Tell us a little bit about your journey? What drew you to study the skin and how and when did you make the connection between holistic health and radiance?
Ever since I was a child, I have felt the call to take care of people and, at the same time, I’ve experienced a deep connection to the plant kingdom. When I first started working as an aesthetician, almost 30 years ago now, I wanted to treat my clients with products that would bring the power of traditional herbal medicines to their healing process, but there weren’t any. I started hand blending customized formulas and the rest unfolded so beautifully from there. But, of course, as I continued on my own journey of discovery, I learned that not only are we connected to nature, and to plant medicines, in a very physical way but that life's interconnections run so incredibly deep and wide and, in fact, that all aspects of lifestyle, health and wellness contribute to the radiance of our skin.
You are both a formulator and esthetician who continues to practice and treat clients. How does your one-on-one time inform your product line? And vice versa? Have you discovered anything in the lab that informs the way to practice facials?
Every formula I’ve created has been born out of my direct experience in the treatment room and to me being in the apothecary, lab or garden and consulting with my clients are two sides of the same coin, two interwoven aspects of hands on healing. In my experience it is almost seamless with each illuminating and informing the other.
What skin challenges have been the most difficult to solve? What I’ve come to notice over the past few years, as we all collectively move into a better understanding of skin and its function, is that we can also tend to overdo it, treating the skin with too many products that require the skin, which is the body’s largest organ, to be too active too much of the time. I love the enthusiasm and excitement that we share in rediscovering ancient medicinal remedies, and some interesting newer technologies, but skin does need downtime. Encouraging pause, relaxation and times of rest is difficult for all of us in so many arenas and that includes the way we care for our skin.
Are any most closely related to diet? To stress? To emotions? Lifestyle—from our dietary choices to how we manage stress and big emotions—is so interwoven with good health overall and seems to be reflected directly, and immediately, in the condition of the skin. Treating the skin topically is only one aspect of allowing its natural radiance to shine. But diet, sleep and cultivating an ability to adapt to change are so very important, affecting our hormonal health, emotional stability, our capacity to metabolize nutrients, detoxify and our overall energetic capacity for experiencing joy. All these factors align and resonate in what we recognize as healthy, glowing skin.
What advice can you share for maintaining healthy skin through the summer season? I love to remind clients that caring for skin is multifold in the summertime. Of course, protection from the sun is crucial—and I’m a huge fan of physical sunblock, long sleeves, hats, and parasols. Providing antioxidants to help skin recover from environmental stressors, including sun exposure, is another great practice. My Antioxidant Cremè was created with this in mind. At the same time, at night I love to use Quintessential Serum, a richly nutritive face oil blending Frankinscence and Rose to restore the skin’s hydration and resilience.
This might be like asking you to pick a favorite child but do you have any favorite ingredients? Botanicals you find most inspiring or powerful? Impossible! Still, I do adore Bulgarian rose, which is legendary for the remarkable depth and breadth of the benefits it brings to the skin, helping to repair tissue damage and strengthen weakened skin. However, at the same time, from an energetic point of view, I am in awe of the rose’s generosity, and what I mean by that is that while throughout history we have noted that certain plants carry certain healing properties, some, including rose, are less limited, and can respond to and support our wider needs, including those we can hardly name. Plants carry a vast intelligence and adaptability. The power of rose is both medicinal and measurable. And it's mysterious.
Someone just embarking on a path towards healthier living and holistic healing can be easily overwhelmed. How would you guide someone to get started? That is so true. I love to remind people that a holistic lifestyle is about simplifying, especially in the beginning. A great way to get started is by taking things away, reducing your steps, rather than adding things into your day. So, for example, approaching your skincare routine, you might take a peek at the labels on the back of the products that you use. Anything that contains complex ingredients that you aren’t familiar with, synthetics and chemicals, you could put to the side for 6 weeks, to see how you feel. If you are bringing in any new products into your routine, you could make sure that they are versatile, and able to multitask, delivering better functionality.
Are there certain habits or rituals that you deem most important? Your non-negotiables so to speak? For me, taking care of the skin, which really means taking care of yourself, is deeply personal. Everyone starts exactly where they are and there is nothing that is non-negotiable because the important thing is just to jump in, to begin. After all, we are constantly changing—our skin cells turn over every 6 weeks—and our needs are constantly changing too. So maybe that’s my most important suggestion, to check in intuitively about what skin needs. When we stay flexible and aware, responsive and attuned, everything comes more easily. Whatever does that for you—whether it’s yoga, time in nature, meditation, dance, or writing in a journal—whatever encourages a connection with intuition brings the skin what it needs, because you start responding from a deeper awareness.
Tell us about your own wellness practices? Walk us through a morning (or evening) in the life of Tammy Fender. The beginning of my day, before sunrise, is spent in silent contemplation, which is so deeply nourishing for me. Before I do anything else, I drink a glass of herbal infused water which helps to hydrate skin throughout the day. I wash my face with Lavender and Fo-Ti Cleansing Milk, a very gentle entry to the day, and I follow with soothing Bulgarian Rose Water and nourishing, protective Intensive Repair Balm. Preparing breakfast for the family might mean smoothies with herbs from our garden, or gluten free oatmeal with a homemade berry syrup. I also love making home-blended tea in the mornings, mixing dried sage leaves and fresh spearmint from the garden with a pinch of black tea and a touch of local raw honey.
Most mornings, I take my youngest daughter Savanna to school, talking and singing all the way. And, before work, I like to squeeze in a little exercise, mixing it up between breath work, stretching, yoga, Pilates and ecstatic dance.
Luckily for me, I love my job! I’m passionate about every aspect, whether I’m seeing clients one-on-one or working with medicinal plants in the lab. When I’m around the computer, responding to email, I like to keep a lot of beautiful living plants in my work space. They bring an energetic balance to the effort.
I also use essential oils in the mornings, using my intuition to guide me towards which might bring in something that’s needed. So, sometimes I take a quick moment to breathe in an essence that I’m drawn to, or I might I layer a few essences together, applying them to my skin on active pressure points.
Midmorning I recharge with fresh organic juice, which so easily provides the body with living energy that replenishes nutrients and especially benefits the skin. Apple-lemon-ginger-cinnamon juice is a long time favorite, so light and clean. And I also use just a drop of Quintessential Serum throughout the day to rejuvenate my skin. It’s an instant pick me up.
Describe your perfect day. My perfect day would always include time with my family, and time in nature. I love to spend time in our family garden with my hands in the dirt, growing some of our family’s food and cultivating and honoring my connection with the plant kingdom. We also keep bees in our garden and I’m so fascinated by their culture. I love to spend time watching their ways. That said, taking time to have dinner with my family every night is very important to me. That is my true anchor.