The ULTIMATE Skin Care Guide:Interview with Woman Divine(Skin Care Part 2)

Last week, I shared my experience with skin cancer. I have to say, I was both happy and sad to learn of so many others who have had experience in this area, too. Happy to know that friends and acquaintances have successfully come through their experiences, and grateful to know I am not alone (I mean, I knew I wasn’t, but hearing from others who have also experienced a scare felt reassuring), and of course sad because we are seeing far too many cases of all types of skin cancer.

In fact, according to Dr. Denis Dudley, founder of Cyberderm, also known as The Sunscreen Company, every 54 minutes, someone dies from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. FIFTY-FOUR MINUTES. That means that every single hour of the day, a family is losing a member to this disease. It has spurred me to do more research on the dangers of tanning and sun damage, as well as the dangers of certain ingredients in sunscreen, and to interview experts like Dr. Dudley. I will be sharing more from him in the coming weeks.

For today, I wanted to dig deeper into ways that we can care for our skin on a daily basis, and so I was thrilled to sit down with Magdalena Tomczak, founder of Woman Divinean organic and holistic skin care studio in Ottawa, Canada, to learn why she believes in using organic and natural products to care for our largest organ…our skin! But before we get started, here’s what our own Prime Minister’s wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, had to say: 

I love your products. The quality of ingredients and purity of your oils are a gift to the skin!
So proud to be able to self-care with Canadian products. Keep concocting. Keep creating!
With deep admiration and gratitude,

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau

If you live in Ottawa, pause here and call or email to book a facial with Magdalena (and then thank me later!) and then come back to finish reading. If you don’t live nearby, see if you can do some research and find an organic facialist who espouses the kind of values that Magdalena does when it comes to caring for our skin. I am now hooked on this type of facial that combines facial massage with the highest quality organic oils on the planet. Now THIS is the kind of self-care that has the capacity to truly change our lives.

I hope you enjoy learning from Magalena. I know I do!


SR: As you know, I shared my experience with having basal cell carcinoma removed from my face. I am learning so much about sun protection and wanted to get your take on it. What do YOU do to protect your skin from the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays? 

MT: I would say that SPF over 30 may give people a false sense of security, an extra load of chemicals, and not much else. SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB; SPF 50 blocks 98%. Just 1% difference of increase in protection may not be worth the exposure to the additional chemicals which were used to up the SPF. You decide. 🙂

Regardless of the SPF factor, sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours. It is suggested that we use approximately one ounce [about the amount you can hold in your palm] for full body coverage.

There are two types of UV light that can harm your skin: UVA (prematurely ages your skin, causing wrinkling and age spots) and UVB (can burn your skin). A broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum sunscreen is supposed to protect you from both. High SPF sunscreens usually offer far greater UVB than UVA protection, thus offering a false sense of full protection. The topic of sun care and SPF is complex, sensitive and somewhat controversial. There are very divided opinions on the use of sunscreen. I feel that it is best to do your own research and make a personal well-informed decision.

There are a few organic skin care companies which I suggest to my clients:  Coola, Green Beaver, and Badger Balm. Like with all other products which we apply to the skin, we need to be mindful of the undesirable ingredients which are known to be carcinogenic and hormone-disruptive. This unfortunately is a big issue with most sun care products available on the market.

We also know that sunscreens are ruining our oceans, killing coral reefs. If common sunscreens are such a detriment to nature, we should seriously think about how they impact our health. The health of the environment and our own health go hand in hand. It is also important to remember that sun is essential to our life. We would not be here without the sun. Just like plant life, we too need the sun to be healthy and to flourish. And just like plants, some of us need more shade and some need more sun. It is really about building a healthy personal relationship with the sun, free from fear and based on respect. If you are of fair complexion and tend to feel hot in your body, high sun exposure will not be beneficial to you in general and your skin will definitely not like it. But someone with darker skin and a body which runs cooler may benefit from more sun exposure… It’s very individual. Sun care really begins from within. Eating in season and locally grown foods allows your body to better adapt to the environment and climate which you live in.  Plenty of leafy greens and antioxidant-rich foods will support our cells and protect them from free radical damage which is an issue for some with sun exposure. There are compelling studies which suggest that people with low levels of certain nutrients in their system are quick to experience sunburns and those with healthy levels tolerate sun significantly better. Be mindful and respectful of the sun. Wear protective clothing, stay out of the sun during peak times, wear good sunglasses and sip on rose petal-infused water on hot days to cool your body down. I personally wear sunscreen only when I am at the beach or will be outdoors in high sun for a long period of time. I wear simple SPF 15 with zinc oxide. Yes, it’s pasty but I’m ok with it. 🙂

SR: You are such an authority on skin care. How did you get into this line of work and why have you stayed in it?

MT: The work that I do is a result of a very organic process. I was raised by a deeply nurturing mom who had a great appreciation for clean and wholesome food. Mom was also great at taking care of her family with folk medicine when needed. She just had it in her naturally and effortlessly. I believe that she has passed some of these qualities onto me.

Initially I chose massage therapy as my profession, but quickly realized that I loved working with the face the most. I am also very passionate about nutrition, plant medicine and Ayurveda. I did not have any interest in conventional beauty and aesthetics but it dawned on me that I could combine all my passions and offer my very own modality of holistic skin and face therapy. This is the beauty of working for oneself. You can make it any way you want. 🙂

When I first started my skin care practice, I was working with Jurlique, one of the world’s pioneering organic skin care lines. Over the years, the company changed hands a few times and the quality of their products started to suffer. This was very frustrating. At the same time, my clients started to ask more and more for my own oil blends to take home. I started spending more time formulating and developing the Woman Divine Skin Care Line. I’m really proud of my products. It’s a true labour of love.

I love my work today as much as I loved it over 25 years ago when I first started. I genuinely enjoy providing a valuable service to my clients and I continuously expand my knowledge. And my busy practice is proof that there are plenty of women who want to practice beauty mindfully. We are shifting the way we see ourselves. It’s a very exciting time for women.

SR: You work exclusively with facial oils rather than foaming or creamy cleansers, facial lotions or creamy moisturizers. What are the main benefits of using oils to cleanse and moisturize the skin?

MT: Working with oils and plant medicine for skin healing purposes may be a new thing in the west, but in other cultures women have done it for thousands of years with great success.

I like working with products which by principle increase life force. What I mean is, when you apply a product to your skin, does it increase your vitality or does it create stress for your body? It is like eating a lovely green salad compared to having a donut. One nourishes you while the other creates havoc in your system. It is exactly like that with what you apply to your skin.

Many conventional products are made with donut-like ingredients. 🙂 Lab-engineered ingredients can never have the same effect on the skin as whole plant material. The first one is dead and the second is alive. I don’t know about you but alive works much better for me.

Many skin problems have been created by products which strip the skin of its natural protective barrier and disrupt the essential microflora which lives on our skin. This opens the door to an array of skin problems. Many of these ingredients are also disrupting to our health in general.

Good quality, cold pressed, organic oils together with healing herbs are a perfect way to support the health of our skin and beyond. When properly paired with your particular skin type, these preparations will assist the health of your microflora and will help to balance the functions of your skin. You see, in the holistic approach to skin care, we work together with the skin and gently support its function. This is a very important point to understand. Many conventional products, by the use of strong ingredients, force the skin into specific behaviours and stop it from expressing. You may suppress the acne from showing up but it does not mean that the problem is resolved.

SR: The skin is the largest organ of the body. It stands to reason that, just as our stomachs or our livers have “good” and “bad” days (depending on how we ate, slept, hydrated, stressed, etc…) that our skin would also have “good” and “bad” days. Is this true? And what does a “good skin day” mean versus a “bad skin day” to you? Is there anything we can do--in the moment--if we are experiencing a “bad skin day”?

MT: Our body is such a miracle isn’t it! The body (skin included) is an ever-changing, dynamic organism. It is affected by the environment we live in, the food we eat, and by our emotions. In our body, every part depends on all the other parts for proper function. Nothing is separate and this includes the mind-body connection. Our skin and face are a hundred percent a reflection of the internal workings of our body and mind. And yes, today your skin may look all smooth and glowing and tomorrow it may be irritated or extra dry. Simply reflecting what’s going on inside.

I think you have a choice to look at your skin communicating as bad or good, a curse or a blessing. It is up to you. And here we can come back to our skin care product choices for a moment. On a ‘bad day’, will you choose to support your skin in healing or will you shut it up with a strong product just so you don’t see what’s going on?

SR: What can we do—on a daily basis—to have more “good skin” days?

MT: We sometimes don’t want to hear this, but the foundation of our skin care comes from the inside, so it starts with diet, lifestyle and contentment within. When you are experiencing a ‘bad skin’ day, simply acknowledging that your body is working through those few extra glasses of red wine that you had with your friends on the weekend and being ok with it is a great approach. Maybe a little bit more water, a lighter meal and an early bed will be all that you need on that day. Don’t assume that you must treat it with some new product right away. So to have more “good skin” days, be good to your body.

SR: When it comes to extracting pimples, is there a “right” way to do it? Or should we always leave it to a professional, like you?

MT: I think in most cases it is best to leave it to a professional.

SR: Are exfoliants EVER ok? What if we want to slough off dry skin? Is anything "gritty" a no-no?

MT: It really depends on your skin and the product you are using. Sometimes exfoliation is beneficial and sometimes not at all. The problem with exfoliation usually arises when we choose abrasive products and use them very often. This approach creates all sorts of skin problems starting with a disrupted skin microflora and inflammation. When you think exfoliation always remember that gentle is best. And once a week will normally be enough. Forget apricot scrubs, sugar scrubs and anything that feels like sand on your skin. These are too harsh and will damage your skin. In my opinion, soft exfoliants made with ingredients like oatmeal, almonds and skin supporting herbs work best. This is what I use in my treatment room and on my own skin. It really is about common sense. If you have sensitive, inflammation-prone skin, the last thing you need is an abrasive exfoliant. It will scratch your delicate skin and make it more red and more irritated. It will definitely add to your problem and not alleviate it. However, if your skin isn’t sensitive but rather dry and lackluster then a gentle plant-based exfoliant will be very helpful in sloughing off the dry skin.

SR: What is the most common skin complaint you get in your work from people who are looking to improve the look and feel of their skin?

MT: The most common complaints that clients come to me with are skin changes due to aging and skin redness and irritation.

SR: What do we NEED to know about our skin?

MT: Your skin is alive, it’s a complex communicating system, your protection and the medium for experiencing pleasure… it works hard for you so please listen to it, be gentle with it and enjoy living in it. Make sure to have it professionally assessed to help you make more informed skin care choices.

SR: You offer the most amazing facial I have ever experienced! I am curious, how often should people get a facial?

MT: Thank you Sarah! It really depends on the individual and on how you want to structure your facial treatments as part of your self-care practice. In some cases, monthly sessions are necessary. I have a few clients who come weekly because they love the results and find my treatments highly nurturing and supportive to their overall well-being. I also have clients who come quarterly and I have a few whom I see once a year on their birthday.

SR: Can people with cystic acne benefit from a facial? If their skin is very painful, can they still have a good experience?

MT: Yes and yes but to be honest, I don’t usually work with serious acne cases. Most chronic skin conditions are a systemic problem that require a solid commitment and patience from the individual. Since we are still in a mode of quick fixes, it’s often a challenge.

SR: Everywhere we turn, we see ads for battling wrinkles, fine lines, crepey skin, sagging skin, enlarged pores, redness, acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis… It seems we are bombarded by marketing to use chemical-laden products to enhance our beauty and heal our skin. Are chemicals ever a good idea for use on the skin? 

MT: Would you agree that battling yourself and your body in any way is not a very loving or effective way to go through life? Cosmetic companies are experts at tugging at women’s insecurities. They create problems (getting older is a problem according to many skin care commercials) and then they offer you solutions in the form of products or procedures.

‘Chemicals’ is a tricky word when it comes to skin care so I will say this; I strongly believe that you can not enhance/support beauty with a product which is unhealthy and creates stress for your body. I am totally devoted to green, plant-based skin care. In my treatments and products, lab engineered compounds or isolated compounds have no place.

SR: So, you always feel that nature has it right over what’s made in a laboratory...

MT: Yes! Nature is the most sophisticated laboratory that exists. We are a bit arrogant as far as our intellect goes and we may think that we know better than nature does. And again I will go back to live plant material versus dead lab created compounds. You pick…

SR: What are your thoughts on Botox, injectibles and plastic surgery to “turn back the hands of time” and improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles?

MT: First and foremost, no judgement. We all need to do our thing. Personally, I feel that an expressive and lively face is the most attractive face, wrinkles or not. Everyday in my treatment room I work with face massage to bring fluidity of expression to my client’s faces. Facial massage is wonderful at improving the health and function of facial tissues at all levels. It helps to tone, lift and sculpt the face. And as a result, the appearance of lines and wrinkles is diminished. Botox paralyses facial muscles, fillers restrict their movement, and plastic surgery may lift but that’s all. These procedures, when done correctly, produce the desired results of reducing lines and wrinkles. They also reduce expression of emotions, in effect freezing the face and they do nothing to support the health and vitality of the skin.

SR: After washing my face with your Cleansing Oil, I apply the Rosewater Mist hydrosol and then the Face Balm to moisturize my skin. I am absolutely hooked! Can you explain what hydrosol is and why we need to use it when applying oils to the skin?

MT: Hydrosols, also known as hydrolates, plant waters and floral waters, are an aqueous substance produced in the process of distillation of aromatic plant material. There are many different hydrosols which are beneficial for skin health including lavender, chamomile, cistus, immortal, neroli, etc… Many hydrosols on the market are a by-product of essential oil distillation. The superior ones come from distilleries which distill strictly to achieve the hydrosol. The end result is a fuller, more beautiful substance, like the rose hydrosol which you are using. 🙂

Moisturizing with oils, balms and hydrosols is the cleanest and healthiest way to take care of your skin. I also see it as the most effective. As you know, oils and balms don’t contain water. To moisturize our skin, we do need both water and oil. This way, we kind of mimic what our skin is doing when it produces sweat and sebum creating that perfect protective layer on our skin surface called "acid mantle". We mist cleansed skin with hydrosol and seal the moisture with a few drops of facial oil or a tiny bit of balm. Simple like that. By practicing this type of moisturizing, you avoid all the not-so-healthy ingredients which are in your regular white moisturizer. In order to combine water and oil, companies must use preservatives (bacterial growth comes with water), and since oil and water don’t mix, other undesirable ingredients come into play simply to create the product. These mostly have nothing to offer to your skin.

SR: We ALL want to look and feel younger. What are your tips for achieving younger-looking skin and what advice would you give your younger self?

Understand that you are made of what you eat, drink and think. So make wise choices. When I was twenty, I could get away with little self-care. Today it is a different story. A few late nights, lack of movement, poor food choices, some extra stress and I automatically look it. Make a point to know your skin a bit better and choose your products wisely. Be cautious of the ‘anti-aging’ products. Many are filled with harsh ingredients which will strip and irritate your skin. And most of all, don’t let the beauty industry and its advertising play a number on your head.

Rather than fighting wars with your aging skin, embrace the process and treat your skin to fewer but highly nourishing plant based products. And get a regular face massage! There are many highly effective face massage techniques which will bring vibrance to your skin and will lift and sculpt your face.

What advice would I give to my younger self? Out of all the questions you have asked me, this one is the most challenging to answer. I think I would tell my younger self that what others think of me and how they see me does not matter at all, but how I see myself and what I think of myself determines my life story.

SR: I know your wait list for a facial treatment is verrrrry long, and with good reason. You are the BEST! What can we do, at home, in the meantime or if we don’t live in your neck of the woods?

MT: How you care for your skin at home is very important. Consequently you have a major impact on the health of your skin and vitality of your face. Using an oil on your skin may sound counterintuitive at the moment but please give it a try. I have so many clients who dropped their white fancy creams and are using my seemingly simple plant based facial oils and balms. Many say that their skin has been transformed. It is worth you trying.

Make product application a mindful process. For example, when you wash your face in the evening, mentally let go of stress and any unpleasant experiences from your day. You will be surprised what this little practice can do for you.

Adding the application of a GuaSha tool to your daily skin care practice can be of great value. I hold monthly "Lift & Gift" classes and teach clients how to use GuaSha for healthier vibrant skin. All proceeds go to the Interval House of Ottawa. #womensupportingwomen

Ultimately being joyful is the best cosmetic there is. Experiencing more joy comes partly from accepting and enjoying every stage of life and feeling good in your own skin. Ayurveda says that Beauty is the highest level of Health. I live by that!

SR: Ok...last question before I let you get back to work! I LOVE my Woman Divine silk pillow case! Tell me why they are better for our skin than cotton?

MT: I had a client today who bought her silk pillowcase a few months back and told me that now she always travels with her pillowcase. I hear this all the time. The truth is that once you start sleeping on silk, that’s it!  Why? Silk is slippery and smooth and it won’t crease and wrinkle your skin. Unlike cotton, it will not soak up the natural oils which your skin produces or your night oils or creams which you apply before bed. This is particularly interesting to those of us who use oils for moisturizing. Our silk pillowcase stays stain-free and all the precious oils stay on our skin as we intended. Your silk pillowcase will keep your hair smooth and will prevent hair tangling. Clients who tend to overheat at night report that they find it cooling. Note that when I’m talking about silk pillowcases, I’m referring to the long-strand mulberry silk which has never been dyed in harmful chemicals. There is a lot of fake silk on the market, so please be vigilant and careful with what you purchase.

SR: Thank you so much for taking the time to help us understand our skin better and how to best nurture and nourish it!

MT: Thank you Sarah for your interest in my work and for your generous support!


I hope you have enjoyed learning more about ways to care for your skin. I know I have! I connect so strongly with Magdalena's approach, whereby our skin is a reflection of what's going on inside of us and that caring for it in ways that align with our values is a conscious process, built on respect.

Since using Magdalena's products, my skin has never looked or felt better, and I feel incredibly grateful to have this advocate for health right here in my city. I highly encourage you to follow Magdalena on Facebook and Instagram, as her posts always inspire me to care for my skin from the inside out...and the outside in.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

P.S. If you’d like to prioritize your health in all sorts of ways, perhaps you’d like to sign up for my 14 Days of Wellness! Enter your name and email address up on the right to begin receiving the messages today. It’s free, with no diets, products, challenges or catches…just a chance to remember how amazing you are...for 14 days.

P.P.S. Registration is NOW OPEN for my “One Bite At A Time” Group Coaching Program. Click here to learn more. If you like what you see, we will set up a phone call to ensure we are a good fit for one another. The next group starts on Monday, March 18th, 2019. If you want to TRULY change the way you feel about yourself and your body, then I am confident I am the coach to help you achieve your goals.

P.P.P.S. Speaking of your body, on May 4th and 5th, 2019, Roger and I are hosting The Healthy Brain and Body Show for our THIRD year! We are so excited to bring this show back even bigger and better! We would love to see you there as an attendee, where we have so much we want to share with you. We can’t wait to explore, connect, learn and shop at the show WITH you! Please say hello if you come. Roger and I will both be there the entire weekend. It would be a thrill to meet you. 🙂


P.P.P.P.S. Let’s be friends! I’d love to connect on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. Plus, if you haven’t already subscribed to my blog, you should! That way, you won’t miss anything. Plus, as a thank you for joining, you will receive my 14 Days of Wellness. 


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