How’s your skin looking underneath that mask? Natural skincare formulator Jo Klassen on the effect stress can have on our skin and what we can do about it
I was born and raised in London and lived a hectic city life. I became a young single mum holding down a 9-5 job with a dream to move to the countryside.
That dream came true when I turned 40, but it was also a difficult transition to make because I was moving as an empty nester.
I am now happily married to my Canadian husband who I met online. I have 10 wonderful grandchildren and I get to make gorgeous soap and skincare for a living! It’s never too late to start over and make something wonderful happen.
I started Nudge Boutique in late 2018. Prior to this, I was working as a relationship trainer and counselling therapist. I was running my own company specialising in breaking unhealthy dating and relationship patterns. I ran workshops and provided one to one counselling therapy. Before that I was PA/secretary and fitness instructor.
From fitness instructor to counselling therapist, you can say that I have always been attracted to the health and wellbeing market and this has heavily influenced my approach to starting a beauty brand.
After spending almost two decades offering counselling support to women who struggle with their self-image, I felt a strong sense of responsibility to ensure that my beauty brand would empower women, rather than incite any fears and insecurities about appearance and ageing.
The beauty industry has a strong anti-ageing market, but it also has a long history of underrepresenting women over 40 who no longer feel as motivated to buy a product designed to prevent ageing.
Emerging beauty brands are in a unique position to help meet their needs and create a positive view about beauty in ageing. This is where Nudge Boutique comes in. My brand represents women who are growing comfortable in their own skin and who would rather focus on feeling good and looking their best.
Secondly, we all know that spending time out in nature has a restorative effect on our mind, body and soul. Sometimes, it is all the nudge that we need to remember that our health and well-being matter and deserve our time and attention. Hence the name for the brand!
I also give a portion of my profits to the ‘Love Me, Love My Face’ Foundation, a charity set up to build self-esteem in children born with Treacher Collins syndrome, a condition that affects the development of bones and other tissues of the face. It is dear to my heart, as my grandson was born with this condition.
When it was announced that we were going into lock down, it felt like I was entering an apocalyptic event. It was scary and confusing, but I found focus in joining other soap makers to hand-make soap and donate to those in need or as a gift to front line workers.
Before lockdown, much of my focus was on attending local craft and gift fairs. Despite whatever fears I had about how the lockdown was going to affect my business, I quickly adapted and started developing my online presence.
I thought ‘how else could Nudge help bring a little sunshine into other people’s lives during this dark and scary time?’ So, I offered personal gift sets for customers to send to others to let them know they were thinking of them. Due to my customers choosing to support local, Nudge is still here and going from strength to strength.
For many people continued heightened stress levels will eventually show up in their skin.
It may appear more oily or drier than usual. Stress can also make the skin more sensitive or aggravate other skin conditions such psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. Unfortunately, wearing a mask can also cause these issues too.
I focus on making products for drier skin and hair and enjoy creating waterless products and plastic free ranges.
As I use only plant based and plant derived ingredients, our products are also vegan friendly. It is also important to me that I include locally sourced ingredients in my formulations. For my launch range, I developed two products using locally sourced Norfolk Saffron. We use the spice to infuse Saffron Glow Facial Oil Serum, and we upcycle the leftover crocus flower to create a refreshing facial mask: the Saffron Glow Cleansing Clay Mask. I believe we are the first in the UK to upcycle saffron petals!
I’ve recently formulated our body butter to include locally sourced cold pressed rapeseed oil and this ingredient will feature in our soap range, too.
Another popular product is our shampoo tabs. These are sulphate free, so are very gentle on the hair and scalp.
Many of us feel a bit in the dark about the perimenopause and menopause, and we do not always make the connection between this ‘season’ and our skin concerns.
The most common complaint is drier skin and an acceleration in skin ageing. I think knowing what to expect can help normalise this stage of our life and give us the tools we need to respond to our skin’s needs.
At Nudge I am always thinking about how we can implement eco-friendly values. At present, I use recyclable and plastic free packaging and avoid non-biodegradable ingredients in our formulations.
I support local economies and reduce carbon footprint by choosing local ingredients and suppliers, where possible, and upcycle saffron petals, an underused natural resource.
I sell reusable cleansing pads made by local artisans; choose organic ingredients and naturally derived ingredients that are non-toxic to humans and the environment; avoid the use of over-resourced ingredients such as palm oil and choose not to use mica due to child labour exploitation; and I support a UK based charity that changes the way we view beauty for those born with facial differences. We are also a cruelty free brand and vegan friendly!
I am currently getting ready to release my range of artisan handmade natural soaps and soon to be adding a gorgeous new product to our Saffron Glow range.
I have more plans to create zero waste products and it would be nice to open up a little boutique somewhere, so that we can house all of these lovely products and create a beautiful space for people to visit and feel pampered!
Four ways to take care of your skin, when you’re in your 40s and 50s:
Protect and nourish. If you are noticing that your skin is becoming thinner and drier, you can help strengthen the skin’s barrier by using an oil-based product, as this helps prevent water loss and keep the skin nourished for longer.
Exfoliate. Skin cell turnover slows down as we age, and this can lead to clogged pores and dull skin, which can prevent your skincare products working properly. Regular cleansing and exfoliation allow new skin cells to come to the surface and help the skin appear brighter and softer.
Beauty nutrition. Antioxidants can help the skin repair itself, so eating lots of foods naturally high in antioxidants such as fruits and veggies, can help your skin repair from the inside out and slow down premature ageing of the skin. Don’t forget, whatever you eat for skin health will benefit your body in other ways too!
Lifestyle. Self-care rituals are extremely important at a time when our hormones are disrupting our sleep patterns, causing emotional turmoil and impacting our skin. Simple things like a long soak in the tub or taking a 15 minute walk can do wonders for our sense of wellbeing, which is always a good skin tonic!