What do you know about the microbiome of your skin? For many of us, understanding our skin as an ecosystem that needs support and balance is an entirely new concept. But for Sonja Flay, the founder of Double Happiness, paying close attention to the natural microbiome of your face is the only way to approach clean beauty and skin care.
My conversation with Sonja quickly took a very different turn from the standard Q&A interview when she mentioned cleansing with oil. I had to ask for clarification. Did she mean washing your face with an oil product? Indeed she did.
Skincare advice that had started in my teen years with articles in Seventeen magazine had convinced me of foam cleansers and astringents that sting. Add to that all the tales about chocolate and greasy foods and I was convinced of the need to dry out my oily T zone. The concept of actually cleansing with oil sounded ludicrous, even potentially harmful.
Swallowing my disbelief, I listened as Sonja described approaching skin care as a relationship with your skin’s microbiome. Rather than using products to beat your skin into submission, and then watch it recoil and react with even more acne, redness and dullness, a product should support and enhance the natural capacity of your skin to care for itself.
“Everything we need to help heal and transform our skin can really be found in nature. Whether that’s roots, seeds, bark, or plants. We’ve evolved within nature and our systems work in harmony with what nature has to offer us.”
I was, admittedly, intrigued. The daughter of a holistic nurse, Sonja knew from her mother’s homemade shampoos and garden-grown skincare the power of natural products to work in tandem with our bodies.
Research, education and curiosity lead Sonja to experiment with making her own products, learning about effective formulations that helped the skin thrive in the process. Positive results with her own skin, and positive feedback from friends and family, encouraged her to consider turning her passion into a line of four products that offer an “intelligently simple” skincare practice.
Double Happiness’ first product was the Restore Face Oil Potion. Pulling upon Chinese medicine and ancient oils like schizandra berry, the face oil tackles the dry, flakey skin that makes our skin dull during the winter months. To complement it, Sonja developed an oil cleanser with pumpkin seed oil as the active ingredient that strong enough to remove a day’s worth of makeup and deeply cleanse the skin in one step. A dry exfoliator and face mist round out her straightforward approach to skincare.
I took the leap the explained my adult acne challenges with this complete stranger, admitting to her that I was battling a jaw line break out at that very moment. Adding more oil to my already seemingly very oily skin contradicted everything I’d been taught about skin care. I had to check again: “Are you suggesting then that cleansing with an oil is a good idea?” I asked with trepidation. At this point I was truly asking for advice.
“Oh absolutely! The reason why I make everything oil based is because not many people know that the good bacteria on your skin, which is the microbiome, needs to be in an acidic environment to be healthy and to be able to act as your skin’s first line of defence against bad bacteria invading. The ph balance of oils is acidic so by applying oils to your skin you’re keeping that balance.”
She went on to explain the alkaline properties of most commercial products like soaps and foaming cleansers, which break down the microbiome of your skin over time and weaken and destroy the good bacteria. The result of which is a self-perpetuating cycle of skin problems that never seem to really clear up. In contrast, by feeding the good bacteria of your microbiome with oils you help them flourish and thrive, developing that luminous and glowing skin we all desire.
Glowing, nourished skin without that stinging, tight-faced feeling after my evening cleanse?
This sounds more than appealing. It sounds delightful.
Publisher’s Note: Sarah Jean Harrison is a sustainability communications specialist at Peace Flag House, working with sustainable fashion and lifestyle brands. Her work has appeared in The Canadian Organic Farmer, Spin Off Magazine, FORWARD Fashion and Eco Warrior Princess.