We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Sarah Villafranco of Osmia Organics back to Follain twice this month - June 18th on Nantucket and June 23rd in Beacon Hill (RSVP here). With delicious scents and thoughtful formulations, Osmia's products are a treat for your senses and your skin, and they are some of our faves in the summer months. We sat down to chat with this inspiring maker on best practices for dealing with summer skin, advice for future makers, and how best to return to our senses.
Many of your products are created for those suffering with perioral dermatitis. For those that have it (and for those that have it but might not know they have it) can you talk about the symptoms and best practices for treatment?
Perioral dermatitis, which is nearly impossible to say without sounding tipsy, is a condition in which the skin around the nose, mouth, chin, or eyes becomes red, irritated, bumpy, and sometimes flaky. I usually describe it as a cross between acne and eczema, which is one of the reasons it’s so hard to treat. The first step in treating PD is eliminating the main causes: steroid creams, fluoride toothpaste, and sodium laureth sulfate in toothpaste and hair care products are the three leading causes of PD for most people. Without eliminating these, you have very little chance of long-term healing. Stress management is also critical for healing PD – the more you freak about your skin, the more your skin freaks back. Our Black Clay Facial Soap seems to be the product that reaches holy grail status for some PD sufferers. The Dead Sea mud and black clay provide a mineral boost that restores strength and calmness to the skin. Our Purely Simple Face Cream is another favorite for this crowd – it’s a low-oil cream, which PD likes much more than rich creams or oil serums. That’s a mistake I see often – people try loads of creams and oils on PD, and it just makes it angrier in most cases.
Summer can be a difficult season for achieving balanced skin. Can you give us some summer survival tips?
Keep your routine simple, and keep your skin clean. During summer, with increased sunscreen, sweat, and more time spent outdoors, it’s especially important to clean your face well every night before bed. I love all of our facial soaps for this purpose – they provide a nourishing but very thorough cleanse that leaves the skin soft and supple. Also, be sure to exfoliate the skin once a week, to keep it fresh and encourage healthy cell turnover. That said, don’t overdo it! People love to exfoliate (because it feels good and makes your skin feel soft) but it can leave your skin in a vulnerable state if you do it too often. For the body, if you’re not using body oils on wet skin, you missed the memo. It’s the new black.
Having started your brand out of your home, you must be a wealth of advice for new makers. What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring soap artisans?
My best advice would be to develop a thick skin and let your failures fuel you, because there will be many of them. You have to have a burning passion to make a business succeed. You have to know in every cell that it’s what you want to do. You have to keep an eye on the industry without obsessing about your “competition.” And you have to have faith that there’s always room for more beautiful soap in the world.
According to your awe-inspiring instagram feed, you spend a LOT of time outdoors - can you speak to the importance of that in your life and how we all can return to our senses?
American naturalist John Burroughs said it best: “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” There is something about sunshine, rain, fresh air, chipmunks, and crunching leaves that no gym or spin class can offer. Being outside, especially if you’re moving your body, recharges your soul-battery and restores your faith in all that is good with the world.