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de Mamiel was added to our shelves at just the right time. There is nothing quite like this line of products: while others might describe the process of approaching one's skincare like a holistic ritual, these simply start by walking the walk, gently shifting your mindset from the moment you open them in a way that's palpable.
Created by a skincare therapist who brings serious training in physiology, aromatherapy, and Traditional Chinese Medicine to the clinic table, these are products that have not been designed in the usual way — and their results are so much better for it. Every batch of de Mamiel products we sell passes through creator Annee de Mamiel's hands, and we can tell. Read on to learn more about this revered healer's fascinating approach to skincare.
Ayla: You have an unusual background as a brand founder:
- You have a BSc in Anatomy and Physiology from the University of Sydney, so you’ve long had an interest in the human body.
- You also have a BSc Honours Degree from the London College of Traditional Acupuncture in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which you were inspired to study after acupuncture helped you through a period of illness in 1998.
- And on top of that, you have a Diploma in Aromatherapy from the Institute of Traditional Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy.
You began to create skincare products for yourself when you experienced very dry skin in the late ‘90s due to chemotherapy and radiation. When you embarked on your journeys in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Aromatherapy, did you have the development of skincare products in mind as an end goal, or was this a serendipitous path that ended up all coming together in de Mamiel years later?
ANNEE DE MAMIEL: Unusual...or slightly bonkers?? Yes, I love learning, and our body just fascinates me – even now, I am constantly reading scientific papers and research!
Honestly, the whole line happened as a mistake. I didn't set out to create a brand. I just formulated things for my patients; each product was bespoke and what they specifically needed at that moment and we would adjust it each week. It was so wonderful as they wanted more things for their routine and to give as gifts. I would take my pots of product into clinic and end up giving them to my last patient of the day and come home to make more, it was at this point my husband mentioned that it wasn't a very good business model!
So, we did the testing, popped on some labels, and put together a website. We were so lucky that three weeks later, Net-a-Porter called in all of our products for a meeting, and the rest is history. It has really been a slow, organic growth of the business, which is great. We wanted to be able to treat and support our customers, so we kept growth to a minimum as we tried to figure out production, manufacturing, and all the other bits!
Ayla: When did your treatment clinic open? Can you tell us about that experience?
ANNEE DE MAMIEL: I opened it in 2008, following my internship in China and after completing my degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. My aim was quite simply to make a difference and give people tools to help ease in their life: my treatments were created to reduce the harsh impact of everyday life on the face.
The clinic is such an incredible opportunity to learn and get to the depths of what is creating the symptoms each patient has presented with – having the information there to trace back to the underlying cause of the problem, and formulate something that will address the problem for a sustained, long term result. It allows me to tweak formulations to find that point on a lot of people where it really performs and works, and to learn how to get the most out of it in a home setting so a patient sees optimum results.
Ayla: We understand your facial treatments are, as Caroline Hirons puts it, “another level” — as she has opined, “By far, there is no competition.” Tell us what those treatments are like. Why do you think they are so transformational?
ANNEE DE MAMIEL: She is so very kind and such a special soul! So much happens in the treatment room; it really comes down to what you need at this time in your life, and we make a path to get there together. I ask a lot of questions on what may seem like random things, but they are all a part of a jigsaw, helping to connect dots and looking at the whole picture of health and wellness.
While our faces are roadmaps of energy that speak volumes about our health, emotions and experiences, I will also listen to the body before I begin — through the tongue, the pulse, and the breath — and it can sometimes tell me a different story.
Looking at everything from the root cause of things, from what's created the problem, as opposed to just treating the symptoms: that's something that I really emphasize and employ when in my practice. For example, the skin is inflamed, but why is it inflamed? And then I’ll go back through the metabolic pathways to the understanding of what's creating the inflammation, not just calming the skin down and making it less red temporarily.
In the treatment room, we do some breathing, some meditation, and tuning forks as well as acupuncture. When I begin work on the face, it involves so much massage, lymphatic drainage, and myofascial release at a very deep level. After a treatment, I do about 8 pages of follow-up notes for reference with a lot of information and recommendations, so the journey together continues. Uncovering what’s maybe behind a symptom on the skin is a great challenge which may take a while.
Ayla: In your products, you’re looking to inspire healing on a physical, cellular, and emotional level — just as you do in your clinic.
For those of us who are bringing your products home and only dreaming of a treatment with you, how do you suggest we bring more of the treatment-room experience into our own homes?
ANNEE DE MAMIEL: By transforming your routine into a ritual.
I know, when a product goes into a bottle, we have done everything we can to make it the most vital and potent it can be: it has been researched and tested, ensuring it performs beautifully on the skin. To elevate the performance of the product and to get maximum benefit, you can engage in the accompanying routine that comes with it.
Stress is something that builds in our bodies and minds, but we need to be able to let go of this and not take it to sleep with us. From the breathwork that comes with each bottle to the face massage techniques, build in a little extra time once a week to nourish a little deeper and immerse yourself.
Focused breath engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows everything down and reduces levels of cortisol within the body. For me, that is paramount in making us look good and feel better. Efficacious products, time honored rituals, and breath are the keys to this.
Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start, but you have so many wonderful features on your blog, and our care leaflet included within our products offers a glimpse at some suggestions as well. But there are many, and what’s important is that you take the time at the beginning and the end of the day to explore what works for you.
Ayla: How do Traditional Chinese Medicine and aromatherapy mingle in your products? Can you give us an example?
ANNEE DE MAMIEL: For me, skincare is more than just a superficial treatment. It’s not just about getting rid of the symptoms, but trying to remove the reason why it appeared in the first place. So, all of the elements in these formulas work synergistically for performance.
Understanding the imbalances in the body is the beginning point of all of my formulations, and layering all of that knowledge creates the basis of a formula. I tend to begin with the Chinese medicine, as it gives you the opportunity to look at things in a different way and with a different perspective.
I will then map out the way western medicine will look at it, and then using the energetics of aromatherapy, add this to the mix. The energetics of aromatherapy will look at how the essential oil works in the body, the meridian it works, its impact on flow, qi, blood, and jing. The aroma will unite all of these things, working on three levels — base, heart and top note — like a perfume.
We use aromatherapy in order to nourish the heart and cool the fire. Oils like Rose and Jasmine have a sort of deep effect on the kidney and cool the heart. So, for me, it's just about taking all of the elements, looking at the systems and making sure that everything overlaps and fits in its unique way. It's stepping back and taking a very holistic perspective. What's going on at every level? And how can I create something to support the body in order for it to tap into its own intelligence, to heal itself?
A great example of this is my sleep formulas; they’re never going to work instantaneously because they're not about sedation. My work revolves around righting the imbalances in the body, which have been created over time — and implementing changes so we can establish a new equilibrium.
Ayla: You’ve mentioned working with flower essences; we’re huge Bach flower fans at Ayla! How do find that they’ve worked in your clinic? How do you explain their effect on the body?
ANNEE DE MAMIEL: Flower Essences are in every product because they are incredibly powerful and work on the subconscious level. There is an incredible synergy with acupuncture, essential oils and flower essences as the essences also work through the body’s acupuncture meridians, creating positive effects on the way we feel. They are a vibrational tool that helps people reach their full potential; this has been constantly demonstrated to me in some of the work I do with my patients.
Plants, trees and the earth support us on every level, starting with the air we breathe. Their essences allow us to connect with nature in a way we no longer have time or access to, helping to dispel stress and tension. Balance is difficult in our modern world, where we are removed from nature more than ever. We are constantly overloaded with work, responsibility and pressure as well as being exposed to an ever-increasing amount of radiation from mobile phones, wi-fi, and increased plane travel.
The essences and oils help to bring us back to a centered place. I find they help me be in a place of ease, where I am most definitely at my best; specifically, they help me stay on task and be focused, creative, and efficient with what I am doing. They help with my sleep patterns, calm me, help me be more patient, and protect me when I get stressed.
Not only will I start and finish a treatment with them, they are also used in the lab each day, and a drop goes into every bottle. I've worked with some lovely producers and created bespoke blends for each range, because there are so many things that affect us daily that we don’t even realize. This ranges from the environment to our energy fields. And every product that I create has to work on an emotional level, on a physical level, and on a cellular level, because that's where we feel the stress.
And so, I think flower essences are just doing their work in the background. The silent fighters...
Ayla: There is a lot of science and research behind the Sleep Series. Can you give us the highlights of some of the neuroscientific work that has been done around it?
ANNEE DE MAMIEL: It was 10 years of work to create the formulas, but I don't ever believe a formula is finished or finalized. I'm so blessed that in a clinic situation, I get to really understand and observe the skin and how it shifts or transforms. So, when I'm actually formulating and looking at things, everything is about layering.
My starting point was to examine the different stresses and elements in people’s lives and how they directly impacted their sleep. I went through ten years of case notes and looked at the commonalities in my patients, identifying three sleep issues. In Chinese medicine, everything is related to what is going on within, so rather than creating a simple sedation blend, I wanted to look at underlying imbalances in the body and how we could help on a cellular level, from circadian rhythms to cortisol, inflammation and magnesium levels.
I pulled out all of the patterns from a Chinese medicine perspective and then I went and looked at physiology and what the brain needs for sleep. For example, in the most simplistic form, what does the brain need for sleep? One of the pathways is melatonin. In order to get melatonin, we need serotonin; in order to make serotonin, we need tryptophan. And the only way we can get tryptophan is through our diets and the absorption of tryptophan.
So, how can I create a base oil that will help support the body to absorb more tryptophan? In order to absorb the tryptophan, the body needs things like magnesium, B vitamins, and zinc. So, creating a sleep formula where the base oils were really rich in zinc and magnesium helped to support the body in a cascading effect. This created the starting point.
Then it’s a case of layering the Chinese medicine on top of that. Insomnia has many different patterns, but I was able to get it to three – looking at Settle, for example, which is about the running of to-do lists in the mind and not being able to get to sleep. This is attributed to the heart; the starting point lies firmly with the heart’s energy and the heart organ. Focusing on the Shen, the spirit of the heart, it has nowhere to settle — we need to cool and nourish and ground. Looking at this from a western perspective, we address high cortisol, unbalanced circadian rhythms and inflammation, to name a few.
The blend is then rounded by Flower essences.
Ayla: For those who are new to de Mamiel, where should we begin?
ANNEE DE MAMIEL: Breathe, Pause, Reset is the best way to begin your de Mamiel experience. Taking a moment at the beginning and end of every day that is only for you!
Through the breath we can enhance everything, slow everything down, and just change perspective. When we inhale essential oils, they add another dimension: we are able to down-regulate the nervous system and engage the parasympathetic nervous system to ease the stress we are feeling. This, with our skin ritual, brings results not only on the surface of the skin but also in the way we are feeling and looking.
I love to add a couple of drops of Altitude Oil to the bottom of my shower: the hot water brings the scent forward and it's a great, positive way to start the day clear-headed and relaxed. Apart from this, it is a handbag/on your desk/by your computer essential, thanks to its antibacterial and antiviral properties that work to clear away any cobwebs from your head!
As skin is constantly changing and evolving, it comes down to what we need now — which is where we should begin. I think if I had to pick my one desert island product, it would be the Cleansing Balm. It is such a beautiful, multi-tasking product, and in a moment’s inhalation it takes me to another place! (note from Dara: agree 100%!)
After cleansing, the Skin Recovery Blend can be used every day and night, either alone or mixed with a facial oil or even a mist. You can use it as an all over treatment or just as a spot treatment. This calms any redness I have, hydrates, soothes, and nourishes the skin without feeling oily, heavy, or overly rich. I love the way that this pot over-performs every time.
Last but certainly not least, moisturize and protect your skin! I use the Exhale Hydrating Nectar daily. This day cream with SPF is a nutrient powerhouse.
Thank you, Annee — we could not love this interview more. Last question: your production lab, where the products are made and filled by hand, is in its own building on your beautiful organic farm in the English countryside. Can you give us a quick photo?
ANNEE: Yes! Here is what our farm looks like in the frosty sunrise.