Annee de Mamiel has such impeccable timing that we sometimes wonder if she might be able to see the future. She is, after all, preternaturally gifted in many ways, with an ability to not only treat the skin on a deep, holistic level — thanks in part to serious training in physiology, aromatherapy, and Traditional Chinese Medicine — but also to create products that help you bring some of that magic home.
Case in point: First Fix, the product she worked on for 13 years that, serendipitously, came out about a year after the pandemic first popped out (“Boo!”) and soothed our stressed-out skin, with neuropsychometric testing to back it up.
And now, there’s Gravity Fix, which is the fix to turn to for even longer-term, relentless stress (“Ooh, I like it here! I’m going to stay”) that leads so many of us to look in the mirror and ask, “Why does everything just look like it’s…sagging?” Its devotees are growing quickly, for good reason. Read on to find out why this super serum is so good.
Dara: We are so excited about Gravity Fix! (With that name, who wouldn’t be?)
ANNEE: I’ve actually been quite overwhelmed with the incredible response to it — by the number of journalists, clients, and longtime customers that have spent the time to write to us and say, “It’s really changed my skin,” or “It’s just the best product I’ve ever had.” One particular journalist who’s been in the industry for 40 years and isn’t a natural product user told me, “This is a heavy lifter — I’m not going without this again.”
It really started to pick up a few weeks after we launched it, when people started to see changes in their skin: they noticed the tone of their skin changed, it felt denser, and it was far more hydrated. I hear that everything feels firmer and more “solid.” One customer wrote to me and said, “It literally feels magical — it’s the only product I’ve ever used where my skin feels firmer and lifted, and it just makes me feel special.”
Dara: Our team members have really noticed a difference with it, too. So with First Fix, you told us about what happens in our bodies during times of stress; with Gravity Fix, you’re still working on the effects of stress on skin, but you’re getting more specific. Can you dig into the differences between the two?
ANNEE: First Fix is for when skin is just overwhelmed — when it begins to act up because you’re so stressed. You might see a little oiliness, redness, or dryness that you can’t hydrate; it’s just unbalanced. First Fix is your universal first stop when you’re really not quite sure how to fix your skin. And if you use it every day, it keeps things at bay: it hydrates, calms, balances, and starts to fix the skin barrier. It’s a one-stop shop, a universal fix for skin that’s been compromised by stress.
But when stress is relentless and it’s just been on you for so long, you need Gravity Fix to address the effect of advanced glycation. You have more free radicals in the body and a constant dumping of sugar and glucose from cortisol, which affects the collagen and elastin and breaks them down. This is where we get the sagging skin response. (We see the same thing with menopause, too: reduced levels of estrogen have similar effects on the skin — a stiffening of the collagen and elastin fibers.)
Gravity Fix prevents that degradation. On a physical level, it strengthens and plumps the skin, helps the barrier, and prompts renewal. On a cellular level, using it helps stimulate collagen and elastin synthesis. And on an emotional level, with the smell and the breathwork that it prompts and the massage that’s required due to the texture, it helps reduce stress. Addressing the emotional, cellular, and physical levels is how I formulate: you want to make sure each layer is able to work.
Dara: In clinic, have you noticed any patterns among those who experience glycation?
ANNEE: I see it most in perimenopausal and menopausal women, where it’s ongoing due to hormonal changes. I also see it a lot in Type A personalities: they’re the ones who stress the most! It’s so difficult to generalize in that way, though; I think I relate it more to TCM than to Myers-Briggs categories. To me, the people who experience this were once able to just move through stress, perhaps, but haven’t had the flow to do that in the last few years. They might be reaching for sugar as a way to cope: I’d say those with sugar cravings are quite prone to this.
In terms of what I see, I might notice a loss of muscle tone — the jawline starts to sag a bit with the lack of firmness. You also sort of feel the skin thinning: when you pinch it, there’s less bounce back. And people who don’t normally have dark circles under the eyes start to develop them.
I also often see some cross-hatching of the skin, with some dehydration and especially dryness. You might see a little bit of dullness, too: with cortisol, generally, you have a slower turnover of cells, so it’s unable to keep up and you see a lack of glow with dullness and dryness.
I really sense it as well from the change in people’s behavior — their emotions, their eating habits. They might need a sugar fix or crave salt, or they might be holding lots of sadness and grief that feels impossible to lift.
Five years ago, it feels like a smaller group of people would need something like Gravity Fix. But now it feels like so many more of us do. We feel that things need to change, and we need to shift something. It sounds like a small thing, but bringing in that ritual element of skincare — the breathwork, the massage — can really help to change our perspective and make that small shift. Ritual is about amplifying the product; there’s a real reason for the breath and the scent to come into the picture. You have to work Gravity Fix into the skin a little bit, and it was designed that way: you need to take some time with it, but it increases its efficacy.
There’s a reason behind it all. Type As who want to just slap something on their skin and be done with it: I’ve thought about you with this one. Nope. Can’t do it that way.
Dara: Noted! I won’t just slap it on my skin, I promise. But let’s get into the ingredients — tell us how it all works.
ANNEE: To start with, there’s glycoin, which is a massive antioxidant. It helps stimulate collagen production, and along with ectoin, it works to energize the cells – helping more oxygen to be available and wiping up free radicals while the massage and breathwork you’re doing help move out the toxins as well.
The hydration factor is also really important. For that, we’ve included acetylglucosamine and different weights of hyaluronic acid for both immediate and long-term hydration; acetylglucosamine encourages the cell to produce more hyaluronic acid.
There’s also retinal, because long-term cortisol is relentless – cell turnover really slows down. This retinal comes from sunflower rather than a synthetic base, like prior forms; this one feels better, and it’s less irritating to the skin. It’s a very new ingredient, and I really love the results of it and the way it turns skin around. It really performs and gives the formula another dimension.
And we’ve included ceramides and red algae to strengthen skin through it all.
The texture of Gravity Fix is richer than First Fix because it’s intended to address the dry, dehydrated skin that accompanies glycation: I wanted something that felt velvety on the skin. I wanted it to feel like it was holding you somehow, cocooning you while it was absorbing into the skin and doing its job. It’s almost like a cashmere texture that envelops you and wraps you up – so comforting.
Dara: So that we don’t slap it on our skin, can you give us some facial massage tips for Gravity Fix application?
ANNEE: Think about doing a gentle massage that moves up and outwards to move the lymph and really encourage the flow from the center outwards. Along with that, you’re breathing and centering around that breath so it continues to work.
The scent in Gravity Fix is about firming our emotions and uplifting us: I designed the smell to mirror what the product was trying to do. There’s green mandarin, which is about potential; jasmine, which is optimistic and uplifting; and grapefruit, which is fresh and happy.
Dara: We love the way you use scent in your products — it’s unique, and you have such a deep understanding of aromatherapy that not many other formulators do.
ANNEE: I think the smell of a product has to be therapeutic, it has to be part of that emotional layer. Otherwise you’re not addressing the root cause of the problem. Especially in these products that are designed to address stress, we need to engage the parasympathetic nervous system and start to slow things down.
In my Fixes, each scent has a name: for First Fix, it’s Resilience, and for Gravity Fix, it’s fortitude. They’re still calming, of course, but really about how the specific oils and their constituents work together to engage different parts of the brain to decrease cortisol and stress.
For a while now, there’s been a bit of an anti-essential-oil movement. I think this probably comes from an understanding of essential oils that’s not fully developed, sometimes by the customer but sometimes on the formulator’s part. So I’m careful to work on the constituents and the components of each oil when I’m building the formula: it amplifies the results of the product because it’s actually addressing the problem leads to what you see on the skin.