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But, Does Clean Beauty Really Work?

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Today we feature guest contributor and Founder and Creator of Botnia Skincare to share some of her thoughts on clean beauty. Does it really work? Or is this just another passing trend?


By: Justine Kahn

The words clean beauty are thrown around a lot, and like most marketing terms, they mean something different to each company using them. To me, clean beauty means that your skincare is free of harmful ingredients, that your skincare is naturally derived, and that your skincare is rooted in building the health of the skin as a foundation to the whole picture of overall health.

As an esthetician and holistic skincare formulator, I believe that our bodies recognize organic compounds, terpenes, and naturally occurring vitamins, botanical extracts, and plant oils that are similar in nature to the skin’s natural functions. This is the key to clean skincare that works.

There are so many personal stories I could share to illustrate the difference clean skincare makes, but one of my all-time favorites is from a client who had been struggling with acne for years–let’s call her Jane.

She came to me at her wit’s end, in tears and desperate for a skincare solution. She had been breaking out in large cysts and was using a combination of retin A, benzoyl peroxide, and Cetaphil prescribed by her doctor. With red, inflamed, peeling skin, Jane felt like she could never leave the house without makeup.

My approach was first to see her for monthly facials where we rebuilt her moisture barrier. Knowing that the skin replaces itself about every four weeks, all the while providing protection from the environment, I wanted to make sure that we followed the natural cycle of her skin’s ability to heal. When we constantly disrupt the surface layer (stratum corneum) through over-exfoliation or harsh products, we weaken the skin’s ability to protect us.

A quick scientific aside: our epidermis (the top layer of skin) is composed primarily of dead flattened and hardened skin cells that have slowly migrated to the surface from the deeper layers (the dermis) and are constantly being shed or exfoliated. Skin cells are composed of proteins (primarily keratin) within a matrix of lipids (fats and oils), while the majority of our body is water on the inside (70 percent to be exact).

I started to treat Jane’s skin with hyaluronic acid (similar to the water content in her skin) to heal and hydrate the epidermis, then I used colloidal oatmeal, a soothing anti-inflammatory binder to calm inflammation and bind saccharides and protein to her skin, and jojoba oil (the plant oil most similar to the skin’s sebum [oil]) infused with anti-inflammatory and antiseptic botanicals to condition her skin. And no exfoliating, allowing her skin to naturally turn over on its own. We rebuilt the health of Jane’s skin from the ground up with these three simple ingredients in her facials. For a daily skincare routine, I sent Jane home with our Daily Face Wash, Daily Face Cream, and Replenishing Facial Oil. And for the moments she had pimples: the Fix-Zit Mask mixed with goat’s milk yogurt as a spot treatment.

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Within two days Jane had already texted me with excitement. Her skin was looking better! Within a month her skin was 25 percent healed (the magical four-week marker of new skin cells on the surface of her skin), and within six months she left her house without makeup for the first time in a decade.

I love this story because while it shows how clean beauty works, it reminds me we should also use the term slow beauty: our focus is not on immediate results at the cost of long-term inflammation. Rather, we should think of these concepts as a lifestyle solution for the health of our largest organ in the long run. My own acne was healed over time using organic skincare, and now occasionally I have a small pimple or minor breakout, and truthfully that’s normal–our skin’s job is to purge. But with a daily routine of ingredients that are simple, healthy for your skin, and most importantly don’t disrupt its natural functions, you will see fewer breakouts and inflammation.

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Above all, I want Botnia users to realize that ingredients matter and to follow the natural function of our skin–this means not killing healthy skin cells with alcohols or harsh scrubs or strong acids. If you allow the skin to do its job in combination with a balanced diet and lifestyle, you can enjoy a lifetime of healthy skin. To us, making clean beauty is a full picture approach. Looking first at physiology, then at plants, and finally at formulation. These three elements have changed lives and created glowing and healthy skin that we are so proud to nurture with our simple, effective skincare and professional custom facials. This is what clean beauty means to Botnia!



Justine Kahn started working as an esthetician in 2002, and after eight years of working in spas, realized she couldn’t do all that she wanted for my clients’ skin with the ingredients and products available to her. She noticed that not only were the ingredients in these products not helping to heal, but they were also causing damage.

She began her mission to help people understand that our skin IS our body. What we put on it will eventually be working its way through our entire system. So, if we want to be healthy, we have to start seeing our skin as part of a larger system. This motivated her to figure out which ingredients positively impact the skin.

After being trained at Nova Studio in Richmond, CA, she became very that simple skincare is more effective and healthy. She also understood that products can be preserved with natural ingredients. In December 0f 2010, she opened Skin Remedy, a luxury spa in San Francisco, CA. She then began to develop her signature collection of powerful, raw ingredients with the ability to be formulated for the perfect remedy for each person’s skin

Six years later,  teaming up with an incredible scientist to create a complete line of science-based, truly organic skin care, they offer both retail and spa products and are the top selling skincare brand at Shop Good.

Photos via @botniaskincare  and @kindredblack

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