Behind Closed Doors: Athena Hewett

Personal struggles always provide the most learning. For Athena Hewett, the formulator and esthetician behind Monastery, her own struggle with acne birthed some of our most loved products. She believes deeply in a less is more approach to skincare, but also knows that quality is the most important factor in that equation, and her edited range is a result of her co-commitment to efficacy and elegance. Monastery is an homage to her Greek lineage as well as years spent treating and caring for others. This is a Monastery of love, research and respect for botanicals and their infinite offerings.

What inspired you to create Monastery? 

My personal struggle with acne that developed after becoming an esthetician. 

What is your skincare philosophy? 

That less is truly more. But with less, make it absolute top quality. 

What is your skincare routine?

Brace yourself; it’s short. I use the Rose Cleansing Oil at night. That's it. In the morning I use a Hydrosol with either Attar, Gold or Flora. Then I'll add an all natural SPF like Zoca Lotion. Sometimes I’ll mix the XX Glycolic with Attar if my skin is feeling like it needs a bit of exfoliation and apply it as a mask. 

What else do you rely on to look and feel your best, do you have practices that contribute to your overall health?

Honestly, I love what I do and the people around me and because of that I always feel excited to work and therefore I don’t tire. I think that’s a very important thing for my overall health.

Oh! I also run 3x a week to work. It's time for me to not check my phone, be present and take in the city and environment around me. I love that, too.  

Many people are still resistant to using oils on their skin. What are your thoughts on this and what advice do you have for someone getting started?  

Start with a cleansing oil. You're wiping it all off, so this could be a good place to start for those nervous to put oils on their face? I love giving my clients this visual. Imagine a piece of leather that’s gotten a lot of sun. I have them visualize the leather with water added to it. Then I have them visualize how the leather will look with oil added to it. Much better, right?  

What ingredient are you super excited about right now?

HA! I think my excitement is different. I personally source all of our ingredients so I get most excited about amazing ingredients that I find that I can find in good quantities. That’s like Christmas for me. Takes a lot of stress off my mind for a while. 

Why is natural skincare important to you?

It’s really simple. Unnatural skincare and ingredients make me break out. On top of the fact that it just makes me feel icky. That stuff is going into our bodies after all. 

What do you wish more people knew about natural skincare?  

Natural skincare is waaaaay more expensive to create than synthetic and that’s why there is so much synthetic (lab skincare) out there. Big brands seem to be all about the bottom line which means constantly cutting costs and cheapening the product with problematic ingredients. They don’t want to admit it but it’s true. It’s not easy to keep your integrity and grow your brand but we definitely give it all we’ve got.  

Any tips on applying your products?

With an oilcentric routine it really can be so haphazard. Nothing is really wrong. I love that outlook for skincare and life. 

What is your favorite ritual?

The rituals I had before becoming a Mom versus being a Mom are very different. I reminisce about my old rituals sometimes and hope that someday I’ll get back to being that person. Before kids I took baths every single night. I had my bath playlist that was full of psychedelic instrumental Nico type songs. I’d turn the lights off, light a bunch of candles and dump a bunch of way too decadent essential oils for a bath into the water. I’d dream about my future business. I found a lot of inspiration and created a lot of products in the bath. My post children ritual is getting into the bathroom and locking the door for a moment of peace. Which I usually have to unlock in like 1 minute.

Skincare on a budget. Where to save and where to splurge? 

I’m probably not a good person to ask this question. I don’t think it’s good to skimp in any area of your skincare. That being said, I believe that less skincare is ideal. You don't need a million different products in your bathroom. Simplify your routine with quality products full of quality ingredients and your skin will thank you. The less we're messing with our microbiome, the better. If I had to choose one product to go budget I'd recommend your Hydrosol. It could even be just distilled water if you want. 


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