By Kate Robitello
An Enlightening Interview with Charlene Palfey, owner of Skin and Tonic Skincare & skin health connoisseur
Q: What are the biggest misconceptions you’ve encountered regarding skincare and what types of products we should be using? More importantly, what should we be avoiding?
A. There are many misconceptions regarding skin care. First and foremost people assume because it is on the shelf and people recognize the name that it is safe. There [are] virtually no regulations with skin care. The FDA doesn’t step in unless there is a problem. There is a ton of greenwashing going on with skin care. If someone sees the word “natural” or “organic” they assume the product is good for you. For example sodium lauyrel or sodium laureth (which are sudsing agents) produce one of the most harmful chemicals, 1-4, Dioxane. Yet, you will never find it on any label because it is a by-product. That chemical alone has been linked to cancer, yet it is in almost every body wash or soap.
Q: What are the benefits of your particular skincare line?
A. I aim to make products that contribute to our health, well-being and peace of mind without the use of chemicals and without harm to our environment. I use raw ingredients, botanical infusions, and botanical extracts that are locally harvested. I don’t use conventionally or commercially grown ingredients in any of my products. I want to maximize the power of the ingredients I am using. Every product I make, I know where my ingredients are sourced from, whether they are organic or wild-harvested materials. It is important to me to get the most efficacy out of what I am making.
For example, my oil cleanser is a trifecta of amazing oils that absorb quickly (biomimetically) and have antioxidant, anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. Not only are they rich in fatty acids and vitamins, they also contain botanical matter and extracts that help stimulate the formation of new tissue by naturally encouraging cell proliferation. Not only does it renew and regenerate skin cells, it relieves dry, damaged and irritated skin. I have a rule that I follow, if you can’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t slather it all over your body. 60 percent of what we put on our skin goes in our bodies.
Q: How can we begin to purge the toxic products from our household?
A. The best advice I can give is read your labels, be informed. There is a great book called “Green Beauty Guide” which I encourage everyone to read.
Don’t hesitate to DIY products. It is simple enough to make your own household cleansers as well as a basic facial cleanser recipe using staple ingredients from your kitchen. There are plenty of DIY blogs and websites where you can find basic recipes.
Q: Tell me about your personal skincare story
A. I started out making bath products in 2006, mainly because I love taking a soak. I really wanted to increase my knowledge of how the skin functions on a cellular level and the efficacy of the products I was making, so I decided to get licensed in esthetics. Sadly, I apprenticed with someone who did not share the same values or quest for knowledge about skin care. It turned out to be a blessing because I was forced to take more classes. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with skin care royalty, Michelle D’Allard, the founder of the Aesthetic Science Institute, where I became certified as a laser technician. I also worked with tons of other amazingly knowledgeable aromatherapists, compounders and herbalists along the way. I am now in the process of getting my diploma in advanced organic skin care science through Formula Botanica.
It’s funny, most of the jobs I have done have had something to do with working with plants and flowers. I picked up tons of tips along the way about the healing nature of the plants and flowers around us. I took all that information in botanical studies and use them in making my eco-lux skin care line today.
Q: Having seen you in action creating your wonderful tonics, I can attest to the passion that goes into all of it. How long did it take you to “optimize” your skincare line?
A. It’s been a long road of classes, certifications and many mistakes using crazy expensive ingredients but, years later, it has all been worth it. It is wonderful to hear from customers telling me how much better their skin feels and how much better their skin looks since using Skin and Tonic. It makes me realize it has all been worth it. I can rest well knowing I am creating a natural, ethical, chemical-free skin care line that is both safe and effective. Also, by working as an esthetician I see results with my clients. I use my skin care line in all my treatments at the spa that I run with two very amazing women at the Mountain Top Inn. My skin care line is used in every treatment at the spa. I love hearing how people feel after using my products.
You can find Skin and Tonic locally at: Fruition, The Rutland Co-op, The Wellness Center, Rutland Pharmacy, The Grand Hotel, Spa at Mountain Top Resort.
You can also find Skin and Tonic at Vanessa Manel in Los Angeles and Annye’s Whole Foods on the Cape.