Want to know once and for all what factors are truly aging your skin? Grace Mills is an expert on skin care daily regimen and what factors accelerate aging. Check out her interview as she tells the truth on practices such as exfoliation as well as other skin care must knows!
We: Tell us about your background and how you got into the skincare industry.
Grace: I majored in Biology. After graduating from college, went to work for a biotech company (Chiron/Novartis) for a number of years. Was recruited by a colleague who was looking for a chemist with a flair. He convinced me to leave the biotech field and join him in creating a natural line for hair growth products. That was in 1997I cant believe that was 17 years ago already!I didnt know much about the skin care industry then, as I was and am still quite the minimalist when it comes to the use of skin care and make-up. Being an avid learner and always up for a challenge, I couldnt pass up the opportunity to try something new. I figured I would try it for several years and get back to the biotech world and work on becoming a virologist, as I have always been fascinated by virusesThey are brilliant specimens! I am digressing nowSorry:). But the cosmetic industry has held tightly onto my fascination. It is so different from the structured/standardized biotech industry.
We: Do you think there is a more conscious effort in the cosmetic industry to implement safer skin care products?

Grace: Yes, most definitely. I think I have seen it all in the last 17 yearsfrom when the word cosmeceuticals was termed when the distinctive line started to grey between products defined to function as purely cosmetics and drugs, as clearly set forth by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to sunscreens being regulated as OTC (Over-the-Counter) drugs to ECOCER an organic certification organization founded in France in 1997) developing strict standards for natural and organic cosmetics.

We: What trends, if any, are you seeing in the cosmetic industry that are actually harmful (or aging) the consumer?
Grace: AhhhThis is a very dangerous question for me. I could go on for days. Ill just point out one thing that I have been really annoyed by, and I am putting this rather mildly. Over exfoliation! From mechanical exfoliating cleansers to chemical exfoliating cleansers to mechanical brushesUGH! I still cant believe how much over exfoliation is still being practiced and how young people are starting it. I think my youngest client was 12-years-old. I couldnt believe it! I was floored! Its been already more than a decade when Professor Claudio Franceschi, Ph.D., of the University of Bologna coined the term Inflammaging (inflammatory aging) and made us aware of how inflammatory processes make our skin age that much more quickly, and exfoliation is definitely an inflammatory process. Before I go on, let me just back track a bit. I am not saying that exfoliation is a bad thing. Exfoliation is a good thing when practiced wisely and minimally. Its like the saying that goes, Too much of anything is a bad thing. Too much exfoliation is definitely NOT a good thing! The problem with exfoliation is that the process itself removes most of the skins antioxidants and vitamins, in particular Vitamins C & E, which are located in the upper layer of the skin, the stratum corneum. We are doing our skin a disservice when we over exfoliate. Were just aging our skin that much faster unnecessarily. If nothing else, if you can just help spread the word about how too much exfoliation is not a good thing, I would SO appreciate it!

We: What is sopHistry Custom Skin Care and what inspired it?

Grace: sopHistry is two words combined into oneSophie plus Chemistry. Its chemistry done according to my standards:). I am quite the stickler when it comes to adhering to high quality standards. My years in the cosmetic industry has taught me that there is no-one- size-fits-all-age-reversal treatment, and that this extends to active, age-delaying ingredients. In particular, from working closely with plastic surgeons, I have learned that, as the skin ages, it becomes even more important to work with each individual client and his/her lifestyle habits to balance the type of active age-delaying ingredients used with the correct percentages and the pH of the skin. Its important that skin care products reflect the clients ever-changing skin care needs due to changes in seasons, age, health, lifestyle, ethnicity, climate, and where/when they travel. These lessons led to the creation of sopHistry Custom Skin Care.
We: What women is this brand more suitable for (older women, younger women, certain ethnicities, etc.)?
Grace: When I started sopHistry, it was my intention to concentrate on age-delaying. After all, that is primarily what I was trained in. So I was set on working with both men and women, of all ethnic backgrounds, in their 20s and on, as I firmly believe that the second age-delaying product to begin using is an age-delaying eye cream. The first one is a sunscreen, which should be used from the time we are babies. Over the years, however, sopHistry has had clients as young as 9-years-old. A young mother had brought her competitive swimmer son in because of his dry skin. The average age range of our clients are 12-years-old to 76-years-old of all ethnicities.
We: Give us three daily tips women should follow for gorgeous skin?
Grace: I firmly believe that proper cleansing is the first line of defense when it comes to delaying the onset of aging, so I suggest the following:
1. Using a gentle cleanser, cleanse for 2 minutes at night. Its like brushing your teeth. 2 minutes cleansing is the secret to a clean skin. The 2 minutes cleansing also gives your face a lymphatic massage which increases the blood flow and oxygen to your skin.
2. In the mornings, do a quick 30 seconds or less cleanse with your gentle cleanser. Even better, if you skin allows you to, just cleanse with lukewarm water.
3. Do not use an exfoliating cleanser or any kind of exfoliating tool on a daily basis. To back track a bitIt is very important to keep intact the skins outer protective layer, and even more important to not get rid of all your dead cells. Yes, you heard me correctly, and, yes, I have not gone crazy! Dead cells in the upper layer and its proper distribution across the skin help keep your all important outer protective layer healthy. Therefore, to maintain youthful, supple, glowing, healthy skin, you must maintain the proper amount of dead cells, and this means no over exfoliation.

We: What’s your opinion about Lifestyle and American diet impact on aging and quality of skin?
Grace: I think that we Americans today are over-achievers. If we do something, whether it be exercise, detoxing, diet, work, play, exfoliation:), we tend to over do it. When this happens, we age faster and our skin is unable to maintain its suppleness and its youthful glow. Whatever lifestyle we practice or whatever we eat, I believe it is all about moderation. Moderation is key to a healthy, happy skin. I, personally, practice the 80:20 rule, which was taught to me by a great friend and wonderful acupuncturist, Tracy Zollinger. Be good 80% of the time, and allow yourself to be bad 20% of the time.

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