Aesthetics have always been important to me. Sometimes the importance was influenced, but I’ve always had images of my own design to fulfill, including my own self image. Growing up in an Irish Catholic family and attending Catholic schools for 15+ years of my life taught me to be modest and never vain, but for me, that modesty turned into an uncertainty of myself. I was so self conscious and puberty did nothing to help. I would spend an excessive amount of time in the mirror picking apart my acne prone skin, and frankly, just trying to figure out what I looked like - what I could look like. Later, I would discover that I have body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD. This obsession with my appearance would eventually be part of the reason I entered the beauty industry. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, however. I credit my never ending, always vivid, sometimes unusual, but seldom boring imagination for my unwavering drive to follow my dreams of being an artist. I started my journey first with myself, recreating runway looks and snapping selfies with my digital camera, then practicing on friends before dances, then landing a job at a makeup counter in a department store. The road has definitely not been smooth nor was it ever easy, but because I never settled for less than what I wanted (and with the best support system of family and friends) I’ve realized so many of my goals, learned so much about myself, and met even more amazing people along the way - more on that later.
Makeup artistry was and still is where I thrive, but the frustration of feeling like I constantly needed to cover up my irritated skin with makeup just to leave the house led me to skincare. After trying what felt like every over the counter and infomercial acne solution, I began to research alternatives. What I found was an entire world of natural remedies and ingredient knowledge that ultimately gave me a new skincare routine tailored to my every need, some components as simple as a trip to the grocery store. This new found passion for skincare inspired me to attain my license in aesthetics to help others who may be struggling with their own insecurities; it was something I felt called to do after having so many beautiful people sit to have their makeup done - what should be a fun and uplifting experience in my opinion - only to tear themselves down to me in the process. While hearing people talk poorly about themselves saddens me, I can also deeply relate. Getting your makeup done or going for a facial is a very personal experience, and for that reason I feel it is important for me to share my own insecurities when a client is confessing theirs - not so that we can commiserate together, but to show that although I am in a looks-driven industry, I’m human as well, and it doesn’t exclude me from feeling unsure of myself at times even still. It’s my hope that these individuals walk away feeling beautiful regardless of the makeup I’ve applied or the skin care solutions we’ve discussed and that if they feel they have no one else to relate to, they know they can to me.
Now back to some of those amazing people I alluded to before. Nicole of Svanur was first introduced to me by another talented and beautiful woman I’ve worked with, photographer Ginny Stewart. I was asked by Ginny to provide makeup and hair styling for a Svanur shoot back in June, and the experience alone drew me not only to the incredibly crafted products, but to a new, exclusively feminine but always inclusive, energy to work around. It was refreshing, and the shoot itself was a dream. When Nicole graciously invited me to style again for a second shoot and also contribute and write this post, of course I was eager to accept.
Here I will be sharing my weekly indulgent skin care routine featuring some of my favorite Svanur products - though it should be noted that my daily routine does not vary much from my weekly pampering (;
First, I double cleanse. I use vitamin E oil to remove any makeup I may be wearing. The oil melts down makeup to make it easier to rinse away and gives a more effective cleanse. In addition, the oil replenishes and hydrates my skin. Although I have oily skin, using a facial oil reduces my oil production throughout the day.
Next, I use a foaming cleanser from Dermalogica for a deeper clean. This particular cleanser contains no foaming agents or detergents that may strip the skin of its natural barrier. Instead, it contains naturally occurring saponifiers found in nature. It also contains salicylic acid derived from willow bark, which encourages a gentle exfoliation to dissolve dirt and oil in the skin. The foaming aspect then lifts that dirt and grime out of the pores. For both cleanses, I take time to massage the products into my skin. Not only does this help with product absorption, but it increases blood flow to the face leaving my skin with a subtle glow.
After the cleanse is complete, I use the Svanur Glowing Grains as a combination of an exfoliant treatment and mask. The clays that serve as the base of this mask are detoxifying for the pores and the plant matter aids in a gentle exfoliation when removed.
I mixed a little apple cider vinegar and raw honey with my Glowing Grains. The apple cider vinegar also aids in exfoliation while maintaining the pH balance of the skin. Honey is a hydrating antiseptic, which is great for acne prone skin as it keeps the affected areas bacteria free, but also nourished so that they can heal properly and reduce the chance of scarring.
Mixed, the mask turns my favorite color - pink! What’s not to love? Please be sure to avoid the eye area carefully and completely, unlike me, or you will experience a *bit* of discomfort and stinging in the area from the apple cider vinegar. You can substitute the vinegar for a water, perhaps infused with rose, for a more hydrating mask that’s a little less astringent.
Once it's applied, I let the mask sit for 15-20 minutes. To keep my skin soft and to maximize the effectiveness of the mask, I steam my face over a bowl of hot water mixed with Svanur’s Wandering Spirits Bathing Flowers + Botanical Steam. While it does help the mask seep deep into my pores, it also just feels a little more luxurious to steam over dried flowers.
After twenty minutes, and while my skin is still damp from the steam, I gently massage the mask in then remove it with warm water. Let me tell you, this mask leaves my skin feeling like literal velvet- SO luxe. The removal is followed by a generous spritz of Mario Badescu’s rose water spray to soothe and hydrate my skin. Leaving the skin damp when you apply your products helps with absorption, as water acts as a carrier for your skincare ingredients to penetrate the skin. The last steps, assuming this is a night routine, are a facial oil, eye cream, and lip balm. The skin works harder at night, which is why I save any treatment products, like topical acne treatments and my eye cream, for nighttime use.
I apply a generous amount of the Svanur Etheral Elixir as my hydrating night “cream.” This facial oil contains a combination of high powered and soothing botanics with a blend of nourishing oils to leave the skin balanced, hydrated, and glowing.
I give my face another small massage while applying the oil, then apply my One Love Organics Vitamin E Eye Balm by tapping and circling the orbital bone with my ring fingers. Lastly, I apply my ride or die, can’t-live-without product, Glossier’s balmdotcom on my lips. This wonder balm is incredible for the lips, but can also be used to soothe cracked or wind burned skin on the face and hands, and I swear by it to heal skin abrasions.
For day time, I typically cleanse with my foaming cleanser and exfoliate 2-3 times a week, followed by my rose water spray. Then, instead of the Ethereal Elixir, I use a few drops of the Svanur Ingenue Renewal Serum; coffee infused, this serum brightens and hydrates the skin. I apply my lip balm as usual, and the last product I use is my Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Cream with SPF 30. This cream may appear green, but once applied it conceals redness and blurs the skin for a flawless finish. Over time, the tiger grass heals damaged cells and even reduces the appearance of scars or hyper pigmentation, which for me is caused by excessive skin picking, cute right? I’m also a big fan of Nicole’s various body exfoliants and her Sel De Mer spray for my hair; I typically will wear my hair in two braids when I sleep, and in the morning I spritz the Sel De Mer in my braids and let dry before shaking them out.
If you've made it this far, I appreciate you taking the time to read about my beauty journey and favorites from Svanur. I would also like to thank Nicole for allowing me to contribute to the vision of her brand.
Katie Mann is a local aesthetician and makeup artist. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook, @trippychickmakeup, or book her for makeup & facial waxing services through crown salon in Buffalo.
All photos by Merik Goma