We are bringing back an older franchise that we’ve always loved, French Gurus. The French do things a bit differently when it comes to their approach on life, so we’ve decided to round a few up and ask them all our burning questions. First up, Dr. Elsa Jungman and the importance of the microbiome.
What is the biggest mistake people make in taking care of their skin these days?
One common mistake that people make when taking care of their skin these days is thinking that using more skincare is actually beneficial for their skin. The truth is, the more products you use, the more it damages your microbiome and affects your skin’s longevity. Instead taking the “less is more” approach, which involves taking a step back, understanding your skin as a whole and minimizing the product and ingredients you typically use on your skin, can restore and repair damage that has been done to your skin’s barrier.
What are the benefits of testing the microbiome of your skin? And what IS the microbiome?!
The microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that you have not only on your skin, but also in and on your body. Just like your gut, your skin microbiome is composed of a unique collection of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and more, that create a unique ecosystem. Each body zone or organs have a unique microbiome.
We offer the skin microbiome test to help you discover your skin as an organ and learn about all the microorganisms that live on it. We are also studying the impact of a minimal and microbiome-friendly routine on the skin to prove how a minimal approach can help your skin regenerate.
Do French women approach skincare differently than American women?
Very different! I was born and raised in Paris. I grew up with brands like Avene or La Roche Posay. The french culture is really about less is more, minimal makeup, minimal skincare and very gentle products. Every French person will tell you they have sensitive skin!
When I moved to the U.S. about 6 years ago, I was shocked to see how the U.S. consumer is infatuated with “efficacy” or “results” even if it means sacrificing their skin in some kind of way. At the end of the day, it’s all about balance.
I think applying the 80/20 rule, similar to food, is a great approach. 80% of the time you are careful about what you do and use products that are truly gentle and respectful of the skin’s microbiome, and the other 20% you can use actives or products that target your skin goals.
What are your absolute musts or rules for the most basic skin care routine?
The number one rule I think is important to have in a basic skin care routine is making sure that you are being friendly to your microbiome. This includes choosing products with:
– Minimal ingredients
– Little or no preservatives
– No fragrances or essential oils
To design a routine, make sure to incorporate the following:
1. Wash less and gently cleanse so as not to remove your natural oils
2. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
3. Sunscreen. 90% of skin aging comes from the sun so this step is crucial!
4. Using active ingredients in a mindful way. Try just starting with a very low amount just a few times a week to see how your skin reacts. You might just find that your skin does better with no actives at all!
What is your personal journey with your skin that spurred you to create your own line of skincare?
After suffering from toxic shock syndrome as a teenager, my skin was left very sensitive. I’ve always used very gentle and moisturizing products that I would buy at the French pharmacy. I did my PhD in skin science and have been working for a decade on skin research from L’Oreal to small beauty and biotech companies.
I’ve realized that beauty is not linear. To feel good in our skin we need to have a holistic approach that takes into account all potential triggers that go beyond skincare. This includes hormonal and environmental factors, diet, lifestyle and so much more. Throughout my career, I’ve been able to learn and study more about the skin’s microbiome and how important of a factor it is to understanding skin health in general. This inspired me to create a line that prioritizes the importance of healthy skin microbiome by adopting a minimal, “less is more” approach through my products.
What is your definition of beauty?
To me, beauty is when you are true to yourself and you don’t try to hide to follow certain standards. Beauty is when you feel good in your own skin and you are not afraid to shine.
When do you feel most beautiful?
I feel most beautiful when I have positive energy and when I feel empowered. It radiates on my face!
Photos Amarah Hernandez