What is your background and how did you first get interested in skincare and skin health?
After suffering from a toxic shock syndrome at 18, my skin was left very sensitive. I’ve dedicated my career studying skin science between Paris and San Francisco to finding and understanding the missing link – the microbiome.
I have my Ph.D. in Skin Pharmacology and began my career working in R&D for L’Oréal in Paris. In 2015, I moved to San Francisco to work with small businesses and startups in the skin health space. I learned then and studied more about the skin’s microbiome and how important of a factor it is to understanding skin health as a whole. Today, it is my mission to advocate for a healthy skin ecosystem through my continued research, and through my line of products.
You’ve done a lot of research and have been published on various skin topics. How did your findings help streamline the type of product line you wanted to create?
I have always been surprised when coming from France to the US how the beauty culture is different. There, we are all for the less is more and gentle routine, whereas in the US it was all about results and efficacy. One recurring theme in my findings shows me that our skin is a lot smarter than we think and that we need to take great care of it. There’s recently been a large increase in heavy skincare routines in the beauty industry over the years, but according to the science, this doesn’t do our skin any good, it is destroying our skin barrier and microbiome and reducing our skin longevity. I knew I wanted our product line to emphasize the importance of minimalism in terms of ingredients and steps so that people of all skin types can repair, restore, and heal their skin’s microbiome. Our product line is all about stressing the importance that less is more for your skin.
My new findings show now that skin unbalance is more than just skincare, it is our mental health, our hormonal changes, our food etc and so we pivoted to build a new microbiome holistic platform to help you understand your skin better and care for it.
What do you think people should know about the skin microbiome and your approach to skincare?
First, it is important to understand what the skin microbiome is. It is truly the key to healthy skin. The skin microbiome is a collection of all the microorganisms that we have on our skin. These microorganisms consist of bacteria, fungi, viruses and more, but they all work together to keep your skin healthy. When your skin has a high diversity of these microorganisms, your skin will be able to function properly. Science shows that healthy skin tends to have a much more diverse range of microorganisms compared to sensitive or unhealthy skin.
With that said, it is incredibly important to be cautious of what it is that you put on your skin. An excess use of products will cause more harm to our skin’s microbiome. We also have other factors like pollution, gut health, hormonal changes, and more that can impact our skin’s microbiome, too. Our approach to skincare is all about giving your skin simple, straightforward microbiome-friendly ingredients that work with your skin’s microbiome rather than against it, while also supporting your skin through times of transition whether it be hormonal or related to your lifestyle.
How do you approach changing skincare needs that are affected by, for example, someone having a baby, aging, onset of acne, etc.?
Our skin is heavily impacted by the significant hormonal and metabolic changes our bodies will go through in life. There are a few things we can do to approach these changes in our skin whether you are going through pregnancy, aging, or experiencing sudden changes in your skin. I realized this first hand this past year as I welcomed my first son, Joaquim in February.
First it is about the less is more approach, always. Do not think that adding a new product to your routine will save your issue. Instead, approach your skin health in a non-linear way, as a cycle of different touch points. Is your skin changing because of hormones, environment, mental health, or lifestyle changes? You first need to identify the trigger.
So for example, when I was pregnant my skin got even more reactive and dry. I realized that when I was cutting off more cleansing, it was getting better. So, I was only using make up very occasionally in order to not have to cleanse often, and it worked and got more balanced.
One other thing that is important to prioritize is eating a balanced diet that is rich in antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and vitamins. Gut health and skin have a strong correlation. Staying on top of a balanced diet while also continuing to nourish your skin with minimal, simple ingredients can make a great approach to the skin changes your body is going through.
What research have you done on sunscreen and how is sun safety an important topic for you?
Sunscreen is an incredibly important topic for me to continue shedding light on. Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the U.S. and is something that no one is immune to. In 2009, I researched sunscreen at UCSF, and wrote some publications about how while many of us think we are protected by sunscreen, we really aren’t.
The reality is that we don’t apply enough sunscreen and some sunscreen formulations aren’t doing enough to protect our skin. Things like sunscreen testing can be misleading as we actually use way more products in real life.
In my experience, I recommend a cream/lotion over a spray. It’s important to reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and stick with a broad spectrum sunscreen. Zinc oxide sunscreen with at least an SPF of 40 for the outdoors works great. Additionally, 90% of skin aging is caused by the sun, so if you want to preserve your skin’s longevity, invest in a good sunscreen and wear protective clothing.
Part of protecting our skin barrier daily is to protect it from harsh factors like the sun. It’s always important to wear sunscreen daily as UV rays are present all year long. The sun can cause long-term damage to your skin if not protected properly. It’s as easy as applying sunscreen after your skincare routine or right before your makeup each day that can make all the difference.
For more on Dr. Elsa Jungman, go here.