oils

This is why I do it.

If you are reading this, we probably have known each other for some time. Actually, few of my clients have been gracing my life with their presence for twenty years straight. It appears we are getting old together like a married couple. Yet many clients still ask me how my work really come about.

When I look back, I can see exactly why I have chosen this path in service. I grew up with a very nurturing mom and a very sick dad.  He was suffering very much and she was doing everything she could to make it better. Long story short, food was always freshly and mindfully prepared, we drank freshly pressed carrot juice (we are talking the 1960’s so give my mama respectJ). There was an aloe plantation living on our window sill and mom was frequently preparing healing remedies for dad. She rubbed our feet and backs with essential oils when we had colds... She never took natural healing courses. Simply put she was wise from within. She applied what she had learned from her mom, relied on her intuition and definitely listened to her heart.

From my mom I have learned the beauty and value of nurturing, compassion, inner wisdom and the desire to create harmony within and without. She has also taught me about the importance of prime quality ingredients both in food and remedy preparation. 

My dad did get better by the way and was with us until my early twenties.

Dad was a master tailor and created bespoke men’s wear. He designed and made beautiful pieces of clothing, all by hand. The process required many hours of tedious work and a lot of care. People lined up for my dad’s services because he made them feel and look great and his work was of excellent quality.

From dad, I learned about unquestionable value of a handcrafted product, high quality service and about developing caring relationships with people we serve in life.

Without a doubt, my parents’ influence stands behind my strong desire to nurture and heal and to make effective botanical skin care products.  Both parents gifted me with creativity and a deep appreciation for beauty, design and creative thinking.

I will now skip my teenage years and my early twenties as I know my parents would rather I not talk about it:)

When I came to Canada, I was immediately attracted to healing modalities and studied quite a few bla bla bla…

At one point I found myself working at the beautiful Carmichael Inn and Spa in Ottawa. It was a lovely place. Because of my suggestion the owners brought in Jurlique organic skin care line, which as you know I have worked with for many years. This is how professional organic skin care started for me and actually this is how it may have started for Ottawa. It was 20 years ago!!! We are talking times when every esthetician in the city was putting toxic stuff on people’s skin…

I will always be grateful for discovering Jurlique at that time and to the Carmichael Spa for giving me the opportunity to explore the organic skin care world. Otherwise, I probably would have never transitioned my practice from massage therapy to skin care because working with toxic products was never an option for me.

Over the years I have worked along many exceptional therapists, too many to mention. I always felt lucky to be part of the natural medicine community as I never felt part of the esthetic world and until today I have a strong dislike for the beauty industry in general.

I had come to fully understand the holistic beauty approach when Ayurveda showed up in my life. I do not remember the exact timing but one of the Ayurvedic books sitting on my shelf is marked 1997. From the get go, I was taken by the deep wisdom and applicability of the science. It helped me organize in my head what I’ve always felt in my heart but had no ability to verbalize.

Rather than the superficial model of beauty promoted by the skin care industry, Ayurveda taught about Beauty being the highest level of health, the sacred aspect of female and connectedness of all living things. It all resonated deeply within me and I felt as I have finally arrived home. The name of my business, Woman Divine, was actually inspired by these teachings.  Ayurveda also brought together my studies of spirituality, herbs, oils, touch therapies and nutrition and from this point I understood that they were most powerful and most effective when applied together.

So, today here I am in my lovely studio, aloe plants on my window sill are replaced with jars of herbal infusions. I lovingly design and handcraft my skin care products and every day I get to nurture through my treatments…  many plans for the future, many creative ideas. We’ll see how it all unfolds but one thing is for sure, without you none of this would even make sense. There would be no treatments, no products to make. I can understand now that we do find happiness in service to others and this is the greatest gift I could have gotten from my parents.

Magdalena

Woman Divine and my beloved oils featured in the Ottawa Citizen

Woman Divine's Magdalena Tomczak unveils the power of oil

JANET WILSON
More from Janet Wilson

Published on: November 5, 2014 / Last Updated: November 6, 2014 4:26 PM EST

Magdalena Tomczak, owner of Woman Divine, makes her own skincare line depending on the person's skin type.  Jean Levac / Ottawa Citizen

Magdalena Tomczak, owner of Woman Divine, makes her own skincare line depending on the person's skin type.

Jean Levac / Ottawa Citizen

Magdalena Tomczak looks intently at my face, scanning for blemishes while running her fingertips across my cheekbones and forehead. I nod when she asks whether I have a headache.

“I can see it on your face, the stress around your eyes,” says the holistic skin therapist and aromatherapist. “For each client, I make an individual blend from my staples based on what is appropriate, based on your skin on any given day.”

Tomczak plucks ingredients — her handmade concoctions in pretty glass bottles of varying sizes — from a nearby counter to use in my face massage. She is a master at judging skin types and curtailing the treatment to fix any issue.

“Vegetable oils and essential oils are very effective skin remedies and form the base of the majority of organic skincare products you find on the market today.

“They definitely are indispensable in my practice,” says Tomczak, whose welcoming Westboro spa is called Woman Divine (womandivine.ca)

As the cold weather sets in, I’m here to get a lesson on oils.

Growing up in Poland, Tomczak says it was not uncommon for her mother to get monthly half-hour face massages.

“Sadly, training in North America focuses more on product application than massage.”

“It is an old European remedy for aging skin and has played a prominent role in the Eastern practice of Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. Face massage is the No. 1 aging preventative technique,” she says.

Nutrient-rich oils provide a pleasing lubrication during a face massage and hydration for those with dry skin.

Tomczak says massage helps to carry the oils with all of their benefits deep into the skin. With so many skincare products to choose from, she recommends you keep it simple and purchase only quality products or even make your own.

“It is good to get creams from someone who knows what they are doing. Base oil on its own is a great way to start and has plenty to offer. If you want to make your own concoction for every teaspoon of vegetable oil, only add a few drops of essential oil.”

In recent years, argan oil has been hailed as liquid gold and a miracle cure for a host of skin conditions. It has also spelled big business for the beauty industry. Rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, pure argan oil (harvested from the nut of an argania spinosa tree) was used by Moroccan women to hydrate their skin and to fight the effects of the relentless desert sun. It is said to reduce inflammation, minimize wrinkles and treat acne.

Tomczak began practising holistic skincare in 1996 and opened her business in 2008, merging her background in massage therapy, aromatherapy, herbal medicine and nutrition.

For my treatment, she used a gentle blend of “solar-infused” chamomile flowers in jojoba oil with a touch of argan oil to treat my slightly sensitive skin.

She explained that her flower concoction was made over a period of eight weeks with exposure to the sun and moonlight and stirred daily.

“Chamomile is soothing for both the skin and the nervous system. Since you have mentioned you were stressed, I felt this would be a nice one to use. The chamomile flowers I used are from a local organic herb grower and a lovely lady — Judy of Judy’s Organic Herbs. Both the jojoba and argan oils are organic cold-pressed and unrefined, keeping things simple, effective and beautiful.

“A lot of love goes into making infusions like this one.”

Before purchasing essential oils, Tomczak recommends checking labels for the Latin name and meaning and choosing oils made from organic or wild-crafted plants.

“There are often many species of the same plant. Oils produced from each species are different in their biochemical composition, which determines the healing properties of each oil.”

One of her favourite ingredients is organic sunflower oil from Les Huiles d’Amérique, a farm outside of Montreal.

“I use this oil in my treatments and in few of my formulas. It is one of the ingredients in my face balm. I also use it in my kitchen. It is very tasty.”

Another item she says everyone should own is a silk pillow, which keeps the face fresh and aids in your sleep. “Cotton tugs and sucks the moisture from the delicate skin on your face and neck.

“When you think of the health of your skin, remember that your body has basic needs: good food, sleep, fresh air and exercise. We need to be kind to ourselves.”

THE ART OF OILS WORKSHOP

What: Magdalena Tomczak explores oils and shows how to select the ones that are right for you.
When & where: Dec. 1, 6 p.m. / Woman Divine, 351 Churchill Ave. N.
Price: $20

613-216-7676 or email info@womandivine.ca

Magdalena Tomczak offers custom-tailored essential and vegetable oil formulas designed for the face, body, hair, feet, hands or bath.  Jean Levac / Ottawa Citizen

Magdalena Tomczak offers custom-tailored essential and vegetable oil formulas designed for the face, body, hair, feet, hands or bath.

Jean Levac / Ottawa Citizen

Oils

1. Vegetable oil

Yes, you could cook with it. Oils pressed from unrefined and organic seeds and nuts, such as argan, sunflower and camellia, have been used on the skin around the world for centuries and have been picking up steam in North America over the past decade. “Oil is full of vitamins A, E, D and K as well as essential fatty acids.”

2. Essential oils

Known as the most concentrated form of herbal medicine, essential oils are produced by the process of distillation to get the essence of the plants. Essential oils offer impressive healing possibilities in skincare in balancing, regenerating, astringent, antiseptic and soothing action and protection of the skin, Tomczak says. “Some of the most lovely oils for the skin and for skin-cell regeneration are carrot oil and frankincense.”

Oils & skin types

DRY SKIN

Base oil: 
Rose hip, argan

Essential oil: 
Carrot seed, rosewood

COMBO SKIN (dry and oily)

Base oil: 
Sunflower, jojoba, camilla

Essential oil: 
Chamomile, ylang ylang

OILY SKIN

Base oil: 
Grape seed oil, jojoba

Essential oil: 
Lavender, rosemary