Interview with creator Annee de Mamiel
Created by a skincare therapist who brings serious training in physiology, aromatherapy, and Traditional Chinese Medicine to the clinic table, the products in de Mamiel’s lineup have not been designed in the usual way — and their results are so much better for it.
de Mamiel’s seasonal facial oils are a great example of creator Annee de Mamiel’s unique approach to treating the skin; read on to learn how the Autumn Facial Oil came to be.
Dara Kennedy: What prompted you to create seasonal facial oils?
ANNEE DE MAMIEL: Like all the products we make, the seasonal oils started in clinic — when we got to the point where a lot of people wanted to buy the oils I made for friends (because they loved the smell, for example), but I didn’t know what each friend’s constitution was. So I had to think about what most people might need.
And what I saw in clinic at the time was that so many of us were missing a connection with nature. This was 13 or 14 years ago, and now all of this is so obvious! But in today’s world, we don’t have that connection anymore. We have artificial light, we’re driven by technology, we’ve almost lost our sense of what’s going on outside.
And it’s important to recognize that life is a series of seasons and cycles; the cycle of life is what makes us move and flow through everything. These seasonal facial oils are about reconnecting with this on an emotional level and looking at what’s going on with the skin at that time. It’s funny: we change our food for the seasons, and we change our clothes for the season, but we’re not usually looking at skincare in the same way. It’s an invitation to change our perspective – in how we treat ourselves, and the way we treat the earth.
Dara: The seasonal face oils are designed using principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Can you tell us more about each season from a TCM perspective?
ANNEE: Winter is all about rest, replenishment — it’s kidney energy, which builds and grows to the springtime.
Spring is about flow, and the liver and gallbladder. We have a lot of stopping and starting during this season, which gives us some challenge. Then there’s a sense of emerging, of the unstoppability of life.
Summer is about blooming, flourishing, full yang. The heart’s joy. Freedom, fun.
And then, in autumn, everything becomes dry and turns inward. It’s a time to let go and release, going back to the earth so that we can make space for newness to come in. This season is very much about making space for transformation.
In TCM, autumn is metal energy, and the organs associated with it are the lungs and the large intestine. The skin is actually the third lung in TCM. So from this perspective, too, it’s about opening and breathing, letting go of toxins so that you can receive.
The lungs and large intestine help to purify and release; when we don’t let go, we get constipated and blocked up, and we see that build up in our skin. Since skin is the third lung, breath is so important in that process of release. It’s so important for calming and deep grounding.
Lots of people have trouble with this time. I do, too, and maybe for that reason, it’s also the season where I especially love the formula personally. This process of turning inward, becoming cooler, letting go of stuff is not always easy. It reminds me of those big old trees you see halfway through autumn. Some leaves are hanging on for dear life: it’s the energy we’re using to hold onto those leaves that we need to let go of. When we do that, everything can breathe again.
Dara: What do you love most about the Autumn Oil?
ANNEE: It’s sweet and comforting, and incredibly feminine. It makes me feel nourished. It makes me feel complete. It has more impact in the season, because when I formulate, it’s about what the skin needs in that time. If you’re in sync with nature, that’s all in flow. If you use the Spring oil in the autumn, it’ll still be brilliant, but it won’t have that same connection and flow and groundedness.
With seasonal oils, it’s about looking at what we’ve just come through and being in the now — so that as we move into the next season, the skin’s in the best condition to accept the next cycle. Coming out of summer, skin needs repair, usually from sun exposure. It needs some rebalancing, since it can be a little congested. And, because moisture in the air is dropping, we need to make sure we’re replenishing that and keeping it in the most perfect state.
Dara: This formula is also described as a great skin brightener, which is always welcome after summertime. Which ingredients work towards that end? What can one expect in terms of “brightening” when they use this oil?
ANNEE: I think what you see is a clarifying of the skin – the Autumn oil really does that. You get some microcirculation through facial massage, but then you have so many brightening ingredients in the formula like jasmine, prickly pear, white ginger lily. It’s lovely, clarifying — almost gives it life again. I think that comes from the oxygenation through the breath, through the lungs and large intestine and the skin working together in the season. I always think about layering those different parts of the product and bringing it all together so that it makes us feel grounded and looking and feeling our best.
Dara: When I spoke with you about First Fix, the science behind the product was front and center — but with your seasonal oils, the science is somewhat unseen. We know it’s there, though! Can you tell us how you thought about creating this formula?
ANNEE: With each season, it’s about looking at what we need at that time of year and thinking about what the air is like. We say, “There’s an evil in every season,” and in autumn, it’s dryness. The moisture is coming out of the air. Think about those leaves again: each leaf begins to lose moisture, so it goes back to the earth to replenish it. And from a whole body perspective, when there’s dryness in the body, the immune system suffers.
So when I was thinking of the base oils in this formula, I looked for the perfect balance between sterols, omegas, and ceramides — the elements in the outer layer of the skin. Getting the balance between those three elements right for the skin during this particular time of year is so important. Replenishing the right amount at the right moment has a lot to do with the levels of fattiness in the oils and how long they’ll sit on the skin.
Dara: Yes, we’ve noticed that the Autumn Oil sinks in beautifully. It’s silky, and it nourishes without the usual “face oil” feel. Was this done by design?
ANNEE: It was; I think autumn calls for “drier” oils that pull into the skin. That texture is the result of the ratios of the ceramides, omegas, and sterols in the formula. There’s some playing that has to be done: for example, I use the CO2 extraction of the evening primrose oil so that you get all of the goodness of it without the heavier components that are better saved for winter. Sometimes the air is so parched in autumn that replenishing it with something too heavy can be a temptation; this formula gives it the right balance.
Then, I layered on the essential oils, looking at what oils work with the metal element to connect us with nature as well as to provide regenerative benefits to the skin — stimulating cell turnover and brightening. I take a similar thought process to EOs as one might take to wines in terms of sourcing, and it’s also about the sum of everything. That’s how I build it in terms of the smell, trying to get the base, heart, and top notes perfectly working together.
There’s real soul behind everything that I do, but I’d say the seasonal oils are the most spiritual of all the products that I do. And each vintage is different; it all changes. This one — I mixed it and did my tests two weeks later to see if I needed to change anything, and my heart just sang as soon as I smelled it. It just gave me hope. It made me smile.
Want to learn more about de Mamiel?
Check out our Brand Spotlight here.
Learn how Annee uses the Autumn Oil in clinic, and how she suggests using it at home, here.
Find out how our esthetician, Sarah, uses the Restorative Cleansing Balm for facial massage here.
And to hear from Annee about how she treats stress in clinic — and tips she often gives clients to limit the effects of stress at home — in her interview with Dara here.