2018 marks a milestone year for Donna Smith from Professional Skin & Beauty, the NZ distributor of Environ Skin Care. The pioneering vitamin A and antioxidant-based skincare brand was established by renowned plastic surgeon Dr Des Fernandes 28 years ago. However, it was 1998 that Donna first introduced the skincare brand to the New Zealand professional beauty and spa market.
The Environ brand offers a science-based skin solution which has been proven to rehabilitate and rejuvenate skin at a cellular level, thereby becoming the essential ingredient to a lifetime of beautiful skin. And along with a stable of powerhouse products, Environ is taking on the fight against skin pigmentation with the launch of the new Focus Care™ Radiance+ Range. Boasting potent formulations that contain intelligent ingredient combinations, the new range will give your skin exactly what it needs to look even-toned and radiant. In the Spring issue of M2woman, we talk to Environ Founder Dr. Des Fernandes
With the integration of social media in our lives, how do you think this has affected our beauty standards?
Appearance is everything – and possibly more so today, thanks to the world’s current ‘snap, upload, and share’ obsession. The hard-wired preference for young and healthy-looking skin could explain why women place such an emphasis on the condition of their skin and its refinement through cosmetic products. Skin colour plays a pivotal role in facial attractiveness. It is also strongly linked to the perception of health, and its evenness garners more attention and positive statements about attractiveness. In a social media-obsessed age, the pressure to look flawless is high, and therefore, skin imperfections can be confidence-crushing. People will do whatever it takes to not stand out in the crowd because of their skin.
Where did the inspiration stem from to create the Environ Focus Care Radiance+ Range?
Since 1994, I have sought for a way to deal with pigmentary blemishes and in the beginning, I followed the general trend of looking for one molecule that would suffice, which is what the industry was doing at that time. I never could release any products because I was never satisfied with the results and just sat amazed that other companies released their products with the same ingredients and pretended they had the solution to pigmentary blemishes. Just like me, they didn’t actually have the answer and in general, those products disappeared and the fashion changed.
I realised that I had a battle on my hands and that was the inspiration for what I needed to do. I needed to find the vulnerable points in the initiation and production of pigment – as a general must, I needed to find the weakest points in the enemy’s defence. Then I had to search for molecules that would target all the various vulnerable points, and also ensure that I used more than one molecule for each target because each of these molecules worked in slightly different ways. At the same time, I had to bear in mind that one needed to enhance the penetration with the DF Electrosonic manual device. (I started research on that device in 2005 and by 2006 I had a working prototype – the final was launched at the end of last year).
The discovery of suitable molecules took many years and when I had completed my first solution, we were suddenly forbidden to use one of the ingredients despite having a contract to ensure that we could. Big chemistry just ploughs over small companies like Environ. As a result, I had to start all over but with some new information given to me by a very clever cosmetic chemist who unfortunately died before I could show him what I had done with his advice. I looked for focused special ingredients with the understanding that newer refinements in plant extracts were producing highly refined chemicals. Over the ensuing 10 years, I accumulated a group of chemicals and then we started on the complex story of formulating them into products that could be used with the electrosonic device and attack pigmentary problems from all sides. Each step had to be part of the attack. And that is how the inspiration of winning the battle against pigmentation ended up in the development of the Focus Care Radiance+.
What are the key ingredients within the range that ramps up the efficacy of brightening?
I always believe that we should attack a problem from as many sides as possible and that is why I looked for special ingredients that had effects on the various stages of pigment formation. There are basically six stages which I have compressed here for simplicity into the below steps – we need to understand the following key steps in pigmentation formation:
1. Keratinocytes in the skin are the main drivers of pigmentation. When they are damaged by sunlight, they create free radicals and active chemicals. In order to hinder that process, we use niacinamide, panthenol, alpinia extracts, Neem leaf extracts, honeybush tea, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate vitamin E and of course, vitamin A.
I should at this point also introduce the problem of blue light from the sun and sky that is omnipresent and all-pervasive. You can hardly escape from it unless you are covered from head to toe. It is an important stimulus for pigmentation and niacinamide, lutein and lycopene can reduce its effects.
2. There are also various hormones that potentiate pigmentation. To try and minimise their effect, we use seppiwhite, artichoke leaf extract, alpinia extract, neem leaf extract, sakura extract and vitamin A.
3. Then one has to interfere with the production of melanin and we use the powers of seppiwhite, alpha-arbutin geranium extract artichoke extract, lactic acid, alpinia extract ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate and vitamin A. Finally, in order to inhibit the distribution of melanin into the surrounding keratinocytes, we employ the powers of niacinamide, seppiwhite, prune extract and vitamin A.
Of course, all these ingredients cannot possibly be in one product, hence the Radiance+ Range’s innovative and revolutionary synergistic Mela-Smart System™ which is comprised of 4 innovative products that work together to help inhibit the six complex steps involved in the formation of hyperpigmentation
STEP ONE: Multi-Bioactive Mela-Prep Lotion, 60ml, $72
This luxurious lotion contains an expertly formulated combination of highly specialised ingredients for a brighter, more even-toned complexion.
STEP TWO: Vita-Botanical Mela-Fade Serum System, 2 x 30ml, $129
This innovative serum system; comprised of 2 serums that work together, boasts a potent blend of vitamins and botanicals that assist in targeting the root causes of skin discoloration and helps to improve the appearance of uneven skin tone and visible sun damage. The results? A noticeable reduction in the appearance of dark spots and discoloration.
STEP THREE: Intense C-Boost Mela-Even Cream, 25ml , $90
This technologically advanced vitamin C infused cream reveals a brighter, more evenly radiant and healthier-looking skin.
(For optimal results, you should combine the Radiance+ Range with your daily Vitamin STEP-UP SYSTEM™ routine.)
Vitamin C is renowned to be crucial for lightening the appearance of pigmentation, however its tendency to oxidise is a catch 22 when it comes to preserving its potency. How does the treatment of Vitamin C in the new range differ to other products?
I have spoken about the catch 22 for l-ascorbic acid for about 28 years. First of all, if you want to use l-ascorbic acid, then recognise that it needs to be in high concentration at the lowest pH possible preferably made minutes before you use it. The best way to use effective doses of vitamin C is to use compounds like magnesium/sodium ascorbyl phosphate and the gold-star form ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate. I became a pioneer in using ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate about 20 years ago and this is the form we use in the new Radiance+ Mela-Prep Cream. It is the most stable form and delivers the highest levels of vitamin C into cells.
How do the products work to create the promised results?
Bear in mind that I wanted a multidirectional attack on pigmentation and so I collected as many compatible active ingredients as I could and then formulated them into the various steps: the prep lotion that should be applied quite thick by your fingertips and then allowed to dry. Then I wanted an active serum that could be suitable for enhancement with the Environ DF Electrosonic device. There were too many “goodies” to put into one serum so we made two: A and B. They should be used in equal quantities. And then finally a cream containing good antioxidants of vitamin C and E to augment the normal daily regime of Skin or Youth EssentiA.
I believe it is very important for people to also use the Environ Cosmetic Roll-CIT every day, especially on the areas they are worried about, in order to enhance perfusion of the active ingredients.
Tips on pigmentation prevention?
Not everyone is liable to get pigmentation and very broadly, the darker your skin is, the more likely you are to get pigmentation. The areas that get pigmentation most usually are the cheeks, forehead, upper lip, chin as these areas often are exposed more to sunlight.
Now, when I talk about sunlight, I worry mainly about the blue component of sunlight. As you know, visible sunlight can be divided by a prism into the seven colours -red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. The blue component is powerful and causes many problems for us. We have to avoid it, but that is difficult: if you can see blue sky then your skin is being irradiated with blue light. We have chemicals that block blue light e.g. niacinamide, lutein and lycopene, so make sure your skin care has these ingredients in them. Wear a hat or shade your face with an umbrella that does not allow blue light in.
Always use a high level of vitamin A as your skin manages. Vitamin A works in many ways and is not fully understood exactly how it prevents the production of pigmented marks but it is very important. Vitamin-rich skin tends not to get pigmentation problems. You can see that in the hands of people who use vitamin A regularly on their hands. Remember your ordinary high dose vitamin A cream has protective effects equal to SPF 20 or more. By supplementing orally with vitamin A, you make your skin even more protected.
Make sure your skin is rich in antioxidants and has as many as possible; not just vitamin C and E, but also carotenoids, polyphenols, proanthrocyanidins, and tea extracts – especially green tea.
Sunscreen: use a minimum SPF 15 and don’t rely on better protection from higher SPF. Spread evenly and re-apply after 60-90 minutes in the sun. Paradoxically, UVB rays that are minimised by SPF actives, aren’t the important rays in pigment formation. UVA is more aggressive and that’s why your sunscreen needs antioxidants. Sunscreens generally do not inhibit blue light damage.