We spoke to Swedish model Karin Agstam from MSA Models on her natural beauty and wellness routine.
Growing up in Sweden, how do you find the Swedish skincare philosophy different to the American way of doing things?
Swedes are very outdoorsy, and Sweden has a deeply rooted culture of being in nature which applies even to our skincare philosophy.
We spend most of our time outside in the fresh air, always trekking between the mountains, the forest and the seaside. When my mom and grandmother talked to me about beautiful skin, it was always about what activity you had done, not which product you had applied. “Your skin looks so beautiful after a day of skiing”, or “after a long brisk walk”. They thought about skincare as an action you did, more than a product that was applied. That is one of the big differences in how I was taught to think about skincare, and it stays with me to this day. To Swedes the best skincare philosophy is to take care of the entire physical system. That will show up in your skin. Live a healthy lifestyle, breath lots of fresh oxygen and avoid all kinds of pollution and toxins.
– What are some of your favorite products from Sweden?
When I go home my first and last stop is always Apoteket https://www.apoteket.se/. I am obsessed with their pharmacy developed skincare line ACO. My mom and grandmother used it and loved it for as long as i can remember. I always stock up on classics like Forsvarets hudsalva https://www.apoteket.se/produkt/forsvarets-hudsalva-9-ml-214584/ ( The Armys’ Skin Cream )
ACO hand cream https://www.apoteket.se/produkt/aco-hand-cream-rich-75-ml-tub-306542/, ACO foot cream https://www.apoteket.se/produkt/aco-foot-cream-rich-100-ml-tub-397968/ and ACO moisturizing night cream https://www.apoteket.se/produkt/aco-face-moisturising-night-cream-n-perf-50-ml-257845/ which i apply in a thick layer as a sleep-mask.
But my top Swedish beauty treatment is not available either in sweden or online. My mom and my grandmother taught me how to collect rainwater during the night and rinse my hair and face in it in the morning. We live in the north of Sweden where the air and water is very clean and potent and I have yet to find anything in the world that beats it.
– Tell us about your wellness routine
My Wellness routine is my Lifestyle.
Wellness is my hobby and i try to incorporate it in every step of my day. Keeping a wellness routine that is continuous is truly the key to happiness for me so i keep it easy and enjoyable and hard to fail at. Swedes always rank as one of the happiest people in the world and there is a reason to that. I never push myself to do any exercise that i feel resistance to, that would only create acidity in my body and mind. If i don’t feel motivated to run or go to yoga one day, i choose another form of self-care that feels right for me that day. It can be something as easy and enjoyable as applying a face mask and laying down on my yoga mat for a deep relaxation, bringing a delicious green beverage on long walk with my best friend, or getting some good old swedish sweating in at a sweat lodge like http://shapehouse.com/ which I am absolutely nuts about . To Swedes wellness is about staying happy and healthy, and as soon as i notice that I’m starting to get acidic and frustrated i do something balance that right back out into alkalinity again.
My golden tools to remain Alkaline are
- meditating and practicing pranayama that increase the blood flow and balances the body and mind
- eating a vegan diet with lots of fruits and vegetables that hydrates and alkalizes
- water. drinking it, soaking in it, jumping in it, rinsing with it. do anything with water and i assure you it will be good for you.
I feel happy with my wellness routine every day if I
- sit down on my meditation pillow for any amount of time. I don’t have a set time for my meditation practice because then i feel pressure and resistance and more often than not i end up not meditating at all. This way i usually ends up spending more time than i expected on my meditation pillow.
- do any amount of pranayama ( same as above applies )
- put on my vibram running shoes and taking my dog for a walk or run
- eat greens
- drink greens
- sauna or steam and take an ice-cold shower
– What does your daily skincare routine look like?
I think of my day in sections to make it easier to incorporate skincare in some form during both morning, day, evening and night.
- Drink: Matcha latte and/or Green juice from Juice press. Obsessed. Contains tons of beautifying anti aging antioxidants AND functions as morning beverage, 2 in 1!
- Do: My grandmother taught me how to do an ice-cold face rinse first thing in the morning to reduce inflammation and increase blood flow and that the base for my entire skincare regimen that follows.
- Apply: serums or acids. At the moment im loving Paulas Choice Liquid BHA. I apply it before breakfast and let it work its magic while I eat. Then I apply la roche poses spf50 serum and some light make up with treating qualities like too faceds chocolate bronzer and dr hauschkas lipbalm . I never put anything on my skin that isn’t beneficial in some way.
- Eat: Greens. We eat a lot of raw vegetables in Sweden and as a child i would eat them straight from my moms garden. Now I always keep a big bowl of sulfur rich arugula or any other greens on the table next to our fruit bowl and munch from it during the day.
- Do: Movement in any shape or form. This is the core of Swedish wellness philosophy. Go outside, and move around, and breath.
- Apply: During the day i add more la roche posay spf 50 serum as needed because swedes have very fair and sensitive skin, and i carry a mini rose spray in my handbag for extra protection and hydration.
- Drink: Rose Kombucha and give a probiotic boost to gut bacteria flora, which is one of the magic keys to beautiful skin. It is also the most delicious beverage on the market right now don’t hold back.
- Do: As a true Swede i can’t function without my daily sauna or steamroom session. Every evening i religiously go to my steamroom and practice hydrotherapy ( switching between hot steam and ice-cold showers ) an ancient technique which balances the body and the mind. My grandfather and his friends would make hole in the ice on the lake below our house and spent many cold winter nights in the steaming hot sauna before jumping in the lake and rolling in the snow. We still do it as a tradition with my family on the night before Christmas! The first time my husband came along he was a bit intimidated, but he came around and jumped in. Now he loves it! The day after an ice-bath your skin looks incredible and any wrinkles or blemishes are gone.
- Apply: I apply soft natural serums and gentle face masks before bedtime. I love Dr Hauschkas night serum and hydrating mask which i sleep with for extra glow on a night before an important job or event
- Drink:I keep a glass of lemon water next to the bed if I wake up thirsty during the night
- Do: Maximize the enjoyment of my sleep. Sleeping is one of the most healing and beneficial wellness practices available, and it is free and we do it everyday. I set my bedroom temperature, use soft cool sheets, keep a healing crystal next to my bed, invest in a pillow I love and make sure to really enjoy my sleep time.
- Apply: I use my Rose spray when I wake up during the night. its soothing and relaxing and adds moisture to the serums and night masks so they keep active longer and has a greater impact on my skin.
In Sweden we also invest a lot of time and effort in cutting edge technology and i like to balance my natural products with the newest discoveries in skincare so in addition to my daily regime I see my dermatologist and skin-whisperer dr Charlot at www.purelynaturalspa.com once a month for a hydrafacial or a photofacial. Both these treatments are super gentle and nourishing but deliver amazing results.
All the women in my family had long red hair and when i was little my grandmother taught me to always braid my hair before night time and to sleep on my back. It prevents breakage and also keeps the face free of hair and residue. I like old tricks and traditions like this, and believe that there is a reason to why knowledge is transferred from generation to generation. I would hate to see knowledge that has been collected over centuries just get lost, so i try to hold onto the things that i was taught as a child, like braiding my hair or splashing my face with water several times during the day. It rinses off any pollution or toxins that tend to sticks to the skin, especially when we wear moisturizers and makeup. They work like flypaper and catches all kinds of dirt from the air. Many people don’t know this but pollution is one of our times greatest skin pitfalls and the more you can splash your face with water the better your skin will look. That is also why a good sweat session washes away any trace of pollution or toxic particles from your skin and allows it to breath and for your products to actually sink in and do some good work. My grand father and his friends sure knew what they were doing, and the actually had great skin!
– Name one product you can’t live without
My Rose spray has followed me through my days and nights for many years now. It hydrates, cools and calms and I really can’t live without it.