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Dr. Shala Fardin Talks Vegan Skincare Solutions

Photo: Courtesy of Tri Nguyen

How did you get your start in the industry?

I have also had a long-standing interest in how we care for and interact with our environment and try to take a holistic view of life as we relate to nature and so wanting to get involved in a company like DERM E stems from that desire to blend healthy skin goals for my patients with healthy environmental goals for our planet.

What are the major benefits to using strictly vegan beauty products?

There are many amazing benefits when sticking to a strictly vegan beauty product. One of the main reasons is that vegan products are also 100 percent cruelty-free since no animal products are used and no animal testing is involved in their creation.

The ingredients that many companies use in the beauty industry are often synthetic and can even contain some surprising ingredients such as insect extracts or animal byproducts.

Staying with a completely vegan product allows for the increased use of cleaner, natural botanical ingredients and decreases our dependence on animals and animal byproducts, thereby lowering your carbon footprint.

Did you always use/recommend vegan beauty products? If not, when did you make the switch, and why?

Each patient has different skin concerns, hence different skin care needs, and when recommending the best products, I also take each patient’s lifestyle into consideration. Many patients want a cleaner, eco-friendlier skin care option, and that often includes lines that are vegan as well. I fully support this by choosing to offer a highly effective brand that is affordable and accessible and that fits their and my needs.

I decided to offer DERMA E as an option to patients because not only is it vegan, it uses cleaner, naturally based ingredients and is committed to greener practices. In addition, it has products for sensitive skin that contain fewer allergens and is gluten-free for my celiac and gluten-sensitive patients.

Although vegan products do not mean they are necessarily also gluten-free (always check labels!), many of them are, so I like to have an option that is both vegan and gluten-free, like the Derma E line.

Finally, while I don’t always use strictly vegan products, I do prefer that many vegan products have cleaner ingredients and use manufacturing practices that can be less detrimental to our environment.

You practice preventative dermatology—can you share what that means? What are the most common mistakes your patients make when not taking preventative care of their skin?

Preventative dermatology means we actively try to prevent skin disease and systemic disorders through lifestyle, diet, and supplements and, sometimes, with medications.

A major component of that is preventative skin care, which includes the use of sun protection measures, particularly during peak sun hours, including seeking shade, wearing sun protective clothing, and applying sunscreen.

One of the biggest mistakes I see with sunscreen use is that patients don’t apply the correct amount or a thick enough layer to get the true SPF. In addition, most don’t reapply it throughout the day. Sunlight-induced DNA damage that builds up over time can cause cells to start growing out of control which can lead to mottled and rough skin and eventually to skin cancers.

Another key preventative measure is avoiding tanning beds, which have been shown to dramatically increase the risk of skin cancers, including melanoma, and also cause premature skin aging.

Having a healthy diet and a proper skin care routine is also important. Taking care of your skin and using products that help stimulate collagen while you are already young and healthy is an ideal way to slow down the effects of the aging process on the skin.

Patients often make the mistake of not starting a skincare routine until after they see the signs of sun damage and aging. I recommend using preventative and maintenance measures before it is too late, and you have to make up for years of bad habits.

One other key piece in preventing skin disease and inflammation is by keeping the skin barrier intact and healthy through proper moisturization and by using microbiome-friendly products.

Would you recommend vegan products for those living with skin conditions? If so, why?

For those especially with sensitive or condition-prone skin types that get irritation easily, vegan products are often a great choice. Common animal ingredients like beeswax, lanolin or carmine (a red color dye from insects) can irritate skin or clog pores, so vegan products are often better alternatives as they are usually based in botanicals that have soothing, conditioning and nourishing active ingredients and are filled with antioxidants and vitamins.

Many plant-derived active ingredients, which are often closer to their natural state than synthetic counterparts, can help the skin to feel healthier when used regularly and consistently. Natural, vegan ingredients can often contain high levels of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants to help hydrate and repair the skin.

Although our skin is an excellent natural barrier, some topically applied ingredients do readily get through the skin, especially if the skin barrier is already broken or compromised due to a skin condition. Applying pure, clean, active botanical ingredients to the skin, such as with a vegan line, often means less worry that contaminants or other harmful chemicals might also be absorbed.

What are the most common misconceptions when it comes to vegan skincare?

A common misconception when it comes to using vegan skincare products is that you must completely make the switch to using natural products almost immediately. Rather, it can be a gradual process that you can adopt so that you find the perfect balance for yourself.

Another common misconception I hear often is that vegan products are expensive. People assume that because they are vegan, natural and cruelty-free, that we must pay a premium price for them or that they are hard to find, but there are many great, affordable brands at your local natural food stores!

Much of the cost of beauty and skin care products is derived from higher end marketing and packaging rather than the quality of the product itself, so don’t be fooled and let only the cost guide you. Many retail stores are beginning to carry more vegan brands because they recognize their benefits as the market for clean, cruelty-free and eco-friendly beauty continues to grow and evolve.

Finally, don’t assume vegan means less effective! Proper formulations are really the key to any product, so make sure you do your research and use products that use the purest, highest potency active ingredients that you can tolerate and afford.

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