My name is: Michelle K Gagnon.
I’m known as: A bio alchemist.
My expertise is in: Essential oils, distillation and sourcing of botanical materials, aromatic plants, olfactory experiences and aromatic botanical formulation.
I stay physically healthy with: Capoeira with Nadia Zaki, Oolong tea from Té NYC, essential oils, lipids, hydrosols—of course! (from Enfleurage), lots of stretching, eating seasonal farmer’s market food (wherever I am), full-body clay masks in my garden each week.
I keep my emotions balanced with: Geranium! Essential oils are an obvious answer for me, but, since I’ve studied their efficacy and know the quality, I know they are super beneficial in keeping emotions (as well as the physical body) in balance.
Also ashwagandha—I get mine from Furnace Creek Farm at the Union Square farmer’s market.
I’m intellectually stimulated by: How all things are so infinitely connected, the poetic words of Darwin, alchemist’s texts, botanical research and development, ethnobotany.
I was recently transformed by: I am always transformed by my travel, especially when I visit the countryside or remote locations and stay with a family or locals. The experience is completely different than staying in a hotel. You forego certain luxuries to experience other luxuries. It is important for me to experience the true culture and tradition of a place I explore, to really feel it.
I recently stayed with a family in the high jungle of Peru. We gardened together, cooked traditional cuisine, rode motorbikes through jungle trails and laughed endlessly. There was a language barrier, but we communicated beautifully regardless. We distilled essential oil together and even shared a sweet orange hydrosol bath fresh from the still (this is what sweet dreams are made of!). We brought each other pure joy, relishing the simplicity of life and the land.
In the last six months, the ritual that has become so important for me is: I have been taking the time to indulge in a full-body clay mask once a week. My body and skin feel so great after being wrapped in the healing minerals from the earth and my botanical oils. It feels detoxifying, yet nourishing, at the same time and connects my body and mind—and always involves a pot of herbal tea, internally and externally.
Here’s how you can do it too: Choose your clay, liquid, lipid and essential oil.
1. Choose your clay: Kaolin (white clay) is soothing and nourishing; Illite (green clay) is detoxifying and drawing.
2. Use tea or an herbal infusion instead of water, or mix with a hydrosol.
3. Use a lipid/carrier oil of your choice: olive oil, argan, apricot kernel, etc.
4. Add a couple drops of essential oil (maybe cypress or juniper for detoxification or lavender, chamomile and ylang ylang to nourish and soothe).
5. Mix the clay and tea/hydrosol until you get a smooth muddy texture. Drizzle with lipid/carrier oil, add two drops of essential oil and smear over your entire face and body.
6. I leave this on for about 10 minutes. If it starts to get too dry, I will mist myself with with tea to avoid stripping the skin of its own sebum, then wash off in the shower.
It helps me live my process because: It is a luxury ritual from the earth that infuses both external and internal wellness, which are so intricately entwined.
Take a “Moment” to learn more about Michelle K. Gagnon’s journey here.
Photo by Carlos Neda.