Tobias Kahrmann • Ecotrophologist, expert in natural cosmetics and blogger

Tobias Kahrmann is an ecotrophologist, knows his way around the world of oils, wild plants and medicinal herbs and is passionate about writing about them on his blog . In an interview with Sonja, he told many exciting things about natural facial care and revealed how pure moisture can be obtained from an aloe vera leaf.

One question first: where does your passion for natural cosmetics come from?

When I was 18/19, I suffered badly from acne and unfortunately the treatment took a lot out of my skin at the time. So I started to look more into skin care and cosmetics to bring my skin back into balance. Organic food and natural substances were important to me even then, so natural cosmetics were my first choice. A few years later I attended a wild herb course in which we made a very simple chamomile ointment from oil and beeswax. I was amazed at how easy it was to do skin care at home and I looked it up on the internet and in books and tried out a lot. Since then I have been passionate about ingredients, skin care, medicinal plants, fatty oils and essential oils. There is so much to discover! I still like to do some of my cosmetics myself.

Summer is just around the corner (hooray!). Natural oils are great care products, but are not recommended as sole sun protection. Why?

Vegetable oils can do a lot for our skin and for me they represent the heart of good natural cosmetics. They can do a lot - but not everything. Unfortunately, I keep reading on the Internet that certain oils are advertised for their natural sun protection factor. That may be true under laboratory conditions, but 1. this SPF would be very low, 2. it doesn't cover the entire UV spectrum and 3. when it comes to sun protection, the amount applied is always important. In addition, cold-pressed vegetable oils contain many unsaturated fatty acids and sensitive fat by-products, which are destroyed by UV radiation or converted into degradation substances that are harmful to the skin. Vegetable oils can strengthen and nourish the skin, but they are not a substitute for sun protection.

What do you recommend for skin protection against harmful UV radiation?

For me, sun protection consists of several elements:

  • Avoid strong midday sun and (too) long stays in the sun
  • Depending on the skin type, take into account the skin's own protection time (15-60 minutes) and do not exceed it
  • if possible, wear sunglasses, a hat and protective clothing
  • Apply sunscreen – enough or adapted to being in the sun (unfortunately, most people don’t use enough sunscreen – it should be at least twice the amount of day cream)

Natural cosmetics Sun creams had a bad reputation until a few years ago because they were usually much greasy and left a white film on the skin. Fortunately, this has changed and there are now many great products on the market for a wide variety of needs: SPF 15-50+, with and without fragrance, tinted, as a light fluid... There is a good chance that you will find a product that suits you Find. Here it helps to read a few test reports in advance in order to get a first impression ( Tobias blog post • Natural cosmetics sunscreen in the test ).

You are a declared fan of wild rose/rosehip seed face oil. What makes it so valuable to you?

Wild rose or rosehip seed oil is in itself a real small package of active ingredients, packed with valuable essential fatty acids (lots of omega 3 & 6!) and great fat-accompanying substances (carotenoids, vitamin E). Personally, it has always helped me a lot with impurities and inflammation, preferably mixed with the soothing and protective jojoba oil. I have sensitive skin and tend to need fewer and reduced skin care products. I find it exciting that wild rose oil also supports dry and sallow skin in its regeneration. It's been one of my absolute favorite oils for a very long time!

"Body oils clog the pores of the skin over time." This rumor persists. What do you say?

Depending on the skin type and condition, very greasy and/or incorrect care can promote impurities and pimples. It always depends on the oil and the amount. Essentially, vegetable oils are suitable for all skin types and conditions. For oily skin, “light” oils (such as grapeseed or hemp oil) are recommended, while dry skin requires more protection in the form of oils and fats rich in saturated fatty acids (such as shea or cocoa butter).

Our skin changes over the course of life and also with the seasons. Personal lifestyle, diet, stress, hormones - everything can more or less play a role and should be considered alongside skin care. 

Anyone who changes their care routine from creams & Co. to oils and hydrolates sometimes finds their skin too dry at first. How do you get used to it more easily?

Moisture is a big keyword here! Unfortunately, fat alone is not enough for skin care, because "dry skin" is always dehydrated skin. A toner (e.g. in the form of a pure plant water/hydrolate) is mandatory for me, I like to add a light (homemade) hyaluron serum for even more moisture. Then I apply an oil that locks in the moisture well.

When changing your care routine, I always recommend approaching it step by step to avoid frustration and disappointment. If the changes are too sudden, the skin can react with redness, impurities and dryness. So it's best not to replace all the products at once, but gradually integrate them into your routine. And be patient, because the skin needs a few weeks to adjust.

Your ultimate tip when your skin needs a real moisture boost?

Aloe vera! Nothing beats that for me. This plant is so rich in moisturizing, skin-soothing, balancing substances - no cream from the cosmetics laboratory can do that!

Ideally, you have a fresh leaf on hand, either from your own plant or from the organic market. However, there are a few things to consider when removing the gel and preparing it ( Tobias blog post • Aloe Vera ).

Alternatively, you can very well buy a high-quality aloe vera gel. Unfortunately, pure, unpreserved aloe vera gel (also called "juice") can only be kept in the refrigerator for a few days after opening - it's a fresh product. But you can freeze it very well in portions in the ice cube tray and then remove it as needed. Products with preservatives and thickening agents are more user-friendly - it is best to look for a natural cosmetics seal and trustworthy manufacturers.

“A lot helps a lot” or “less is more”: how do you feel about facial care?

For me, less is actually more, because my skin tells me very quickly when it's "too much of a good thing" again. Although “little” is probably also relative. After all, I use 5-6 different facial care products a day: only one day cream in the morning, it should be quick and that's enough for me; in the evening cleansing milk, toner, serum and oil. I just like it and it's good for my skin. I always like to take the time in the evening to take care of my face and calm down a bit. When I'm outside more in the summer, I still use sunscreen during the day.

Ultimately, however, it always comes down to your own needs and habits. Some people like it quick and uncomplicated - preferably just one cream and that's it. Others, on the other hand, love variety and like to try something out. However, nobody should feel compelled to use a large number of products just because the advertising suggests so. I always say: "Get to know your skin, find out what is good for it and what you like." For me, that has a lot to do with dealing with yourself, paying attention to your own needs, and taking your time to take for yourself. Skin care can also be a form of self-care.

Thank you Tobias for the interview

Interview from April 2021

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