Esthetician Oona Meade, a teacher of stage makeup at Southern Oregon University, had just poured herself a refreshing, zingy glass of kombucha tea. When she put the bottle back in the refrigerator, she was struck by an idea.
If this Chinese health-giving drink of yeast and friendly bacteria is good for your insides, maybe it's good for your epidermis, too.
So, Meade tried it as a facial treatment and found kombucha did what she hoped, bringing youth and life to skin. She soon created a skin-care line made from kombucha, which she uses in facials with clients.
Meade says kombucha appears to have anti-aging properties, and some people have reported that the concoction has helped clear up skin conditions.
Kombucha, in its growing state, lives in a vat of sugar water and looks like a cross between a mushroom and a jellyfish — not too appetizing — but it produces an effervescent, fermented tea that looks and tastes a lot like champagne without the alcohol.
Kombucha is a probiotic drink that contains a number of healthful enzymes, amino acids and B-vitamins, says Meade, adding that kombucha is hydrating to skin and balances skin pH.
Getting a kombucha treatment in Meade's reclining chair, Willa Robinette says, "I can feel my skin tightening and toning. It smooths out lines in my face. I believe in it because I only use things on my skin that I would eat. I have to have quality skin products of the utmost purity, and this is."
Meade calls her products "Komboona" (combining kombucha with her name, Oona), under the label Hip Mama Styling.
In a Komboona formula called Tonique, it's combined with aloe vera, grapeseed extract and lavender and atomized onto the skin.
In Nighttime Brightner, kombucha is blended with citric acid "to lighten aging spots and darkness under the eyes," she says. You wash it off in the morning, as it doesn't work well with sun, she explains.
All-Purpose Serum, which contains agar agar and frankincense, is a gelatinous emollient (moisturizer). It's what caused Robinette to glow.
A face wash and a product to cleanse positive ions off skin are coming soon, Meade says.
Shyama Caruso, 32, of Ashland says the All-Purpose Toner is "tightening" for her face, which got a lot of sun living in Hawaii.
"It dried out my poison oak and was very clarifying. The night tonic seems anti-aging and tonifying for my weathered skin. I love them all."
Tom Chapman of Ashland says he had "some strange dryness" on his skin all winter and says Meade's products helped.
"That's what cured it," he adds.
Besides frankincense, Meade may add other essences, including carrot seed, lavender, lemon balm or rose.
The "mother" in the kombucha brew may look like a mushroom, but it's not, says Meade. However, because mushrooms are becoming established as healing supplements, she soon will start blending mycological products into her formulas, she says.
Meade came to Ashland years ago to teach theater makeup at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She worked in OSF's outreach efforts, getting young people engaged in theater. At SOU, she has developed a new class, "Women and Swords," which teaches actresses basic movements of Western swordplay.
Meade is working with a partner in Portland to try and get her products distributed to health-foods stores. She presently sells them from her home office. To reach her, email email@example.com.