Subject Matters — Skincare with Lyftaal
I first learned about Lyftaal when owner and founder, Jani de Koker, asked met to get on board with creative direction and building a new online platform for them. I was delighted to learn more of this little sanctuary in the heart of the winelands.
At that time I had just started using Esse Skincare and I felt stuck not knowing any spa's that stocked and used Esse for treatments, and so it happenend that Lyftaal was the very best answer to my need. What really filled me with awe is how they have created a space that embodies their vision and values from the waiting room to the healthy treat after your treatment. It's all in the details, and it is woven into every part of the experience.
I remember so clearly how I sat in the waiting room thinking "I wish I can just escape to this space every day." Lyftaal radiates an air of serenity that caught me off guard in my world filled with busy-ness and it soon became my favorite place for a treatment, a touch of calm or simply to just learn from their holistic approach to all things skincare.
Today we chat to Jani about skincare, sun protection and a few other things in between.
Follow along in our conversation below.
When you visit Lyftaal for the first time for a facial treatment, you first consult with your client instead of diving right in, what is important for you to know and why is this important for you before you start your treatment?
I do it this way for two reasons: firstly, to connect with our clients and let them feel that we value them as a person; and secondly to find out what their expectations are regarding their treatment and visit to Lyftaal. When it comes to our facial treatments, we do a detailed holistic analysis of their lifestyle and skin care history in order to establish their basic majority skin type and skin condition. Lifestyle contributes mainly to extrinsic aging and various ever-changing skin conditions. It is important for us to know exactly how the client feels about their skin and how they ‘see’ themselves, which often may not resemble their true skin reality. To summarise, we don’t believe in quick fixes but rather promote a gentle, preventative approach when it comes to skin care. At the end of the day our focus is to help our clients establish a realistic expectation regarding their salon-home care, and to plan an individually tailored program that will contribute to the FUTURE HEALTH of their skin.
Most of us know our skin type, like we know our blood type — do you believe in classifying skin in different types and if not, why?
I don’t believe in labelling the skin the old-fashioned way e.g. dry, oily, combination or sensitive. Not to mention the unrealistic classification known as a ‘normal’ skin type – after all, who decided what ‘normal’ looks like? The Florence Barrett-Hill skin classification is a more realistic classification of our skin types in general. It is based on three basic majority skin types that we are born with, i.e. the predisposition to be oily, lipid-dry or sensitive (but not necessarily reactive).
We should always remember that our skin is a living organ. At any given time, your skin could display a wide spectrum of skin conditions that are ever changing due to your work-play-lifestyle. This is why we have to take extra special care of our protective layer and ‘listen’ to our bodies and skin by analysing its needs regularly and adapting our skin care routine and professional treatments accordingly.
We know that touch therapy is an essential part of treatments at Lyftaal, can you explain what this is and why it is so important?
As therapists, we have the privilege to touch people, and to make them feel nurtured. Touch is such a precious tool and one of the most vital ways of communication, but sophisticated culture made us more aware of our bodies and therefore more inhibited - because of this, we tend to touch each other less.
Through my work I’ve come to realise that more people than we realise are actually starved of physical touch. This is quite alarming, as it has been scientifically established that touch promotes healthy physical behaviour and contributes to mental and social development. This is one of the reasons why we incorporate our own version of touch therapy at Lyftaal - our aim is to make it part of ALL our treatments even if just for a second.
The other important reason for promoting touch therapy is to take our clients out of their heads into their bodies. These days, people are generally out of touch with their bodies. We are constantly rushing, and it is as if our head (mind) and body are two different entities – often, our bodies run on auto-pilot! By touching our clients in a subtle way from head to toe, without making them uncomfortable or self-conscious, we help them to make the connection subconsciously, leaving them more balanced and recharged.
What is your advice for the best way to protect our skin from our beloved African sun?
Apart from applying a broad-spectrum SPF, add a sunhat, protective clothing and UV-block polarized sunglasses when you step outside. It is essential to invest in a CANSA-approved sunhat. The Emthunzini brand has a beautiful selection - try to choose a hat that covers your face, neck and décolleté.
During the summer holidays when you are likely spending longer hours outside than usual, add an anti-oxidant boost serum to your skin care routine and take an additional complete anti-oxidant supplement. This will help to minimise the harmful effects of the sun by reducing free radical damage from the inside and out.
Remember, sun exposure is important for maintaining healthy vitamin D levels (the vitamin that keeps us HAPPY and our bones healthy). We need approximately 20 minutes of midday sun exposure 3-4 times a week. An area the size of your forearm needs to be exposed without sunblock. Avoid placing your face in direct line of fire to achieve this - the skin on the face tends to hyper-pigment more quickly and pigmentation is one of the toughest skin conditions to treat.
Finding a good non-toxic sunscreen has been quite a journey for us Glow girls, do you have any advice what to look out for or any recommend local brands?
Firstly, there is no need for a SPF higher than 30. The chemical sunscreen ingredients usually only increase with very little added protection. A broad-spectrum SPF between 15-30 with added anti-oxidants is more than enough. Re-application every 2 hours is essential when you are swimming or spending longer hours outside.
The reflective agents in sunscreen give you the most protection e.g. Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. Unfortunately, these compounds can also make the skin appear white or grey, but we have a solution for that! Colorescience has a tinted Brush-On Sunscreen Powder that is lovely to apply over your sunscreen - it controls the shine, diminishes the whiteness caused by the reflective agents and gives you added protection.
Invest in a cream or lotion-based sunscreen. These offer the best protection; unfortunately transparent spray-on liquid sunscreens often do not offer adequate protection. Our favourite non-toxic brands are Sunumbra and the Oh-Lief sunscreen range.
We all love a good home-made remedy and keeping things affordable and simple, but is coconut oil really as magical for our skin as they say?
My first instinctive answer to this very controversial question is NO, please practise with caution. Coconut oil is not all bad; it is just that there are better alternatives when it comes to skin care. My reason for saying this is that as a full time practising beauty therapist specialising in facials, I’ve seen that skin with a tendency towards underlying congestion and breakouts don’t do well with daily use of coconut oil.
It can trigger breakouts and especially underlying congestion, mainly due to the fact that it is a saturated fatty acid and therefore very low in Omega 3 and 6, which are polyunsaturated fatty acids. The skin recognises oils with high Omega 3 and 6 levels better, as our skins’ natural sebum are predominantly composed of lipids high in linoleic acid (Omega 6).
However, coconut oil can definitely be used by individuals who have no tendency to acne or underlying congestion and it is very high in Lauric Acid which makes it an excellent anti-septic, anti-inflammatory and moisturising agent to name a few.
One of the brands that you use at Lyftaal, ESSE, is known to be the only local skincare range containing pro-biotics. Why is this so beneficial for our skin?
Probiotic microbes live naturally on and in the skin, orchestrating optimal skin functioning. Without these microbes the skin ages. ESSE creates an environment on the skin that favours the growth of these beneficial microbes. They use prebiotics, as well as organic and natural ingredients that are mainly derived from African plants and essential oils to create formulations that achieve this goal.
One of our favourite things about ESSE is that they don’t believe in damaging the skin to achieve short-term results but rather keeping the skin healthy to slow ageing in the long-term. The brand is known for its breakthrough research in keeping the probiotic microbes alive and capable of growth. For instance, even two years after production, the ESSE Probiotic Serum contains more than 1 billion live probiotics p/ml.
What do you teach your daughter with regards to skincare and what skincare ‘mistakes’ did you make as a child that you wish to guide her away from?
I teach her most importantly that our skin is a reflection of what’s happening inside our bodies, especially our gut health. This doesn’t only refer to what we eat but also what we think and feel. Emotional health and being gentle with yourself as an individual is also key and our skin reflects this.
Never go to bed without cleansing your skin and be cautious of the sun, especially at the time of menstruation when vitamin A levels in the blood fall and we have less resistance against the damaging effects of the UV-rays.
A mistake that I made as a young, naïve beauty therapist was exposing my skin to unnecessary harsh facial procedures when I didn’t actually need it, rather keep your skin healthy by sticking to the basics: natural, organic products which gently cleanses, a simple moisturiser and non-toxic SPF.
Treasure your authentic skin health and beauty, and never underestimate the importance of (beauty) sleep.
Do you believe that we can ‘over care’ for our skin?
Yes, definitely, especially when it comes to our cleansing and exfoliating regimes. The use of a gentle creamy cleanser on a daily basis is a better option than using a gel cleanser that tends to strip the skin of its natural moisturising oils (which is our skin’s first barrier of defence against external factors). I’m very old-fashioned and still believe in using a warm face cloth to wash/wipe your skin after using your cleanser. It ensures that you leave no trace of cleanser and gives you a daily (very mild) exfoliation. You can even cleanse your skin in the morning with a warm face cloth without using your cleanser, thereby keeping your skin’s natural oils intact.
I also feel strongly that the use of peels and exfoliators should be kept to a minimum - at the most once a month. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule if you have a tendency towards excess keratinisation or any other related condition.
What is the most important change to our skin that the different seasons bring and how can we adjust our skincare ritual accordingly?
Season changes definitely influence how dry or oily our skins feels. Most people adjust their moisturiser according to the seasons. In winter they usually use a richer cream and in summer, when we tend to perspire more, a lighter cream. Another option is to add an oil-based serum for extra comfort in winter, rather than changing your moisturiser.
Something we often overlook when we clean out our cupboards from toxins is nail polish ( and remover ) — how do you approach this at Lyftaal and do you have any advice for women who love to add that shiny layer?
Unfortunately, according to my knowledge there are no 100% natural nail varnish available in South Africa. At Lyftaal we offer our clients the Spa Ritual option which have less toxic ingredients. The traditional ingredients in nail varnish are terrible hormone disruptors. Spa Ritual is vegan and free of DBP, Toluene, Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Resin.
When it comes to practising safe nail varnish removal, pure old-fashion rubbing alcohol can be used - it takes a little longer, but you get there in the end. Non-acetone removers without any fragrances added work also efficiently and are a safer option than Acetone. Some people even swear by mixing rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, grapefruit-, lemon- and sweet orange essential oils and then soaking their nails in this mixture for 5-10 minutes before rubbing their nails clean with a cotton pad.
We are excited to see local clean make up brands pop up and provide us with options that not just match the standard of synthetic make up, but excels it. What role does make up play in skincare and what do you recommend is a wise way to set about using it in a way that don’t jeopardise the hard work we put into having healthy and glowing skin?
The role that makeup plays in our skin care, apart from giving us a glowing, even complexion is added sun protection. Natural foundations usually contain titanium- and zinc oxide that are two of the best sunscreen agents, as mentioned before. Foundation can also help to make our skins feel more comfortable since it contains ingredients that assist in moisturising dry skin and controlling that unwanted shine by absorbing excess sebum on skins that present as oily.
When choosing a foundation, a mineral foundation is a safer option since it doesn’t penetrate the skin like other foundations do. The best advice for make-up users is to always make sure that you clean your skin properly before going to bed. Take your time with your cleansing routine; gently massage a cream-based makeup remover into the skin that emulsifies the make up before cleansing it off with your cleanser and a warm face cloth. Try to take a break from makeup at least once a week and if possible, as advised by Le Riche Naturals. Their recommendation is to go makeup (and skin-care product!) free for 3 days every 3 months to ‘reset’ your skin.
What is your opinion on retinol as part of a considered skin care regime? Do you ever use it or recommend it?
Definitely! Retinol is a very active form of vitamin A. Vitamin A is known as the ‘skin vitamin’. In the 1930s, it was discovered that a lack of vitamin A is the main cause of skin aging. We need the nutrient for normal skin cell functioning, but it is also very light-sensitive and, as such, easily destroyed. This is why it is wise to replenish the skin topically with vitamin A on a daily basis. Retinol improves uneven skin tone, refines skin texture, as well as reducing and improving the appearance of premature ageing and fine lines. Remember to always use sun protection when applying vitamin A in the Retinol form, as it might cause mild peeling at first.
Lyftaal is a holistic skin & body day spa situated in the very heart of the verdant town of Paarl in the Western Cape. It is their belief that true radiance and vibrant health is a result of being in tune with your body to the extent where you are able to anticipate its needs and provide a constant source of gentle and compassionate care.
Visit their website to learn more or book your treatment — www.lyftaal.co.za