Five years ago, when I was a New York investment banker, the first of my childhood girlfriends in Asia started becoming moms. To my surprise, they all begged me to stuff my suitcases with organic and natural baby products whenever I’d fly home.
I was shocked my loved ones couldn’t find safe, effective personal care products. And I quickly discovered that even the US products they coveted weren’t as safe or effective as the labels claimed. The same formulas from the ‘90s are still being recycled today; the only thing that has grown is the steady stream of marketing noise.
First I got mad. Then I got busy. I built a band of outsiders who, like me, became obsessed with rebuilding children’s skincare from the ground up. Together, we are bringing safe, effective skincare to families all over the world.
Meet our Dream Team
Dr. Joyce Teng
Professor & Director of Pediatric Dermatology, Stanford Medical School. Stanford Hospital.
Q How much do the products we use on our kids matter?
A Quite a bit, actually. Children have thin, sensitive skin and a higher body surface area to weight ratio. So they can develop reactions to ingredients such as preservatives and fragrance. Besides, chemicals applied to a large skin surface can be absorbed into their body.
Q Why is it so hard to decipher ingredient labels?
A For one thing, products contain active and many inactive ingredients. Active ingredients are included because they have a certain effect on the skin. Inactive ones are there for stability and cosmetic reasons (texture, thickness, color) but can still cause problems. So the list is often quite long. Plus, the same ingredient may have different names, and that can cause a lot of confusion as well.
Q What’s an ingredient you’re super excited about?
A Sunflower seed oil! Its impact on skin barrier function has been studied in depth. It’s a great ingredient that we know that will benefit kids’ skin.
Dr. Sarina Elmariah
MD, PhD- Dermatology, Harvard Medical School. Massachusetts General Hospital.
Q How do you describe your day job?
A I’m interested in what makes people itch. I focus on how the skin, the immune system and the nerves interact to promote inflammation. And how skin reacts to the environment.
Q What should parents know about babies’ skin?
A We don’t think about our kids feeling itchy or irritated unless they have a rash. But once they’re eight weeks old, they can itch! So it’s important to avoid not only toxic ingredients but anything that will strip the skin barrier.
Q When your kids were little, what did you use on their skin?
A As a dermatologist, I knew to avoid things like heavy fragrances, unnecessary surfactants and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. But as a mom, I had a hard time finding products I really loved.
Dr. Marilyn Liang
Associate Professor of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School. Boston Children's Hospital.
Q What’s a question your patients often ask?
A I treat a lot of children with dermatitis and eczema, and their parents often want natural, environmentally friendly products. But just because something is natural, that doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Q What’s a common misconception about natural skincare products?
A That all essential oils are good. We really need to understand which ones are safe and which grades should be used.
Q What should parents know about potential irritants?
A The more you use products with potential allergens in them, the more you become allergic to them over your lifetime. So it’s good to avoid those allergens even if your child doesn’t have eczema or visible irritation.