Ayanna Denise Skin makes small-batch products using natural ingredients. Photograph by Justine Williams at Lou Design Studio.

A PLEASANT BRITISH VOICE plays softly on the speakers, leading me in meditation as I prepare for a facial at Ayanna Denise Skin, in Albuquerque. “Pay attention to all the places your body comes in contact with the earth,” the voice urges. “Take a deep breath in and hold it at the top of your inhale. Now exhale, and let it all go.”

I lie back in a pillowy chair, and a steamer bathes my face in moisture that smells faintly of warm essential oils. “What do you eat for breakfast?” asks Ayanna Freeman, the founder of the skin clinic and a line of skin-care products. She’s trying to get a better sense of my relationship with my skin. “Do you drink coffee? What do you use on your skin in the morning? What do you use at night?”

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A former fashion designer for Dillard’s who taught design in India, Freeman traveled to places like Japan, Brazil, Hong Kong, and Malaysia, absorbing knowledge about plant medicine, homeopathic remedies, and Ayurvedic practices. She’s borrowed bits from these ancient healing methods to inform her holistic and inclusive approach. 

“Once you understand your skin as an organ, you can truly take care of it,” she says. “You just have to learn to communicate with it.” 

That means a skin-care routine starts with diet and habits such as exercise and managing stress. She also suggests rinsing your face with cool water every morning. “The cooler the water, the better,” Freeman says. “It wakes up the skin and perks it up.” 

Freeman makes her own products in small batches, with natural ingredients like raspberry seeds, tea tree oil, and rosehip oil. Her simple three-step daily process consists of a cleanser, toner, and SPF moisturizer. 

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Her raw honey cleanser helps to reverse inflammation and blemishes such as acne and scrapes, while the toner, made with apple cider vinegar, provides a natural astringent that balances the skin’s pH level. “It helps cells calm down and release tension,” she says. An application of coconut oil lotion, which has antibacterial properties, offers gentle yet productive cleansing while moisturizing the skin. “Skin cells can absorb the fat in coconut oil, which makes them plump and happy,” she says. 

Freeman’s in-person appointments are offered on Fridays and Saturdays, with safety protocols in place. Virtual skin consultations can be scheduled online. “There is so much stress the skin processes on a daily basis,” she says. “Now more than ever, it is the time to care for yourself, weekly, daily, consistently.”

Ayanna Freeman PortraitAyanna Freeman takes a holistic and inclusive approach to skin care. Photograph courtesy of Core Visual.

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Ayanna Freeman offers three tips for helping your skin glow through the winter.

  1. Use butters. “Our skin changes in colder weather because of the lack of moisture in the air. You need to get butters on your skin. It could be a shea butter or cocoa butter.” But don’t just look at the pretty packaging, she advises. “You have to read ingredients and pay attention.” Many oils and butters contain mineral oils or petroleum that can feel heavy or worse. “They form a layer over your skin, which makes it impossible for your pores to breathe.”

  2. Avoid products with alcohol. “If there is alcohol in it, stay away,” Freeman says. “The worst thing you can do is get any lotion that contains a lot of perfume, because the alcohol dries your skin.”

  3. Watch your diet. “You need to have lots of water in your system and make sure you’re eating things like seeds.” She recommends pumpkin and sunflower seeds, because they are packed with vitamin E. “This also goes for topical products. I always recommend anything with vitamin E, which would be sunflower oil, jojoba oil, and coconut oil.”

Ayanna Denise Skin, 6800 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Suite D, Albuquerque.