“Skin care works on not just the physical level. It starts internally, with food and products made with the right intention.”
-- Tammy Whitaker-Howard
Skin is the largest organ of the body. So how you treat your skin matters on many levels. We checked in with Esthetician Tammy Whitaker-Howard on how to think about caring for your skin throughout your life. She shared ideas that may guide the products you use, the food you eat, how you move, and how you connect to yourself, to others, and to your spirituality.
Her beauty plan is truly more than skin-deep--and it works.
A LIFE RADIATING BEAUTY
Esthetician Tammy Whitaker-Howard is a skincare expert with a life-long love of taking care of her skin.
“Skincare regimens are near and dear to my heart…” Tammy says, noting that she started skincare at a very young age. “It’s been in me since I was born, with natural progressions. My sisters would giggle at me. In 7th or 8th grade I used to ask my mom for products that... I wouldn’t use now! But I was looking for things that worked, that were simple, that had a holisticness.”
Tammy recently turned 40, but she radiates beauty in part because she has been prepping her skin in her 20s to benefit herself now.
We asked her, as many people do, “How do you stay looking so young and so beautiful?”
She thoughtfully responds, “By being very connected to my spiritual self. I feel like my meditation practice and being connected to myself and my spiritual self has really slowed the process of aging.”
She adds, “Also, I’m very in tune to what I eat.”
While she has a long history as an esthetician and is working on formulating her own line of skincare products, Tammy’s main focus today is spiritual growth and coaching.
She developed a deep spiritual practice around yoga, and her life completely changed as she became a yoga teacher and a trainer.
A former Division I athlete, Tammy is working on creating a space for new and veteran yoga teachers that would serve as a mentorship program for anyone looking to reassess their teaching. She wants to help other yogis address their newness as a yoga teacher.
She recognizes that any growth journey will look different for everyone so she helps guide, “whatever it looks like for them.” She most enjoys guiding other people in their own journeys toward more holistic lifestyles and plant-based living.
Her journey has been one that shifted from conventional ways of thinking about skin and beauty products to a more natural, plant-based approach to living. She seeks to consume in a way that benefits everyone -- physical, mentally, spiritually, energetically.
EATING WITH INTENTION
Tammy’s interest in natural, holistic, vegan skincare started in her journey with food. She began eating no land-based animals in 2004, became vegetarian around 2016, and has become vegan. Now she says, “I think holistically. A very healthy-eating lifestyle turned into paying more attention to what I put on my skin, into my body, and what I'm consuming on a physical level.”She’s quick to say, “I love cookies, great vegan ice cream or a vegan burger — it’s a balance to allow myself to live and be in the moment, not restricting myself from anything.” She said this approach has allowed her to stay healthy and whole. “Whole foods are the biggest driver of how you feel energetically, emotionally,” she says.
Tammy said, "I've always really had a deep connection, an innate connection to my food. Eating live, fresh plant-based food 90% of the time is so nourishing - it will bring life and vitality and vigor into your body." She says, “Cleaning out the inside radiates into our outer world and our reality.”
She emphasized that if you are a meat eater, she understands and it certainly doesn’t make you wrong or a bad person. She sees nourishment as a path of the internal and working within your body’s system to make everything else work like a well-oiled machine.
Tammy advocates for slowing down the progression of selecting, preparing, and eating food. She says she feels best when she meditates and is not in an overly stressed mode, with her mind going a mile a minute, then picking up something to soothe herself. She says inner tools can serve this purpose, if you only learn to listen to your body with whatever you eat.
SKINCARE WITH INTENTION
Early in her skincare career, Tammy worked at a Med Spa that did chemical peeling, then one that formulated its own products. This sparked fascination in her -- she loved getting her hands on product development while finding first hand, “this is working” or “this isn’t working.”
Yet, she said, she knew at that time that she would eventually move out of the Med Spa world, given the overproduction of products and what we fill them with.
Tammy emphasizes, “Skin care works on not just the physical level. It starts internally, with food and products made with the right intention. What we really need to make sure we’re doing is cleansing, nourishing, hydrating and protecting.”
TAMMY’S TOP THREE SKINCARE TIPS
She loves experimenting with herbs, nettles, and ingredients like ashwagandha. She also delves into formulating clay for masks, cleansing and hydrating. She says, “I'm into using oils and light moisturizers. Hydrosols. Really simple.”
First thing in the morning, she recommends a simple beautiful ritual of awakening, getting up and splashing your face with water, no soap, and rinsing with a hydrosol of rosewater, lavender, calendula, or turmeric.
She starts her morning in an Ayurvedic way, with oil pulling and tongue scraping, rinsing with lemon water with turmeric or cayenne. Tongue scraping is much as it sounds-- scraping the tongue first thing with stainless steel or copper tongue scraper. Oil pulling is traditionally done 5 minutes swishing oil in the mouth then spitting it out. You can use sesame oil, coconut oil or olive oil, based on what your body tolerates best. Then you can rinse with saltwater and brush your teeth.
Tammy says of oil pulling, “It’s an amazing tool to have in your holistic toolbox. When I do it, it makes my skin extremely bright -- I can tell it pulls toxins out of my body. It makes a huge difference.”
Most recently Tammy has been experimenting with creating hyaluronic acid from collagen powder. Hyaluronic acid promotes healthy, supple skin among a host of other benefits.
Tammy has been on a quest to find products and herbs that, from the inside, activate the elastic collagen in skin and hair. That’s what led her to Almeda’s Encarna.
Tammy says, “Holy cow the Encarna! I really wanted to find a liquid form of collagen.... Encarna is it!” She adds, “It also has MSM that I like -- so great for your body.”
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) naturally exists in animals, humans, and many plants. People apply MSM to the skin for scar tissue or stretch marks, wind or sun burn, wrinkles, and Rosacea, among other issues.
Tammy says an added benefit is that taking Encarna has supported her spiritual practice, and her ability to sit in meditation longer. “Encarna really transformed and upped my meditation game. it gets me a little further into my meditation. It’s liquid gold,” she says. She takes Encarna then mason jar of water.
However, Encarna’s not the only Almeda product that Tammy loves. She’s a big fan of Kasvi.
Tammy says, “Kasvi is my life. I drink a Kasvi latte all day, every day… well, at least two times a day. Oh my god, it’s insane, it’s so creamy… I sit on my couch and think, This is life! Kasvi has made my morning. Life has begun now.”
She also likes the Kasvi Cacao blended with spinach, berries, and almond milk as a smoothie. Or on its own or with coffee as a latte.
Tammy says, “Cacao is my jam for the latte. I whisk it up with oat milk or a coconut milk creamer. I might put it into coffee every once in a while. I had two this morning. So good. Crazy good!” She laughs.
ON HOLISTIC LIVING
Tammy recommends everyone find a way to keep peace within themselves, especially during challenging times. She recommends waking up with a ritual and a sense of higher connection. This alone has transformed Tammy’s spiritual life in recent months.
She says, “Connect with yourself. Know yourself on a spiritual level. So when you find yourself in uncharted waters, you've done enough to recognize that and be with it for a day. You don't have to unpack and sit with an emotion for months -- learn to move it through and move on using the tools that you have.” She says that means cultivating an awareness that “This is happening, this is how I’m feeling. What’s the trigger, what’s helping or not.” She also advocates finding a therapist or a strong spiritual mentor who can help at times.
She says that finding wholeness is key. Whether it’s skincare or nutrition, Tammy suggests you tap into the essence of what food and nature give us... working from the inside out.
* * * *
Follow Tammy on her Instagram account at @wild_lavender_botanicals.