by Heather Smith on Feb 16, 2021
(written February 2021)
Introducing myself as the founder and voice of bareLUXE™ Skincare - Heather Smith.
I’m a physician and practice adult critical care medicine in Canada. I love science and data, but in my personal life, I try to be more organic and minimalistic.
When it comes to the environment, I'm 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.
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 mom-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 - 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 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 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 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.
bare + luxe
traditional + modern
minimal + activated
And this is Elevated Simplicity
On Being A Physician and Skincare Brand Owner
I've been asked many times 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. If you ask me for medical advice about your rash or your acne, I'll tell you to see your primary care physician or a dermatologist.
Medical diseases of the skin are not my specialty, but I have no problem recommending simple, proven, affordable products and brands - petroleum, aquaphor, cerave, cetaphil, etc.
The line between cosmetics and medicine has been blurred. This has 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.
bareLUXE is my passion. I believe in my products and in clean, 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 most 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.
I've had the opportunity to tell my story and be interviewed in various forums. While I don't love the limelight, here are a few links if you want to read more.