Toronto folk who like treating themselves and stuff! Have you taken a trip to Province Apothecary yet?

Province Apothecary is an organic aromatherapy skincare company with a storefront on Dundas West (near Dufferin) and a skincare clinic around the corner where they offer custom facial treatments, as well as brow and lash services. They also sell their oil-based skincare products, such as cleansers, acne spot treatments, brow growth serums, face exfoliants and more both at their Toronto location and at retailers across Canada.

I chatted with Province Apothecary’s senior holistic aesthetician and wellness blogger Cassandra Bradshaw to learn more about their services, as well as her advice on maintaining a natural skincare regime. Keep on readin’ on.

SDTC: Winter’s coming! What tips and tricks would you recommend to protect skin from the forthcoming cold?

CB: Hydration is key! Aim to drink 3L+ of water daily. Layering is an effective tool at preventing dryness and dehydration as well. I recommend layering a moisturizer or face balm over top of an oil serum for best results. I like to use a couple sprays of our Invigorating + Balancing Toner, followed by our Rejuvenating + Hydrating Face Serum and a small amount of our Protecting + Restoring Face Balm. I oil cleanse year round, but it’s especially beneficial during the winter as it’s deeply nourishing and balancing.

What part of your skincare regime can you share with our readers?

My all-time favourite DIY recipe is a simple coffee body scrub. Use finely ground coffee beans, mix in some melted coconut oil and add a few drops of your favourite essential oil or some fresh herbs like lavender or rosemary. I add enough coconut oil to cover the coffee grinds and mix completely, until it forms a thick, oily paste. This can be used in the shower and is especially great after shaving! It’s deeply moisturizing, reduces cellulite and brightens the skin.

What are the benefits of natural skincare vs. traditional?

Natural skincare does not contain harmful ingredients. Our products support the body’s natural ability to heal itself. We also source ingredients that are as local as possible, leading the way in sustainable skincare. We use organic, wild crafted and biodynamic ingredients to balance and nourish the skin. Traditional skincare products are filled with hard-to-understand ingredient names and harsh synthetics. These wreck havoc on the natural functions of our skin and trick our skin into acting differently. I believe the key is to understand how your skin functions normally and support that to the best of your ability. We’re keen on educating our clients on how to adapt and customize their skincare routines so they feel confident in addressing any concerns that may pop up!

What are your natural skincare secrets for gorgeous skin?

Dry brushing! A magical tool to soften, brighten and tone the skin. It’s a gentle exfoliant that stimulates lymphatic drainage, thus improving the elimination of toxins. Another important tip is to simply love the skin you’re in. No matter what concerns may arise, be sure to send love to your skin daily. Thoughts are things, and the more negativity you throw at your face, the more issues will manifest. Tell your pimples you love them and will help them heal. Call me crazy, but you have to try it first.

What should one’s morning, day and night all-natural skincare routine look like?

That depends on the person and their specific skin type, concerns and lifestyle. In general, I recommend oil cleansing, toning and using a face serum + eye serum twice daily. I recommend exfoliating every three days, using a face mask once or twice weekly, and incorporating dry brushing into your routine. If needed, use a spot treatment like our Clear Skin Advanced. As mentioned above, layer your products as needed.

Walk us through what a day as a holistic aesthetician looks like.

Each team member has a different role and different daily tasks. For me, I generally open and close the skincare clinic. I start my day by cleaning the space and putting essential oils in our diffuser. I look at my schedule of clients for the day and prepare my treatment room accordingly. I usually service 5 to 7 clients per day, ranging from brow shaping to custom facial treatments. I break for lunch, and I like to spend this time outdoors if possible. Throughout the day I check my e-mails, send follow-ups after first-time facial clients, and respond to client queries. After my clients are serviced, I clean the space again and head home (or to a yoga class at Octopus Garden).

You used to be a makeup artist and now personally opt for a makeup-free look. How did becoming a holistic aesthetician play into this decision? What changes have you noticed in your skin?

I became a holistic aesthetician for PA while still working full-time as a makeup artist. It was during this time that I was trying to sort myself out and come to terms with the new passion that was slowly taking over my life. I had taken an herbal workshop with Julie (the owner of PA) and that sparked my interest in holistic skincare products. I started making my own body scrubs, facial steams and cleansing oils. From there, I taught myself more about the ingredients found in mainstream, synthetic and chemical-laden skincare and makeup products. I began to question what the world was accepting as “healthy” beauty products. I started to wonder why we chose to cover up our flaws and insecurities, instead of trying to heal them completely. I realized that I was working in a profession that suppressed issues instead of uncovering and dealing with them.

My mind really began to shift when I healed myself of many health issues by adjusting to a whole foods, plant-based diet. I noticed the effect that what I put in my body had, and I really questioned what I was putting on my body as well. That’s when I decided I could no longer put poison on my face and the faces of others. I didn’t want to harm my clients, and I knew the makeup I was putting on them was toxic and unnecessary.

I then realized my passion to make others feel beautiful and happy was valid, but I was going about it all wrong. I quit my corporate makeup job and pursued working with PA exclusively. Since then, I have noticed HUGE improvements in my skin and my clients’ skin. I haven’t worn a stitch of makeup in a year and a half, and I couldn’t be more pleased. I feel confident, radiant and beautiful bare-faced!

I am ever so grateful that I can be a helpful part in the process of my clients’ feeling gorgeous in their own skin as well. I have had countless clients tell me that their goal is to feel like they “don’t need to wear makeup anymore.” I’ve truly found my career here at PA.

Follow Province Apothecary on Instagram and Twitter at @provinceapothecary, and on Facebook.