Category Archives: CyberDERM Sun Whips

Clarins Spa, Raffles Hotel, facial review

Exploring French Luxury Beauty Products

This past May, I had the chance to visit Paris in full spring bloom.  I have very fond memories from my days studying at Sciences Po but my visit this time round had a different bent.  CyberDERM, in it’s earliest days, took a lot of inspiration from the big medical based brands like La Roche-Posay, Avène, Vichy and more.  They were the brands of the 90’s that had a lot of credibility and were favoured by dermatologists.  We have different formulating philosophies now though since many of these larger French luxury beauty brands have been slower to listen to consumer requests for controversy free ingredients.  I was interested to see on this trip what did French offerings look like today.  What were French consumers wanting and how were brands delivering?  I was asking these questions with the purpose of seeing whether CyberDERM would ever fit.  Would it be possible for the cultural beauty exchange to go the other way with a Canadian import into a French market?  There does seem to be a whisper of an opportunity, one we will continue to explore.  In the meantime, here are the highlights from my trip.

french beauty brands, Hermes

French Aesthetics but chock full of No-No ingredients

The Pharmacy Culture:

All of the French brands I mentioned took root through the French Pharmacy/Parfumerie system.  I capitalize it because if you have ever visited France, you’ll know theirs is a system that has its own unique flavour.  I know North American devotees who flock to the French pharmacies whenever they visit in search for those elusive beauty brands they cannot find anywhere else.  I feel they differ from our North American versions in being more curated.  Space is always a premium in the EU I get the sense that customers feel the brands from these beauty emporiums are also effective.  They also normally have the ineffable french quality of a certain understated classicism.  I always find it a treat to shop the sunscreens since the EU has access to filters that we do not have like the Tinosorb M and S and ethylhexyl triazone (all of which might pair beautifully with zinc oxide for incredible protection).  I also picked up a sunscreen in oil format*, which I think is very interesting.  I’m up for any format of sunscreen that increases people’s compliance in actually applying it everyday. I am not a fan of aerosol sunscreens since the alcohol used as a solvent is really hard on skin (and once stripped paint off of my purse)

CyberDERM, sunscreen, french brands

The French Pharmacy System

but a nourishing oil might be of interest. Again, we might start playing around to see if zinc oxide could be used in a similar format. *These are sunscreens with actual substantial filters in them, not tanning accelerators with a token SPF.

The status of sunscreens in the Gallic nation:

Being “the sunscreen company”, I was also of course interested to see what sunscreen use was like here.  Isn’t this where sunscreen use was born? Ok, perhaps not but I’ve always considered French women especially to be early adopters of the skincare regimen that included regular sunscreen use.  Certainly, there are a multitude of options in the above mentioned pharmacies.  Zinc is not popular here though- I didn’t  see any options other than Skinceuticals (which is an American import now owned by L’Oreal).  I thought for the real scoop I should go to the best beauty experts in the ‘biz’.  I stopped by Birchbox France to have a chat with two lovely BF editors.  I was surprised to learn from them that they felt women of their generation still relegated sunscreen use to their beach bag.  Also while there was a growing concern about ingredients in personal care products, this didn’t necessarily translate into an awareness of the controversies over certain sunscreen actives. We all agreed though that aesthetics are supremely important.  No amount of fact filled education would change

Birchbox May, France

The May Box from Birchbox co-opted by Fiance for bedside table

consumer behaviour if not accompanied with a proverbial spoonful of sugar (i.e. a pleasant user experience). Could our Every Morning Sun Whip SPF 25 be just the ticket?  It was a question that we all promised to consider and I continue to be a huge fan of the Birchbox FR team and concept.  I even got a treat in getting their gorgeous May box.

And finally THE FACIAL:

Here is one slightly dirty little secret, in all my years in the industry and being a daughter of a dermatologist- I’ve never had a facial. I’ve had fotofacials.  I’ve had medi-facials and peels.  I’ve just never understood the concept of a facial.  How effective can the layering of products be in one session?  Is it meant to be relaxing and effective?  Is this something I really need?  I know facial devotees would say I am missing the point.  I may not need one but most want them.  I still think I would rather have a fotofacial from a qualified professional at least once a year.  However, I knew I couldn’t speak with authority without trying one.  I therefore went to the one of the Top Rated Spa’s (in the world), the Clarins Spa My Blend in the Raffles Hotel Le Royal Monceau.  First, I will say that no one can beat a french spa for atmosphere. I’m sorry to say that I was too shy to take pictures- that would have felt rude and intrusive so you will have to rely on my description. The hotel is a beautiful concoction of panelled wood and elegant drapery.  You descend to the basement and the spa beckons like a movie’s vision of heaven.  It’s all white and backlit with long corridors. All of which puts you in a very calm and relaxed state of mind.  I sipped fresh pressed juice and munched on a selection of nuts and fruit while waiting. I poured over Dr. Clarins musings on skincare and women’s needs.  I was greeted by a sweet and down to earth facialist, who paid me the immense quality of thinking I was twenty and not

Clarins Spa, Raffles Hotel, facial review

The beautiful Lobby of the Royal Monceau

in need of an ‘anti-aging’ component to my treatment just yet.  The facial itself was like being wrapped in warm, white cocoon.  There were no extractions (yeah!), just repeated layerings of some of Clarins Professional products.  I loved the idea that part of the facial was tailored to my needs on the spot with specialized additives through the stages of exfoliation, gommage, hydration and calming.  All in all- an exceptional experience (with macarons served at the end)- I took lots of notes and inspiration in case we open another retail/spa space in the future.



The Year of The Horse: Our Beauty Predictions for You Based on Your Chinese Horoscope

CyberDERM, beauty profile, horoscopes
Can you say Adorable? Which Animal Are You?
You might be wondering whether I have the wherewithal to be able to say anything on your Chinese Horoscope. I’m neither Chinese nor a reader of the stars.  However, under the careful tutelage of my father in-law-to-be, I’ve been studying Chinese Horoscopes and have read up on them considerably.  For those of you not in the know, the Chinese astrology assigns one of twelve animals that represents your character and personality based on your birth year.  As my father-in-law-to-be has so nicely put it- it’s thousands of years of statistics.  I think they have some real merit and you’ll often see me trying to work backwards and figure out someone’s birth year and their Chinese Horoscope.  I don’t do math very well in my head so I often get it wrong.
This is the year of the Horse.  Every year has different implications based on your personal horoscope.  2013 was the year of the Snake, a hard one for those of the Pig year- if you are 30 (like myself), 42, 18, 54, or 6 then you might understand what I’m talking about.  Fortunately, with the New Year this past February, it’s a completely new cycle.  Here is what the Year of the Horse portends for you in terms of beauty- the predictions appear every year in texts like Your Chinese Horoscope by Neil Somerville.  The beauty extrapolations are my own. 

Let me know if we got it right in the Comments section below!
Rat: Birth Year ’36, ’48, ’60, ’72, ’84, ’96, ‘08
Traits: Strategic, Charming, Sociable, Value-Minded
Beauty Profile: The rats of the world are the sign best prepared for any future apocalypse.  In terms of beauty, they are the lovers of the two-for-one special, the Costco jumbo size, free samples and are the Extreme Couponers of the bunch.  It is not to say that Rats are cheap- they just like a good value. Having said that, they would do well to throw out those old stashes of unused samples. Do not try to repurpose that used lip balm from the 90’s.  Have a friend help you spring clean or you risk appearing on that Hoarder’s show.
Horse Year Predictions: This might actually be a trying year for you.  However, if you keep your wits about you, your efforts might get noticed.  Keep your appearance polished.  This sign is not known for being on time but refrain from looking harried.  Put your game face on.
 Ox: Birth Year ’37, ’49, ’61, ’73, ’85, ’97, ‘09
Traits: Focused, persistent and tenacious but can be inflexible and too serious
Beauty Profile: Has had the same hardworking beauty staples in their arsenal for years.  These products may not be fluffy but they get the job done and you are sticking with them. 
Horse Year Predictions: The gallivanting Horse can bring about a lot of change, something that Oxen are not known for dealing with especially well.  Take baby steps- try playing with small changes in your beauty routine to inject a little bit of levity into your day to day.  An orange lipstick might help you greet other larger life changes with a smile. 
Tigers: Birth Year ’38, ’50, ’62, ’74, ’86, ’98, ‘10
Traits: Strong willed, fierce and passionate but can be restless
Beauty Profiles: Tigers are known for being attractive since they take care with their appearance.  They are also the born strutters so they tend to get a lot of attention.
Horse Year Predictions: This year will be a good one for activity and opportunity.  Look as fierce as you feel with glowing skin as the backdrop for bold colours and architectural features.  You are going to have lots of socializing and celebrating this year so get your party looks in gear.
Rabbits: Birth Year ’39, ’51, ’63, ’75, ’87, ’99, ‘11
Traits: Peaceful, gentrified tastemakers that like the finer things in life
Beauty Profiles: Rabbits also take care of their appearance.  Male Rabbits are especially obvious as the modern Metrosexual.  They like their creature comforts and enjoy the act of preening.  They have a tactile appreciation of beauty with their assortment of embellished jars and potions.  You can tell a Rabbit as the girlfriend who always has her favourite tube of Rosebud salve in her purse or work drawer.
Horse Year Predictions: This year of activity can make a Rabbit a little bit anxious.  Clutch on to your creature comforts a little bit closer.  Just remember not to be a spendthrift- go for quality and not quantity and refrain from too much retail therapy. 
Dragons: Birth Year ’40, ’52, ’64, ’76, ’88, ’00, ‘12
Traits: Perfectionists, ambitious, hardworking but can be blunt and impulsive
Beauty Profiles: The Devil-Wears-Prada of the bunch. Dragon ladies especially can take on the world while looking immaculate.  They’ll have perfectly groomed brows, flawless complexions and not a hair out of place.  Your friends and peers look to you in general as a leader and your sartorial flair helps keep their attention.  
Horse Year Predictions: The past year’s fashion trends of the 90’s grunge or punk were most likely not your cup of tea.  Your overall look is more classic and you should keep it clean and minimal this year.  Focus on a healthy lifestyle and staying grounded- this might be a frenetic year for you.  Some deep yoga breaths might keep you from breathing fire over every one in frustration. 
Snakes: Birth Year ’41, ’53, ’65, ’77, ’89, ’01, ‘13
Traits: Mysterious, calm, contemplative and intelligent but can be secretive bordering on cunning
Beauty Profiles: Snakes are generally quite appealing to the opposite sex.  Snake ladies have a quiet grace to them that can be quite alluring.  They also have excellent taste and enjoy life’s little luxuries.  Famous snake ladies include Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Onassis.  Your beauty routine is more like a starlet’s boudoir.  You’re not posting on Facebook about your latest beauty acquisition, instead you have your little beauty secrets that you are not sharing but that everyone takes notice of. 
Horse Year Predictions: This could be a very taxing year for the quiet and slower paced Snake.  The Snake will have to try and keep up with the world and that can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety for these normally calm individuals.  Do your best to take holidays or me-time to recoup your energy.  Invest in relaxing rather than aggressive spa treatments this year so that your any inner turmoil does not register in your complexion. 
Horses: Birth Year ’42, ’54, ’66, ’78, ’90, ’02, ‘14
Traits: Lively, sociable, communicative but not the best keeper of secrets
Beauty Profiles: Horses like novelty.  They are also world travellers.  Their personal style will reflect this sense of adventure and be bold, bright and beautiful.  Horses make for great beauty bloggers- they know about the latest and greatest secrets from the Amazon and don’t feel the need to keep quiet about it.  They love to gab and interact with others.  They collect treasures from around the globe and their beauty bag will be filled with exotic bric and brac.
Horse Year Predictions:  Although it’s the year of the Horse, it does not mean that everything will go well with 100% certainty.  Pardon the pun- but the horse this year should be careful about horsing around.  Don’t play too hard and keep some of your exuberance in check. This has larger life implications but in terms of beauty it means not being too quick to import the craziest overseas find.  Keep things somewhat grounded and do not go too far in your attempts to surprise and delight.
Goats: Birth Year ’43, ’55, ’67, ’79, ’91, ‘03
Traits: Gentle and easy-going yet tenacious and a perfectionist
Beauty Profile: The soft and gentle appearance of goats can be deceiving!  They have true grit and strength that may go unnoticed.  They are also the artists of all of the animals.  Female goats like feminine/girly things.  They are also crafty enough to be good at DIY projects and may also appreciate more natural alternatives.  They are the ones to make homemade facials, probably with herbs from their own gardens.  They are the Green Goddesses of the beauty world!
Horse Year Predictions: This should be an inspiring year for Goats and their creative pursuits.  Goats might consider lots of life-style based projects whether it’s starting yoga or taking a soap making class.  If your projects are on a bigger scale, say home renovations, just be careful with making financial decisions. Be diligent about price shopping and comparing options. 
Monkeys: Birth Year ’44, ’56, ’68, ’80, ’92, ‘04
Traits: Uber-Charming, Persuasive, Curious but can be Crafty and Cunning
Beauty Profiles: The Monkeys of the world (Miley Cyrus is a famous one) have lots of confidence and their style tends to have a little kick to it.  They are fun loving so they do not take things too seriously and they are trendsetters in their respective cliques. 
Horse Year Predictions: The previous year of the Snake might have felt a little slow to the rambunctious Monkey.  Things will pick-up this year and it will be a time for the Monkey to kick up its heels (a Monkey definitely wears heels- with spikes on them).  It will be important to not go too over board or the Monkey might risk alienating others.  Someone should let Miley know. 
Roosters: Birth Year ’45, ’57, ’69, ’81, ’93, ‘05
Traits: Out-spoken, Colourful, Dignified and Meticulous but can be Abrupt
Beauty Profiles: Roosters can have strong opinions and a very pragmatic streak.  When combined with their sharp eye for detail, you can expect Roosters to pay considerable attention to their appearance.  You’ll never see a Rooster with chipped nail polish or have their roots showing- it would drive them to distraction.  Interestingly- Roosters who were born between the hours of 5-7 both am and pm are especially fiery- they were born crowing! Most Roosters are also social butterflies so they will often be party ready.
Horse Year Predictions: Roosters are incredibly organized and methodical- in all purchases (beauty and fashion ones included), it would be a good idea to write down a wish list.  This will also help the Rooster keep on budget, which can be tricky for many of this sign.  The year of the Horse can be about spontaneity, which can make the always prepared Rooster anxious. Don’t sweat the small stuff and make sure to take good care of yourself!

Dogs: Birth year ’46, ’58, ’70, ’82, ’94, ‘06
Traits: Extremely Honorable, Loyal, Intuitive but can be pessimistic and anxious
Beauty Profiles: Dogs are known for being warm, nurturing people.  They do not necessarily care too much about material possessions so their own vanity may not be their top priority.  However, it is not to say that they will not once in a while indulge in a little treat for themselves. They most likely have one or two favourite beauty luxuries that they like to store away for special occasions.  Female dogs are actually renowned for their beauty but in a un-fussy, down to earth kind of way.
Horse Year Predictions: With a dog’s resolute will, they can accomplish a lot this year.  Dogs will be more likely to attain their goals by keeping them specific and writing them down.  As mentioned, dogs are not really big into materialistic things but they might focus on health goals this year.  As always, they also are always taking care of their loved ones but they should try not to take on everyone else’s worries.  Keep your chin up!
Pigs: Birth Year ’47, ’59, ’71, ’83, ’95, ‘07
Traits: Honest, Generous, Open-hearted but can be Stubborn and Naïve
Beauty Profiles: Pigs like to be pampered so they are the spa goers of the group.  They are not adverse to good food, good wine and la dolce vita in all of its forms.  They love all things beauty wise but will also share with their friends.  Pigs are also known for being quite lucky so while they may be quick to spend their money on life’s luxuries, they can normally keep things in the black. 
Horse Year Predictions: The previous year of the Snake would have been a tough one.  Some of the year’s frustrations might have started to show in the normally well-kept Pig’s appearance.  However, this year is meant to be one of good luck and promise!  So go ahead and visit your favourite spa- get your hair and nails done and be ready to greet the opportunities that come your way.


Amazing Review of our Simply Zinc Sun Whip

I don’t know how we missed this post this summer but the very so stylish Aleeza of Stylish and Literate posted about the merits of our Simply Zinc Sun Whip.  We are so happy that she gave us her sign of approval.

Big thanks to Aleeza and definitely check out the rest of her very well written blog.

Simply Zinc Sun Whip and other sunscreens
Photo credit: Stylish and Literate: Simply Zinc and others

Stylish&Literate: Summer Sun Defense: Hello global warming! The weather has been so inconsistent in the past couple of weeks with snow,  heat waves, thunderstorms… but …


Beauty is all about Skin Tone

How to get beautiful Skin-Simply Zinc it.
How to get beautiful skin: Simply Zinc it and other tools

Never has a truer word been spoken before…beauty is all about skin tone. The symmetry of the face used to be the in vogue criteria for what was considered beautiful but now researchers are saying that good skin trumps good bone structure. Click here for the article from the Times in the UK. The good news… beautiful skin is really attainable, getting better cheek bones is a bit trickier.