Meet Monastery, a Minimalist Approach to Skincare

Monastery founder Athena Ellen makes the case for holistic products.

Grace Wilcox Photography

Monastery skincare founder Athena Ellen has seen it all. “I’ve been an esthetician for nearly 20 years. In those years I feel like I have used every type of technology or machine and every new man-made serum on the market,” she told me. What has she learned?  A holistic and minimalist approach is actually the most effective. “This could be said for nearly everything in life,” she admitted.

With this in mind, Athena created Monastery, a California-made botanical skincare line. In addition to creating the formulas for her luxury cleaning oils and moisturizers, Athena also run her own skincare spa in Noe Valley called Athena Ellen Esthetics and Apothecary, soon to be renamed Monastery. “We are excited to have the businesses become one,” Athena said, again embracing a more streamlined approach. Members of The Assembly get 15 percent off any facial.

Sustainable and Effective Products

So what makes Athena’s facials special? “My clients tell me that I am very meticulous. I leave no pore clogged.” And while she loves extractions, she’s takes a gentle approach. Athena is also the first Cidesco certified esthetician in California, which to those whose that aren’t familiar is the highest level of skin certification.

Before creating the Monastery brand, Athena started mixing her own products. “I developed nearly a whole line, with the help from a chemist in the family. I noticed that I no longer used the products that I had access to in the spa that I worked at.” With her DIY creations, Athena soon noticed that her own skin had improved. “I started to question the approach to skincare,” she said.

Today, Monastery’s most popular product is ironically the first that Athena developed:  The Rose cleansing oil.  She has given it 200 recipe variations, the highest number of recipe variations of any other product that I have developed. Athena explained that the oil is suitable and effective for literally every skin type including sensitive, ultra sensitive, acne, oily, dry and aging. The cleansing oil balances the ph of the skin by leaving unwanted salts and alcohols out of the cleansing routine.

Results Driven Skincare

At her spa, the most popular service is the clinical facial. “It is my standard facial with an added glycolic peel,” she explained. Every standard facial includes a double cleanse, enzyme mask, extractions, facial massage, shoulder massage, finish mask, hand massage, and tailored facial serum application. Think of it as part relaxation, part cleanse, part therapy.

In San Francisco, Athena serves a community of women in SF who demand result driven, natural skincare. “San Franciscan women tend to be well informed and educated on all matters, especially ones that concern health,” she said. “There has been some mention recently that the Bay Area is revolutionizing the way we look at organic skincare and I’m just thrilled to be a part of it.” We’re thrilled, too.

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