mistake is being over-thrifty and thinking all products are the same. You should be spending as much on your products as you do on your handbags or other accessories. Penny pinching is false economy as time will bite you and it will show.
Lathering on makeup to cover flaws is false economy too. When your skin is healthy you do not need to cover up or distract the eye away from your face. Lots of ladies spend on their hair dye, cuts, body treatments, false nails, pedicures and all the other trimmings yet put rubbish on their faces… yes, bought at the fancy salon. They wonder why they keep having to go back to the salon for 'treatments'. The salon owner would rather you spent your money on weekly/fortnightly treatments than on products that worked as then you would not be using her services.
Same with food. Eat fresh veg and fruit… do not rely on processed 'healthy supplements' that cost a lot when Nature packages the perfect vitamins, minerals and fibres.
What’s your opinion about sun? Does it ruin your skin or heal it?
I don't agree with the whole sunblock-every-inch-of-your-body-every-day philosophy. Sun is essential to life. We are not potatoes and need full spectrum light every day. Our eyes our skin, our energy vortexes all need sunlight. Without sunlight we suffer depression, weak bones and other illnesses.
Obviously living under a hole in the ozone layer we need to be sensible. Those in the far north where sunlight is rare need to take care not to hide away from it. On sunny holidays, use UV filtering clothes when swimming, wear hats, sunglasses etc and seek the shade in the hottest times, but still let your skin and eyes get unfiltered sunlight.
Always use a mineral-based sun block instead of a chemical-based one. The minerals sit on the surface of your skin and reflect away radiation. Chemical sun blocks interact with your body's chemistry. Be sensible. If you are a pale-skinned Celtic girl who burns, you need to be in the sun less than a darker skinned Mediterranean type. Burning is never good.
What works for wound healing so it won’t leave a scar?
Anti-inflammatory ingredients, eating foods and seeds rich in Vits ACE and Zinc, also using ingredients known for skin repair such as rosehip, centella, Vit E, and essential oils such as helichrysum, frankincense, and neroli essential oils. (Empress Elixir has most of these for this reason.)
There are so many skin lotions and moisturizers claiming to be good lubricants. Yet many of them seem to contain alcohol – and since when did alcohol lubricate skin? So how do we know whether we’re actually buying a good product or not? What should we look for?
Alcohol is very drying to the skin. It's in several German natural products because it is able to extract certain components out of herbs that are not oil- or water-soluble. I'd advise women with dry skin to avoid it.
Women need to read the labels on whatever they buy. The problem in Northern America is that standards are more lax, so dubious items get used in skin legally.
Here in the UK we have to list everything that is inside the jar, even if it is 0.0001% of the formula. There is no hiding, as the label process goes through an independent firm who analyses the paper trail right back to the original manufacturer. Ingredients bought in the USA often do not declare the full list of components, for instance, a sea kelp extract, like that used in the La Mer range, comes without the preservatives listed. This is an issue, as preservatives can interact with each other and there are strict limitations on what is and isn't allowed in the UK and Europe.
You should look for ingredients that are as close to nature as possible. Ask manufacturers, if you are unsure. UK-made products have stricter manufacturing rules and we are not allowed to use 1500+ ingredients that are still allowed in the USA so technically speaking you should get a safer product made here. Certain USA based brands get their products manufactured in the UK as they know the quality and safety standards are higher. Current exchange rates make this a bargain time to be shopping for UK-made products.
We hear a lot about sodium laurel sulphate. Is this the worst skin product ingredient or are there others to avoid?
SLS is a skin and eye irritant. It's cheap and makes great foam. It damages the skin's barrier. It's typically used in shampoos and body washes and will dry out your skin so that you'll need to buy more lotion to replace the moisture/repair the damage. Again it is short-sighted to skimp on products and then to have to buy other products to repair the damage caused in the beginning.
There are lots more ingredients to avoid. Again look to products made in the UK where standards are higher.
In general, avoid synthetics, petroleum-derived and anything carcinogenic or irritant. If you are concerned about rainforest destruction/orangutans, avoid palm oil.
What drove you – or inspired you – to create your own line of skincare products?
I fell in love with Aromatherapy in 2000 when I started having the best 'holistic' treatments of my life - gorgeous organic essential oils in cold-pressed and organic plant oils in an English aromatherapy full body massage that incorporated Oriental diagnostics and the yin/yang five elements. I walked on clouds for days after a 90 minute- treatment and I soon switched to a simpler more nutritious skincare programme.
I studied Aromatherapy according to the Oriental tradition with Gabriel Mojay in London during 2003, one of the best years of my life. I lived, breathed and became a hermit, 5-15 hours a day of study, 7 days a week. It was somewhat obsessive. I started dabbling with readymade bases then started learning to create my own bases from scratch. It's highly addictive and I found my niche. Other women collected handbags, I collected ingredients.
Glow got started when my friends wanted to buy cream when it suited them, not wait for random gifts. I swore I would not be involved with anything IT-related when I became a full time mom, but here I am dabbling with websites. My first love is the potions.
How are your products different from most on the market?
I don't use water from a tap or bottle. Instead, I use hydrolat/floral water/distillate which comes from the distillation of flowers, berries or bark. My hydrolat hero is Suzanne Catty based in Toronto, she's dubbed the queen of hydrosols and one of my guiding lights.
Hydrosols are really special as they are remarkably gentle yet powerful. They contain weak plant acids that have the perfect pH to keep the micro flora of our skin happy. Remember the key to skin being a happy barrier? Hydrosols are the master plan.
I use naturals as close to the raw state as possible. Lowest heat used when cream making, many processes at room temperature to preserve the life force and nutrients.
Never petrochemicals or synthetics as they are empty calories. I treat my skin as a temple… the equivalent of organic fruits and veggies go onto it.
Zero filler - every ingredient has a skin-healing role. Most face creams are 70% water. Shocking. My 70% will be hydrolat. Every drop of hydrolat does something. Water is the wrong pH for happy skin so chemical acids have to be added to adjust it down from a 'neutral 7' which is not what the skin wants. It prefers products between 5-5.5 ph. Because I use hydrolats I don't need to fiddle with the pH.
I don't make large batches or factory runs and instead stick to the exclusive hand crafted individual attention process. I make every item myself so oversee the quality side down to the last drop.
I'm a Reiki and Seichem Master and have been a practitioner of Essene healing since 1998 so I add energetic elements from those disciplines into my products.
Wendy, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to share this fantastic information about skin! It’s a real eye-opener and I know it will help all of us make improvements in our skincare choices and practices.
Wendy Gardner is the founder of Glow Skincare... exquisite bare-skin beauty, handcrafted in Devon.
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