Elevated Simplicity: bareLUXE beginnings
Introducing myself as the founder and voice of bareLUXE ™ Skincare - Heather Smith.
I’m a physician and practice adult critical care medicine in Canada. This means I'm "science-y" and also work with pharmaceuticals. In my personal life, I try to be more organic and minimalistic. I am continually learning and need to do better. A lot better. I'm a mom of boys aged 2 & 4. Chaos rules our home. Convenience reigns supreme. But I need to change that. For them. For everybody.
“It cannot be right to manufacture billions of objects that are used for a matter of minutes, and then are with us for centuries.” ~ Roz Savage
When it comes to the natural vs. chemical debate, I don’t believe it's an all-or-nothing decision. Many natural substances can be harmful. Many synthetic substances can be beneficial. With careful, deliberate decisions, the two worlds can be blended to create skincare products that are more powerful and effective together. Synergy.
I will never promote nor endorse pseudoscience or negligent health claims. I love transforming simple, natural ingredients into more effective and useful skincare products; if you’re looking to discuss a "natural cure" for cancer, it won’t be here (spoiler alert: there isn't one).
Necessity is the mother of invention. In my case, motherhood was the invention of necessity!
Before I had babies I was an entirely different person. From a skincare standpoint, I've learned that words on the box are only true if they apply to you. The most pure, unrefined, organic, hypoallergenic, dermatologist approved, and natural ingredients can still trigger a skin reaction. Chamomile and calendula are two good examples. They are used throughout the skincare industry, including products marketed for helping newborns, rashes, and nipples. They are safe ingredients. However, the two are related to ragweed and can trigger allergies in some people.
My first boy has sensitive skin and reading labels became a full-time job. For a long time, the ONLY thing that would heal his eczema was petroleum jelly. My doctor brain knew it was fine, but my mommy brain believed there had to be a different option. I ended up making homemade solutions for both his skin and my own nipple ointment. His rashes resolved.
One year after my second boy, I wanted to get back on track - skin, hair, nails, wardrobe! A whole new me... But then the world changed.
Being an ICU doctor during this pandemic is something I cannot really describe, but self-care and channeling my emotions have become necessary to function and survive. Artistic pursuits have always helped me cope. With my first bout of postpartum depression and anxiety, I learned how to sew and quilt. With my second, I took up baby wearing using beautiful handwoven wraps. I've always had a love for green beauty products, I think I search for simplicity in a world that is anything but.
Clean Beauty and Green Living
With COVID, I found myself starting to craft homemade artisanal soaps, balms and face oils, while trying innumerable different blends to solve the skin issues that came with intense mask wearing.
I spent a lot of time researching carrier oils and DIY recipes for face oils that could target specific concerns. I finalized about 6 different mixtures, each with a specific skincare goal. Trying different ratios and blends kept me very busy when I needed to get my mind off of COVID and the ICU and the stress. However, carrier oils aren't particularly potent and I wasn't sure my creations were having any real effect on my skin. That's when I started to experiment with extracts and more active phytochemicals, which I now refer to as performance botanicals.
For Christmas 2020, I sent a tester pack of 10 different lip balms to about 15 friends and family members. As fun as it was, I was mortified by the number of little plastic containers I had generated. I was getting great feedback and nudges to consider selling my products. However, I just couldn't bring myself to become "yet another" producer of items in crappy plastic packaging. The only way I'd put my name on something would be for it to be effective, luxurious and not contribute to plastic waste or microplastic contamination.
Then I found skincare containers made from a sustainable alternative to traditional plastics. I could create my green skincare products and feel good about helping the environment in all the ways that I knew how...
...that's how bareLUXE™ was born
- bare + luxe
- traditional + modern
- minimal + activated
On Being A Physician and Skincare Brand Owner
I have been asked many times lately about how my professional, medical role interacts with my skincare business. I've added this short section to tell you about how I relate my two worlds.
I am trained in two medical specialties - internal medicine and critical care. In my work, I see a significant amount of skin disease. Most is related to other underlying medical conditions that have skin manifestations. Some, the ICU stuff, is pretty dramatic. If you ask me for medical advice about your rash or your acne, you will get my opinion. This usually includes something like: see your primary care physician or a dermatologist. I often recommend simple, proven, affordable products and brands - petroleum, aquaphor, cerave, cetaphil, etc.
The line between cosmetics and medicine has been blurred. This has largely occurred due to marketing hype and unethical bending of the rules with respect to cosmetics claims by certain brands. I refuse to put on my white lab coat and use my training and expertise as a marketing tool to make people think my products are safer or better.
bareLUXE is my passion. I believe in my products and in green beauty. Certainly my knowledge in science and experience evaluating data has helped me develop them; however, these are cosmetics. They are designed to improve the look of your skin, not treat medical conditions. Where I get upset is when I see people leveraging their authority to imply their products save people from being poisoned, treat medical conditions, or have results comparable to things like lasers and injectables.
So, with that rant over, let's get back to green beauty and saving the world from plastic waste!