Health December 16, 2015

Organically Speaking

Botanicals Backed by Science

When it comes to looking great, we’re often willing to put up with, well, more than we should. Think skiing without a hat so as not to mess up our hair, or slathering our bodies with baby oil to get a great tan. Thank goodness we’re smarter than that now! Consumers are now savvy enough to know they don’t want to sacrifice their health for the sake of beauty. 

Until about 10 years ago, consumers had to choose between “medical-grade” skin products, which produced results but were loaded with carcinogens and preservatives, or products that were deemed “natural” but yielded no tangible improvements. Now, science and technology are able to integrate the best of both.

“Definitely the trend is toward organic,” said Mollie Holt, spa director at Zenergy. “People are aware that what you put on your skin goes directly into your bloodstream—so if you’re eating organic and putting Cheetos on your skin…”

Holt said that the spa’s best-selling product by far is Eminence, a certified organic botanical skincare line from Hungary for which ingredients are cultivated and harvested “bio-dynamically.” Production is powered by solar, wind and geothermal energy, and the product is handmade and handpacked. 

Anette Farnham, owner of Vertu, a hair salon in Ketchum, began using organic products 10 years ago because of her allergic reaction to traditional products. “I switched to Philip Martin’s hair color line, which also covers grey hair very well. Ammonias and parabens are the major culprits in skin irritations and allergies. I can tell if a client has previously had a Brazilian blowout because I can still smell and taste the formaldehyde!” 

Pure, a Ketchum spa owned by Teresa Hiramatsu, carries Indie Lee, an “eco chic” product line launched in 2010 by a woman who battled brain cancer she believed was caused by environmental toxins. “What we put on our body is absorbed by our body,” said Callie Jones, a Pure esthetician.

Jones says the chief concern among tourists and residents alike is anti-aging and how to keep their skin hydrated in our dry climate. Free radicals, generated by ultraviolet rays, smoking and pollutants, attack our cells and hasten the aging process, causing wrinkles and dryness. Products from Caudalie, one of Pure’s most popular lines, use grape seed polyphenols, an antioxidant that preserves hyaluronic acid, a plumping agent that keeps skin looking youthful.

Dr. Christine Brozowski is a cosmetic dermatologist with a practice in Ketchum and Berkeley, Calif. “It’s a relatively new field that addresses the prevention of aging in the skin,” she said. “The focus is on making the skin look good and keeping it healthy.” Brozowski recommends an antioxidant for daily skincare.

“A good vitamin C serum also contains vitamin E, and ferulic acid and phloretin, which are extracted from fruit,” she said. “These ingredients are unstable and to remain effective must be stabilized in a serum, not a lotion. They are sensitive to light, so must be packaged in dark-tinted glass and kept in a drawer, not on your bathroom counter.” She manufactures her own product line, keeping the price point at under $100.

Brozowski says anyone who lives at altitude should apply a vitamin B5 gel, which helps seal in moisture. (Mindy Pereria of Skinsations carries the gel.) Next, apply a moisturizer that doesn’t contain parabens. Finally, apply a sunscreen with zinc and titanium oxide. “Physical blockers don’t react to the skin and work for hours,” Brozowski said. “The problem with most sunscreens is that they’re made with chemical blockers that react to the skin and quit being effective after an hour. You’re on the mountain thinking you’re OK when really you’re getting a ton of UV damage.” 

Geneal Thompson, owner of About Face skin care studio in Ketchum, uses an organic line called Good Medicine from Green Valley Spa. Her own skin is a testament to the efficacy of her products, but she posits that no matter what the product, if we believe it will work, it will. “If we love it, it will love us,” she said. 

This article appears in the Winter 2016 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.