Updated: Oct 25, 2019
Many people have asked what inspired me to create Bianca-Blake, so for those of you who are curiuous, here's the story:
Several years ago I noticed something weird on my skin after having gone in the sun a day or two earlier –My beautiful, golden tan had tuned into a splotchy mess. What the heck was this? My husband at the time happened to be a doctor, so he looked at it and told me it was :::gasp::: a fungus! [Tinea Versicolor, aka Haole Rot] That's strange...how the heck did I get a fungus? He gave me some anti-fungal cream, I used it for a few weeks and it disappeared. ...Only to reappear again two years later, as a mutated, drug-resistant FUNGUS MONSTER FROM HELL!
This time, nothing got rid of it. I tried everything, from every type of anti-fungal cream on the market, to Hawaii's treatment of choice–Selsun Blue shampoo – which I applied all over my body, and sat there for 30 minutes looking like a naked smurf, while a strange metallic taste developed in my mouth (uh oh...this can't be good) – emerging from the experience splotchy as ever. And then I even got a little crazy and rubbed garlic all over my body....which only served to kill off the remainder of my social life.
With my social life summarily deceased – now that I'm covered in splotches and I smell like garlic – I have nothing better to do than play junior chemist. I decide I'm going to make bath products! After that horrendous experience with the Selsun Blue –and the metallic taste it left in my mouth, I have clearly seen the connection between what goes on your skin, and how it travels through your bloodstream, and now, I'm kinda freaking out about all those years I spent as a muralist, covered in paint – throwing caution to the wind and submerging my hands into it while I work. Then it hits me: Van Gogh was crazy because he recklessly used toxic paints with abandon! Oh crap...I wonder if he had splotchy skin too?!
Now, self-diagnosed with a mental illness that manifests primarily as splotchy skin, Medical Student's Disease, & a preoccupation with Gauguin, I promptly get to work to cure myself, and again find shelter in a modicum of relative sanity ...or maybe I'll just get rid of the splotches.
As a girl who adores spa treatments, and will find any excuse to justify weekly massages (climbing ladders every day is hard!), one thing that has always bothered me about bath & body products is –why do they strip out all the good stuff in the oils and then replace it with chemicals & added synthesized versions of some of the things they just stripped out? Every top product seems to do this, and now, realizing the efficacy of transdermal applications, I'm starting to think this is a REALLY bad thing. While our skin is a barrier to all the various assaults of our environment, it is still a living organ and does not take kindly to abuse. It's true that it protects us from many environmental toxins, but as Van Gogh would tell you – if he weren't dead – ( an unrequited obsession with Gauguin notwithstanding) some things really do get under your skin and affect your health. If you read up on the application of transdermal patches, you will see that our skin is able to absorb things like hormones, nicotine and various medications & minerals. folks as the Epson Salt Concil will tell you that magnesium & sulfate (Epson salts) are readily absorbed this way too. Transdermal delivery has the added benefit of eliminating the hepatic first pass (fancy term that means, your liver doesn't get to taste some of the drugs first) as well as avoiding degradation in the gastrointestinal tract (your stomach acids don't eat up additional bioavailability). For some light reading before bedtime, here's a scholarly article on the subject, with lots of confusing medical terms, which should put you right to sleep: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3465120/
To Strip Or Not To Strip
Well...I guess I can see the appeal... If refining & hydrogenating oils strips out all the natural benefits, why do they do it? Simple answer: Cost. While it may seem counter-intuitive that a refined oil costs less than an un-refined oil, the facts are a little more complicated. Let's take the example of Cosmetic Grade Coconut Oil –which is widely used in cosmetics and personal care items, vs. Organic Unrefined, or "virgin" Coconut Oil: Cosmetic Grade Coconut Oil, also called RBD Coconut Oil – which means Refined, Bleached and Deodorized – undergoes these processes at high heat –thus killing off any beneficial nutrients, in order to remove impurities, color variations, flavor & scent. The reason they do this is, it is made from an inferior product to begin with. RBD coconut oil is made from copra, which is the dried kernal, or meat of the coconut (and is usually dried in very unsanitary conditions). The unrefined oil extracted from this is not suitable for consumption and must also undergo refinement. This resultant product can undergo further processing through hydrogenation, which creates transfats (making it even more unhealthy) for the purposes of creating a higher melting point. Virgin Coconut Oil, on the other hand, is made exclusively with the fresh meat of mature coconuts and can be achieved one of two ways: wet, or dry. One process involves heating the product, but never to a degree which would compromise the integrity of its natural, beneficial elements, thus ensuring that what nature intended, remains intact.
So basically, it is an issue of quality, which creates an issue of cost. A trip through the cooking oil aisle of your local supermarket will show you the cost difference between refined and unrefined oils...unrefined being much pricier.
Many cosmetic/bath & body companies do not see a value in providing their customers with a far superior & healthier product, when the cost differentiation does not line up with the immediate safety of the product...ie, they're content to provide consumers with an inferior product –so long as it's not harmful, if it means bigger profits. But the problem is, they can be harmful...in the long run. Let's go back to the concept of transdermal drug delivery for a minute, and take a look at the ingredients on some of the things you are putting on your skin, and stop and think for a minute, "Do I really want to be putting this on my largest organ? (unintended dick joke...sorry) How do I know this ingredient is not affecting my skin past the stratum corneum of the epidermus (the final gatekeeper)? Do I really want to be taking a chance?
This is exactly what went through my mind, as I was in the R&D phase of creating my scrub, and my answer to that last question was a resounding "NO". If you look at the ingredients on our competitor's scrubs containing coconut oil, and see the ingredient "Tocopherol", that will tell you that they are using an inferior, cosmetic grade coconut oil. Tocopherols are chemical compounds which contain Vitamin E activity. While Vitamin E has many wonderful benefits for your skin, it is actually being used primarily as a preservative here. The problem with this is, it was already present in abundance in coconut oil before the refining process, but it was stripped out...along with all the other benefical properties. This is why we don't need preservatives in our product...they're in there in spades! Also, if the ingredient "tocopherol" is not differentiated with an "a " or a "d" preceding it, you don't know whether it's derived from a natural source, or synthesized in a lab...and either way, you don't know the source of the compound...whether it's derived from a healthy oil, or a dubious one.
What was my point again?
Oh that's right–we were talking about how I got rid of Haole Rot! Having been put off by the plethora of mysterious ingredients in many products, I decided to make a scrub that had nothing but natural, virgin oils and ingredients that I could pronounce and quickly identify. A novel idea to be sure, because none of the big brands were doing it. Since I lived at the beach (and I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to research and chemistry) I also decided to harvest my own sea kelp and create an extract from it that I knew to be pure and effective. Countless hours were poured into this endeavor, but I resolved to make something I would be proud of and something that would be better than anything on the market. I can proudly say that I accomplished this, but what's even better is, I GOT RID OF MY TINEA VERSICOLOR! ...FOR GOOD! If you speak with anyone who has gotten this dreaded blight, or if you suffer from it yourself, you will find (if you haven't already) that it is darn near impossible to get rid of. Even if you do manage to get rid of it once, it will more than likely reappear at some later time –ideally when you have an important event, like a wedding to attend...because it's evil that way. Every treatment out there seems to at some point, become drug resistant. The wily little fungi are adept at hiding from your medicine, and will play dead until you're frustrated and finally give up hope of ever having normal skin again. For the truly desperate, there is a pill that can be prescribed ...which can result in liver damage. With this risk, you would think it would be a sure thing, but I was told by one person who took it, that it didn't even work for him. So knowing this, wouldn't you rather put something healthy and natural– and has a track record of working every time – on your skin to clear up this mess?
Bottom line is, learn from Van Gogh, and don't put anything on your skin that doesn't belong there! ...also, don't gift wrap your ear and send it to a love interest. #coconutoil #sugarscrub #organic #unrefined #cosmetic #beauty #personalcare #transdermal #spa #vangogh #tineaversicolor #haolerot #skincare #surf #surfer #Hawaii #virgin #LidoMare #mydogisnuts #fucoidan #fungus #infection #persisterbacteria #reefrash #science #seakelpextract #selsunblue #skin #sugar #surfers #tropical #vitaminE #woundhealing