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How to Keep Your Young Child Sun Protected

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How to Keep Your Young Child Sun Protected

I know the struggle is real when it comes to keep our little ones protected from the sun.  I have an under 2 year old daughter who oddly doesn’t want to keep her fashionable hat on or stay in the shade.  Trying to apply sunscreen to a wriggly, constantly moving toddler who loves to say, “nope” while running gleefully away? It’s tough to say the least.

I know that we do not offer sunscreens marketed as ones’ for kids.  Our 50 ml size and price make it prohibitive for many families to apply our Sun Whips on their children to their entire bodies.  We’ve heard your requests for larger sizes and it’s definitely on our radar! We’re still a relatively small company but we are working on finding a way to make larger volumes so that pricing and seasonality of a larger format sunscreen will work.

In the meantime, there are some kid friendly zinc oxide sunscreens that you can use on your kids.  The EWG Annual Sunscreen Guide is out with great recommendations (including our two Sun Whips featured again with the best safety rating of 1).  Just remember, the higher the % of zinc oxide, the better (at least until we get better access to other filters in North America).  Here are some additional tried and tested tips for keeping your kids sun safe this sunny season.

1. Ditch the sprays

sunscreen, sunscreen for kids, CyberDERM

Baby A Checking Out her Favourite Sunscreen

Have you seen the recent controversy for Banana Boat Kids Free Clear spray sunscreen SPF 50+? Here in Canada, at least two young children have reported 2nd degree burns after sun exposure and using these specific sunscreens.  For my take on these specific cases, click here.  In general though, I say ditch the sprays, especially for young kids.  You have no way of knowing that you are applying sufficient amounts and providing even coverage.  There is some concern re: inhalation.  I definitely advocate for avoiding sunscreens that contain alcohol as their main solvent in addition to my usual complaint against oxybenzone and other potential endocrine disruptors.

2. Thicker sunscreens for kids is ok

I know no kid wants to walk around looking like Caspar the ghost.  There are transparent sunscreens to be had like our formulas, I’ve tried ThinkBaby before and thought it was quite good.  For kids and for your body, it actually pays to use a formula that is slightly thicker and maybe even slightly whitening since you can see where you’ve applied it.  This is true for those hot beach days where you know that if you miss a spot, your kid will most likely burn there. To be honest, I recently tried applying to my daughter one of our super light weight prototype formulas that essentially disappears on the skin seconds after you apply it.  It felt great but with her twisting and turning, I had a hard time being sure I didn’t miss a spot.  Our Simply Zinc, while completely transparent and matte, takes about 30 seconds to feel as though it’s absorbed on the skin. I applied it thickly on my daughter while on holiday and I had a good sense of where I was putting it.

3. Make the 1st application the best, and do it naked.

I always recommend putting your sunscreen on every single day, first thing in the morning. Hence why the “Every Morning’ in our Every Morning Sun Whip SPF 25.  For those hot summer days where you have more exposed skin and more intense UVB, make your first application the best one.  To this end, it’s best to apply it naked.  Apply it from tip to toe and you know that you will avoid the nasty tan line or tan burn when trying to apply while having clothes on.  If you get a good first coat of sunscreen, especially when its tenacious zinc oxide based, you can get away with less precise re-application because let’s face it- you’re more likely to be on the move.

4. Distraction

I know you’re saying at this point, “I thought this lady had a kid?” I know the squirmy creature you call your child probably does not want to sit naked while you apply copious amounts of sunscreen on.  I quickly discovered the magic of distraction.  For us, we limit tv time for our daughter so she is pretty mesmerized by it when she gets to watch it.  Hence, we plonked her down with her favourite cartoon and we had free reign to apply as much sunscreen as we needed as long as we did not block her view.  Find your magic distraction technique and use it without guilt because keeping our kids sun protected is a great gift.

5. Sun protection clothes

I saw a lot of kids sporting sun protective clothing this past holiday.  It’s a life saver! There are lots of options, and some of them are really cute.  It just provides a fail-safe when you are facing heavy exposure.  Just remember to apply sunscreen first while naked and then put on clothes after so that if you switch outfits, you know you’re still covered 100%!

Finally, keep in mind the usual recommendations- seek shade, limit time in the peak sun from 12-3 pm, try for hats and sunglasses (it helps if you’re rocking these too to set a good example). Keeping our kids protected from the sun is just another way that parenting can be hard- but it’s worth it.  You’re saving their skin so do your best! Feel free to share any tips you might have.

Best regards,
Sara

green beauty, toxic, all natural

Label Freedom

green beauty, toxic, all natural

Moving Past Labels, in search for Freedom.

I was reading through this post by MindBodyGreen about the biggest health trends in food and I gave a collective wistful sigh when I read trend # 4, “Label Free is the Way to Be”.  I thought, “if only”.  I think it represents a a beautiful aspirational way to live in all things, not just food related. Doesn’t it make sense when you are living outside of a hashtag that your day to day would not be confined to limiting labels.

As a brand, I know it can be problematic to live label free.  Labels make marketing easy.  If a brand is a promise to your customer, a label reduces that message into one tidy and compact little morsel.

We’ve certainly had some people experience some confusion when it comes to our brand depending on how they first come to us.  We started as a line that was created specifically for my mother’s dermatology office.  If you asked us in 2008 what we were, we’d say, “Easy, we are a clinical line”.  In 2011, after completing my MBA at Queens (I’m a very proud alum!), I felt we could use a re-focusing if not exactly a rebrand.  We’d been selling our Every Morning Sun Whip  SPF 25 as a cosmetic (i.e. made no SPF claims) to our patients exclusively and their feedback was startling.  They loved the product.  We were also in the process of formulating our Simply Zinc Sun Whip SPF 30.  We wanted a product that would be a Natural Health Product, which would mean having a high concentration of zinc oxide in order to provide sufficient UV protection.  We were also deeply committed to including ingredients that were controversy free and that meant looking at the medical community but also the emerging green beauty world.

With these two products in hand, I could see that we had built up an expertise in sunscreen that was rare in the industry.  We were bringing together worlds that didn’t necessarily speak to each other.  It was with this commitment to making the best sunscreens in the world that we became “The Sunscreen Company TM”.

When I mention confusion though, our products do straddle both the clinical and green world.  Bloggers especially love our Simply Zin Sun Whip SPF 30 for its ingredient list and aesthetic finish.  Physicians love our Every Morning Sun Whip SPF 25 because it offers an excellent zinc oxide alternative to conventional sunscreens.  Then we have our label-free customers, who just want a truly safe and effective sunscreen and find us to be a credible and trust worthy solution.

Our cosmetics straddle the line too.  We are launching a cleanser this year that will have 8 ingredients total in it, all of them excluding the water will be Ecocert Certified Organic.  We have a retinoid ester product that is in limited release while we update its packaging that has 4 ingredients total that uses a synthetic retinoid ester in a whopping 1% active concentration.  We’ve always used the guiding principle of finding the best actives in our industry, using them in their most effective and high concentration and then using functional ingredients that provide a benefit to the skin and are controversy free.

I’ve been seeing a shift in our industry though that is troubling. I love the idea of people being proactive about their skincare and finding as much information about products as they can.  However, in an Instagram age, there seems to be race for some to the top for ‘purity’.  It’s as though we are trying to out compete each other and say ‘are you only against these ingredients?  Because I’m against all of these”.  The word ‘toxic’ is thrown around quite casually and it seems new insinuations about ingredients spring up on a constant revolving basis.  It’s true that new information comes up but I often take a look at the source material for these new allegations and very often the consensus is that the ingredient is overall quite safe to use.  Other times, I’ll see that ingredients are blacklisted either by confusing them with another or because they share a similar name to another controversial ingredient.

An example of this- butylene glycol is often confused with butyl glycol, more commonly known as butoxyethanol.  Butylene Glycol receives a hazard score of 1 on the Environmental Working Group (EWG).  There is a mention about a low risk for irritation but upon further investigation, one study showed some potential for ocular irritation when the ingredient was applied neat to the area. Overall, it’s a fairly inert and safe ingredient. It’s used for functional benefits for a formula, for instance the tetrapeptides we use come pre-dispersed in it as a wetting agent. Butoxyethanol receives a hazard score of 5 on the EWG and is listed by the European Union as likely toxic or harmful.  That’s a big difference, made confusing by similar chemical names!

Many most likely question what could the harm be in being over-restrictive in scrutinizing ingredients.  What is the issue in being too careful?  My concern is that it can put the wrong focus on products overall, especially as it relates to sunscreens.  I’ve always argued that sunscreens have different implications in their criteria for being safe and effective when compared to cosmetics.  The safety of a cosmetic is not necessarily impacted by a lack of efficacy.  For a sunscreens though, they are inextricably linked. It doesn’t matter if all of the non-medicinal ingredients are organic and plant derived if the product also only has 2% zinc oxide.

Frankly, I’ve also seen hints of green becoming the new mean where people’s tone of voices become as toxic as the ingredients they are pillorying. I read an interview from a founder of a beauty line that I really respect but her tone came off as caustic and really negative.  I could see people thinking that the lifestyle she was promoting was unattainable.

The concept of label-free living sounds so appealing. I wish we can take a collective breath and ease up- the quest for purity should not descend into puritanism.  That unattainable quest for perfection won’t make your skin or your soul more beautiful.

Let me know what you think-

Warmest regards,

Sara

tanning, sunscreen, sun safety

Tanning and Sunscreen: The Beach Holiday Conundrum

 

tanning, sunscreen, sun safety

Baby A Embodying the No Tan Movement

It’s March break time- the time of year us #WearetheNorth Northerners head south if we can. We get one question from many of our Sun Whip Worshippers this time of year.  It’s often whispered to us in hushed yet slightly hopeful tones, “Will I tan through this sunscreen?”

It’s a conundrum we understand.  On the one hand, a tan has been the symbol of a holiday well-spent since the emergence of the Coppertone Baby.  It’s the standard compliment you receive on your return home.  A tan equals a “Oohh, don’t you look relaxed.” Even I’ve been susceptible to it (even while working here!), I used to just want to get a ‘hint of colour’.

However, the change happened for me when I hit my thirties.  All of a sudden, the adage that any kind of tan means sun damage resonated when I would look in my magnifying mirror, fully lit after getting a vacation ‘glow’.  It’s true- from a foot away, I looked bronzed.  From the unrelenting gaze though of my self-inflicted torture device, I was a dehydrated mess.  All the work that I had done throughout the year in terms of anti-aging and hydration felt undone by two weeks away of mediocre sun safety.

This brings us back to the question of whether you can tan through our Sun Whips.  The short answer is ‘it depends’.  I’m of mixed heritage, Type 3- I can tan fairly easily with olive undertones.  After two weeks in full Caribbean sun, if I apply our Every Morning Sun Whip SPF 25 first thing in the morning and then don’t reapply and/or use any other sun safety measures like hats, clothing, sunglasses and seeking shade- I can get a tan with it.  I won’t burn but I can get a light tan.  I’m going to be clear though and just say it- don’t do it!  We advocate for a NO TAN policy.  That means I re-apply my Sun Whips regularly, I wear large broad rimmed hats (they are very fashionable, I swear!), and I seek shade when I can.  This means that I don’t have to play catch up with my skincare routine when I get home and I feel like I’m keeping those pesky signs of aging at bay.

tanning, sun safety, sunscreen

Me and Baby A Rocking the Sun Protected Look While in Sunny California

It’s a hard stance to swallow and I’m sorry for that.  Even my husband still grumbles about being ‘pale’.  When I first met him, he’d spray himself with an oil that smelled like a pina colada.  I have an easier time putting sunscreen on our 1.5 year old.  There is good news though, especially for women.  There are some tricks and tips to getting a glowing look without the sun damage.

  1. Dewy Skin and Strobing

I love the way both our Sun Whips make your skin look.  I have combination skin and find that I can control how dewy I’d like to look after applying them based on my make-up.  Very often, I’ll use my jane iredale BB cream under my eyes and around my nose and then quickly blend with my powder over top focusing on my t-zone.  It gives me the right amount of sheen without looking oily or greasy.  If you prefer fully matte skin then you can just apply more powder.  I then use a highlighting stick (I like Ilia’s) on my orbital bone, the inner corner of my eyes and my cupid’s bow of my lips.  I prefer a pink blush on my cheeks but you could certainly apply a bronzer.  I prefer to forgo too heavy a contouring- I find it can look a little muddy if excessive.   But presto! You have luminous, even toned skin…let the compliments begin!

2. Bronzed body

A little highlighter can go a long way on your body as well.  I like jane iredale’s Golden Shimmer applied over top of a Sun Whip for during the day.  At night, you can take any nice quality carrier oil and mix in some 24 carat dust (by jane iredale again) or mix in your favourite bronzer.  The oil gives your legs and arms a pretty glimmer.

3. Self-Tanning Lotion

I’ve honestly given up my self-tanners for the most part.  I had one applied for my wedding and was happy with the results. I just find that I don’t have the time. I’m also a perfectionist so even if 99% of the application is spot on, I’ll always focus on the one dot where it doesn’t look seamless.  Having said that, I know some pros who can apply it swiftly without issue and love them to death.

I challenge you on your next holiday to refresh your thinking about tanning.  It’s true the Customs Agent might not believe you were on a beach when you’re coming back home but they might not also believe your true age either while you are redefining what it means to #beageless.

sunscreen, sunburn

When Your Sunscreen Burns You

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Solar Simulator Estimated SPF of Sunscreen with the above actives

Editor’s Note: Since this post’s original publication, Canada has also been reeling from several incidences of infants receiving severe 2nd degree burns while using sunscreens specifically marketed for children. In looking at one of the product reported, Banana Boat Kids Free SPF 50+, it fortunately does not have some of the red flags that I have seen in other children spray sunscreens like alcohol and oxybenzone.  My quick assessment of the product leads me to suspect that it’s unlikely to be a true SPF 50+ with ingredients of 3% avobenzone, 6% octocrylene and 10% homosalate.  In looking at the solar simulator, a helpful on-line tool for estimating SPF and the UVA protection factor, this ingredient load would give an SPF of 15-17.  I would also consider whether the avobenzone was fully stabilized from photo-degrading (i.e. breaking down in the sun) by the octocrylene.  Finally, spray sunscreens are always problematic because you can just never be sure that you are applying adequate amounts evenly.  I understand they are convenient for children (I have a wriggly toddler so I REALLY understand) but stay tuned for some tips for applying sunscreen and providing the best protection against the sun for young children in our next blog post.

In today’s digital age, it’s common place for alarming stories to bubble up and go viral, typically with the pictures to match.  Pictures of bad sun burns can sometimes make for fun Buzzfeed columns but when children are involved and their burns are significant, the stories are heartbreaking.

The news cycles in Australia and New Zealand are replete right now with the story of a brand of sunscreen manufactured for their skin cancer council called Peppa the Pig.  This was a brand of sunscreen especially marketed towards kids so the several pictures of young children with 2nd degree burns were shocking to everyone.   Many questioned- how is this possible?

We source our zinc oxide from Australia and in our minds, we always imagined it to be the land of sunscreen.  You can imagine the need for it.  It’s one of the few places in the world with a predominantly fair population with never ending and intense sun.  I was surprised then when I was corresponding with a beauty e-commerce owner in Australia about what she felt was the complete lack of good options.  She said they also faced the same issue with consumer confusion.  Many were starting to get the message that they needed to wear sunscreen every single day but most stumbled in trying to decipher what to use.  So many people were still getting caught in the trap of relying on the front of the box where their only real cue for information remains the SPF.  As we’ve stated many times (here and here), SPF can be a misleading piece of information, especially if it’s the only piece of information you are looking at.  The real source of information remains the ingredient list, however, I concede that is a daunting task to wade through complex chemical names and percentages (if available!) even for professionals.  We continue to use a tool called the Sunscreen Simulator- it’s an online tool created by a provider of sunscreen filters that allows you to graphically see what your protection looks like.  It’s not perfect but it’s one of the few tools we have.

In taking a cursory look at the family of Peppa the Pig products, they do contain some ingredients with questionable photo allergy data.  Encazamene is a filter that we do not have here in North America. There are studies that show it has potential issues with photo-allergy.  We also would never use it in our formulations as it’s a small particle sized filter that can enter the body.  The products also contained Avobenzone, which is ubiquitous in the market.  It also has a small risk of photo-allergy (about 1% in the general population) but we also would never use it since it can enter the body.  Moreover, research is mounting about its potential as a serious endocrine disruptor with a similar profile as oxybenzone. Click here to read more about that.

The Peppa the Pig situation prompted the very understandable consumer reaction of calling for more regulation.  This incident does represent a failure on the part of regulatory bodies. However, it’s not an issue of lack of regulation but one of focusing on the wrong pieces of information.  In an ideal world, we would have a global standard for sunscreen regulation.  We wouldn’t have the current situation where some countries had better access to better sunscreen filters than others.  We would settle on a robust standard for measuring the UVA protection of a sunscreen and would represent that in a meaningful and clear way on the label for sunscreens.  We would find a better test for measuring SPF that does not allow manufacturers to ‘game’ the test and falsely inflate their SPF .  We would review every single filter, both old and new, from an integrated medical perspective.  In short, we would look at its effectiveness but also at its potential impact on our health, including hormonal health and the environment.  We’d use the precautionary principle to say that if an ingredient had significant concerns associated with it- that would be enough to call for a suspension of use.  Especially, as there are many ingredients that do not have controversy with them and are effective.

The secondary cost of these incidences remains that consumer faith gets shaken in products that are meant to protect.  The confusion leads many to just abandon the use of sunscreen altogether.  It’s an unfortunate reaction that would only lead to more potential for damage.  Education and advocacy remain our only tools and engaging through our professional communities our means for spreading the word.

We’d love to hear your take on this so please leave us your thoughts in the comment section.

All the best,

Sara

new years resolution, sunscreen

Your #1 Beauty Resolution: Sunscreen?

new years resolution, sunscreen

Sunscreen-Your Top New Year’s Resolution

In this time of resolutions, I know that you may be skeptical that sunscreen should be your number one beauty resolution.  You’re thinking, “but what about all my required detoxes?” I have my juice cleanse ordered and ready to go.  Surely, there are a 1000 more things I can do that would give more impressive ‘wow’ results than daily application of sunscreen. Finally, isn’t this a bit rich coming from a sunscreen company, of course you want us to apply a sunscreen every day! All very understandable and sound logic- but a recent study has flipped on its head our appreciation of what sunscreen can truly do.  So bear with us…

As it turns out, we all have a little bit more super-human in us than we thought.  Regeneration is one of the great superpowers.  What would Deadpool be if he couldn’t grow back a limb? Turns out though, our ability to regenerate is even more impressive than we give ourselves credit for.  We just need to get out of the way of our body and give it some respite from the thousand and one external aggressors that inhibit this natural process.

Enter sunscreen.  Sunscreen has always been credited by physicians and beauty gurus alike as the number one anti-aging tool in your beauty arsenal.  However, it was credited with being mainly preventive.  In short, either start with sunscreen from inception and you would fend off the typical signs of aging like pigmentation, wrinkles, redness and more for a maximum benefit of looking twenty years younger.  Failing religious application when you were young, you could use a combination of topical cosmetics and a host of other beauty interventions to repair the damage and then protect your investment with stringent application afterwards.

However, this new study found that after one year, daily application of sunscreen helped improve signs of pigmentation, wrinkles and hydration.  No other anti-aging topicals or forms of interventions were used! It turns out that if we just give our skin a fighting chance to resist daily bombardment by UV light- we can heal ourselves and ultimately roll back the clock. Pigmentation showed the biggest improvement with the 12 volunteers showing 40-50% improvement.  All study participants showed improvement in skin clarity and texture.  How huge is that!

Now imagine, it’s January 1st and you make it your New Year resolution to apply a great sunscreen (if you are a regular of this blog, you know what we mean by ‘great’ sunscreen) every single day for this year.  Take a picture- a good quality one, in real natural light, with no Snapchat flower crown filter.  Now pledge to keep that great sunscreen on your bathroom counter and include it as a step in your beauty routine. You wouldn’t skip brushing your teeth so treat sunscreen application in the same way. Let’s see what happens after a year. Sure, you can still sprinkle some goji berries on your cereal and maintain that mantra for inner beauty too.  For pure, superficial, outer beauty though- let this be the change we see.

Let us know how it goes and feel free to tag us in your photos too @thesunscreencompany!

All the best,

Sara

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Holiday Favourites by the CyberDERM Team

The CyberDERM Crew Share their Holiday Favourites

It’s that time of year again, where the CyberDERM crew gathers fireside to chat about a few of our favourite things.  Share with us some of yours in the comments below:

Carrie-Social Media Guru

CyberDERM

Carrie without Her Ugly Sweater

Go to Holiday Gift to Give: A hand written card. I think they are the most heart warming gifts!

Favourite Holiday Tradition: Ugly Sweater Party Holiday Edition. Because I have a huge family, it’s always extremely festive when we get together for the Holiday Season where we would divide into teams and play a series of competitive games and the winning team would always win a great prize…and bragging rights.

 Holiday Party Beauty Look/Uniform: Something comfortable and typically loose so I can eat a lot of food while letting my food baby free. Yet fashionable, so I can look cute in pictures as well!!

 Stocking Stuffer Recommendation: When in doubt just go with the three C’s…Candles, Chocolate, Candy Canes! Another great idea for the ladies are the cute sample sized goodies Sephora always carries in front of their cash with affordable small gifts that any girl would love receiving.

On a cold winter day, I love to… Have a cup of warm tea or coffee in the morning and snuggle up with a lot of blankets and binge watch romantic comedy movies.

Winter skin essential: A good lip balm, hand cream, and facial cream. My skin gets extremely dry in the winter so I need to ensure everything I’m using in my skincare routine is extra moisturizing! What I’ve been loving is the Henne Organics Lip Balm, the Egyptian Magic Cream for my hands, and the H2O Hydration as my daily moisturizer. Those are my current go to’s.

If I could cozy up to anything, it would be...My sister!!! but she hates cuddling…

Arooj-Skin Care Expert and Make Up Artist

cyberderm

Arooj in Front of Her Tools of the Trade

Go to Holiday Gift to Give: A unisex snow shovel……after all we live in Canada!

Favourite Holiday Tradition: Baking with the kids,cookies,cup cakes and hot chocolate.

 Holiday Party Beauty Look/Uniform: Strobing and contouring.

 Stocking Stuffer Recommendation: LuMee selfie phone case

On a cold winter day, I love to…Watch terrible TV and stay in my fav pjs.

Winter skin essential: Coconut oil,hair, face,body…everywhere!

If I could cozy up to anything, it would be...Snuggie plaid blanket:)

Sara -Executive Director

cyberderm team

Sara with Her Favourite Cuddle Partner

Go to Holiday Gift to Give: Every year, I have my go to gift that I keep a closet full to use as little add-ons, stocking stuffers or for Secret Santas.  Two years ago it was my favourite Votivo travel candle, last year it was the Hot Chocolate Sampler Box from Soma Chocolatiers.  This year I’m like the Oprah of toques- you get a toque, you get a toque!

Favourite Holiday Tradition:  I love Christmas so we have a lot but a new one is going to the Santa Clause Parade with our daughter and then getting scones and cinnamon buns from my friends Cobbs bakery in the Annex in Toronto.

 Holiday Party Beauty Look/Uniform: I should have been born wearing a dress.  I live in them and I live for holiday dresses especially.  This year, beauty-wise, I’m all about applying a matte lipstick in a magenta hue but I use my finger to apply it so it’s more of a just-kissed, a little mussed look.  I pair that with a highlighter around the eyes.

 Stocking Stuffer Recommendation: This year we are only getting stocking stuffers for our family as our family as just gotten too big for anything else.  I think if you know the person well then lipsticks or nail lacquers are the best.  Every woman in my life is getting a Butter London lacquer because their holiday sets are adorable.

On a cold winter day, I love to…don coordinating onesie pyjamas with my daughter.  She can only Netflix and chill for 10 mins maximum during a given day so we are otherwise out and about for parks and circle times.

Winter skin essential: I’ve been using a Vitamin C powder with our PM Anti-Age every night and it’s been great at fighting overall skin dullness.  I also think you have to use a serum during winter in addition to layering a moisturizer like our H20 Hydration for barrier protection.

If I could cozy up to anything, it would be…my baby and my other big baby (husband).  We have these perfect little three person hugs and it’s 10 seconds of heaven.

Mary Kay McClelland-Director of Operations 

holidays favourites, cyberderm

Mary Kay Getting the Office Holiday Ready

Go to Holiday Gift to Give: I always like giving the ladies in my life jewelry. Obviously not diamonds but a nice piece of costume jewelry. My new faves are the Alex and Ani bracelets.

Favourite Holiday Tradition: We started going skiing on Christmas Eve when the kids were little and the tradition continues today. The kids love that we have the hill to ourselves and we head home after lunch to get ready for Christmas mass.

 Holiday Party Beauty Look/Uniform:  Always like a little sparkle but now comfort is a must. Gone are the days that I wear shoes that hurt or clothes that are too tight!

 Stocking Stuffer Recommendation: Always like to give and receive magazines

On a cold winter day, I love to… I love to go skiing.

Winter skin essential:  I use the Retin+Erase at night and find it super hydrating.

If I could cozy up to anything, it would be...it would be my kids and/or hubby by the fireplace., with a nice glass of wine – perfection!!

Our New Pre-Launch RetinErase

The Next Generation of Anti-Aging: Retinoid Esters

All about our Retin+Erase: the Next Generation of Retinoid Esters

If you had asked me two years ago would I ever consider including a retinol product in our line, I might have brushed it off.  “Retinol? Yawn.  If retinol worked well, there would be no more wrinkles in the world because it’s in everything!”

It’s true, retinol is ubiquitous in high end lines through to mass ones.  It’s always been plagued with causing irritation, stability issues and efficacy.  Retinol needs to be converted in the skin into an active form in order to function so high doses are necessary to really function but then irritation and side effects become an issue.  At the end of the day, retinol was the sad sibling of prescription retinoids. Sure they were part of the same family but one was an underperformer and if you could work with the gold star of anti-aging, as prescription retinoids are often called, then why tango with the lacklustre understudy.

Unfortunately, as starlets go, prescription retinoids have their own bits of drama as well. They have had availability issues in the past couple of years with one brand or another being on back order.  On closer examination, the formulas available in Canada also have parabens included in their non-medicinals.  It can be odd how we can scrutinize cosmetics for their ingredients but then never take a second look at pharmaceutical products.  Certainly, if a drug is life saving or critical to ones health, you tend to focus on the active ingredient.  However, for pharmaceuticals for cosmetic use, it makes sense that we apply the same level of stringency as we would our other personal care products.  This put our sister clinic in a tough position between maintaining their precepts about avoiding endocrine disruptors while delivering the best results possible.

When we drilled down a bit more though, a lot of our hesitancy disappeared and our resolve to create something better strengthened.  It turns out that while our sister clinic had been prescribing a significant amount of retinoids when we gently questioned our patients, many of them admitted to neglecting to actually use them.  They just could not stand the irritation and the dryness on a daily basis.

This brings us to Retin+Erase.  On a trip to the lovely Barcelona, my father and I were attending the annual and amazing In-Cosmetics show.  Raw material suppliers from all over the world fill a space triple the size of an arena and showcase the best and the brightest of their wares.  To be honest, I was pregnant, jet lagged, and mostly hungry so not in the best frame of mind.  My father, however, had attended a presentation on a new generation of retinoid esters.  I’d heard of different retinol esters and again was not very interested but my father insisted that he thought the science had merit and so we stopped to discuss with the scientist who did the original discovery of this unique molecule.  Their clinical photos were promising so we arranged for a sample to be sent to our genius chemist and would wait to see what he thought.

Our chemist agreed the material was intriguing and had known the supplier and their excellent products for a while.  Our challenge to him was to use a high percentage.  Health Canada limits cosmetic products to 1% active so that was our threshold.  Our chemist returned a prototype that admittedly looked like nuclear yellow pudding but on application was light, hydrating and transparent.

However, the product’s real innovation lies at its simplicity.  Our Retin+Erase has four ingredients on its list.  Just four, simple and non-controversial ingredients.  It turns out that we are currently the only manufacturer to use the material at a 1% concentration.  Others had elected to use lower concentrations, perhaps due to cost since it is a premium ingredient but also due to formulation considerations.

Loosely borrowing from the idea of micelles found in micellar cleansers, we found a way to render the retinoid ester into very small and evenly dispersed molecules.  Their uniform entry into the skin minimizes irritation, allowing the 1% active to work in its full glory.  The formula contains no added water so no preservatives were needed but also means that water does not contribute to the degradation of the retinoid ester.

Our results to date have shown that even those who had abandoned their prescriptions due to irritation can use our Retin+Erase.  Although we recommend to start by using a couple of times a week and then increase frequency of use as toleration builds, most have been able to use it nightly from the beginning with no issues.

So there you have a glimpse of how our R&D process can take shape- find a problem that we as industry insiders experience every day and then find the right material with the right science to address it.  Pair that with deceptively simple formulations based on decades of experience and a willingness to try new things and presto- you have a new product that will hopefully change people’s skin for the better.

Look out for its public launch in 2017 and stay tuned with us for updates.

Simply Zinc, Every Morning, CyberDERM Sun Whips

Skincare Tips from Maddy

Maddy Showing Off Her Sun Whip.

Maddy Showing Off Her Sun Whip.

If you haven’t heard, Maddy Mackenzie is our Sun Whip ambassador, uber athlete and sprint kayaking star.  This month we hear from her on her skincare tips and more.

About Madison Mackenzie:

Age: 20

From Chelsea Quebec with the passion, ambition, and determination to one day become the fastest female sprint kayaker in the world. As a member of the Senior National Team of Canada and a Elite athlete of the Quebec Provincial Team her eyes are set on gold at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Q & A with CyberDERM

Q: Take us through your day to day skincare routine as an athletic on the waters.

A: In the morning I use CyberDERM’s Every Morning Sun Whip before I head out to train. After my morning training I head to the gym in the afternoon which I then go back out to the waters for a second time. Since I train twice a day outside, I would reapply a SPF with the Simply Zinc Sun Whip to ensure I’m always fully protected throughout the duration of my day.

Q: Sunscreen seems to be a huge part of your skincare regimen, why so?

A: Absolutely! I take my skin protection very seriously. Lucy, a dear friend and a previous coach for my training was diagnosed with Melanoma. After her passing away, I won the Panera Games under Lucy’s name, she is someone incredibly inspiring and will always be close to my heart. Sunscreen is something that is crucial to apply and its part of leading a healthy lifestyle which is why it is a key product in my skincare routine.

Q: If you could tell your younger self or anyone out there in your generation one thing about skincare, what would it be?

 A: That a tan isn’t that important.

Q: Your skincare Faves:

A: Every Morning Sun Whip SPF 25 and Simply Zinc Sun Whip SPF 30

Q: Your skincare Ethos:

A:  Taking care of your body and skin is part of self love and self care.

 

 

Me with Ava on a Holiday in the UK

Top Cosmetic Picks, Beauty Rituals and More

I’ve recently become obsessed with a blog out of New York (in addition to my routine addiction to all things Beauty Editor) called Cup of Jo.  It’s rare that you come across a body of writing that seems aspirational and yet attainable.  This blog is so good at encapsulating a feeling of coziness that I’ve taken to drinking a cup of tea while reading it before bed.

I only mention it now since one of my favourite sections is called Beauty Uniform where these impossibly amazing women share tidbits from their beauty regimens, design ethos and other little gems. Since I answer our customer service email (one of my favourite parts of the job is hearing directly from you all), I often share bits of my own beauty regimen.  Clearly from our company name, we advocate for the use of sunscreen but we get loads of questions about skincare beyond sun care.  With that in mind, I had the rather gauche idea of sharing my unsolicited beauty uniform.  Gauche because no one asked- and it is a straight rip of of the Cup of Jo format so I encourage you to click through and read some of the real deals.

First some details about me…

If we’ve never met or this is your first time reading, I’m the Executive Director of CyberDERM and have been for the past 8 years.  I currently live in Toronto with my amazing and loving husband and we just had our first child, our daughter Ava Isabella, almost a year ago.  She is the absolute light of our life.

Current skin status

I’m still currently breastfeeding our daughter, which I only mention because it means that I’m still in a quasi peri-menauposal state. I’ve found that my skin is affected hormonally in that it’s more dry than usual.  It’s quite reactive so I have to be gentle in terms of products that I use (and forgo Vitamin A based products while breastfeeding).  I’m also still trying to clear left over pigmentation from pregnancy and post-pregnancy hormonal breakouts.  It’s quite the mix of conditions but the upside is that I’ve really had to challenge my skincare to perform.  It’s made me the best guinea pig for our current line of products and the ones in R&D.

Skincare Routine

You can take it for granted that I’m pretty religious about sunscreen application.  I do test some formulas that are in R&D (we have some fabulous all mineral and hybrid ones in the works and maybe even some tinted ones to boot) but I otherwise use our Simply Zinc Sun Whip SPF 30 for every day use.  Our H20 Hydration is one of my go-to favourites- I think it has some of the best ingredients that I’ve seen in any product.  I love the ingredient Ectoins and think they are so beneficial for the skin that I made sure we included it in other future formulas.  I also rotate in our PM Anti-Age since I love turmeric and its skin brightening capabilities.  If you had told me when we created the formula 8 years ago that you would be able to go to your local cafe and order a shot of turmeric, I would have laughed!  We definitely had some worries when we launched it that people would not like its characteristic smell.  Fortunately, most people actually like its herbal notes or at least find it fades almost immediately after you apply it so aren’t bothered.

I also use two products that are not from our line and love them as a weekly ritual.  Every Sunday, I have face mask Sunday (it’s a very original title) where I sit for 15 quiet minutes with my Innisfree fermented soy face mask.  It’s a Korean brand that I gently cajoled my very sweet father in law to bring back for me from Hong Kong, although you can order them online.  I also use Glam Glow  Supercleanse Daily Clearing Cleanser once a week to help exfoliate.  It’s a more heavy duty product than I originally gave it credit for with its blend of glycol and lactic acid.  I can use our Exfoliant Reveal with its 8% glycolic acid without issue but the blend in the Glam Glow makes it that I can’t use more than once a week (but I still like it!).

Future obsessions

We get a lot of love for our current line of cosmeceuticals but one piece of consistent feedback has been to create a product/s that are more intensively hydrating, especially for mature skin.  We’ve been labouring over a natural line of products for the past two years and they are just now getting to the point of being perfected.  They are designed to be intensely hydrating.  Our focus word for the line was ‘nourishment’, which can be overplayed to the point of losing meaning in a lot of cosmetic marketing.  Essentially though if you could picture your perfect breakfast smoothie,what would it have in it?  Certainly a handful of high quality ingredients would be better than a long list.  They should be nutrient dense.  They should be colourful since ‘eating the rainbow’ is the best way to guarantee you are getting a broad range of anti-oxidant protection.  The end product should be appetizing or better yet delightful.  With those criteria in mind, we’ve put together some products that I’ve been using for the past couple of months and loving. I was reminded of the story of when Coco Chanel created Chanel 5 and gave small bottles as little gifts to her clients in her atelier.  I love the notion that these products are going to be sweet little ‘gifts’ to our customers and can’t wait for them to launch (but you will have to stay tuned to find out when).

Make-up picks

I’ve been using jane iredale as my foundation of choice for what feels like forever.  I still love it for its natural looking finish and its ease of application.  I am a bit more adventurous though when it comes to anything else.  I do love Butter London colours- Abbey Rose is my natural looking pink nude for everyday and Macbeth is a beautiful coral.  I’m also a little bit obsessed with Bite Beauty’s lipsticks as well.  They are an amazing Canadian success story and I love all of their products, currently I have colours in Chai, Dragonfruit, Sweet Cream, and Verbena.  I love any lipstick that is a bright magenta- it’s my version of a classic red.  Otherwise, I also use Ilia’s highlighter, Benefit’s brow gel and Urban Decay’s black eyeliner in Zero.

I think when you have a great routine you stick with it- I wore the same products for my wedding make-up that I wear for every day.

Mom Hair

I’ve had to forgo blowdrying my hair since my daughter was born.  I just don’t have time and the noise of the blowdryer currently scares her.  I therefore wear my hair curly and have been trying to get my natural wave into some form of consistent submission.  I’ll use Kevin Murphy’s purple shampoo Blond Angel for my caramel highlights to prevent brassiness.  I use a little Bumble and Bumble Invisible hair oil

Me with Ava on a Holiday in the UK

Me with Ava on a Holiday in the UK

after showering and Kevin Murphy’s mousse for volume.  I’ll also use the John Masters apple cider vinegar rinse every two weeks or so just to help with build up. I wear my hair every day while drying in either a french braid or two pig tails to help my curls dry uniformly.  Ava is a huge help as well as she loves to finger comb them afterwards, which leaves them a lovely frizzy mess but I wouldn’t give up the hair pulling or baby styling for anything.

Work Uniform

I work from home most days so as you can imagine it’s Casual Friday every day.  I swear that I do change out of my pyjamas every day, except maybe on the worst, most sleep challenged ones.  I mostly refuse to look like the cartoon doodle of a tired mom though so I do my best.  For work out of the home or meetings, I’m all about the well tailored dress and a blazer if I have to.  I say have to because when I was doing my MBA, I got the comment that you should always wear a blazer to be work appropriate.  I’m a bit ambivalent about that but since I tend to look considerably younger than I am it can sometimes be helpful.  Diane Von Furstenburg and Judith and Charles are my two favourites for simple, well fitting dresses.  My husband also thinks it worthwhile to have a couple of pairs of beautiful shoes and some classic purses.  He thinks they are like watches for men, although I think watches should be like watches for women too.  Who doesn’t need a power watch! Although it’s a rookie mistake to not have it set to the right time.

So that’s it for me, I’d love to hear from you about what your ‘beauty uniform’ is and you should definitely click through to Cup of Jo and subscribe to her posts.

sunscreen, dangers, oxybenzone,

Sunscreen sprays, burns, dead coral and more: what we’ve heard in the news about sunscreens

blog image July 2016Things We’ve Heard About Sunscreen This Month:

Why is Sunscreen Bad for Coral Reefs?

 It turns out the UV filter Oxybenzone is hard on more than just our bodies, it can be absolutely devastating to the coral reefs that span our oceans. While deeply saddening , it’s not necessarily news. If you recall from our blog post from The Sunscreen Doc, click here to read, there have been signs up in Hawaii telling people to wash off their sunscreen from a long time ago. This photo was taken back in 2006.

Sunscreens Why is Oxybenzone so detrimental to the reefs? Oxybenzone is a photo-toxicant, meaning it’s detrimental effects are triggered by sunlight (making it an odd choice for a sunscreen ingredient). In very small concentrations, Oxybenzone was shown to disrupt the living larval forms of coral by reducing their motility, ossifying their exo-skeleton and causing its DNA to mutate. The overall effect was to exacerbate bleaching of the reef, something that is linked to rising sea temperatures, which is the ultimate death knell for the living organism.

Swimmers (but also all sunscreen users) should look for Oxybenzone free products but can also use sun protective clothing to reduce the amount of sunscreen they have to wear overall.

2nd degree burns on boy after using SPF 50 sunscreen

A mom in the UK posted pics of her son’s 2nd degree burns after spending 5 hours at the beach but after having religiously used sunscreens all day. The family had been using a popular sunscreen spray marketed especially for kids by Banana Boat. While there are multiple versions of the kids spray formula, we have found some versions that make it very clear as to what could have happened.

Banana boat ingredientsThis version shown here, has numerous potential issues with it (including the use of parabens in the non-medicinals). The most obvious issue is that it combines Avobenzone with Octinoxate, which is somewhat of a rookies mistake. It’s a well established fact that octinoxate degrades Avobenzone when exposed to sunlight. The end result is a sunscreen that loses the ability to protect against UVA as the Avobenzone degrades but then also against UVB as the octinoxate begins to deteriorate as well. Click here to read more about this well documented phenomenon. Fortunately, it’s not one that we see very often now so it’s astonishing to find it in a sunscreen for babies.

The fact that this sunscreen was an aerosol spray I believe compounds the problem and you can read more about that in the next section. This sunscreen also is just generally a poor choice due to the potential issue of endocrine disrupting chemicals with Avobenzone, un-encapsulated octinoxate, the varios salates and the parabens included in the non-medicinals. It’s all around a poor sunscreen but it’s all made worse by the fact that it’s marketed towards kids.

Aerosol Sunscreen Might Not be as Safe as you think

Finally, spray sunscreens currently exist in a nether-region in US regulation. The FDA has mandated as of 2011 that they would impose a ban on all spray sunscreens unless manufacturers could prove their safety. Spray sunscreens are still available until such ban is actually enforced but the concerns against their safety center around inhalation risk but also as to efficacy when it comes to applying them sufficiently and uniformly. Anecdotally, before my days of working at CyberDERM, I purchased a can of spray sunscreen and threw it in my purse to have on hand throughout the summer days. Unfortunately, the can leaked and pooled in the bottom off my silver coloured leather bag. After, quasi-melting my phone and I-pod (was back in 2010 and my beloved I-Pod Shuffle was toast!), the sunscreen also had stripped the silver paint of my bag. Most spray sunscreens use alcohol as the main solvent to solubilize their filters, which is how it was able to dissolve paint. It’s unsavoury to imagine that sitting on your skin all day.