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Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but founder of clean beauty line, BeautyShamans, Shelly Marshall likes to use her hands. Before she even looks at a client's face, she first feels their skin with the lights off in order to assess what may be going on beneath the surface. She inquires about water intake, stress levels, plastic use, diet, and how their trips to the bathroom are going. As a holistic esthetician, trained nurse, and aromatherapist, Shelly understands above all that skin goes far beyond what we see—and transformed her own skin with the power of food as medicine. Through her experience with ancient pharmacology, she’s created a line of marine based skincare products that utilize isotonic seawater which offers potent amounts of minerals. According to Marshall, “If we want healthy organs we’re going to need a good micronutrient balance.” As trace minerals are a critical and beloved component of the Sakara regimen, we could not agree more. We spoke with this skin therapist and healer about mineralization, the colors in food that will give us the most energy, and regenerating skin for (just shy of) eternal youth.
Marine phytoplankton and sea vegetables are at the heart of your products. Tell us why they are so powerful?
First off, let’s note that the ocean is the cradle of life on earth. Before land creatures, before even land vegetation, the seas of our earth were bursting with life, and everything living in an ocean was constantly immersed in a special fluid we call seawater. Seawater has all the minerals and trace elements needed to sustain and build “life”. In fact, it is so vital that nature apparently saw fit to carry the design forward in the form of amniotic fluid and blood plasma in humans; our blood plasma is nearly identical to seawater in nutrient and mineral composition (98% identical: seawater contains magnesium whereas humans have an iron molecule instead). When applied to the body (whether internal or external), our cells know how to assimilate those molecules and use them properly. Foreign ingredients tell the skin’s immune cells that it needs to mount an inflammatory response.
Plankton is a special one-celled organism that is responsible for most of the Earth’s oxygen production. It is also the main food source for the largest and longest living mammal, the blue whale. So these life forms have the DNA “blueprint” that enables them to absorb sunlight and turn that solar energy into cellular energy for growth and repair. Seaweed is not so different. Different species of seaweeds have their own special qualities, but overall, seaweed increases cell metabolism (think natural exfoliation and cell renewal), is detoxifying (due to its contribution to cellular respiration), naturally soothing (all the minerals work together in harmony to combat inflammation and free radical damage), and is also naturally resistant to excessive sun exposure. When we apply marine-based products to our skin daily we effectively “eat” some of those nutrients through transdermal absorption, directly into our skin.
re-mineralization is the key to a healthier life.
re-mineralization is the key to a healthier life.
Why is mineralization so important?
Almost everything that happens inside your body is a chemistry event, and let’s remember that the body is one big mass of cells. Vitamins and minerals are essentially the molecules your cells needs to create energy, repair damage, etc... So it isn’t difficult to see how a shortage of any given mineral, especially over time, can have serious negative effects. When we are young we have amazing skin because we have all the minerals and vital elements from 9 months of nutrient-rich fluid bathing inside our mother. As we grow up those minerals are depleted, and even partially replaced with man-made toxins. People used to bathe in seawater, often by necessity at the time, but it was also known that there are therapeutic properties to marine salts and minerals, which have a positive effect on health. The trace minerals in seawater can be absorbed by the skin transdermally, slowing down that inevitable depletion, helping to regulate hormones in the blood, and improving the skin’s immunity. A lower cell metabolism equates to aging skin – seaweed naturally regenerates itself and has been shown to boost our own cell turnover.
In fact, I once experimented with my own plants at home. Instead of watering them with regular tap water I sprinkled some seaweed extracts into the water I fed them. The next day they were so gorgeous, visibly a more vibrant green and alive. I think one major reason we have so much disease in this country now is that nearly all of us are in a state of mineral deficiency. In many places our soil has been depleted, therefore the food coming out of it is less nutritious. The Beauty and Detox Drops are a perfect way to balance and regenerate your internal environment while BeautyShamans’ products replenish and restore from the outside. Both contain all trace minerals needed for proper cell function. Plain and simple, re-mineralization is the key to a healthier life.
What is your first beauty memory?
When I was 14 I had my first job as a receptionist at a day spa. I was always interested in skin, as I had acne since the age of 9. One day the owner brought me into her treatment room, waxed my eyebrows and scrubbed my face with an exfoliant. When I looked in the mirror I was so amazed—my face had been framed to accentuate my features and my skin was glowing and looked clear and healthy. I realized at that moment that I had the ability to control the appearance and ultimately the health of my skin. This began my love affair with treating skin.
If there is one thing we should all be doing for our skin, what would that be?
I’m happy this question was asked. As easy as it is to slap some products on the skin, real results come from the work you put in. Making time for your skin is something you just have to commit to making a regular part of your life. I couldn’t overstate the value of oil cleansing and facial massage, which are really two things that you can do simultaneously. Using plant oils on the skin is an ancient practice. That oil and water repel isn’t news to anyone, but many of us today don’t realize that because one oil will bind to another (sebum – the natural oil we produce), we can use topical oil applications to enhance the cleaning process of our skin: oil removes oil without disrupting the natural barrier of the skin. I’ll go one step further and point out that all old recipes for soap called for rendered fats—aka oils.
When you use oil daily, it not only keeps skin clean but it can also deliver nutrients that your skin may not be getting enough of. It also helps balance skin pH by giving back fatty acids to skin flora and it hydrates as it cleans. Oil cleansing is also much gentler than using a detergent and it doesn’t strip our skin of its own natural oils. I’ve often heard it said that “oily skin ages better”, and I see this as a truism that goes beyond skin. Imagine a piece of wood that has been waxed and oiled for several years, now imagine another piece of wood with water and chemicals repeatedly thrown on it instead. Which one will look better in 100 years?
Massage is a great way to gently melt dead skin cells, break down collagen adhesions and boost circulation, which, via the blood, is going to bring more hydration, oxygen and nutrition to the skin. It also feels fantastic. I am also convinced most people do not realize how much tension they hold in their facial muscles. Regularly relaxing those muscles through massage can have amazing effects, so I am a major advocate of this 2-in-1 ritual. I follow oil cleansing with Sea Silk Wash, by cleaning the “extras” off the skin with oil first, my face wash can actually do a deeper clean on my skin.
We both believe in the connection between food and vibrancy. What foods do you recommend to look your best?
Reds, greens, fats, and probiotics.
Reds because of the beta carotene that converts to vitamin A in the body and free radical fighting antioxidants in red fruits – think carrots, yams, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, cherries.
Greens because of the chlorophyll that helps purify blood (skin is highly vascular so with clean blood we have cleaner skin). Anything green will have some chlorophyll but if you want a concentrated blast of detoxifying nutrition, go for the gold (or green) and start taking chlorella. I also love eating seaweed; nori, dried kelp chips etc.
Fats because they protect cell membranes and keep our collagen full and vibrant. I favor avocado and coconut, along with hemp seed or fatty fish like sardines.
Probiotics are vital to gut health, which seems to have an impact on almost every other system in the body. There are supplements for people who need a boost but every culinary culture across the globe has developed some kind of probiotic mainstay, so there is something for everyone to add to their regular diet. Think kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, kefir, etc.
During the day I focus on regenerating myself, and I apply that principle to everything I do.
During the day I focus on regenerating myself, and I apply that principle to everything I do.
What tips do you have for combatting toxin overload and everyday stress on our skin?
Drink water, deliberately relax, and go easy on the sugary “mood boosters”.
Water is the not-so-secret sauce of health. You can have the best skin creams and eat the cleanest foods but if you’re chronically dehydrated it’s going to take a visible toll. I think two liters a day is a minimum.
Stress can harm your skin in several ways. That feeling you get when you’re all stressed out?—that’s neurotransmitters and stress hormones coursing through your veins. That look you have on your face, the one that tells people close to you that you’re stressed out?—that’s your facial muscles contorting (tightening up) to match your inner mental/emotional state. That leads to premature wrinkling of the skin. If I’m ever feeling overwhelmed I take a few minutes to deeply inhale some essential oils and perform light facial massage.
Sugar in the blood leads to the production of “advanced glycation end products”, or A.G.E.’s, which actually accelerate the breakdown of skin collagen. In general, it’s the refined or starchy sweets that hit hardest. I say if you need something sweet, lean toward unrefined and natural sugars, like raw honey or high-quality dark chocolate/cacao.
Are there any rituals in your day that you feel support your overall health and wellness? What are they?
During the day I focus on regenerating myself, and I apply that principle to everything I do. My “day” starts when I go to sleep. Sleep is when our bodies get the most cellular repair. I shower in the mornings so that I feel fresh, rejuvenated and ready to face the day. I like to spray apple cider vinegar in my hair once a week because it cleans off all the gunk and dead keratin and makes my head feel lighter.
When I do my morning yoga, I really focus on exhaling all the carbon dioxide from my lungs and inhaling clean oxygen, regenerating all my cells and detoxing from the day before. If my skin feels dull I’ll do a combo scrub and peel to break down dead skin which stimulates new cell growth. Both of my serums also have liquid oxygen so that helps to flush cells clean.
I drink a ton of water so that my kidneys and skin stay hydrated. I consciously chew my food well so that I can digest easier. I make conscious decisions about what food I eat that day, focusing on vegetables, good fats, and proteins. The basic rule of thumb is what goes in must come out, and that includes thoughts, emotions and physical things like food and water. When we hold on to things, we become stagnant, and that accelerates the aging process. By creating these small habits of regeneration, I feel that I’m supporting my health the best I can, especially as a busy New Yorker.
Do you have a morning and nighttime ritual that we should all be adopting to improve our skin?
My morning ritual is to actually look at and feel my skin so I can treat it for that day. I have a whole pantry of products that I choose from and based on my morning assessment I give my skin what it needs, aka I do not have a set regimen. If I feel dead skin, I usually exfoliate and apply a combination of oil and water based serum. If I’m looking red and dull I make a point to use a little more toner to balance the pH. If I’m puffy, I grab my jade rollers from the freezer and roll out the lymph and fluid from my face. If my skin is feeling ok that day I apply a serum and moisturizer - always moving my fingers from the center of my face to the sides. I don’t often wear makeup, and with continued use of my products I’ve noticed that my skin is less red and has a natural glow anyway. I call it my translucent makeup.
In the evenings I ritualistically clean my face thoroughly. I start with oil cleansing every night. With dry fingers and dry face, I massage my Cleansing Beauty Oil into my skin for 3-5 minutes. At some point, I turn on the faucet to start heating up some water. With my facial massage, I make long continuous strokes in an outward/upward motion. After a couple of minutes I wipe all the oil off with a clean hot washcloth. Then I wash with my regular cleanser making small circular motions before wiping that clean as well. It takes about 10 minutes out of your night but it is so worth it. I can honestly say my skin has never looked better.
I have a standard Cleansing Beauty Oil that I sell to my clients, but I can also customize the formula based on my clients' concerns or aromatic preferences. I actually love coming up with different blends!
It is easy to make at home, and the most important thing is to have high-quality ingredients. I always buy organic to avoid common agricultural chemicals.
Here’s a simple recipe for an at-home cleansing beauty oil:
Lavender is calming to the skin, and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (replacement: clary sage, ylang ylang or helichrysum).
Lemon oil is an antioxidant, aromatically uplifting and highly anti-infectious. It’s a great cleansing oil and helps other ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin due to its volatile qualities (replacement: orange, grapefruit or bergamot).
Cedarwood is a great respiratory oil to clear your sinuses as you clean your skin, thereby increasing circulation and oxygenation to all skin tissue (replacement: marjoram, jasmine or peppermint).
What is your idea of legacy and the mark you’d like to leave on the world?
A legacy is something handed down from one generation to the next. For myself, I aim to be one of the intermediaries helping to bring the wisdom of the past forward so we can relearn it, re-apply it, and reap the rewards. We can all agree that the human race has been on a technological highway for a few hundred years now, or a few thousand if you understand that agriculture is a type of technology that literally changed the entire world. Life on earth today, for most living creatures, is not much like life was 5000 years ago, or even 500. In many ways, that’s a good thing but it isn’t hard to point to things that must change.
We need to source our food differently, we need to use our time differently, and we need to care for our bodies differently. So we’ve been moving really fast, one thing to the next, and I believe we’ve left a few things on the ancient stone table that are worth going back for. We need to slow down and take a look at what we might want to go back and do like we used to. For me, this means making ancient-inspired skincare products and sharing knowledge. I don’t imagine we will all abandon cities and shut down the petrochemical plants anytime soon, but I do believe we can, and must, reclaim the old wisdom of how to live in harmony with nature, internally and externally.
SEEK BEAUTY EVERYWHERE
One Hot Hair Tip
Beauty's Best Foods
Body Talk: Shelly Marshall
By S LIFE MAG • March 6, 2019
Photographer: Lianna Tarantin