It is with great pleasure that I bring to you today an interview – and an exclusive giveaway, see after the interview – with Aromatherapist and Natural Skin Expert Audra James. Audra has over 15 years of experience and has put her knowledge to clever use, developing her own range of products. Having used her products many times before, I can attest and say they are of true quality.
Read on below to find out more about Audra’s natural range and the meaning behind Bespoke skin care.
Can you please tell us the story behind your brand?
First of all thank you for asking me to do this.
It all started 20 years ago when I was working as a corporate trainer for a large media corporation and was asked to create a training course on stress management. I found a book on aromatherapy by the late Madame Micheline Arcier who was a pioneer in using aromatherapy as a legitimate therapy and I was hooked! I loved the fact that essential oils could be used for so many things and then went onto study clinical aromatherapy.
I pretty soon built up a very busy clinic in Sydney, Australia treating stress related conditions and then the demand grew for natural skin solutions at a time when natural skincare wasn’t very mainstream. Formulating blends for clients on a daily basis really gives you the kind of experience that no book or training course can do. You learn what works, what doesn’t and how to use the right ingredients in the right concentrations to get very effective results.
I’ve formulated products for thousands of clients over the years as well as for other skincare companies. My products are all still made to order which means that they are not sitting on a shelf somewhere being affected by heat and light which can destroy the effectiveness of the active ingredients.
What exactly does Bespoke mean? What does it involve?
Bespoke is really the cornerstone of what a trained aromatherapist does. Because each person is an individual – creating products that suit each individual works incredibly well. Bespoke means formulating a one off product for an individual. This usually starts with a questionnaire or a consultation if the client is able to do that.
From that, information is gathered to create a specific product that works for that person. Our Bespoke service can be used for skincare, stress and women’s health and there is also a natural Bespoke perfume service for people who may have allergies or who want their own signature perfume. People love the idea of having something that no one else has! It’s also something quite unique as very few therapists are qualified to formulate in this way, so there is obviously quite a demand.
What can clients expect from an appointment with you?
Firstly quite a lengthy consultation as it’s important to determine the reason for the treatment. That allows me to individualise the treatment for each client. For example if a client is having skin problems due to stress I would definitely want to address that in the treatment as it would be pointless not to do so. Each treatment is also Bespoke so it does depend on what the client needs on that day.
Generally most of my treatments are organic facials where I customise products during the treatment once I can see what the problem is. It’s never one size fits all! Facials involve lots of gentle but effective cleansing at a deep level but it’s important not to dry the skin out when doing this. After compressing to lift trapped dirt from pores I would then go on to create a custom blended facial oil and use lots of facial massage in the treatment. Facial massage really helps address a number of skin problems. It stimulates circulation, tones and helps reduce puffiness – as well as relaxing any facial tension.
We tend to hold a lot of tension in the facial muscles, particularly the jaw area so it’s important to work on that. Women in particular also tend to hold a lot of tension in the upper chest area so again, I would spend time massaging that area to free it up. It can be quite amazing as sometimes before you even go near the face, the client starts to feel much more relaxed and this has immediate benefits on the face. I would then create a face mask to suit the clients skin and finish off with cooler compresses once the mask has been removed. I also show clients the correct way to cleanse and look after their skin and offer plenty of lifestyle tips. One thing I never do is then try and sell products at the time of the treatment – I think it’s important to enjoy the treatment and the benefits without feeling you are being pressured to purchase. I then email clients a day or two later with product suggestions.
In your opinion, why do you prefer oils over lotions?
Basically oils are the purest way to deliver essential nutrients to the skin and that helps to give it a glow and radiance – which is the reason why they have become so popular recently. The right plant oils do not make skin oilier – in fact the opposite is true and they are excellent at rebalancing all skin types (even oily skins) and have fabulous anti-ageing benefits. Because they formulated without water – which most creams and lotions are – they don’t need synthetic preservatives so you are essentially getting a very concentrated product that can target specific concerns quickly.
What does your daily beauty regime consist of?
My daily beauty regime starts with a glass of warm water with fresh lemon squeezed into it followed by some meditation (even 10 minutes) before I start my day. I cleanse my skin in the morning using SkinSpa which is a blend of essential oils for compressing the skin – after this I apply a facial oil to my face and massage that in for 1-2 minutes.
I then hit the shower – using a few essential oils in the base to wake me up – at the moment Orange, Spearmint + Sicilian Lime are favourites. After this I apply a body oil – this is something I’ve done for the last 20 years. It gives amazing skin softening benefits – and I always include an essential oil formula that either relaxes me or uplifts me. All of this takes no more than a few minutes and it’s a fabulous way to start the day. I keep my skin hydrated throughout the day by spritzing with Rose Geranium Facial Mist – this can be applied over makeup but if I’m working from home and not seeing clients I do go makeup free.
In the evening I do a double cleanse with Skin Cleansing System and either Skin Cleansing Oil or Skin Cleansing Balm and then apply my Overnight Facial Oil – again massaging that into the skin for a few minutes. The essential oils in this are also relaxing so help me to sleep well. I do give myself a weekly facial which consists of cleansing, compressing, facial massage using a facial oil and a treatment mask. I use the products for this from my Skin Pack. I always love to make time in the evening for a relaxing aromatherapy bath if I can – either using one from the Therapie range or I mix and blend something just for me! My beauty regime has to make me feel good as well as look good.
What are your best selling products?
Definitely the skin care and I would say the Skin Packs – these contain everything you need for a complete natural skin care regime and include directions for using them in the morning and evening as well as for giving yourself a weekly facial which includes my facial massage technique.
Cleansers also sell very well – lots of people have realised that using an oil based creamy cleanser works much better as it doesn’t strip your skin of it’s natural oils. After that anything for stress! Deep Relax Therapie Oil would be our best selling product for that. The Baby and Pregnancy range has also become very popular – especially the Newborn Baby Oil and Nipple Balm!
Do you have any beauty/lifestyle tips to share?
Yes, meditation! I started meditating over 20 years ago and the effects are incredible. I always encourage clients to take it up. Sounds like a cliché but beauty really does come from within. You can use numerous products on your skin but if you are stressed, not sleeping well and not eating well – then you wont see the benefits. I also love juicing as fresh juices do have numerous benefits for the skin and wellbeing. However, I’m probably not particular a fan of juice fasting as such – I always believe that it’s best to do something on a daily basis than something drastic. So adding a daily juice to is a great way to do that.
As far as beauty tips are concerned – my mantra is always: Complicated products = confused skin – it makes sense really. Years ago women usually just used one product on their skin and we really didn’t see the type of skin problems that exist today. I think stress and lifestyle play a huge part but at the end of the day if skin is reactive it’s the body’s way of telling you to be gentle and get it back into balance. I just can’t agree with doing harsh treatments and using multiple products on skin that is already problematic. Sadly this can often lead to other skin problems such as sensitivity. I’ve had so many clients who tell me over the years that the less they do to the skin, the better it looks.
Unfortunately, we’ve been conditioned into believing there is a magic treatment or product that will cause skin problems to vanish overnight – unfortunately that isn’t the case. It’s almost always a case of making some small dietary changes, incorporating some stress management rituals into your life and choosing products that have an affinity with your skin and I believe natural high quality ingredients that are formulated in the correct amounts give you this. Our bodies always perform much better on fresh natural foods that are not over complicated and skin is exactly the same.
What does your fitness routine consist of?
I’ve been a fan of yoga for over 20 years and it’s something I incorporate daily into my life. Probably inspired by the first yoga class I ever went to and the amazing lady beside me who in her 80s was doing incredible things with her body! I also love walking. I’m not a gym person really – I prefer the fresh air and the fact that it allows me to have time to myself and clear my head. I also love dance, so need to get back to my Zumba sometime soon!
What is your favourite treatment to have done?
I do love a true aroma therapeutic massage with a therapist trained to do that. Sadly many clinics and spas offer a Swedish massage with some pre blended oils which is not the same thing at all. A real aromatherapy massage has incredible relaxation benefits and when combined with custom blended treatment oils for you really helps to re-balance the body and mind and combat stress.
I’m also a fan of acupuncture and certainly if I am feeling run down or need a boost that’s where I would turn. However, I do understand not everyone can have regular treatments so I’m a huge fan of at home spa treatments. In particular aroma therapeutic baths and incorporating essential oils into your daily life so that you can turn everyday routines such as showering into a mini spa treatment . Again, it’s about doing something on a daily basis to look after yourself and give yourself a little bit of ‘me’ time – this is especially important for women as most of us tend to find it difficult to do this. So I always say to clients – if you think you haven’t got time for a daily aromatherapy bath then you definitely need one!
What’s next on the horizon for Audra James Botanicals?
It’s very exciting times – just over 18 months ago I started with one product in my new range – now there are over 40 and this is purely and simply due to client demand. I now have customers worldwide as well as all over Australia who come back time and time again and re order as they’re so happy with the effect that the products have on their skin as well as the way they make them feel.
I hope to finish a book I’ve been writing (for far too long!) on managing stress and to really develop the link between stress, emotions and skin – both in my treatments and new products. I’ve also just released a new limited Edition Summer Facial Oil which is something I’ll continue to do for each season.
We thank Audra very much for her time. Audra has been most kind to offer to readers a chance to win one of her Bespoke facial oils – valued at $65.00, formulated just for you!
For your chance to win, leave a short comment below describing which of Audra’s treatments (see online) you’d most love to experience and why. Make sure you use a valid email address so we can contact you if you are a lucky winner.
For more information on Audra, visit http://audrajames.com/index.htm
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