Interview: Herbalist Shares Natural Skincare Secrets

Today I’m interviewing Victoria Ratmanova, creator of the organic natural skincare line Yerbavita. Victoria is a beautiful and multi-passionate woman and entrepreneur who is dedicated to maintaining and promoting a healthy and harmonious lifestyle. Below, she shares her own personal story along with some useful tips for a healthy, vibrant complexion.

Q. Victoria, please tell our readers a little about yourself and how you came to create your own brand of organic skin care products.

A. I was born in Ukraine and now live with my partner and daughter in Amsterdam, Netherlands. In 2009 I graduated from the Natural Healing Institute of Naturopathy in California as a Master Herbalist. Upon returning to Amsterdam I started my own business in natural cosmetics called Yerbavita.

I’ve been using herbs in my daily life in food and cosmetics and for healing since childhood. But my inspiration was my granny, babushka Nadya. She was a beautiful woman and looked after herself naturally. She used to mash fresh blackberries and put them on her face or slice cold cucumber and place a few pieces under her eyes and on the eye lids. If I got sunburn, she would apply chilled pulp of seabuckthorn berries or full fat yogurt to my skin, and I would heal overnight.  Of course, we should not forget that 30-50 years ago average women in the former Soviet union didn’t have any access to conventional cosmetics. They used the ingredients they could find in their kitchens or gardens. Thanks to this, our grannies still kept a basic knowledge of herbs and natural ways to beautify and heal. During my time at the Natural Healing Institute, I was already making cosmetics, healing salves, and infused oils for myself, my family, and my friends. I got positive, inspiring feedback from people who used my products, which then led me to the idea of creating my own line of organic natural cosmetics.

Q. Is natural skin care your main focus? Why go natural?

A. I guess my focus is much broader. Making natural skin care products is only a part of my passion.  The idea is to live a healthy lifestyle using natural resources. Here I’m talking not only about natural cosmetics, but also growing your own food, eating natural and organic, creating a home using natural, sustainable sources. It’s challenging in today’s society, but not impossible. So, creating a natural living environment is my passion.

Why go natural? Because it’s healthy, fun, creative, and in the long run, cheaper! It’s not a secret that big cosmetic companies are continuing to use synthetic and petrochemical ingredients in personal care products. Pick up any bottle of lotion, cream, or shampoo in your house right now and see what the ingredients are.  Google stuff like parabens and mineral oils, and you will understand why it’s safer and healthier to opt for natural  and organic cosmetics.

For example, mineral oil is the main ingredient in baby oil, Vaseline (petroleum jelly),  liquid soap, and lotions.  Manufacturers can buy it very inexpensively and it will not spoil.The problem is that mineral oil is foreign to the human body and has many harmful effects, especially in infants.

Q. What are some tips and recommendations you’d like to share with our readers?

A. I have a few. First, I advise you to read product labels carefully. Don’t be misled by the word natural. There may be only 5% natural ingredients in a product and the rest are synthetic .

Second, when starting to use a new product always do a patch test on the inner part of your arm to check for allergies. It can be that the product is natural and organic but your body still reacts to one of the ingredients in it. Similar to foods, people may have allergies to strawberries, citrus fruits, or wheat, for example.

Avoid using fats and butters such as coconut, cacao, or shea alone on the face and around the eyes. The skin is quite delicate there and those fats are too heavy and tend to clog pores or produce acne. You can apply  them all over your body, just avoid the face area.

Finally, before going to sleep I always recommend applying serums or light oils that penetrate the skin easily. Creams can be too heavy. Your skin should breathe; night time is for rest, healing, and rejuvenation.

Q. What are the most essential steps in skin care?

A. Just remember the mantra: cleanse, tone, moisturize.

Q. What are some of your favorite natural ingredients?

A. Sea buckthorn. It alleviates sunburn, promotes cell rejuvenation, and has excellent pain- and stress- relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.

Vitamin E.  This  excellent antioxidant protects against the destruction of the connective tissue caused by free radicals; it also nourishes and heals the skin. It’s a great ingredient that benefits all skin types. It can be added to oils with high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids: rosehip, evening primrose, borage, or hemp, for example. Vitamin E will prolong the oil’s shelf life and make the oil more stable.

Lavender essential oil. It’s relaxing, calming, promotes healing, and alleviates sunburns. It should be diluted with vegetable oil when applying to skin.  Mix 100 ml of vegetable oil and 15 drops of lavender to create a lovely, relaxing bath oil.

Victoria has graciously agreed to write a monthly column here on Cultivating Style – so stay tuned! If you have any questions for her, send us an email or post on our Facebook page, and she will be sure to answer in her post.


5 responses to “Interview: Herbalist Shares Natural Skincare Secrets

  1. I really enjoyed this, Victoria is a woman after my own heart! I’ve never tried sea buckthorn, great to hear about new things & look forward to her column very much!!!

    • Thank you Miki. Sea buckthorn is absolutely amazing, I can testify to that! And the trick of full fat yogurt or sour cream for sunburn works like a charm. If you have any questions for Victoria or want her to cover a particular topic, please let us know!

  2. Victoria, do you have a suggestion for a skin tonic that isn’t drying?
    Also wondering if you have a list of essential essential oils to keep around the house?

    • Miki, thank you for your question! Below is Victoria’s answer (I’m posting for her as she is currently on vacation with limited internet access):
      “Hi Miki,
      The idea of the toner is to astringe, to close the pores & to tone the skin. I would go for an organic flower water/ hydrolate such as Rose. It is great for all skin types and helps to balance the skin. Adding a few drops of natural moisturizers such as aloe vera/vegetable glycerine/hyaluronic acid or raw honey helps to achieve the required result.
      P.s. careful with raw honey, some people can be allergic to it.

      My top 5 essential oils for use in cosmetics:
      1. Lavender – number one choice to use on minor burns and skin problems.
      It is calming to the nerves and can assist with depression. It’s a good analgesic for muscular aches as well as rheumatism and arthritis.

      2. Neroli- Very delicate and suited to more mature skin (over 35!) as it tones the skin and helps to reduce wrinkles. Helps with scars and stretch marks. Neroli balances sebum production so is a great choice for oily skin as well as dry skin.

      3. Rose – a very sensual oil, it awakens sense of love and self care . For all skin types but especially helping with dry skin, mature skin, wrinkles and broken capillaries.

      4. Frangipani – Adds a stunningly beautiful fragrance to skin creams and lotions whilst being emotionally uplifting. It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant skin refreshing properties.

      5. Sandalwood – A great oil for rehydrating skin and giving a radiant glow to the skin. Even though it rehydrates dry skin, it also has an astringent effect so tones the skin and makes it firmer. Works well with oily skin, scars, acne and eczema.

      Of course, there are more oils with healing properties that I love to use on daily basis eg.Frankincense, Jasmine, Fragonia etc. Every oil has its unique character and property. I always say ” make contact with the oil before using it and feel what it can do for you…you’ll be amazed how much more the oil may offer to you personally, beyond simple description!”

  3. Pingback: Herbalist Answers Skincare Qustions: Best Toner and Essential Oils | Cultivating Style·

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