Emma Lewisham’s love of luxury products and quest to find a natural solution to treat her hyperpigmentation led her to create Skin Reset, a 100 per cent natural serum that works.
Feeling self-conscious is something that Emma Lewisham is all too familiar with. A sun worshipper in her youth, she began to notice discolouration and brown spots on her face in her late 20s. All that time she’d spent without sunscreen in the harsh New Zealand sun had caught up with her.
“For me the biggest effect was on my confidence. I became incredibly self-conscious and wore a lot of make-up to hide it. I became determined to find a solution through my skincare,” Lewisham says. “I was always a bit sceptical of the clean and natural skincare movement. I felt the health concerns about synthetics and chemicals were exaggerated, and that natural came at the cost of performance and luxury.”
Her attitude changed when she began thinking about having a child. Her doctor advised her that she should reduce her exposure to potential environmental toxins through items she uses every day, such as shampoo and skincare.
“I looked into the product that I used for hyperpigmentation – I remember reading the label on the box and trying to decipher what the ingredients were. I discovered one of them was a known carcinogen, banned in many countries, and one ingredient was used to clean sewage pipes – I was putting this on my face. My doctor warned me to stop using it if I was thinking about a family.”
Lewisham, 34, and now mum to baby Milla, followed the doctor’s advice but could not find an alternative product that wouldn’t affect her health. This led her on a personal quest to dig further into skincare products and their ingredients. “Many cosmetic products that claimed to be natural and clean were not always as they portrayed. For example, the box would claim to have no parabens, but they had simply been replaced with phenoxyethanol, a questionable synthetic preservative.”
She began a journey to create products under her own name – one reverses the signs of sun damage while the others protect against sun damage in the future – that were 100 per cent clean and natural, and luxurious. Over a two-year period she worked with some of the best scientists and green chemists, meticulously researching the most potent and proven natural ingredients. And at the same time researched numerous natural emulsifiers and waxes that would accomplish the same product elegance as synthetic luxury brands. It wasn’t easy but they finally cracked the natural preservative code.
“One of our scientists’ breakthroughs is sourced from Switzerland. It’s a patented combination of seven plant extracts, the result
of five years of research where 100 plants were tested for their effectiveness on preventing hyperpigmentation,” says Lewisham. “This ingredient acts to inhibit tyrosinase, the enzyme that causes the pigment melanin, which you see as dark spots on the skin when exposed to the sun.
“And there is another biological pathway to target – and why our thinking and formula does more than just brighten the skin. If any of the tyrosinase enzyme still manages to form pigment, we needed to intercept this pigment from making its way to the surface of the skin. An active that is proven to play this complementary role is vitamin B3. Combining these two active ingredients significantly boosted the effectiveness of the formula we were developing.
What’s most exciting for Lewisham is that not only is Skin Reset truly 100 per cent clean, but clinically proven to be more effective than cosmeceutical-grade products – proving you don’t have to trade off results for clean skincare. And it’s safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
When researching sunscreen (to protect skin from future pigmentation) Lewisham discovered that many sunscreens are linked to hormone disruption – affecting thyroid and reproductive hormones – and also to the formation of free radicals, which attack the skin’s cells and degrade collagen and elastin fibres, thereby contributing to premature ageing.
The USA’s Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 90 per cent of skin changes associated with ageing are really caused by a lifetime’s exposure to UVA rays and 73 per cent of sunscreens provide inferior protection or contain worrisome and often hormone-disrupting ingredients.
A 2018 study by Perceptive, commissioned by Lewisham, found 49 per cent of females in New Zealand aged 25-65 suffer from hyperpigmentation, and 51 per cent of those are actively trying to treat it. Also 50 per cent of them agree that sunscreen is the best product to slow down the signs of ageing and hyperpigmentation but only 24 per cent of New Zealanders wear sunscreen daily.
“So why is this? We don’t want to wear synthetic sunscreen every day on our face. And natural/zinc sunscreens are unpleasant. I felt there was an opportunity to really make a meaningful difference here and offer a solution that would inspire women
to take better care of their skin,” says Lewisham.
The challenge was its very difficult chemistry to formulate a 100 percent natural sunscreen that not only works, but feels as luxurious as premium products with synthetic screens and silicones. Difficult but not impossible. Emma Lewisham Skin Shield SPF 30 and 50 has achieved it without a single drop of anything synthetic. The formula meets the highest international testing standards, while being light and sheer on the skin.
Lewisham and her business partners, husband Andrew and Kimberley Morrison, are also committed to making a meaningful difference in the beauty industry – extending to the way they operate across their supply chain. To this end, the Emma Lewisham brand treads carefully on the environment and is ethically made. Ingredients are sustainably sourced, 90 per cent organic, have minimal impact on the environment and the sunscreen tubes are made from 100 per cent post-consumer recycled plastic.
“Currently, the global cosmetics industry produces 120 billion units of packaging every year and much of this is non-recyclable. I believe all brands need to take ownership and responsibility for what they’re bringing into the world,” she says. “We still have a lot to solve, as a company and an industry. But we are taking ownership to ensure our customers can make sustainable choices and we will continue to challenge the status quo in favour of what can be.”