Category Archives: Skincare

Natural Ways to Beat Cellulite

celluliteMany people are bothered by cellulite on their thighs and backsides.  You can improve the look and feel of your skin by using a dry brush but when it comes to cellulite, looks are only a small part of the story.

What is Cellulite?

It’s a fat issue. Cellulite may be trapped fat, but it is more than simply fat. If you don’t believe me, then ask anyone who has lost a lot of weight but is still stymied by the bumps and lumps on her thighs.  Until I figured out how to dramatically reduce the cellulite on my bum and thighs by using nutrition, I was one of them. And on my thrice-weekly trips to the swimming pool I see many women far thinner and/or far fitter than I am with cellulite. Clearly weight and cellulite are not the whole story.

It’s a skin issue. Cellulite is fat that is trapped in the skin’s connective tissue. So it stands to reason that taking care to preserve the health and integrity of that connective tissue is a key aspect of cellulite control. I’ve written extensively about skin and cellulite. You can read all about it here and here.

Finally, cellulite is a toxicity issue. When environmental toxins accumulate in our bodies they are stored as fat instead of being allowed to to circulate in our systems. While this keeps our bodies from being overwhelmed by toxins in the short term, it means we become saddled with excess weight. Many people also experience sluggishness, digestive issues, poor sleep, mood swings, skin disorders, and auto-immune issues.

If you have cellulite it means your body’s systems of detoxification are overworked and not functioning properly. So cellulite is less a beauty issue than a symptom of less than optimal wellness. Specifically, the lymphatic system and the liver are overworked and needing support. A real food seasonal detox that includes the right foods to help your body’s overworked systems get back in balance will do amazing things for your weight, your skin, and your overall health and beauty. And your annoying cellulite will be on its way!


Wiggle, Jiggle, Glow

better yet, let's eat jell-o

better yet, let’s eat jell-o

(This post was originally published here.)
Let’s talk about  dermal fillers.
Better yet, let’s talk about soup. And Jello.
Last year I read a book called Deep Nutrition, Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, by Catherine Shanahan MD and Luke Shanahan. Read my thoughts about it here.
Here’s Dr. Cate on mineral-rich soup stocks for skin:
“The highest quality skin care products contain the collagen-building ingredients your skin needs to restore itself. Even skeptical doctors agree that regular use of these expensive products can have impressive results.  However, skincare expert Dr. Dennis Gross, MD warns that it’s not an overnight solution.  “It takes time, molecule by molecule, to build collagen fibers.” Dermatologists advise patience and regular application to get anti-wrinkle creams in contact with skin as much as possible.  Why not also feed your skin from the inside?
If a cream containing two or three collagen-building nutrients can help your skin, imagine how effectively you could nourish and rebuild your dermal collagen if you ate a meal containing dozens of dermal growth factors. The nutrients in bone stocks switch the genes for collagen manufacture to “on.”  This effect is magnified by vitamins A, D, E and C, and a few common minerals.  Whether in a skin cream or your soup bowl, the same natural ingredients help you look young. But when you ingest them, you infuse all the layers of your skin, and all the other tissues in your body, with rejuvenating nutrients. “
According to Weston A. Price Foundation President and prominent nutrition researcher Sally Fallon Morrell, stock not only contains gelatin, it has “minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.”
Now, I will admit to being a regular consumer of that broken down material from cartilage and tendon. I take daily hyaluronic acid and silicon supplements for the health and hydration of my skin. They’re not cheap but they and a good skin care regimen work well to decrease the giant chasm that too many years of refusing to wear glasses has etched deep between my brows.  Still, nutrients from real food are always best since they work together synergistically in a way that isolated supplements never can. For the health of my skin, my hair, my digestion, and my overall body, I make and consume many quarts of mineral-rich, nutrient-dense, and delicious broth every week, for soup broth and as the base for sauces.  I also channel Betty Draper and make a great big jello-mold every week for snacks and kid lunches. Yes, gelatin is just powdered bone broth, without the savory flavor. And it’s actually a health food.
A good gelatin makes beautiful, smooth, cellulite-free skin.  It’s one of my favorite “beauty treatments” and it’s easy as can be.

My recipe is over here.  What are your favorite “beauty foodie” staples?

My Asian Layering Skincare Routine

My Asian Layering Skincare Technique

Lately I’ve been reading all about the Asian Layering Skincare Technique. While interesting ingredients like snail mucus and bee venom are trending big in Asia (specifically Japan and Korea, according to reports), the basic idea of a layering facial treatment is one I have long recommended for my clients.

The idea is that rather than Western esthetics’ simple Cleanse-Tone-Moisturize regimen, women in Asia are purported to use a systematic layering technique that employs an average of 5-10 skincare (not make-up) products in very specific order.

In my own work I’m not as interested in Asian products as I am in the layering process. But I’m paying attention to these blogs and articles because to me Asian Layering Skincare is simply “skincare.”  Allow me to break down for you my interpretation of Asian skincare from an American holistic skincare therapist’s perspective.


What Is Asian Layering Skincare?

A recent Marie-Claire Magazine article reported that fans of the Layering Technique use up to 18 products a day. American consumers are taught a simple Cleanse-Tone-Moisturize routine (and, sadly, most estheticians come out of school learning little more than this themselves). Asian Layering looks more like this*:

  • Oil Cleanser or Cleansing Balm used in the evening as the best way to really remove the makeup, sunscreen, sweat, and oil that combine with city pollution to clog your pores and dull your skin.
  • Foaming or Milk Cleanser removes excess oil and makes a receptive surface for treatment products.
  •  Toner (or Lotion, as it translates) is different from Western toner as the point is to add back what the cleanser has stripped away, rather than an astringent or acid toner that dries the skin further.
  • Serum (translated as Essence) is a lightweight product that is used to treat specifics of the skin’s conditions. In Asia this is often a skin lightener but can also be a serum for acne, fine lines and wrinkles, rosacea, or any number or other conditions.
  • Moisturizer: lighter weight emulsions and, if necessary, richer creams
  • Treatment Products There is sunblock for day, sleep masks or clay or cream masks for night, eye creams, spot treatments, and exfoliation.


Order Up

Products are applied in specific order, from lightest to heaviest. In this way, smaller-molecule ingredients are able to absorb easily and do their work on the skin while heavier ingredients lock in moisture and activate lighter products. Individual products are employed instead of using the same product all over, or using combination products such as moisturizer with sunscreen. In this way, specific areas get the treatment they need: a reddened nose gets a rosacea serum and dry cheeks get a creamier moisturizer while the rest of the face gets a light emulsion moisturizer and the user avoids a shiny T-zone.

 Don’t Fear Oil

My skincare methods and product formulation are informed by training that includes looking at skincare from an Ayurvedic perspective. This ancient Indian system of healing relies heavily on liberal use of oils both internally and externally in face and body treatments. The proper oil for the right skin type and condition can be a very powerful ingredient, but Western skincare ideology and advertising have positively terrified most people into an oil-free skincare approach. Unfortunately, oil-free can be very damaging at worst and ineffective at best, and I’ve had to educate every new client who walks into my room about the benefits of proper oil cleansing and treatment before I horrify the un-initiated by touching them with oil on my hands. The exceptions to this are my Asian and Indian clients, who are generally unsurprised by oil treatments because the beauty culture in those places is not centered around “oil-free.”

Application Matters

It’s not only the specificity and the order of products that matters. Application technique matters too. I began my career as a massage therapist, and when I started practicing skincare years later it was impossible for me to provide a treatment that didn’t involve an enormous amount of massage. My hands just couldn’t politely apply products with a clinical little brush. They had to get in there and massage everything in! It turns out this was a good thing: my clients and I soon discovered that not only does the massage make for a totally hedonistic experience, it also gives a circulation-enhancing glow and allows the pores to unclog more easily than product application without massage. Marie-Claire Magazine has a great little gif tutorial on Korean Beauty Facial Massage here.

 Spend Money on Skincare, Not Makeup

This is a big one, and of course as a skincare therapist I share the sentiment. It is also something I have heard about for years from my Asian clients. They will go back on a trip, come home with a beauty haul that includes all manner of BBs and CCs and products with swallow nest, bee venom, and even snail mucus. What they don’t bring home is tons of makeup, since my clients who moved here from Asia were taught to prioritize skin health and beauty over skin decoration. My French and Scandinavian clients (I’ve had several over the years) are the same. Another similarity between my Asian-, French-, and Scandinavian-born clients is their seemingly unanimous devotion to sunscreen.

 The Method, Not the Medium

I do not use a number of products from Asia since my interest is in holistic, non-toxic skincare that originates as locally as I can get it. My training and research have made clear to me the many benefits of using organic, non-toxic skincare products. Also, other than bee products (because I appreciate raw honey tremendously as a skincare ingredient) I avoid products with animal ingredients. There are so many superior, effective plant-based products being formulated that animal ingredients seem unnecessarily unkind. However, the technique of using multiple products in a specific order to really nourish and protect the skin is something that makes perfect sense, and it’s something I do religiously every day.

In my next skincare post I will share my own routine. In the meantime I would love to read about yours. What do you use? Do you layer or are you into a simple routine? Let me know in the comments!



Beautiful skin starts with what we eat. Would you like to join me in October to learn what foods are right (and wrong) for your individual body? Learn more here.




Kirsten Quint Fairbanks is health coach and holistic living expert who loves offering real-world wellness coaching for people who want to beat the blues and build self-esteem using nutrition and holistic lifestyle methods. Her popular online seasonal Craving-control Real Food Detox is for anyone who wants their body to feel and look its best. She also offers skincare from the inside out consultation for anyone who is tired of the beauty hype and is ready to have vibrant health and glowing skin.  Kirsten lives happily, works gratefully, home-schools secularly, dances inexpertly, paints badly, cooks traditionally, and nurses on demand in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read more about her here.


* It can get a lot more complicated than this. Kerry at Skin and Tonics goes into depth with a huge number of products, and so do Winnie and Cat Cactus on their blogs.