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.

sunscreens, fertility, male sperm

UV Filters Interfere with Human Sperm and More Health Implications of EDC’s

New Study Shows the Health Implications of UV Filters on Human Sperm

Our company founder and my father Dr. Denis Dudley has been voicing his concerns about the role of some UV filters and other potential endocrine disrupting chemicals since we first started making sunscreens back in 2008. Anyone who has ever met him (in the hallways of our sister dermatology clinic, in airports, drug store aisles or when sitting by the beach) can vouch for how passionate he is about the role of sunscreens and their impact on our health and environment. I think this passion partially stems from a little bit of frustration and a whole lot of being perplexed. The argument against using certain filters seems so practical, reasonable, and intuitive and yet it’s not very well received by many medical professionals, regulatory agencies and academics. These critics point to a dearth in rigorous science but as my father has pointed out- a rigorous experiment would involve applying these products every day across generations to see their full potential effect and how ethical is that? Continue reading

UVB sunscreen

Can Using a Sunscreen Be Worse than Using a Tanning Bed? The Health Implications of a UVB Sunscreen.

For the month of April, we are featuring a guest blog written by our company founder, Dr. Denis Dudley on the health implications of using a UVB sunscreen.

Many of us are well aware of the dangers of using a tanning bed and certainly a dermatologist would never recommend using one.  However, Dr. Dudley investigates a recent study that shows using an unbalanced sunscreen might do even more damage.  So how do you protect yourself and your loved ones?

Click here to find out more.

regenerative medicine, Laserderm, PRP, anti-aging

A New Form of Rejuvenation and What It Means For Your Love Life

A New Form of Rejuvenation and What It Means For Your Love Life: Regenerative Medicine and the New You

Guest Post: Sunny Kim, Rn.

It is with great pleasure and privilege that I am guest-blogging for March! I asked Sara if I could borrow her soapbox this month, because every once in a while, here at Laserderm (the dermatology clinic that CyberDERM was first sold in and created for) we get to introduce game-changing treatments that make us so enthused we just can’t contain ourselves. I am the Director of Clinical Affairs at Laserderm, and also the dedicated Nurse Injector. I started nursing in oncology and dabbled on the orthopaedic surgery floor in my early days, but I feel my career really started when I started working at Laserderm. Laser and cosmetic dermatology has been my passion for the past 18 years, and other than a 6-year hiatus in Toronto working for Industry (Clinical Education and Research for laser companies), I have had the pleasure of being Dr. Laughlin’s side-kick.

As some of you know from recent visits to the clinic, Regenerative Medicine is something that is on our minds… What is it, you ask? To quote our Executive Director, Dr. Dudley: “Regenerative Medicine is arguably the most exciting new frontier in medicine today.” This is not an exaggeration, and we’re not the only ones excited about it. Recently the Federal government awarded 20 million dollars to advance stem cell research and the commercialization of Regenerative Medicine in Canada.

Regenerative Medicine includes therapies which harvest and concentrate components of blood or cells, so that they can be re-injected or applied to injured, diseased or ageing tissue requiring repair or restoration. To date, clinical applications of autologous (you only get treated by YOUR OWN plasma or cells) platelet rich plasma (PRP), bone marrow derived stem cells, or adipose derived stem cells have offered new solutions in many branches of medicine: neurology, cardiology, opthalmology, urology, dermatology and plastic surgery, and orthopaedics, to name a few. Professional athletes like Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods received PRP treatment a few years ago, and brought media attention to the potential for PRP to accelerate and amplify the healing process; slow down or possibly even reverse degenerative processes like osteoporosis. The orthopaedic surgeons who have adopted this new approach have been able to defer or even replace joint surgery for some of their patients!

Closer to my heart, in the Dermatology and anti-aging world, PRP and Stem Cell therapies are novel approaches in reversing signs of photodamage, replacing old skin or scars with smoother and healthier skin, faster wound healing times when combined with laser surgery, hair restoration, tissue augmentation with micro-fatgrafting, and the sexiest use of PRP… the O-Shot. But we’ll come back to that later.

We are all trying to stay young longer, reclaim that healthier version of ourselves, and ward off signs of premature ageing. Most of us want to do this gracefully, still maintain our unique qualities in the pursuit of beauty, and what better way than to harness our OWN healing powers? PRP contains a ton of growth factors which are essential signalers to the body to activate the healing or repair process. Stem cells (harvested in adults from bone marrow or adipose/fat tissue) have the ability to become ANY type of cell needed in the area of injury or disease. That is huge- treatment options that are non-surgical, drug-free, and non-immunogenic (since you are only receiving your own tissue there can be no allergic reactions or rejection of tissue). There is a reason why Dr. Laughlin might never retire… she is just having too much fun and is exceedingly passionate about this new frontier in anti-aging.

I could go on, but let’s just leave it at that for now and get on with the juicy stuff. We recently launched our Women’s Health Program, and one of the treatments being offered is called the O-Shot. O is for Orgasm. And who doesn’t want one, a better one, a faster one, a bigger one, and more of them? Many of you have sat in a treatment chair in front of me, and trusted me with the fine details of your facial features. I pride myself in my workmanship, and I care deeply about the subtle curve of your cheeks and the symmetry of your lips. I care that you hate your one brow that is slightly higher than the other, I can fix that! Your trust is like a fiercely guarded prize to me, and I try my best to speak from first-hand experience whenever possible. So…. a couple of weeks ago I gave myself the gift of the O-Shot (Happy Valentines Day to my husband of 19 years!). Dr. Laughlin performed the procedure in about 15 minutes. I wanted to have the O-Shot so that I can tell you personally that it doesn’t hurt, I went skiing with my family immediately after the treatment, and it didn’t involve surgery, a costly drug or any implantation of a device. No medical procedure is 100% guaranteed effective, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that once the PRP starts working its magic, this story will have many… happy endings!

Trust me, you are worth it too.
To read more about our Regenerative Medicine Program or the O-Shot click here.

body after baby

Body After Baby: Treatments From Moms’ Perspectives

body after baby

My Little One-Couldn’t Help But Share!

I just had our beautiful baby girl 4 months ago- I can’t even remember what our life was like before her.  It seems like she has always been part of our family! Having said that, I definitely had some aspects of pregnancy take their toll.  One famous plastic surgeon once described pregnancy as napalm for the body but I would consider that to be a bit harsh.  I do remember being upset and anxious though during pregnancy, wondering what things would be like after having our baby.  From 7 weeks of pregnancy on, I broke out in red acne sparingly on my face but considerably on my back and chest.  I felt like a teenager all over again.  As much as you feel blessed to be pregnant and have a healthy baby, you still get down about body issues. The knowledge that I would be able to resolve some them perked me up considerably.  It’s also made recovery after birth feel hopeful if not exactly seamless.

In this month’s blog, we are going to hear first hand from medical professionals who are also moms.  They have had the odd issue relating back to having their kids and have had them treated.  Some of these moms have teenagers but have now gotten a chance to tackle some of those stubborn ‘bits’.  You certainly don’t have to have had kids to have some of these issues, either- so hopefully you can relate to some of the concerns listed below and find out how they were tackled! I’ve included links to our sister dermatology practices’ website (www.laserderm.ca) for more information.

Mom #1 (Me!) Age: 32

# of Kids and their Ages: 1 Baby Girl (4 months)

Concern Post-Baby: broken blood vessels and stretch marks on breasts and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and residual acne on face and back

Treatment/s: Pulsed dye for broken blood vessels and stretch marks on breasts after engorgement, Venus Viva  TM for improving brown/acne marks, mild acne and refining pore size with some additional pulses of the Matrix IR for active cystic acne type pimples. Lactic Acid Glow ‘Peel’ for back resolving the PIH left behind after acne flare-up during pregnancy.

What Does/Do the Treatment/s Feels Like: The pulsed dye laser feels like a mild snap with a rubber band, followed by a warm sensation. Even on sensitive areas, the treatment was tolerable enough to do without numbing cream and was incredibly quick. The Venus Viva TM on the other hand feels like tiny pricking sensations while using a topical numbing cream. Some have described the sensation as irritating and unpleasant but overall the procedure again was pretty quick and only sensitive in certain areas like the upper lip. The Lactic Acid peel felt ‘hot’ and stingy for a couple of minutes but was otherwise completely tolerable.

First Impressions Afterwards and Recovery: The pulsed dye laser immediately leaves a dark purplish mark where the broken blood vessels were treated- my husband described it as looking like you were attacked by an animal (charming). The colour gets darker over the next couple of days before gradually fading. Some residual brown marks were left in some of the treated areas and were cleared up with a little help of Emblica Light and Bright. The Venus Viva TM left my face feeling warm and looking ‘splotchy’ for lack of a better word. However by the next day, it returned to normal looking except for perhaps being a little on the dry and rough side. The spots treated with the Matrix IR were slightly red but not noticeably. The Lactic Acid did not produce any actual peeling but just some gradual exfoliation.

Any Follow-Up Treatment? The broken blood vessels were completely cleared. The pink stretch marks were slight to begin with but are barely visible now. I might potentially have them treated one more time while there remains some pink colour in them (before they turn completely white) since it can only help them to drive more heat into the scar tissue for healing purposes. The Venus Viva TM did help to fade some of the left over acne marks but also just help to improve some minor wrinkles on my forehead, which was a nice little bonus! The Venus Viva TM is intended to include 3 treatments so I will return for those later. The active cystic pimples finally went away completely, which was nice after been resistant to any other types of treatment before the Matrix IR TM. I wish I could bring the Matrix IR TM home with me to treat any new ones that might crop up with hormonal flare-ups. Finally, the Lactic Acid Peel left my back feeling very smooth but I would get another follow-up treatment to help get rid of some of the stubborn remaining marks.

Mom # 2, Age: 36

# of Kids and their Ages: 2 kids, ages 4 (girl) and 4 months (boy)

Concern post-baby: melasma with pregnancies, brown pigmentation patches appeared on upper lip and upper cheeks.

Treatment: Fraxel TM after 1st pregnancy, and Q-switched Nd-YAG laser treatment after 2nd pregnancy

Tell us what the Treatment felt like: Fraxel TM laser 1550 feels “hot and intensely scratchy” so the skin is numbed with anaesthetic cream before the procedure. This takes the “edge off” and there is slight sunburned sensation after the treatment.  The Q-switched NdYAG laser treatment for melasma is done at very low energy settings so there is no discomfort or burning sensation, therefore no need for topical anaesthetic cream.

First Impressions Afterwards/What was Recovery Like: The Fraxel TM laser creates thousands of tiny “dots” of heat channels in the skin so it is red and swollen for a couple days, followed by some “bronzing” or browning of the skin which also feels like fine sandpaper. After several days this all exfoliates off and the skin feels smooth again. Makeup can be worn in the recovery period to help camouflage the temporary redness/browning.  The Q-Switched NdYAG laser treatment does not create any lasting inflammation or heat in the skin so there is no lingering redness, swelling or heat.

Any follow-up Tx: Melasma is a condition which is triggered by a combination of hormone fluctuation and UV exposure.  Although the laser treatments have virtually cleared the melasma so it is very difficult to see any pigmentation irregularity, vigilant skincare and DAILY UV protection (zinc is best) are the most important keys to maintaining even skintone. Occasionally if the melasma patch seems to darken (with hormone or season changes), some maintenance Q-Switch NdYAG laser treatments can be done to suppress the pigment again.

Mom # 3, Age: 45

# of Kids and their Ages: 2 kids ages 14 and 16

Concern post-baby:  my stomach and flanks

Treatment: Cool Core  TM and Cool Curve TM  Zeltiq TM treatments  for body contouring

Tell Us What the Treatment Feels Like: Both treatments attach to the area and then can only be described as sucking the bulge in question with a vacuum attachment.  The area is then frozen, which feels incredibly cold but not painful.  The area is then continually kept cold for the rest of the treatment, which lasts for a total of one hour.  The CoolSmooth TM is another type of attachment that lies flat on the area (so no vacuuming the bulge) but takes 2 hours total for the treatment. The treatment is a good time to read some magazines, catch up on some TV or just take a nap.

First Impressions Afterwards/What was Recovery Like: Recovery was pretty easy. Slight tenderness for about a week post tx. Over the following 3 months I noticed a nice sculpting of my waist and diminishing of my love handles.

Any follow-up Tx: I’d like to follow up treatment Zeltiq Cool Core TM treatment to upper abs for better contouring.  But so far, quite happy- I feel great in my clothing and especially my jeans!

Mom #4, Age: 37 

# of Kids and their Ages: 2 children, 9 and 5

Concern post-baby: urinary incontinence, mostly during sneezing or exercise

Treatment: Femilift TM- 2 treatments so far, one month apart

Tell Us What the Treatment Feels Like: The treatment itself is very comfortable, didn’t really feel any pain just a slight heat like sensation by the end of the treatment.

First Impressions Afterwards/What was Recovery Like: I had some mild cramping post treatment for about 2 hours.

Any follow-up Tx: I still need to do my 3rd treatment as that is what the protocol includes. I’m planning on doing one treatment a year for maintenance as well. Fortunately, I noticed results about a week after the first treatment.  I don’t need to sneeze with my legs crossed and no more leaking during jumping jacks!

 

 

oxybenzone, beach, sunscreen

9 Reasons Why Oxybenzone Might be One of the Most Dangerous Chemicals in Your House

For the month of December, the Sunscreen Doc is our guest poster on why the chemical Oxybenzone might be one of the most dangerous chemicals in your life.  Click here to read the full text of the blog.

Baby Perfection

Things are Coming Up Baby: Skincare for Babies

We’re introducing some new ‘team members’ this month to our small family company with not one but two new additions. I welcomed our Baby Ava into the world on September 25 and have been enjoying her ever since.   So with babies on the mind, we thought we’d share some tips just for baby. True, we don’t make products specifically tailored to their needs. However, with lots of moms, dads and grandparents asking questions about their own skincare, we do get some about baby’s in terms of the same principles of safety and efficacy that we try to espouse with our line. So feel free to share with loved ones and let us know what you think.

Baby Perfection

Baby Perfection

Mother Nature’s Best Skincare

The newest research in neo-natal care has started to advocate for delaying baby’s first bath and it’s largely because of nature’s best emollient, Vernix Caseosa. Depending on a number of factors, including the timing of their arrival with respect to due date, babies come out with different amounts of the waxy cheesy coating.

Made up of a unique composition of ceramides, phospho lipids, triglycerides and more, vernix plays a definite role in-utero but we are just starting to appreciate its role post birth. It contains 41 proteins, 25 of which are unique to vernix, that are considered anti-microbial. The coating helps the baby adapt to its very new and shocking surroundings, also helping with preventing skin dehydration (otherwise known as trans-epidermal water loss). It also contains potent anti-oxidants to help combat the very pro-oxidant and stressful experience that is birth. All of this to say that it’s even been studied in use for adults for skin conditions like wound healing and atopic dermatitis. It’s a thousand times better than Vaseline or Aquaphor so don’t wipe it off, rub it in! 

The Deal with Regular Baby Products:

Unfortunately, you can’t roll down the aisles of your local pharmacy and pick-up a tub of vernix so until then you have to make do with man-made products. My philosophy is to keep it as simple as possible- you don’t necessarily need soap, wipes or moisturizers every time you bathe your baby. Sometimes a simple sponge bath will do the trick. When diaper blow-outs and more call for heavier duty cleaning, there are some good drug store options and there are some awful ones. I’ve never understood why baby’s oil is lanolin derived (i.e. from sheep’s wool)- my adult skin has a hard time having wool up against, I don’t know why they’d choose such a common allergen for a baby’s product. Other iconic baby products, like diaper rash cream (in the blue tin) and baby powder have also fallen to the wayside. Again, I’m not sure why a product intended for irritated baby’s skin contains alcohol, fragrance, lanolin and in some specific SKU’s parabens. Our little one did come down with a bad diaper rash that required a good barrier cream.  We found Ihle’s paste to be the diaper cream with the best staying power and the least amount of undesirable ingredients (and we went through a number of choices before settling on this one).  Unfortunately, it’s hard to find in most drug stores but you can order online here.  In a pinch, a little Simply Zinc (for the high content of zinc oxide) mixed with Vaseline (for the barrier cream function) would also do the trick.

I was pretty impressed with Burt’s Bees line of fragrance-free baby products. Their ingredient list is pretty minimal, with no no-no’s and readily accessible. I haven’t tried some of the more boutique brands like Zoe Organics or other organic based brands. I don’t necessarily agree with including some of the essential oils that these smaller scale natural brands will include. Lavender, tea tree oil and citrus oils are considered common allergens so keep that in mind if your baby is starting to show some irritation to the products. At the end of the day, simple and pure oils like olive oil are great options for moisturizers and perfect for doing baby massage, which is great for their skin but also for parent/baby bonding and comfort.

Treating Some Typical baby Skin Conditions:

Baby Acne-

The root cause of baby acne has still not quite been determined at this point. Some theorize it’s a result of residual hormones from the mom after delivery, other’s think its due to some unknown form of inflammation. It can appear any time from delivery to around 7 months and looks fairly similar to teenage or adult acne- red bumps with some small pustules. Generally, it resolves on its own but if it seems to coincide with other issues then be sure to discuss with your treating physician.

In general, you want to avoid using anything to oily or creamy so as to not make it worse. A lot of websites preach the benefits of natural remedies like coconut oil or corn starch. I think the coconut oil would be too rich- I know people tout it as a miracle oil but I wouldn’t recommend it for an adult with acne and I similarly wouldn’t do it for baby acne. Breast milk is mentioned as a possibility and I don’t see how this could hurt, it clearly has some powerful anti-inflammatories and it’s why it’s recommended for use on sore and cracked nipples. Blitzing oatmeal into a fine powder in a food processor and using in the baby’s bath or gently applying to the skin through a cheese cloth could also be a good solution. Certainly the active component in oats is wonderfully soothing- growing up we used to use the Aveeno line of products. I’ve found though the content of oats has decreased though and they use a lot of other ingredients I’m not fond of. I’d say try making your own instead.

Eczema-

Mild eczema is fairly common in newborns and first line prevention means just trying to avoid any fragranced cleaning products, including your laundry detergent.  The oatmeal solution would be a nice option for mild cases as would gentle cleansing/massage with olive oil. For more severe cases, where it leads to cracked, sore and oozing skin then you need to consult with your physician. They might recommend as your next step a prescription topical, sometimes in the form of a corticosteroid. I know that might seem hard for parents to come to terms with- we all want to start with the most gentle and natural based remedy first. A pediatric dermatologist would be able to say whether moving to this kind of option is best though and start conservatively. [Editors’s Note: Ava had mild eczema during the winter months.  Our attempts to control using coconut oil just weren’t ultimately helping so we switched to  La Roche-Posay Lipkar Baume AP.  It completely resolved her eczema and we’ve continued to use it daily.  It’s not a natural solution and does contain synthetic ingredients (although no No-No’s) but is the best at providing adequate barrier protection.  They’ve even updated their marketing to include for infants and children.]

Cradle Cap-

Is another condition that can pop up in those first few months and reoccur throughout infancy. In adults and older children, we call it dandruff. It often looks like dry, yellow or white crusty patches on the baby’s head but also elsewhere on their bodies. You can try pure plant based oils like olive oil or grapeseed and gently massage into affected areas. This will loosen the crusty residue. If the problem continues, then you can ask your physician about medicated shampoos.

Sunscreen Use in Infants:

This is one specific question that we often get asked- typically from parents who use our Sun Whips for themselves and wonder if they can use them on their children and newborns. For newborns, you can use other means of sun protection while they are still relatively immobile, typically just keep them out of the sun and watch for exposed skin in cars and while in their strollers. Once they start moving around, then you can consider applying sunscreen but I would stick to zinc based ones with relatively simple ingredient lists. If using one with only zinc as its filter, then you need 20% and higher as its listed concentration for adequate protection. I would have no issue recommending our Simply Zinc Sun Whip SPF 30 but I realize there is a potential cost issue with it being a small bottle and higher priced than other alternatives.  It’s what I intend to use because I still find many of the alternatives to be pretty sticky and white.

A Word on Skincare for the New Mom:

Life really does change with a newborn in the mix so I’ve had to streamline my skincare/beauty routine a little. I’ve kept it to washing my face, H20 Hydration and sunscreen with a little bit of concealer, blush and eyeliner for when I’m going out. It’s the two minutes of the day that make me feel a little bit normal and feeling a little bit pulled together when you have bits of spit up on you is worth it. Also for new moms, I highly recommend picking up some cleansing cloths like Kaia. They are amazing for doing a quick clean up of your face or chest. I keep them in my nightstand for when I only have one hand available for quick cleansing. Sure, you could probably use a baby wipe but keep some things just for you and indulge a little.

What skincare solutions have you found worked? Feel free to share with us, as always would love to hear from you.

Maddy Mackenzie, olympic athlete, speed kayak, CyberDERM

Why You Need To Know About Maddy Mackenzie: Our Newest Sun Safe, Sun Whip Ambassador and Canada’s Next Athletic Superstar

Maddy Mackenzie, olympic athlete, speed kayak, CyberDERM

Maddy Takes to the Water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some people are just born with a level of magnetism. When you pair that with an ability to execute your own dreams with sheer will, ability and discipline- you have an athletic superstar in your making.   You also have local-Chelsea, Quebec born and raised Maddy Mackenzie.

Maddy Mackenzie has been part of her local kayak community at the Casacades club in Gatineau since the age of six. She is currently part of the Senior National Development Team of Canoe Kayak Canada and an elite member of the Canoe Kayak Quebec Team. At the age of 19, she has also racked up several National and world titles, including a fifth place finish at the U23 World Championships in Portugal this past July. All of this to say, her bid to be an Olympic hopeful and champion is more than just rhetoric, it’s imminent.

Maddy Mackenzie, olympic athlete, Cascades club, speed kayaking, CyberDERM

Maddy with Student From Paddle All Program at Cascades Club

Maddy also happens to have the kind of bright, and shall we say sunny, disposition that makes you want to support her. Unfortunately she has also been touched with personal tragedy.  In 2001, Maddy’s long time coach and mentor Lucy Slade passed away after losing her battle with melanoma. Lucy was only 39, and her death was incredibly hard on not only her loved ones but on her close knit kayaking community. Her Cascades club has since held a memorial regatta every year to help raise awareness and funds for melanoma. Maddy continues to pay tribute to her as well by riding in Lucy’s K1 (kayak) and even winning National titles in it.

It made perfect sense then for us to partner with Maddy and have her be our Sun Safe, Sun Whip Ambassador. Maddy spends most of her days completing on-water training and travels the world to beautiful (and sunny) locales like for this years Under-23 World Championships in Portugal and later for winter training in Florida. It means she, like her teammates, receive a larger than typical amount of UV exposure than many but she also recognizes that the rates of melanoma and skin cancer are rapidly increasing in her peer category for all young women, from 16-35+ years. She is quickly realizing that sun safety and skin cancer prevention is an important national and international level discussion that has to take place.

It’s with immense pride then that while she is shaving off milliseconds and taking us all along for her journey to Olympic greatness, she is also showing the world that sun safety can be sun chic and inspiring generations to lead their healthiest version of their own lives. She really is a true embodiment of our motto to #liveinthelight and we are humbled that we get to partner with her for whatever comes up in the next couple of years.

Maddy Mackenzie, Olympic athlete, speed Kayak, CyberDERM

Stay Tuned for More with Maddy

Stay tuned to hear more from Maddy herself and to watch her complete her bid for the ultimate in athletic glory.