Nadine Artemis is the founder of Living Libations. She’s a beauty philosopher, Aromacologist, botanical muse, and the author of two books; including Renegade Beauty and Holistic Dental Care: The Complete Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums. Nadine has a really unique perspective and goes beyond a lot of common advice that is available today. Here’s one part in the book where she says, “I think we must stop treating beauty as a thing or quality and see it instead, as a communion. When we think of beauty and self care, we need to look beyond the bottles at cosmetic counters, and bring in the co-influence of the cosmos. In many ways, our skin is starving for a reunion with the elements that sustain our body’s self renewing systems.”
(1:25) Tell us a bit about your journey and how you found Living Libations. What prompted you to start this brand? You opened up the first aromatherapy store when you were quite young.
It was North America’s first sort of full concept Aromatherapy store, and it was called Osmosis. We had this blending bar, where you could come and buy essential oils, buy a drop if you wanted to, or buy the bottle. And we would do custom blends. So you could come in and have a custom perfume made or a special medicinal blend. And I was really surprised at the time of opening that I was like, wow, this hasn’t been done before, It was a great thing to have all this, and it wasn’t even called Green beauty then, but just really getting into this beautiful palette of essential oils, which are the distillates of plants. They’re very concentrated, and have been around for thousands of years, and in our modern terms of thinking of active ingredients, these are the original active ingredients.
- When you’re using quality ingredients, all of them are active, I don’t create with fillers. I want every drop of every ingredient to be optimal and beneficial.
- As a young child I had a love of nature and a love of blending things.
- We drove to the health food store and that’s where I got my first whiff of Ylang Ylang, Orange and Lemongrass. I had never smelled that before, that concentrated plant aroma. Even though I didn’t know at the time the difference between synthetics and naturals. It definitely lit something in my brain.
- Used to buying beauty products, where everything on the label was of course, so awkward to read. But you grew up that way. There were never any moments you just thought chemicals go on the body, those are the ingredients.
- When I got to university. I really got into making my own food. I was really dissecting and understanding how food was manufactured. How secondary or third ingredients may not be on the label like cheeses in a soup. Seeing what was passed off as food, might not even be food, the brown sugar that was just white sugar with molasses.
- Beauty care products I thought were natural, the fuzzy peach bath oil that had never seen a peach, dewberry oil that was not a plant. Or petroleum derivatives with a lovely picture of lavender on the label.
- When I got more excited about University, I found my area of study, Women’s Studies, looking at the history of old cosmetics or medical procedures on women in different cultures. Which was just a whole other understanding of what we’re doing culturally.
- We want to have beautiful lips, but there’s lead in the lipstick, or there were periods where there was mercury and radium in blush, arsenic in the face powder, talc all of these ingredients. This history of ingredients, which haven’t served especially women and our bodies, so it just all melded together.
- I started getting samples of raw materials that were just blowing my mind, I started to create and then I really saw the need to open a store upon graduation. And that brings me to 22 opening up the store.
(10:34) You have a close affinity with Egyptian culture and history, for example with your grandfather’s experience in Egypt, could you share a bit more about this? And this mention of Medicinal Blue Lotus flowers.
I was resonating when I discovered that originally like that book for the science fair project, and it went into the riches of perfume and Egypt was one of the earliest places for perfume and distillation and all of that great stuff. So I really was resonating with that. I thought it was fascinating. I was also fascinated to go like oh, that’s where all Chanel, Lancome, Dior all those battles, this is the history. These are the roots. I didn’t know a tonne about my great grandfather then but we had paintings all around.
(11:26) Nadine’s Great Grandfather
- He was the president of the London Egyptology Society and had done translations of the Egyptian book of the dead and had gone on archeological digs to Egypt as the illustrator.
- He had these beautiful illustrations of the Blue Lotuses. I’d seen those and we had Luxor Temple, which I later found out was architecturally designed to replicate the olfactory chamber, so the Luxor Temple was built to be somehow connected with the sense of smell.
- In the 90s, after I’d opened my store, I was lecturing at this conference in San Francisco about essential oils. One of my colleagues was speaking about the Blue Lotuses, I don’t know if the variety still exists today, that’s a little more narcotic. They would historically infuse it into the wine and add essential oils. And they would put rose water on doves wings and release them at dinner parties. I mean, they were just dripping in all the juicy stuff.
- When one of the tombs was excavated, they found up to 70 gallons of essential oil. Even if you had an aromatherapy business, you might not have 70 gallons of oils, and that was just for the afterlife.
- So there’s such a rich culture and history and a lot of it we still don’t know about today when it comes to distillation, plants, perfumery and cosmetics.
- The perfume makers were all trained in the aromatic arts. So I just thought that was an interesting union too. If you smelled something beautiful it was believed that it was a God passing by. A whiff of Myrrh or Frankincense. What was tangible and intangible, form and formlessness was really woven into everyday life.
- The use of plants was different because when we get to the 1900 Century, where then it gets split, because we can start isolating and extracting and then processing. So things get divided. Then it’s the isolette. So plants are used for medicine, and then those get refined, whereas the whole plant then starts sort of getting lost.
(15:43) The Perfumers who were also the Medicine makers
There is even an ancient Greek word which means essentially, “Let perfume be your medicine”, and I love that, because the perfume that we make can be your medicine, it’s filled with the mighty monoterpenes that are so good for the immune system. Whereas a lot of perfume commercially produced these days is literally taking a toll on the immune system. So I love that union and that whole perspective, because it is useful to isolate things, plants, obviously, at some point for some things, but we also have to remember the whole, and when we use it in whole, then it’s going to be more in balance for its application in the body.
(17:11) How were these perfumes used in ancient times to help with people’s health and immunity?
It was also culturally specific, but also there was no division. So it’s not like they were like, Oh, this is good for my immune system, something else isn’t, because there was nothing else. It was more I feel like from what I researched and read, it was just woven into the fabric of society more.
- At Noon, in the city centres in Ancient Egypt, they would burn Myrrh, and then at dusk, Frankincense and so there was just interwoven.
- The food was also medicinal, you have these Blue Lotus wines that are infused. And there were other recipes. And as much as I could, I would remake those recipes, or I would find the ingredients because I just had to understand and get a whiff of what they were smelling.
- Why did they put it together, so I just wanted to catch a whiff. If somehow I could remake it in modern time, it wouldn’t be the same, but it would be a way to inhale a moment from the past and explore it.
- It’s not like you’re getting direct answers. Just through exploring there’s a lot of information that comes through on an intuitive level.
- Leslie, her company has found a way to make a concentrated extract, their product which is made of spermidine. Spermidine is a molecule that’s found in every living thing on the planet, every heart, you know, in our bodies and plants, in our food, everything.
- Polyamine pathways very much into longevity. The spermidine takes care of six of the nine biomarkers of ageing. And her company has finally found a way to make this concentrated extract
- This substance can help take care of Autophagy which is cell clean up. Mitophagy which is Mitochondrial cleanup. Pretty much if you are taking care of Mitochondrial health, you’re taking care of everything.
- And it also takes care of Lipophagy. It takes care of visceral fat, it starts evolving white fat to brown fat, which is the good fat.
- There’s been 13,000 studies done on it, but nobody could really get the concentrated extract.
- So I find it’s perfect to go with all the beauty care that we do, it takes everything you’re doing with Living Libations and just amplifies it. I thought my hair was already shiny and skin, shiny and strong nails and in the past five months it’s just amplified.
- I have an interview that I did with Leslie and that’ll be on our website. Although I don’t normally interview, but I’m so passionate about this.
- I’ve never taken something and I’ve been around the biohacking block just as much as I’ve been exploring skincare and cosmetics since I was 18. I’ve definitely been doing the same thing with health and food and supplements and biohacking and I’ve never taken a supplement that’s actually delivered like that.
(25:24) Fibonacci sequence
When we look at the Fibonacci spiral, the Golden ratio, or the beautiful shapes of nature, we see that they are perfection. You don’t even need to know math to see the perfection, you can see the design that’s going on is really phenomenal, and we know that when we see that in the patterns of nature around us, I feel it can feed our minds to help us realise that we are that well designed as well. We are a part of the perfection of nature and the grand design of the cosmos.
- Our bodies were designed well. A lot of what we need to do first, is step back and look at the body systems that can take care of itself.
- Give ourselves and our minds a bit of a mental break, because sometimes when we think of beauty, it can just become another pimple to pop, another pore to shrink, and that’s not really it either.
- Again, beauty is a quality, it’s a communion, it’s a relationship, It’s also a feeling. And when we’re obsessed with picking, pruning, prodding, and to no fault of our own, the whole system is kind of directing us to look at ourselves in the mirror that way.
- When we take a step back, these are the questions that I ask myself to go deeper. So, even for oral care we weren’t born with a toothbrush in our hand.
- What are the systems that were designed to really take care of the mouth before we intervene? So looking at that, or with the skin.
- In the 90s, when I was starting, it was obvious for me, there’s this whole realm and it’s just toxic, and I can’t see how it is helping our bodies or helping our beauty, how is smearing, $5 petroleum eye cream around our eye helping anything?
- The past 20 years, we’re really starting to understand the Microbiome. We’re basically a host to a bacterial banquet, and we’ve got to be a good host.
- I think in the last century it was sort of this germ warfare theory, and now we’re like there’s a whole bunch of good bacteria, balancing the bad bacteria, the pathogen.
- So even though it’s kind of awkward or gross to think about, we have bacteria all over our bodies. We’ve got living creatures on our eyelashes on our cheeks, and we need them there because they’re actually the Beauticians, they are the original Beauticians. They’re healthy, and they are a part of that ecosystem.
- When we’re applying lotion in the form that may feel nice and velvety, if it’s made with chemicals, I’m talking generally here but there are a lot of chemicals that are mutating the skin’s Microbiome.
- They’re messing with the food supply so to speak, so the bacteria take care of sebum and dead skin cells as well.
- When we exfoliate too much we’re making the skin underneath vulnerable, those young cells aren’t ready to be on the top layer.
- A lot of our immune system, our innate immune system is with the skin. It’s the first way that we’re receiving information from the universe. Like our skin is communicating.
- I feel like the less that we’re playing with chemicals and the less we’re doing, it’s just going to make things easier. And that’s what I’m into. I’m like, where’s the easy button?
- Where’s the effortlessness in taking care of our bodies? And so to me, I’ve got to be a partner with my body. Because I want those systems to be mainly doing the work for me.
(31:55) It’s true, we’re constantly hosting these good and bad bacterias. It’s about to live in harmony. And if something is out of balance, it’s more important to look at, why is it out of balance?
This whole skin is a microbiome and there’s going to be different areas and hotspots, like the bottom of the feet and the palms of the hands, not much activity, armpits, lots going on. The face has a lot going on. Then there’s the whole Yoni microbiome. And of course, the mouth microbiome is huge.
- We can look at specific areas, but it’s always good to go in general. And one thing I love about TCM, one of my favourite books that I read it’s called The Web That Has No Weaver.
- It’s about TCM and what I love is from what I understand is that, there’s no naming of disease like Western throwing, this, this, this which again, is a lot of symptoms, it’s not always dealing with the root.
- Whereas from my understanding in the roots of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s more instead of saying you’ve got Candida, Leaky Gut, it might be like, there’s dampness in the belly and heat in the lungs.
- It’s almost like your whole body’s a weather system, or like a pattern and it’s always moving and you’re looking at that more and I think it’s nice in a way because when we get specific terms in the diagnosis, which aren’t always even correct, then there’s a whole baggage that comes with it. And it’s not always the way out or the way into understanding what’s actually going on.
- Even anything that can go on with the skin, it’s really not the pimple. It’s about generally probably something being undigested. Blackheads usually means there’s got to be some constipation going on somewhere in the digestive tract.
- If the liver is backed up, which is going to flow into digestion as well, then around pre-menstruation when the hormones need to get filtered through the Liver more, if it’s built up there, then that could be the root cause of hormonal acne, where it’s more about the Liver and the Gut.
- So, you know, it’s not all the time, but I’m just saying when we’ve got to sort of look at it, and sort of really look at what’s underneath.
(31:55) How to approach Exfoliation
First, one of the simplest things to really change your skincare routine or whatever you want to call it. I have something called Stop, Seed & Seal. So you actually want to stop cleansing with soap on your face.
- Even the soaps we make it’s kind of confusing to people because we’ll say hey, you know, this just needs to go there, there and there. So I can’t use it? No, you can use it. I’m just saying you don’t have to.
- You can oil it up. Turkey, Rome, Greece, Egypt. Morocco, all these ancient cultures, were just oiling the skin, oiling the skin with tools, whether it was with guasha or the Romans used a strigil so it’s about applying oil and then scraping it, and that’s how you’re toning the body.
- I say oil but of course it’s like in my world of oil.
- A true organic olive oil, organic jojoba oil or an organic coconut oil
- With Living Libations we make Best Skin Ever. We have Seabuckthorn Best Skin Ever, Rose Best Skin Ever, Sandalwood Best Skin Ever, Frankincense Best Skin Ever, we have other ones, but those are the key ones for anybody’s face.
- I usually start with warm water to start feeling because maybe it’s the morning, and then just finishing with something a bit colder. The main thing though, is water really just opens the pores. So you never want to apply a cream or, or an oil without just a little bit of water. It’s just a world of difference.
- Letting go of the foaming face cleansers even if you think they’re mild, or you bought them at a health food store.
- What we now know about the microbiome is that surfactants whether from the harsh kinds, or what we think of as more of a natural green beauty surfactant. All the surfactants are generally lodging themselves into the stratum corneum.
- When they look at it microscopically, they’re leaving behind these microscopic splinters in the stratum corneum.
- Microscopic build up day after day, which eventually can manifest as melasma hyperpigmentation, weird rough patches, zema psoriasis, rosacea.
(46:33) The importance of sunlight and vitamin D.
I have a whole chapter in my book. We also have articles on our website, because it is kind of undoing some thinking here. There’s so much deep stuff that can’t come up in our conversation. Because it’s like, we’ve been told it’s not good. So when you’re saying it’s good, I’ve got all the scientific studies and stuff from the New England Journal of Medicine. But we do need the sun. It’s making the whole planet.
It’s our form of photosynthesis.
- Different vitamin Ds are created. Supplements is a fat soluble vitamin D. I’m so glad that we have that for the winter months.
- But when the sun’s rays engage with your skin, it’s a water soluble vitamin D that’s created. And from that are lots of different catalytic, wonderful biological stuff that goes on in the body.
- And I think there’s still more to discover, but like what we know already it is enough that you would want to make sure that you are getting some sun skin contact.
- When we do that we’re creating my antimicrobial peptides, which are very healthy. So that’s just from the sun, and the skin, because there’s a whole alchemy going on there.
- We also have Vitamin D receptors all over our body. And they need to be brimming with vitamin D. If we don’t have enough vitamin D, or if we’re eating foods that have been fortified with vitamin D2, we need D3, then we don’t have our vitamin D receptors filled.
- Then these bacterial ligands can come in. They’re very sticky. You can think of them like if you thought of some robbers that going to rob an Art Museum, the easiest way for them to do that would be to turn off the security. Those bacterial ligands when they go into the VDR are kind of basically shutting down the immune system in a fast way.
- So it’s interesting now because around the turn of the century, around 1902, up until about the 30s, the Nobel Prize was won for Helio therapy for understanding how light heals.
- Clinics in Switzerland where people are coming from all over the world in Europe to heal things. And so there was a real understanding of that. But it’s neat, because now, 100 years later, we know why that was successful. And why sunlight was effective against Epstein-Barr Virus because it also cleans the blood.
- And when we create the antimicrobial peptides, those are so essential. Even one is generated called LL37, which is generating the guts and helps with suppressing cytokine storms.
- We can also generate that in the sun for free.
- Also, when we sit in the sun, with sunscreen, besides all the chemicals, which can be carcinogenic, Oxybenzone, which is a main ingredient, is an active ingredient for sunscreen, banned in Europe, but in a lot around the world. It’s non carcinogenic, until it’s exposed to sunlight.
- That’s one reason why it was banned in European sunscreens. There’s fertility issues. And it’ll create things like melasma, and all this sort of stuff.
- Besides that, the issue with sunscreen is that it divides the UVA and the UVB rays from each other. And that on its own is sun damaging. So that’s like, you know, the arm that’s like always driving, think of a truck driver, and he’s always got one that one arm exposed, that’s going to have more freckles on it, that’s sort of when you’re getting it just through the window. Because when you get sunlight through a window, it’s I mean, your house is fine. But if you sat in front of their window in the sunlight day after day, eventually wouldn’t be so good for your skin.
- So we don’t want that just the damaging UVA ray, and then you’re blocking off UVB, and it’s the UVB that generates the vitamin D. So when we allow our bodies to receive the rays, then you know, without this sunscreen that’s chemical and filtering out the wrong ones.
- We make a beautiful oil called Everybody Loves the Sunshine. And that’s just like tanning oil. And this is where you’re saying some essential oils might sort of have that sunscreen thing. But sun sunscreens are SPF.
- The term, SPF sun protective factor can only be used for synthetic ingredients. That’s all it was regulated for, so we can’t really use that language.
The D Minder App
- There’s an app called D. Minder, you can get the version where you pay a little extra.
- It takes in your longitude and latitude, and then you mark how exposed you are.
- Even when I start I can get vitamin D In mid February, even though there’s snow everywhere, that’s when the rays start generating the vitamin D again, that goes about till mid November in this longitude and latitude.
- When you have the D minder app, you turn it on when you’re sunning, and it tells you when you’ve got enough D.
- It knows the time of year and that sort of thing. In February, you’d have to lay out about four or five hours to get the actual amount of D you need for that day.
(1:00:09) – Recently I had another guest, Dr. Jill Crista and she was saying when you have Mold in your body, Mold can actually block your vitamin D receptors. So you actually have to really supplement initially to get it up.
I’ve read somewhere about how Mold also can affect the Melanoma site layer, I think with mold exposure women may get more melasma hyperpigmentation stuff as well. So again, spermidine is really amazing for that layer. What’s been interesting for me is that I started taking it actually in February, that’s when I started to tan again. Now it’s summer so right, I’m just getting more brown, and more tan. Now I’m taking the spermidine，and it almost seems like the freckles are fading.
- So I’m getting more tan, but no new freckles are coming up. Isn’t that really interesting? We’ll study it more, but I feel like it has some kind of sun protective qualities.
- We know there are foods that act like an internal sunscreen, which I write about in my book.
- The pigments like lycopene that’s from tomatoes, green from chlorophyll, the red algae. So I feel like this might be in there as well.
(1:02:48) – Could you talk a bit more about why you advise not always wearing sunglasses?
- That’s from Dr. August earlier who studied the sun and was healing people at his clinic in Switzerland, which is really neat to Google, I highly recommend googling the pictures from that era.
- So he found that if people wore sunglasses, the healing benefits of the Sun didn’t happen.
(1:03:31)- Sungazing, which is something you talk about as well, can you share a bit more about that as well for people; what’s the best way to get started? What are the benefits of sungazing?
It’s such a beautiful thing, because if you think about it, we have such a natural inclination to go watch the sunrise or the sunset, which is just epic every day if you can. That’s why when we were moving, we were looking for somewhere where we would be able to see the sunrise and sunset, it was on the top of the list. * *
- Of course, it was also an ancient practice, because humans were really into the sun. I think we’ve lost that connection a bit.
- But think about it in the previous times, that sun was keeping you warm, you really have to think about it.
- Now we are sheltered and protected. Here we are in 2021, we have conquered a lot of how to live with the ravages of the element. With our homes and our running water, we can now engage with the elements without having to be this challenged.
- We can be in the sun and get out , we can get shelter from the wind and the rain, but now it’s like, let’s engage with it. Because that’s really what’s going to revive our spirits.
- First, in the morning when the sun’s rising for the first hour of the day, you can really safely look at the sun and take it in. Hopefully not through a window, open up that window, get outside, hopefully you can even get your feet on the ground, touching the ground would be also awesome.
- Cover one eye and then you can take it all in, and then you switch. That also actually helps ultimately, with things like the wrinkles around the eyes, or crow’s feet.
- When it’s setting, it’s in that last hour of the day. There’s a lot of benefits, but I think it’s really free to discover. I feel like you can also really set some intentions and meditations at that time.
- Luckily, when we were travelling just before COVID last year. What was the miracle of that trip was just travelling and reaching different sunspots. We had a run of 26 sunsets in a row that were not cloudy, it was just perfect.
- Never had a run like that. Because even here you’ll catch the sunset or sunrise 3 or 4 times a week because there’s cloudy days or rainy days. And that really juiced up my system.
(1:08:57) I would love to hear more about how you what you eat and put in your body
- I’ve been really thinking about what I’m putting on, and around my body since I was 18. So food and cosmetics really happened at the same time. I didn’t want to become a chef and I wanted to make beautiful products for the skin.
- I’ve done many different kinds, but I really feel there’s so many food sensitivities out there.
- Really there’s no one path of food that works for everybody.
- But I do feel Mediterranean Paleo is generally good, the main thing I feel is you should eat as much non-processed, organic wild as possible.
- I think everybody should do an elimination diet for a moment and work through not having sugar, gluten, or oxalates and see where you’re at.
- It’s very important that everybody tune in to what their bodies need and eat intuitively.
- When you eat, how’s it feeling, chewing it, tasting it? How does it feel 15 minutes later? How does it feel an hour later? Do you just eat and need to crash? Is there bloating? And how do you feel the next day? How is it leaving your body? And that’s really going to help you know about how you should be eating. What is best for you.
(1:12:02) For vitamin D supplements, are there any that you recommend?
You want to look for something clean, and you need vitamin D3 with K2, I think they should be together. The K2 takes the D and drives it into the bones, then takes the minerals and helps your minerals go into the bone. So that’s important, very important for teeth health as well.
- You can get vitamin D injections, which you could probably do through a health provider. And that seems the key to really building up the kidney reserves of vitamin D.
- Because I think as a planet, we’re a bit deficient. You want to build up those years, because you could be deficient from Grandma.
- You could be the third generation deficient in vitamin D.
- But of course you can get your D levels checked.
1:13:12 What kind of dose are you doing? Usually in the winter how much vitamin D are you generally taking?
Just sporadically I can’t even say I do it every day. But probably a 5000 to 10,000 IU when I am doing it.
- The toxicity of vitamin D, there was one study that was done, I think in the 60s, it’s been so undone. That was the one that found that maybe there was a high level after a tonne that we normally wouldn’t take, it might have a toxic level, but that seems to have been undone. Because really, if you’re in the sun, you can get 1000s of IU in a moment in your body. But again, you could just get the blood test too.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The use of information on this website or materials linked from this website is at the user’s own risk. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have, and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.