It is quite cold in London these days. The kind of cold that requires proper winter boots with wool socks, heavy down jackets, massive scarves, gloves, and all the bacchanal I thought I had tossed behind me upon leaving New York City many years ago. Of course, London cold is never as brutal as a Manhattan winter, but still...
My hands, as spindly and thin as they are, feel frozen and ice-cold all the time; I can barely hold two needles in place to complete the hand-finishing on the last of the leather slipcases for my Au Courant Vol. 03 book. (Which is finally being released this month, starting in the coming weeks with pre-orders of the Artist's Edition.) Even with a pair of woollen Birkenstock clogs on, I still find myself layering up my socks like a shivering old woman.
And my skin...
It is putting up a good fight, but I know for a fact it much prefers the warmth of the Caribbean instead of the odd, parched sensation that comes with enduring the cold. I've been working outdoors of late with marbles and caymanite chunks, and have thus been battling howling winds, London-style rain mist, and all manners of dour winter weather on a near daily basis. My only respite has come in the form of a little self-care ritual at bath involving my single ingredient organic oils from MERME Berlin, made by Claire Rawlston.
Normally I use IDIL Botanicals' calming oil for my face, lavender-infused castor oil for my locs, and coconut oil for my body on a daily basis, the latter of which I've essentially been doing since childhood when my great-aunt first taught me how to make the oil for myself. But recently I've found soothing relief on those extreme outdoor days by adding Claire's rosehip oil to the mix, and oddly enough, by using her 100% Argan hair oil on my locs and my body.
I talked with Claire sometime ago about MERME, specifically because I use the few products in my rotation sparingly and was concerned I'd be holding onto her oils long past their intended shelf life. But as such things tend to go, the conversation touched on things more intriguig than expiry dates.
So do allow me to share our chat on wellness and healthful self care, below.
A chat with Claire Rawlston
What led you to natural skincare?
Healthly living has been important to me since childhood; our mum had us all eating raw vegetables and fruit everyday, which I still crave in my adult life. Later, I turned towards veganism, since I have always appreciated the benefits of a plant based lifestyle. For me the two aspects - skincare and diet - go hand in hand as both are absorbed into our bodies. Cleaner is always best.
I essentially use your oils along with coconut oil to cover the bulk of my skincare/makeup routine, but how do you manage? Do you feel a need to go 'all natural' as it were, or do you balance conventional makeup with essentials?
That's so cool to hear you also love coconut oil! I find it better for consumption than as a beauty product due to its heaviness, but it's still so fantastic. Otherwise, all the skincare products I used are MERME, some of which haven't been released yet so I use them for months in their testing phase. Over the past year I've almost completely edited my makeup routine. Saying goodbye to a lot of the brands that had amazing colours or coverage, but are downright toxic was acutally easier than I thought, especially since there are so many responsibly made brands emerging now. I especially love my local Berlin brands like Treat Nail polish for all things nails, Und Gretel for just about all my makeup needs, and Fine Deodorant.
How do you ensure your products are indeed made with all-natural ingredients or organic materials?
This comes after months, sometimes even years of research and testing. After finding suppliers I really trust, I have my own tests done independently to ensure that all the major certifications on the ingredients - be it organic, vegan, or ECO Cert - are there.
As mentioned, I tend to use just a few drops of my oils at any given time. How long does MERME Berlin's products last?
Great question. MERME oils will last in their optimal state between 9-12 months, which is super low compared to the 3+ year mark most commercial skincare products have. My oils are offered in their natural, unadulterated state and we don't even add Vitamin E, which is a natural shelf life-lengthener, as this of course goes against our '1-Ingredient Philosophy'.
Which of your natural oils is the most popular, and why?
Definitely the Facial Beauty Elixir, which is 100% Rosehip Oil. I think people will always invest the most in their face, which I guess is understandable. It also has a fantastic return-customer rate and I think a lot of these people are first time oil users who are amazed how it works even better than their usual face creams!
Do you think the move towards natural skincare is merely a fad, or it is indicative of a larger movement?
This is definitely here to stay. Look at what we've already seen with all the affordable organic brands that are popping up - even the larger foodstore chains now have healthier offerings. I believe the same will happen with skincare, and eventually with more cleaning products I hope. This future is bright! My next personal mission is being a more ecological and sustainable fashion shopper.
What are your recommendations for the best ways to use your oils?
I think in general for all oils, what's always best is to apply when in the shower or directly after to lock in the moisture. I always try and do majority of my beauty routine immediately after a shower; I put a few drops of my face oil on, then while the hair is still wet add a few drops of the MERME Hair Treatment to the ends.
Thanks for sharing, Claire 😊
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