Why didn’t I come across Marie Veronique years ago?
This incredible lady is the duchess of non-toxic skin care. She is both a chemist and and master formulator – she knows her stuff, and we have so much to learn from her. Her skin care line is stellar – natural beyond natural and truly anti-aging. Even Gwyneth Paltrow recommended Marie’s anti-aging oil in her cult newsletter, Goop. I was lucky enough to interview her. Enjoy!
Marie, I am so happy to have come across your amazing company. You look stunning for your age. What is your philosophy on aging?
Rather than dreading aging, look to all the advantages that come with it, for example, slowing down physically gives you more time to notice things. How about this for an analogy—in youth you speed along in the car to get to your destination, but you miss pretty much everything going on around you. As you get older you graduate to the bicycle. You still get to where you are going, but you’re no longer in such a hurry you don’t have time to appreciate the present moment as well. And at a certain age you realize it’s not the destination but the journey that counts. I am not there yet. I still tend to race along, but I know stress is really bad for the skin, so—live in the moment and watch your skin improve–as long as you remember to put on your sunscreen before you hang out. Oh and thanks for the compliment—I will take a moment to savor it.
Although aging skin is inevitable, do you believe that the right natural products can reduce visible signs of aging?
Absolutely. I believe the challenge here is to address how time ages skin. UVA damage is the biggest single cause of wrinkles and age spots, so wearing sunscreen year round is crucial.
Major skin changes are also taking place below the surface, in particular the body’s ability to produce of key components like collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid slows down as we age. In our products we provide the nutrients the skin needs to replenish itself and function properly. For example, our oils contain omega 3 and Omega 6 EFA’s, which skin needs for moisture retention, Vitamin A in the form of retinol, necessary for skin cell and collagen formation, and Vitamin C delivered in a way that the skin can use it to do important repair work. Intelligent ingredients we call them, because we are putting nature’s intelligence to work to improve your skin. External vigilance and internal maintenance translate into healthy, glowing younger-looking skin.
Do you think that some of the ingredients used in more synthetic products can actually be aging?
Definitely. Most aging is attributed to free radical damage—and the major source of this damage comes from sun exposure. So, the solution should be to wear more sunscreen. Does it need to be natural—yes, because synthetic chemicals like octinoxate (aka octyl methoxy cinnamate) break down in the presence of UV and generate free radicals, which can damage cells and even DNA—precisely the type of damage you are trying to avoid. Our zinc oxide sunscreens not only offer protection from UVA rays, they contain other ingredients like pearl powder that reflect light and render surface wrinkles less visible. .
What do you think are the most toxic chemicals that are still in so many personal care products today?
Unfortunately it’s a long list, but we can start by avoiding these ingredients, and luckily alternatives are readily available.
1) Anti-bacterial cleansers and hand wipes containing Triclosan are extremely toxic, and it ends up in the ground water. Alternative: plain soap and water works just as well.
2) Synthetic fragrances are the number one cause of atopic dermatitis. Alternative: look for “fragrance-free” products. Avoid “unscented” as these products can contain masking fragrances. Products that contain essential oils are fine, but be careful to distinguish between essential oils and “fragrance oils” or “parfum”—both are code words for synthetic fragrances.
3) Pthalates belong to a special class of compound that have become ubiquitous. They are used to fix fragrances and soften plastics, among other things, and are hormone disruptors. Alternative: Look for products in glass or very hard plastic if glass is not available. Look for essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances.
4) Parabens aka methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, and benzylparaben are endocrine disruptors and should be avoided. Alternative: preservatives are necessary to keep products from degrading, but there are many preservatives derived from natural ingredients that are fine.
5) Oxybenzone in kids’ sunscreen is dreadful, because this hormone disruptor shows up in 98% of adults tested, and kids are at even greater risk. Because their skins are thinner and their immune systems are not as well-developed they are absorbing larger amounts than adults relative to skin surface area. Alternatives: non nano zinc oxide is far and away your safest and most effective sun protective agent.
6) Benzoyl peroxide is very commonly used to treat acne, but two groups of people should avoid it. A) it is a sun sensitizer that can cause blotchiness and spots with prolonged use, so people susceptible to hyperpigmentation should exercise extreme caution B) because studies show it inhibits new skin cell formation adult acne sufferers who don’t want to trade pimples for wrinkles should avoid it. Alternatives: tea tree oil has been shown to be as effective in killing P. acnes as BP, and there are no side effects. Oils that break up congestion are a good alternative to BP treatments, as are serums containing pantothenic acid.
As a former chemist, you clearly know your stuff – do you love coming up with formulations based on your extensive knowledge.
Oh sure—I love the challenge. There are problems out there begging to be solved and ingredients just waiting to provide a solution. Delaying aging is probably the biggest of all the challenges, and researchers all over the world hard at work on it are coming up with some fascinating findings. I believe the future lies in marine ingredients combined with biotech and the growing field of biomimetics, which operates on the principle that finding answers involves following in nature’s footsteps.
S.U. Do you think that non-toxic skin care is a part of good preventative healthcare?
M.V. Yes, we should pay the same attention to what we put on our bodies as what we put in our bodies, because, simply put, what goes on, goes in. We absorb at least 60-70% of what we put on our skins.
S.U.Can cancer survivors or those undergoing treatment, safely use all your products?
M.V. Yes for cancer survivors, but people undergoing treatments may be advised that some ingredients we use in our products, like anti-oxidants, are contra-indicated while following strict treatment protocols. Cancer patients just need to go over all aspects of their home routines, including which personal care products to use, with their medical professionals. I also think one thing to mention with anyone undergoing cancer treatments that tends to get overlooked is the home environment. What cleaning products are they using, what kind of mattress are they sleeping on, is their rug or couch off-gassing—all those things are important!
S.U. Do you believe diet plays an important role in anti-aging?
M.V. Yes, of course! Sugar is a real villain, as it leads to glycation which ages skin in the form of advanced glycation end products (AGE’s). These cause proteins to stiffen and become brittle, and in the skin collagen and elastin fibers weaken and break down, leading to a more wrinkled appearance.
S.U. What do you eat?
M.V. I am 64 so I grew up in the fifties eating blue popsicles, red hot dogs and tv dinners. But I’ve learned a lot since then. For instance, I no longer eat blue popsicles. Like with the products that we make, I like to focus on a diet of local and organic ingredients.
S. U. What makes you joyful?
M.V. Reading. Hanging out with my grand daughter. Reading. Riding my bike. Reading. Writing. Food. Did I mention reading? One of the Monty Python guys, I forget which one, said once, “My idea of happiness is to lie in bed and have books brought to me on a trolley.”