My friend, fellow blogger, and holistic skincare expert, Rachael Pontillo has a book coming out on September 3rd: Love Your Skin, Love Yourself: Achieve Beauty, Health, and Vitality from the Inside Out and Outside In. It’ll be available on both Amazon and Kindle. Considering that her skin is absolutely flawless and nothing short of amazing, I needed to find out all I could about what she is dishing in her new book.
Women with skin issues often feel like they have to hide or that there is something wrong with them. Whether the condition starts as early as adolescence, or develops later on during a pregnancy or for other reasons, it affects much more than just the skin.
Sometimes issues that accompany a skin condition are physical such as weight gain, digestive issues, systemic infection, chronic inflammation, etc. Other times, however, the issues are emotional and even spiritual. This was the case for author and coach, Rachael Pontillo. After living the majority of her life with acne, she cleared up her skin for good (and simultaneously lost 80 lbs) once she cleaned up her diet and upgraded her lifestyle. Though she looked and felt better on the outside and was healthier on the inside, she still had issues having to do with self-image and self-love. These are issues common to many women, especially those who have experienced a visible skin condition, and many feel misunderstood, alone and insecure because of it.
By incorporating simple practices into her daily routine, Rachael was able to feel beautiful, confident, and empowered—that’s what she wants her readers to experience after reading this book. By reading Love Your Skin, Love Yourself, women with skin concerns and self image issues will discover how to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Shannon: What is holistic skincare?
Rachael: I define “holistic skincare” a little differently than some other practitioners who use the term. Many aestheticians and spas consider themselves “holistic” if they use all-natural, organic products and provide non-invasive and wellness oriented services. While this is a piece of the puzzle, it isn’t the complete picture. Other practitioners like health coaches and nutritionists define holistic skincare simply as “beauty from the inside out.” Again, this is an important piece of the puzzle, but after my years of education, personal life experience, and professional experience as a health coach, aesthetician, and health and wellness writer, I’ve come to realize that both are necessary to ensure the best results. So my definition of holistic skincare is “caring for the skin from the inside out with proper nutrition and lifestyle choices and from the outside in with safe and healthy products, proper hygiene, and the right skincare regimen.
Shannon: Why did you decide to focus this book and your career on holistic skincare?
Rachael: I’ve lived more than half my life feeling ugly and insecure because of acne. I tried everything from prescription medications to over-the-counter medications, chemical peels and microdermabrasion, drugstore products, department store products, mail order products, and professional strength products. Some things worked, and many didn’t…and those that worked usually had side effects and only worked until I ran out of the product. I knew I was missing something. When I changed my diet and saw the quick and dramatic improvement in my skin, I knew I was onto something. However, based on my knowledge of the body as a whole and the skin as its barrier, I knew that the skin needs hydration and nourishment on the outside too. Plus, there are so many harmful chemicals and toxins in products and in our environment that the skin takes quite a beating. My own experience changed my life and I’ve had clients with similar life-changing experiences, and I knew that this message needed to be brought to a larger scale with this book and in my other work.
Shannon: Is holistic skincare as effective as expensive and high-tech spa and cosmetic treatments?
Rachael: Holistic skincare and conventional/medical skincare are completely different modalities—it’s like comparing apples to oranges, and the efficacy in this case is subjective. Some people consider quick and dramatic results to be effective, even if those results fade quickly and require numerous ongoing treatments to maintain and come with risks and potential side effects. Others consider long-lasting, sustainable results that can be achieved at home over time to be more effective. The efficacy of holistic skincare varies per person, since each person’s condition, current diet and lifestyle, and physical and emotional constitutions are so different. Some people do achieve quick and dramatic results like I did, and these results continue to last and my skin continues to improve years later. Others see a more gradual improvement over time, but also experience improvements in other areas of their health and lives—all of which become part of a permanent lifestyle. That being said, holistic skincare is not a quick fix for everyone…but the results are long lasting for everyone. Because of that and the fact that it doesn’t come with a laundry list of risks and side effects, I’d say it’s more effective than conventional aesthetic and cosmetic treatments and procedures.
Shannon: How is this book different from all the other skincare books out there?
Rachael: There are many great books covering the nutritional aspect of skincare, with certain diets and detox regimens that really do focus on the “inside out” piece. There are also many wonderful books covering the importance of natural skincare products, with recipes for handmade products as well as information about the effects of the chemicals in conventional products. And of course there is a myriad of self-help books that talk about transformation, lifestyle, self-esteem, finding one’s true self, and more recently, the concept of self-love. However I haven’t seen many that encompass all aspects—nutrition, lifestyle, topical skincare, and self-love—and really tell the whole story. Without all of these components, my own healing would not have been possible or sustainable.
I’ve also noticed that many holistic skincare and diet books out there tell people what to do and why to do it, but not necessarily HOW to do it—meaning how to incorporate these new changes into their existing lifestyles without feeling completely overwhelmed. Many also insinuate that these changes are easy for everyone, and I think that this message is part of the reason why so many people have a hard time keeping up with diets or lifestyle changes. In Love Your Skin, Love Yourself I tell it like it is—some of the changes I made were easy for me but some did not come naturally at all; and there were times that I almost quit completely. I discuss how I came through those challenges and also share tips for how readers can get started and what to do if things seem overwhelming or challenging. Life is not always sunshine and rainbows and most journeys of true healing and transformation have areas of shadow…but the shadow passes and then the sun returns. That being said, we can’t ignore the shadow. Too many books don’t talk about the parts of the process that are hard for people—I wanted to present my own journey as well as the changes I recommend honestly and authentically, and for me that means telling the whole story—the triumphs but also the challenges and how I dealt with them in that moment.
Shannon: Was this book hard to write?
Rachael: Yes and no. A large amount of this book came to me in spurts from my muse late at night. I’m a very creative person, and I’ve learned that when the muse wants to work I step out of the way and let her have at it. However a lot of these late night musings didn’t transition well from one thought to another. I decided to get some help and work with a book coach as well as a very talented editor to help me organize my thoughts. Though I’ve been writing for nearly half my life, writing blog posts and magazine articles is very different from writing a book since they are more condensed and one doesn’t necessarily have to flow into another. The thought of writing an entire book on one topic was very scary to me. This book is also much more personal than my more fact-oriented articles and even most of my blog posts. Piecing together the manuscript and going through the editing process was very emotional for me, since I didn’t realize when I initially wrote some of it how raw my own thoughts and experiences still were for me.
That’s the part of the process I was expecting the least—feeling vulnerable. Writing has always come naturally to me, as has expressing myself in other ways, so the actual writing part was not hard—it was the feeling of vulnerability that was more difficult. The process of going through the editing, design, formatting, proofreading, and getting the book published was challenging at times but was an incredible experience at the same time. I am so blessed to have consulted with my incredible topic matter experts: Dr. Ben Johnson from Osmosis Skincare, Dr. Georgia Tetlow from Philadelphia Integrative Medicine, Sharonah Rapseik, PhD from Spa Holistica, and Christine Arylo, bestselling author and Queen of Self-Love. My editor, Daniella Thoren, designer Michelle Fitz of Hat Trick Strategies, and publisher Sennin Group also really helped the process run smoothly and helped me create something that looks more amazing than I ever could have imagined. Overall it’s been one of the most rewarding journeys of my life and I look forward to doing it again!
About Rachael: Rachael Pontillo is a holistic health and image coach with more than 15 years in the beauty and healthcare industries. Following her own challenges with acne and weight, she has helped many women overcome skin conditions and self image issues in her private coaching practice. She is also a published author whose work has been featured in the top aesthetics trade journal, Dermascope Magazine, the international magazine Complete Wellbeing, as well as on several blogs and websites such as Spa Week Daily, Holistic Vanity, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, and WholesomeOne, in addition to her own popular blog, Holistically Haute. She is a recipient of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s prestigious Health Leadership Award, is a featured skincare expert for NeoCell Health, and spoke on a national stage before the Association of Holistic Skincare Practitioners Conference where she educated aestheticians about the benefits of offering nutritional counseling services to their clients.
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Shannon began A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog in 2005 to morph her love of beauty and in educating women on what truly works and what does not. In 2013 she launched a bath and body line as an extention of the beauty blog. One thing she always has on her at all times? Lip balm.