Whenever I start a conversation about “toxins” lurking in skincare, I never fail to mention that the biggest threats to our health and the health and quality of our skin are found not inside a jar of cream, but in the very air we breathe. All of us, but especially the city dwellers, are constantly bombarded by a daily assault of environmental toxins, electromagnetic radiation, UV rays, smog and, not insignificantly, negative emotions. It’s no wonder then that products promising to protect our skin from these airborne, environmental aggressors are among the fastest growing categories in skincare. The problem? More often than not, these products either repackage the same ingredients they have always used (occasionally good ones) as “anti-pollution” and jack up the price of the products or contain a number of filler, schlock ingredients so iffy that they could well counteract whatever benefits there may be derived from the anti-pollution actives. The Solution? Enter the new Atmosphériques Anti-Pollution Skincare range from de Mamiel.
Regular HH readers know that de Mamiel is one of my all-time favorite brands and I adore everything about it. De Mamiel’s founder radiates positivity, joy, passion and love and is the best possible mixture of esoteric and thoroughly grounded and practical; its products perform flawlessly (the Englishman calls the de Mamiel Altitude Oil “witchcraft“), while providing an utterly exquisite sensory experience; its packaging is elegant and luxurious. All that aside, one of the things that sets de Mamiel apart is that this is a brand that is geared towards not only healing the skin, but also the spirit. I have tremendous respect and admiration for Annee de Mamiel’s process and the care she puts into each product (if you want to learn more about her unique approach, then read on for an awesome interview with Annee) and this care and passion are reflected in Atmospheriques. Each product in the line is special, targeted, effective and feels like an indulgent experience and each is designed to make city living that much easier.
Exhale Daily Hydrating Nectar. Even before anti-pollution skincare became all the range, every skincare expert agreed that the best way to prevent skin aging is by using sun protection, so it’s no wonder that a daily SPF moisturizer became a staple of the Atmospheriques range. The Nectar is a tinted SPF moisturizer, which protects the skin with physical UV filters (zinc and titanium oxides) and powerfully antioxidant ingredients like raspberry seed oil, Quercetin and Prickly Pear seed oil. It also helps increase hydration with hyaluronic acid, aids skin repair with avocado extract, calms inflammation with blackcurrant seed and balloon vine extract and contains a proprietary blend of plant and herbal extracts, essential oils and flower essences to help the skin and the mind. de Mamiel’s ingredient lists can sometimes read like a journal of a medieval herbalist, so full they are of unusual and rare plants and flowers, yet each ingredient is chosen thoughtfully and with reference to rigorous scientific research. For example, the cheerful-sounding balloon vine has been shown in several studies to contain powerful anti-inflammatory components and to be an excellent natural remedy for eczema.
Of course, none of those fancy ingredients matter if the product doesn’t actually perform. The Hydrating Nectar performs beautifully. A silken, rich cream, it feels comforting and lush on the skin, giving a dewy finish, evening skin tone and blurring imperfections. It also provided ample sun protection when I wore it in nearly 100 F weather and blazing sunshine during three days spent at Disney World. Applied over bare skin or some oil it absorbs with perfect ease. When I layered it over the Antioxidant Elixir, the La Bella Figura Crema Supernova and and oil, it took a few seconds to rub into the skin, but it still absorbed fully, with no pilling or textural weirdness. Now, this is a tinted moisturizer, not a foundation, so you shouldn’t expect full coverage. The Nectar will not camouflage blemishes or acne, but rather help improve the overall look of the skin. The only other caveat that I would give is that it does contain fractionated coconut oil, so if you are particularly sensitive to the ingredient, I would suggest testing a sample to make sure you don’t have a reaction.
Ed. Note: Unfortunately, due to a third party screw-up, De Mamiel had not obtained proper FDA certification for the SPF. As the result, they had to pull the product from US distribution until they either repackage to remove references to SPF or go through the time-consuming and costly certification process. Sadly, the certification issue also means you cannot order it from the UK. Fingers crossed this gets resolved soon, because I canNOT run out.
Pure Calm Cleansing Dew. You all know how cleanser-obsessed I am, so you can imagine my glee when I learned that Atmospheriques was going to include an emulsifying cleansing oil. Like every other product in the range, the Cleansing Dew does much more than its stated function: aside from cleansing, it also soothes inflammation and scavenges free radicals (“free radical scavenging”, by the way, is another way of describing antioxidant activity, lest you start having visions of Star Wars characters lurking inside cleanser bottles), while the exquisite scent and luscious texture provide a moment of calm and indulgence at the end of the day. And oh! that texture! I often say that I prefer balm cleansers to oils because they offer a better “grip”, which makes them better for facial massage, while also offering a deeper and more satisfying cleanse. The Cleansing Dew is much more thick and viscous than a typical oil and feels like liquid silk – I love the feel of it on my skin and it feels substantial enough for the most vigorous of facial massages.
The fact that the Cleansing Dew is an emulsifying oil makes it much more convenient to use, but I still prefer to wipe it off with a cloth. It helps that the de Mamiel Cleansing Cloth is, no lie, the most luxurious and effective I have ever used. Normally, I find cleansing cloths to be a bit of a waste and use simple washcloths, since they are completely adequate for removing cleanser and providing gentle exfoliation, but the de Mamiel cloth is to those washcloths as a Lamborghini is to a Prius. It’s thick and luxurious, with one side an almost microfiber-like, angel-soft cotton velour and the other, gently exfoliating muslin that has just the right level of scrubbiness. Sadly, I couldn’t take a picture of mine because I have loved and used it into a state not appropriate for public display, but take my word for it: it’s a worthy indulgence.
But back to that emulsification. Although Cleansing Dew does emulsify and rinse off, I find that it leaves a light layer of oil on the skin. So my personal preference for wiping cleansers off aside, I think if your skin is on the oilier/acne-prone side, you might want to consider wiping this cleanser off or following it up with a light foaming or enzyme cleanser. It’s what I have been doing, although I think that light layer of oil will be quite welcome in winter, when my skin gets extra-dry.
I have subjected the Cleansing Dew to pretty rigorous testing: removing a face full of makeup, as well as an extremely thick layer of Raw Elements tinted sunblock, i.e. the thickest, most waterproof sunblock I have ever tried, which requires approximately 3 cleanses and some serious elbow grease (actual grease also doesn’t hurt) to remove. Now, my view is that cleansers like this one, featuring serious actives and sophisticated ingredients, should not be used to remove makeup, but rather as a second cleanse, so that you can get the full skincare benefits of the product (keeping in mind that unless you really use it to massage the skin for several minutes, the skincare benefits of a cleanser are going to be limited, since it usually gets rinsed off after a few seconds); but I wanted to give this one a properly thorough trial.
I first used the Cleansing Dew on its own to remove my Raw Elements sunscreen after a day on the beach. Normally, it takes me two cleanses with Josh Rosebrook’s cleansing oil that I wipe off with tissues, followed by a foaming cleanser to remove this sunscreen completely. I applied Cleansing Dew, massaged for a bit and then emulsified it with water and rinsed off – ordinarily I would remove it with a washcloth, but did not do so this time to ensure experiment purity. It completely removed the sunblock from most of my face – the only area that had some product left on it was my forehead, where I had applied an extra-thick layer. A second go with the cleanser, wiped with a cloth, would have removed it all (and that’s still one cleanse less than it usually takes). As for makeup, I used the Dew (or did I do the Dew?) to remove heavy evening makeup, wearing Gressa Foundation, Glossier concealer and highlighter, La Bella Figura blush, Armour eyeliner and a heavy layer of Alima mineral eye shadow. A single cleanse, rinsed off, removed all of the eye makeup and about 80% of the rest of the war paint.
If you don’t wear heavy sunscreen or a full face of heavy, evening makeup on a daily basis, the Cleansing Dew is the perfect cleanser to remove the day’s grime and it’s ideal as part of a double cleanse when you have to remove a lot of product. I used it every evening after the day’s (very sweaty) adventures at Disney World and it left my skin perfectly clean, while the beautiful smell immediately relaxed me and refreshed me at the same time. The Cleansing Dew has become the rare cleanser that I reach for both in the morning and at night and it’s always an absolute delight to use.
Intense Nurture Antioxidant Elixir. It’s difficult to pick a favorite in a lineup this stellar, but for me, the choice is simple: the Antioxidant Elixir is quite possible my favorite product of the last few years. Seems impossible, doesn’t it, seeing as I am trying new products on a nearly daily basis. The reason the Elixir has beaten out the competition? For starters, it has an almost magical effect on the skin. With just a few days’ use, my skin looks brighter, more supple and refreshed. The Elixir also helps protect the skin from environmental aggressors and pollution in a very real way. It’s a bit of a lucky blogger accident that I received my Atmospheriques package right before our family trip to Disney World. Although it delayed this post, it allowed me to test the products in pretty extreme conditions. As wonderful as the trip was, it was also a recipe for a skin disaster: heat, humidity, sweat, bright sun and frequent splashes of log flume ride water. I was fully expecting to look a hell of a lot worse for the wear at the end of it. Instead, my skin was calm, clear and fresh – like I spent a week at a spa, instead of partying with Mickey.
The Antioxidant Elixir is also unlike any other green beauty product I know. It’s a viscous, pale-blue serum that feels substantial, yet not heavy. It’s wonderfully refreshing in the summer, but I have also tried it in the dead of winter, when it provided a soothing layer of cushiony hydration. It also worked well under makeup and makes a wonderful nighttime serum. Basically, I have been wearing the Elixir morning, noon and night and my skin is so much the better for it. It’s packed full of all the usual suspects of superstar ingredients like prickly pear seed oil, sodium hyaluronate, elegant essential oils, as well as ceramides, ferulic and salicylic acid, but it also includes more unusual ingredients like malachite, superoxide dismutase, quercetin and marine samphire. In my view, this serum presents the culmination of Annee de Mamiel’s work and the best example of her genius as a formulator: this product combines ancient wisdom with the latest scientific research and is as sophisticated and elegant as the most expensive of conventional skincare. The only difference? The Elixir contains no filler – just skin-perfecting actives and spirit-calming essences. Do note that, like the Daily Nectar, the Elixir does contained fractionated coconut oil. I don’t think it’s likely to cause trouble for most people (fractionation changes the properties of the oil), but it’s worth mentioning for the extra-sensitive among us.
The brilliance of Annee de Mamiel is evident in her products. I only wish I had a way of sharing the delight of talking to her and getting a glimpse of her mind at work. Thankfully, I have the next best thing: my interview with Annee. And now, without further ado, here is the Mistress of de Mamiel, in her own words.
HH: What made you decide to create an environmental protection line of products? What makes Atmospheriques different and why did you decide to create an entirely new range, rather than simply add products to the Botaniques collection?
AdM: It’s all part of a grand plan to combat stress! I think each collection has its own identity and own purpose, they work harmoniously together and complement each other but standout in their own right. Botaniques is everyday skin food and about combating our everyday stress – feeding and nourishing our cells. It came straight from the treatment room – I had no boundaries as I was formulating and refining each product discovering what made the most amount of difference to people’s skin and spirit. Atmospheriques came about after being back living in a city noticing changes in my skin and my patients skin. Seeing an increased dependence on technology with HEV lights in our smart phones and tablets and reading studies of the increase in respiratory symptoms due to air quality. So, it began around external stress, what was in our immediate environment invisibly impacting our skin and the way we were feeling. Atmosphériques helps provide what is needed to repair our skin and then shield and protect it from these external forces.
It made sense as my understanding of Chinese medicine deepened and knowing the lungs and skin are so intricately linked, it all comes back to the breath. So, being able to protect the skin while allowing it to breathe was essential to creating range that helped us find our natural rhythm again. I read studies published in scientific journals and really got into my biochemistry to find a solution.
These invisible sources of pollution can penetrate deep into the cellular layers. Constant daily exposure in just small amounts effects the integrity of the skin, interfering with the normal functions of lipids, DNA and proteins and depending on the original integrity of the skin and the nature of the pollutants will determine how deeply the pollutants penetrate. So this range needed to be targeted, efficient and make a big difference.
HH: We all know that natural ingredients can be as powerful as their synthetic counterparts when it comes to hydration, calming, brightening and rejuvenating the skin, but what kind of ingredients are you using to fight environmental impact on our skin?
AdM: I wanted to choose ingredients that helped to support the skin, continue to feed it and not just cover up the issues but give it the tools to begin to mend itself. I have chosen to use the most potent natural ingredients I could find! Sourced from plant and marine life, they are phytonutrient rich, anti-inflammatory, skin firming, intensely hydrating and able to chelate heavy metals and detoxify the skin. An important aspect was to be anti-occlusive to allow the skin to breathe. I love that we are now able to extract the active components from plants (terrestrial and marine) that give us the specific and targeted ingredients which have incredible activity and were previously only available synthetically.
I am now able to use 1st and 2nd generation antioxidants to repair and protect from stressors of modern day life. 1st generation to prevent the formation of Reactive Oxygen Specisis and 2nd generation to trap the free radicals and repair. Like Quercetin which accelerates keratinocyte and fibroblasts migration to stimulate regeneration and repair and is able to induce expression of endogenous Superoxide Dismutase and Catalase enzymes thus improving the antioxidant capacity of the cell, strengthening the natural defence against free radicals and toxic compounds. Gamma Orzanol from rice bran is rich in Ferulic Acid, Superoxide Dismustase comes from yeast and chelates and breaks down heavy metals associated with things like pollution as well as both being powerful antioxidants. (Ed: I am having a nerd-gasm here!)
I loved that I could also use stones like malachite, rich in copper and zinc to support peptides. Black Currant Oil – Blackcurrant Seed Oil is rich in in Linoleic Acid (Omega 6) and g-Linolenic Acid, which stabilises the intercellular lipid lamalle (Cement) a substrate for ceramide to strengthen and regenerate the skin barrier and reduce trans epidermal water loss. It also has incredible anti inflammatory properties. Gamma Orzanol (Ferulic Acid) – powerful natural antioxidant from Rice Bran that protects the skin from free radicals damage and has anti-inflammatory properties. Phytosterols from Balloon Vine Extract inhibit phospholipase A (alternative to hydrocortisone) and cyclooxygenase-2, thus reduce inflammatory and allergic reactions
The other really important aspect in creating the products was preservation, the elixir and nectar both have water in them and to make them safe and cover a full spectrum of nasties that may grow, I chose to go for an ECOCERT approved preservative that really works. I also considered things like EWG ratings and took advice from leading experts in the field before making my selection..
HH: I love your approach to formulating skincare and the way you combine scientific knowledge with the more esoteric techniques and ingredients like flower remedies, setting intentions, using natural cycles to harvest plant ingredients, etc. Could you share a bit more of your method and how it is used in the new lineup?
AdM: I think this all comes from knowing we have different elements) to us; we are emotional beings, physical beings and cellular beings. So, for a product to resonate within us I feel all these aspects need to be addressed to give each bottle real heart and to give a truly holistic approach. Each product is still made in small batches and the blends of essential oils are created and sit maturing for several months before we use in the blends. Mindfulness is inherent in the making of each product. The essential oils sit with words of intention inscribed onto their label after being meditated over and blessed. Patiently waiting!
I tend to blend using the chemistry of essential oils so when I am sourcing I like to look at where the plants are grown, the constituent ratios, gas chromatography and all the information on that particular plant. I will formulate efficacy of the blend so I am certain every bit will contribute to results. For example while I was working on the anti oxidant elixir I looked at antioxidant values of the essential oils so they to could contribute to feeding the cells.
My process includes a blessing of thanks in grace and gratitude to all who have taken part in getting the essence to me – it is a respectful thank you and honouring of the incredible process from seed to harvest, from farm to where it is in my blending room. These essences are bursting with potential and it is important to show reverence to all of that – from Mother Earth, to the wider world, spirit and source that played a part in that gathering. A drop of bespoke flower essence goes into each product and embraces the bottle and then it is given a Reiki blessing so it leaves fully charged, vital and full of energy. This is the de Mamiel way and will always be used in each range and each product I create.
HH: I know that there is a lot of confusing and occasionally conflict advice out there on how skincare should be layered and combined. Is there a way you suggest using and layering the products and combining them with existing de Mamiel products?
AdM: I believe you should go from lightest to heaviest so in the morning I do a light cleanse, mist, serum and then day cream with SPF, if I needed some added hydration in the morning I may add 1 drop of oil to my cream. In the evening, I double cleanse using Pure Calm to remove the days grime, pollution and any make up I may have on. The second cleanse is a time to really feed the skin for which the cleansing balm is perfect. I spend 4-5 minutes properly massaging the balm in, add several squirts of my mist and massage for another 1-2 minutes. Then, using a warm face cloth take off what is left then splash your face with cold water. Follow with the elixir and then finish with the seasonal oil before bed. I never use a night cream as I want my skin to breathe during the night and not have anything to heavy on it.
HH: I am obsessed with every single product in the new range, but if you had to pick just one, must-have product that can make the biggest difference to its user, what would it be? And I’m sure it must be an impossible question for their creator, but what it is your favorite product in the lineup?
AdM: Blimey!!!!! OK … after debating this for several days in my mind I think the biggest immediate difference would have to be the Elixir! I was trialling this product at Christmas last year, when after 4 days I noticed an incredible difference in the clarity on my skin and it actually felt lifted – I was blown away and thought – “wow this really rocks!” (Ed: Ditto! Couldn’t agree more).
HH: Speaking of favorites, I am obsessed with the texture of the Elixir – it’s quite unusual for a natural product and such a pleasure to use! How did you achieve such a sophisticated texture with natural ingredients?
AdM: With much patience, lots of trial and error and great difficulty!!!!! Technology has moved on so far and there are natural ingredients now that have been tested and some fractionated which gives the same feel as silicones but completely sourced from nature. These have been certified by ECOCERT and make such an incredible difference to the texture which is so important as touch is one of our senses and we need to love that feel on our skin as we apply it.
HH: What’s next in store for de Mamiel?
AdM: Time to take a breath!!!! No, it is all a constant evolution – I am inspired by my patients and what they face and how we can work together to make a difference. So I feel my life’s work is yet to come… I have looked at external stress in Atmosphériques and how our environment impacts our skin and ageing, so next is internal stress and what that does to affect our health, skin and well being… its already in formulation!!! (Ed: This might be the most exciting thing I have heard all year?)
P.S. The very next thing is the reformulated Dewy Facial mist … I have made it to sit across both ranges using some of the anti pollution actives – I am so excited by it and I hope worth the wait!!! (Ed: Aaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!! I cannot express how excited I am about this!!! Been waiting for the Dewy Facial Mist to relaunch forever!!!)
Well, there you have it. Isn’t she wonderful? And trust me – so are these products. The world is a harsh place. Wear the right armor.
Disclosure: I am a huge fan of de Mamiel and have been buying the brand’s products for years. The Atmosperiques range has been sent to me to review and photograph (using one of my favorite urban environments – the Wynwood Walls in Miami), but I have been counting the days until its release since I first tried the samples of the products while they were still in development and I certainly would have paid for them myself. I will do so as soon as I run out of the current bottles (which is likely to be soon, based on how frequently I am using the products). No affiliate links. Oh, and if you want to buy Atmospheriques in the US, the range is currently available at Net-a-Porter and Goop, with a wider roll-out at other retailers carrying de Mamiel coming soon.