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What Skincare Is Safe To Use While Pregnant & Nursing?

Q: I’m pregnant or am nursing. Can I still use my favorite VMV Hypoallergenics®products?

A: There are no conclusive studies that show that typical cosmetics can affect fetal or infant development. But it is understandable to be extra cautious. Every person (and baby!) is an individual so make sure to check with your obstetrician and pediatrician before following any of the following suggestions.

Best Practices:

• Most topically-applied products have a molecular size that is too large to penetrate the epidermis, much less the dermis. This makes it highly unlikely for most cosmetics to make it to your bloodstream, uterus, and fetus. Because cosmetics aren’t ingested, this makes it also unlikely for ingredients to make it to your breast milk.

• There are exceptions like topical steroids which can penetrate the dermis. If your dermatologist prescribes a topical steroids, make sure they know that you are pregnant or nursing and follow their instructions. Other products that are not recommended at all are those that contain retinoic acid and salicylic acid. This is especially true of oral medications.

• To be extra safe, at least until the 3rd trimester but ideally for the entire pregnancy, do not use skin care products with active ingredients that are not washed off quickly. Continue reading for our list of products to pause and products you can continue.

• Because hormones can cause skin to go a little nuts (dryness, acne, darkening, stretch marks, etc.) we suggest focusing on prevention: no allergens, irritants, or comedogens. We also suggest choosing formulations that are the least stressful on skin.

• When nursing, something to keep in mind regarding skincare is that, when feeding or carrying, baby’s skin comes into contact with whatever you use on your skin. If you notice redness or other irritations on baby’s skin, check your own products for allergens or irritants. The same can occur with airborne allergens like bleaches and fragrances.


This simple regimen can help address some of the more common skin concerns during pregnancy and nursing. Many of them can be shared when baby is born, too!






Products to PAUSE:

Following the suggestion to not use skincare with active ingredients that are not washed off quickly, these are the specific VMV products that we would suggest pausing during pregnancy:

Products to PROCEED WITH:

These are the specific VMV products that we can suggest continuing during pregnancy — with the guidance of your OB-GYN at all times, of course:

Additional Information on
Pregnancy/Lactation and Active Ingredients

While there are no conclusive clinical studies showing that the typical active ingredients found in cosmetics, especially at the concentrations used in most cosmetics, can (positively or negatively) affect fetal development or breast milk when applied on the skin, research is always progressing. Your OB-GYN (obstetrician-gynecologist) and pediatrician would be your best resources regarding the latest studies available and how they apply to you and your baby in particular.Some information that we can share as accurate as of this writing:

• Barring exceptions that do penetrate the dermis such as topical steroids, there are no conclusive studies showing positive or negative effects on fetal development or milk content from topically applied products.

• Historically, the active ingredients that have caused the most concern when taken internally are retinoic acid and salicylic acid, not glycolic acid, kojic acid, or mandelic acid. Retinoic acid is teratogenic (it affects growing cells, which blastocysts are). However, the concentrations used in cosmetics are so small that it is still considered unlikely that enough of it can penetrate to cause any damage. Still, retinoic acid is, by far, the active ingredient that causes the most red flags for pregnant women and it probably should be avoided altogether regardless of the concentration.

• The percentage of actives in most cosmetics is usually very low. We use concentrations that are proven to be effective, but even these concentrations are quite controlled. Many of our active toners, for example, contain about 2.5% of the active ingredient in a 120mL solution. Even if the active ingredient could penetrate the bloodstream (unlikely due to the relatively large molecular size) and make it to the fetus (even more unlikely), the percentage of the active ingredient that would get this far during each individual application is minuscule. This is because the ingredient:
…is present in low concentrations;
…is further diluted in a solution of much greater volume; and
…is applied in small amounts on the skin (and, again, because the molecular size makes penetration past the dermis unlikely).

For example: 2.5% of an active ingredient mixed in a 120mL solution of a toner means 3g of the active in the solution. Let’s assume that the toner is finished in 30 days. To estimate, dividing 3g by 30 days results in around 0.1g of the active ingredient getting to the skin per application. Because of the molecular size of the active, much of this 0.1g cannot penetrate beyond the dermis into the bloodstream, and even less could therefore possibly make it to the fetus.

This is NOT a recommendation to use active ingredients during your pregnancy — as we stated at the start of this article, we follow the safer recommendation to discontinue the use of active ingredients during pregnancy and nursing. We follow this guideline as an extra precaution because while studies are inconclusive, research is always revealing new discoveries. Avoiding active ingredients that are not immediately washed off provides an added degree of safety.


Data regarding the effects (positive or negative) of topical skin treatments on fetal or infant development at this point may be inconclusive; but for anything taken orally, you should be conscientious and always consult your doctor beforehand. You’ll be seeing your gynecologist soon and regularly, then your child’s pediatrician. These visits, more than anything, will help you best monitor your baby’s healthy development. This information should not be considered medical advice. Particularly if you have a medical condition, before you change anything in your skincare or other practices related to pregnancy or nursing, ask your doctor.

Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Family Blog

“It is you and only you that creates your own happiness.”: Tao Philippines

By Alex Goldyn

“We do not guarantee that you will have a nice, relaxing time. In fact, we do not guarantee anything.”

Those certainly are not the words that you want to hear or read before a vacation trip, right? Wrong! This exact attitude of Tao Philippines towards their customers’ experience is what will make for some of the best moments in your life. They will make you realize that it is you and only you that creates your own happiness. They, however, provide a wonderful canvas for you to paint your story on, in the five days you spend aboard one of their boats.


What is Tao Philippines?  

It is two people with a vision; two people that saw an opportunity in the raw, undiscovered land of Palawan — arguably the most beautiful cluster of islands in the world; two people that found a connection with the native, fishing communities; two people that aimed to make a difference…and oh boy did they! Starting from just one restored boat over ten years ago, today Tao Philippines has a number of boats, from large native bangkas (local Philippine outriggers) to beautifully-designed sail boats, and involves many of the local people in a number of projects, from natural farming and fishing through sustainable usage of native building materials, organic soaps, coconut oil, jewelry production and massages. Everything involves extensive educational programs for the local community. Furthermore, all their employees receive comprehensive, detailed training and are involved in all the projects in order to broaden their skill set, so that later on they can move from one position to another and utilize their skills effectively. For example, a boatman can become a team leader of the expedition and then become a chef on board or on Tao Farm. It truly is a beautiful project that raises environmental awareness and the importance of land preservation for current and future generations of the local people, while creating wonderful job opportunities for those less privileged.


What can you, as a participant, expect from this experience? It’s best not to expect anything. Just bring an open mind and a lot of sunscreen with you!  They prefer for you not to ask where, when and how. They want you to go with the flow — the flow of nature and the flow of the ocean. It’s best to be prepared for the worst and later be bedazzled by the stunning landscapes, gorgeous beaches, and breathtaking moments that are generously sprinkled along the journey. It’s best to take it all in as it is, feel it to the fullest, embrace what is odd and change your perspective as you flow.

During your time with Tao Philippines you will be cruising for five days between Coron and El Nido, stopping on inhabited or minimally-populated islands with stunning beaches. You’ll snorkel a few times a day on unspoiled coral reefs, swim alongside turtles, drink cold San Miguel beer while staring at the sunset. At night you will disembark to one of their base camps that are built in a native style with local materials, with minimal impact on the environment. Facilities are very simple but enough to make your night’s sleep extremely comfortable. I loved showering from small buckets or from old pumps. Simple also means that there are no mirrors. The first time you will look at your reflection after five days (no, selfies don’t count!) will provide for the most bizarre sensation…as though you are not you anymore, but that you are looking at yourself with the eyes of another human. Truly wonderful!


Sleeping arrangements depend on the particular camp and are different every night. It may be one communal hall with thin walls separating couples and boys and girls, or beautifully designed, arching, bamboo huts, or small huts built into the dramatic cliffs on one of many El Nido islands. You will continuously be fed the most amazing food that there is. During my trip, multiple times a day our skillful chef kept bringing more and more dishes and kept surprising us with new flavors and creative presentations. As a vegan, before the trip I set my mind on the possibility of eating just rice and simple salads for the five days, but I never felt more satisfied and ‘nutritioned up’ in all of my travels. Sometimes, as a vegan, it is hard to get all the nutrients while traveling but all the amazing fruit, curries and stir fries full of fresh veggies and spices kept me going and full of energy for endless amounts of snorkeling. Needless to say, for the carnivorous types there is a greater choice.  From all the sounds that my fellow travelers made around me with every meal, I take that everything tasted absolutely wonderful, too! Every morning there is never any rush to leave the base camp. All plans may change depending on the weather, group energy or the ocean conditions. The captain will take all of this into consideration and choose which route you will take and which base camp you will end up at later on. During your time with Tao you will be immersed in the raw, unspoiled beauty of the many islands as well as in the beautiful island communities and simple local life. The aim is to see no other tourists and get to know the Filipino style of living to the fullest.


What stuck with me the most was the most amazing crew ever.  They truly made this experience unforgettable and made me want to take another trip right away. I know that Filipino hospitality is number one in the world, but those guys really shined super bright. With their limitless supply of energy, positive and caring attitude, warm hearts, massive smiles, goofing around, playfulness and curiosity they made everybody fall in love with them. They truly are brilliant at what they do.


I almost feel as though I want to keep it all secret, all to myself. There is an internal dilemma of whether I should scream at the top of my lungs to every human I meet how amazingly wonderful this travel experience was, and sometimes I feel deeply compelled to keep it quiet, with a small hope that nobody will ever find out about it. But this place deserves all the goodness it can get! I want everybody to experience the fantastic hospitality of the Filipino culture, the beauty of their land. I want them to immerse fully in this journey and with that give back to the communities and have a chance to help make a difference together with Tao Philippines. At the same time, I am hopeful that, although accessible to everyone, it will be possible to keep this part of the country free from mass tourism. That the priority number one will be to make it all last forever for the generations to come. Big part of this experience is to immerse yourself totally and completely, have tons of fun whilst still staying responsible and respectful. Now go and plan your trip right away. One regret that I have was not singing karaoke in a tipsy turmoil. There is always next time. I am already plotting to go back…


Follow Alex’s vegan adventures in travel, health, yoga, scuba, surf, nature and critters!

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Some of Alex’s VMV faves include Skin Bloom Blush in Bellini, The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm, Ooh-La-Lash! Volumizing MascaraSkintangible “BBBB Cream (BB But Better!) SPF 30 and Armada Post-Procedure Barrier Cream 50+.

Family Blog

Ideas For A Healthy Approach To Makeup For Your Child

by Laura Verallo de Bertotto

There is no hard and fast rule for the “right” age to start wearing makeup. I started when I was thirteen because my acne started when I was ten. I seriously thought that not covering it up with concealer and foundation was “rude.” In college, makeup became entirely about getting attention and being told I was attractive. I went through a period where I couldn’t leave my bedroom without makeup. Everyone said I was pretty when I wore it…so I simply thought I wasn’t without it. And because me finding myself pretty was about as foreign as me finding a garden slug sexy, I needed external affirmation. I didn’t develop a healthy relationship with makeup (as self expression instead of camouflage) until my twenties. When, in my first real job, I stopped wearing foundation completely, I remember it being a conscious act of rebellion, freedom and self-claiming; to learn to love myself, as myself. I needed this “naked period” to be able return to makeup with a better attitude. Now, I still leave the house bare-faced for the most part, and when I do put makeup on, it’s sincerely fun…like I’m playing dress-up.

My daughter Madison and son Gavin (the “witch” and Spiderman, below) started playing with makeup when they were toddlers — not for “beauty” but as make-believe and art…basically painting, but on faces. And legs, arms, and tummies. And the walls. And the floors.

My daughter is now ten (seen above with her aunt and the daughter of a good friend) and I’m watching closely because she’s starting to think of makeup as more than just play. I’m watching my son, too, and how he sees what’s “normal” or expected for women in the world. And as one woman wrote on Refinery 29‘s “24 Women Share Their Ideal Ages For Wearing Makeup,” I believe that…

“We need to remove the connection between…sexuality and makeup (which is) only reinforced by prohibiting it and saying, ‘You’re not old enough’…Makeup is…a way to express ourselves…like any other form of dressing up.”


Our attitudes regarding makeup may differ but we all want our children happy and confident. None of us wants our children to struggle with self esteem. These are some of the things I’m trying with my kids — and I’d appreciate knowing what’s worked for you!

No fashion or beauty mags…

I work in the “beauty industry” (that’s how we’re classified; we think of ourselves as being in the skin health industry) but I don’t keep magazines in the house or allow unsupervised TV or online access. If we watch or read these things together, I can observe what catches my daughter’s attention, answer her questions, and talk about self-acceptance, bullying, that these images aren’t “natural” (a team of professionals and major production are involved), our values (there isn’t one “beauty”; don’t judge anyone by how they look; you’re beautiful, period), and anything else that I think is important.

I never say I’m ugly…

As it is for many women, this is difficult for me, but I make a conscious effort never to say that I’m dieting, I look fat, I don’t like my hair, nose, tummy, or any other feature, or that I need to “put my face on” before I can leave the house.* My kids see me leave for work without makeup as often — or, really, because I’m usually rushing to get out the door after a workout or basic morning frenzy — more often than with makeup on. My hair is almost always wet and pinned up, too (the look is intimidatingly fashionable, I know…it says to the world, “I’m clean, and I am thrilled I managed that much today; you’re welcome.”) When I am in full makeup, it’s usually for something really special (like a big party or event), and I don’t make a big fuss. There’s plenty of time for that giddy, grown-up, “oh-my-god-you-look-amazing-oh-my-god-you-too!” excitement later.

*Side note: since I started committing to not saying anything negative about my looks, it’s helped my own self esteem. Win, win!

Non-beauty compliments…

I’m trying ones like, “wow, what a fun color!” or “peppy outfit!” or “that dress looks like summer.” It’s awkward as hell, but there’s a whole world out there calling her “cute” and “grown up” and (too soon) “sexy” so I figure, why not try other compliments?

Skin focus…

We’re “lucky” in that everyone in our family has allergies or other skin issues. This makes it more natural to think of skin care for health and comfort, not beauty. Which allows me to…

Keep the focus on play and off of “fixing”…

Madison hasn’t tried concealers or foundation yet. When she gets a rash or pimple, we talk about skin care, not makeup. I feel that makeup-to-camouflage, alter, or “improve” is the gateway to makeup-as-I’m-not-pretty-without-it. This will change, but I’m hoping to keep makeup as play, dress-up, and creativity for as long as I can. For now, makeup for her is only for play dates and not worn outside.

When I became a mom, I never wanted to dress my kids up and never thought of makeup as play for kids. But both my kids got into dress-up and makeup anyway…as I learned many kids do. Soon, I had parents asking us to make safer makeup options for their kids as an alternative to the heavily perfumed, preserved stuff that’s wildly popular. Or even just something that their kids could call their own (instead of destroying mom’s stash). I was faced with a dilemma. How could we make makeup that was kid-friendly but that didn’t promote “fixing,” or “beauty” or sexuality; that was still about play but could also be a healthy tool for self expression? I decided, based on what I was trying with my own kids, let’s keep the focus on play, creativity and dreaming. And this is why our You Can Be Anything Makeup Set for kids is designed the way it is. There is no mention of beauty or fashion anywhere, and the set comes in a handmade case that doubles as a keepsake box (which I thought could be used for treasures like “diplomas” or encouraging notes from mom or dad…my daughter has used it for menus for her “restaurant” or patient files for her “veterinary clinic” :). The box cover also has a picture frame. In addition to being inspired by Madison and her best friend who always take photos of their creations, I thought it could be cool to use for annual photos of your child in “what-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up” outfits (which is why the gift card says, To: ___, Who Dreams Of Becoming ___).


My absolute favorite part is the reusable gift pouch: it’s adorned with uplifting messages like, “I heart me!”; “Every child is an artist”; “I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet”; “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”“She believed she could, so she did”; and “Gratitude turns what you have into enough”…messages that a lot of us parents could be reminded of, too. 🙂

My daughter will eventually take her beauty cues from society. Until then, I want to drill down on encouraging her to embrace her beauty, just as she is, as natural as can be. It is, after all, make-UP and not make-ME.


Laura is the CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of our founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister and husband (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about learning, literature, art, health, science, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness and goodness.

Family Blog

Allergic Family Bathes Pets in Hypoallergenic Washes!

Anna is highly allergic (she’s one of the last-stop testers for our products before we launch anything), and so are her kids. To reduce the risk of flare-ups, she makes sure that their home is as hypoallergenic as can be. This means allergy-prevention is a top priority in everything from personal care products to laundry soap, bedsheets and towels…and even pets!

Anna writes: “Our cat Ming Ming bathes in diluted Superwash. We rescued her from the street and needed to clean her up immediately. Since we’re a VMV family, my toddler said that the newest member of the family also deserved to use VMV! Ming Ming’s hair was so soft and clean after her bath we couldn’t believe it. And since we are allergic to fragrance (endless sneezing!), VMV washes are perfect! The cat can sleep with the kids every night and I don’t need to worry about allergies for any of them!”

The photo above was taken after one such snuggly night:

“She is 3 months old. After playing with her for a few minutes, I got up to gather my things for work. Then she gave me this ‘Please don’t go’ look… Awwww :-)”

We’d have a hard time leaving this cuteness, too!

Do you treat your furrier family members to hypoallergenic care? Share some tips in the comments below!

“Dew” More:

To shop our selection of validated hypoallergenic products, visit Need help? Leave a comment below, contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.

Learn more:

On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

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Skinthusiast Mariza Hourani: My Life Has Been a Fairytale :)

Did you know that most VMV Hypoallergenics models are family members, good friends, work colleagues and real fans of the brand?

Meet Mariza Hourani, a Lebanese-British-Spanish-Philippine stunner who’s also my longtime bootcamp trainer’s daughter. Her dad’s seen me balloon through pregnancies and work myself to a purple-faced mess to get fit again. He trained my dad through his recovery from stem cell transplants and chemo, and still trains my energizer-bunny of a mother in her 70s. Mariza’s mother is one of the nicest, most creative women I know and does pretty much all my kids’ birthday parties plus crazy-good, crazy-healthy eggplant salads and hummus.

We’ve been friends, is what I’m saying, and I’ve been witness — often through stories shared mid bootcamp (usually when her dad’s trying to distract me from my lack of oxygen) — to Mariza’s growing up.

Mariza was also my now-3yo son’s first crush. The photo below shows him at a few months old clinging to her. Seriously, this continued a good, long time. He refused to be removed from this happy hugging. And who can blame him?


LAURA: Your dad’s punished me for years and I still remember our first workouts. When did you first “meet” VMV?

MARIZA: VMV has been a part of my life since I was a kid as I had very sensitive skin growing up and most other brands didn’t have anything hypoallergenic! I used to have the worst lip problems — I couldn’t even smile without them bleeding. Without VMV, I really don’t know how different my life would be.

L: Ouch (the bleeding) but nice to hear (that we could help 🙂 What are your biggest skin concerns or skin goals?

M: As a  model, I’m always concerned about my complexion. I do have to be in makeup quite a lot so it’s the biggest relief to be able to use VMV products that don’t make me break out! I think my biggest skin goal would be to stay as youthful as can be for as long as possible. My career kind of depends on it, ha ha!

L: We can help there, too, I’m sure. Which VMV products do you use?

….. What don’t I use?

L: Ok, which would you consider your faves?

M: I’m white as a snowball. It’s so bad that I’ve used the lightest shades of other makeup lines as BRONZERS. That being said, hands down my favorites are the Skin Savvy Foundation and Illuminants Powder — you actually have my shade!!

L: What do you like about this very bare, very natural look for spring?

M: I’ll correct you right now and point out that I not only like it, I LOVE IT. So many people have the wrong idea about makeup; it’s not supposed to cover up your features, it’s supposed to enhance them. That’s exactly what this look is all about. I feel so preeeeetty

L: I stand happily corrected. And for days when a bare look just won’t cut it, what makeup looks get you jazzed?

M: I’ve always been into the pin-up look. Sexy, classy and timeless all in one.

L: Taking note of that for a future shoot. How would you describe your personal style?

M: Can we skip this question? #identitycrisis

L: Wait till you’re in your 40s. How do you keep as fit as you are?

M: I’m fit?? Hahaha! I try my best to get a jog in whenever I’m not busy with work 🙂

L: What’s your favorite activity to keep healthy?

M: Sleeping. Hands down. You’d be suprised how crucial things like this actually are until you’ve been deprived of them.

L: Totally agree with you. Didn’t think of sleep as an activity until my first experience with a newborn. What’s it like having a trainer for a dad?

M: I would be nowhere in my career without him. He’s been my biggest supporter and closest friend. Friends fight, A LOT, but it’s nothing a few burpees won’t fix.

L: Your dad and those #)*$& burpees. What was it like growing up in your family?

My life has been a fairytale 🙂

L: Those words, just like that, are what I’d love to hear my kids say some day.


Mariza is a model and freelance writer. 



Laura is the CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of our founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister and husband (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about learning, literature, art, health, science, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness and goodness.

Family Blog

Family Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Summer

Boracay is one of the most visited destinations in the Philippines. Its powder-like white beach, clear waters, and abundance of activities made my son Taz’s request to travel to Boracay to celebrate his 6th birthday an easy yes!

Travelling with your kids can be exciting and fun, or a complete disaster. Here are some of my top tips to help mommies enjoy the family summer vacation, instead of need a vacation of her own afterwards!


While off-peak flight times can be cheaper, you might want to weigh the savings against the stress of flight times that interrupt kids’ sleep patterns. Always bring a minimum amount of snacks in case of a travel delay. Young children can struggle with air pressure: pacifiers, a feeding, or candy for older kids can help remind them to swallow.


It can be tempting to bring a huge supply of snacks and toys, but if you’re going to a beach…sand, surf, shells, and fish are  all the toys you’ll need! Since we had our 6 year old son Taz and 3 year old son Benny with us, we made sure that we only had minimal luggage and small bags — much easier and transport from airplane to boat and tricycles. Smaller bags also make it simple to find things. And in a real pinch, older kids can help carry small bags. Fitting everything into small bags is doable, and some good packaging techniques include rolling socks into shoes, bringing toiletries that you all can share, packing specific outfits instead of lots of clothes for options, and using the kids’ bags to hold additional items. Another great tip to make sure you bring less clothes but get more use out of them: pack a small bottle of laundry soap!


Aside from sunscreen, we travel with beach hats, sunglasses, beach towels, and a beach bag that is water resistant where you can put your camera, wallet, and cellular phones. For the kids, I bought shovel when we landed on the island.  For mommies, remember to bring comfortable swimwear so you can chase after kids, be super comfortable, and still enjoy the beach.



Don’t dump travel documents into larger bags…keep them on you, with as little clutter as possible. Also, take photos of the documents with your phone (for longer trips, it’s worth getting a certified copy to keep in a separate location). Rehearse a simple safety procedure with kids so they know what to do if they get lost: find a security guard, tell them you’re lost, tell them your parent’s names, stay put in an official office or by the information counter, and don’t go with any adult who isn’t an official. Older kids can memorize your cell phone number. Some parents print out important information, stick them in small plastic ID holders, and pin them to the insides of kids’ shirts, too.


Particularly if you’re going to an island, don’t rely on credit cards or ATMs. Even if credit cards are the norm, electricity can be dicier on islands and smaller airports may have more cash-only vendors.



Summer means super hot weather. So don’t forget to bring your best friend: sunscreen! It’s always a good idea to apply sunscreen before leaving the hotel room (try applying it before bathing suits to make sure you don’t miss a spot) and hitting the beach. This lessens the arguments (kids can land on the beach and enjoy themselves instead of you reigning them in for sunscreen) and lessens the risk of poor application (from wriggling, squirming, impatient children). Don’t forget to reapply every hour and after swimming. A nice tip: set an alarm for reapplication and have water and snacks ready so it’s more of a happy break and not a sunscreen-application to-do.


Anyone, and certainly children, can become dehydrated in the sun and heat. Keep a bottle of water with you all day (it’s best to bring your own to prevent germs from spreading…and it’s also better for the environment than purchased bottled water).  Since kids can be so excited and they stay outdoors for hours at a time, I make sure to get water to them every 15 minutes (some of these water breaks can be combined with a sunscreen reapplication!). At lunch, make sure they chug down full glasses of water. Water is best; sugary drinks can be more dehydrating. For an occasional treat, choose fresh coconut water or fresh-pressed juices.


We’re so lucky that we can now use our mobile phones to take great pictures. I didn’t bring big cameras with me because they’re incredibly bulky and hard to take care of on a beach. Just make sure you don’t spend all of your vacation taking photos. In fact, make it a point to keep your phone away from you so that you have as many memories made by being together as by snapping a photo. TIP: Get your kids to keep a vacation journal! It’s great for their minds and is a wonderful way to document memories without a gadget.


Ride local transportation (tricycles, buggies, whatever), eat local food, and be curious. Learning more about, and respecting, local culture is an invaluable lesson to teach your children. It expands their minds, teaches them empathy, and helps them become more open-minded and contributive global citizens.



Enjoy your vacation! Play with the sand, enjoy the view with your husband and kids, eat when you feel hungry, and repeat. Taking a break helps you remember that life is beautiful — and it’s important for your kids to see you doing that. Really be in each moment with your loved ones and build memories together — more than any toy or gadget, it’s these memories that they’ll remember forever. Life is short, you only live once: ENJOY!


Sharms is a freelance hair and makeup artist, image consultant at John Robert Powers, and events manager. Mom to Taz and Benny, Sharms is an avid mountaineer (“MOMtaineer”!) who loves to travel.

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The VMV Family Story

Our “skinception” 🙂

My mother started VMV HYPOALLERGENICS®. Being of the grand old guard of hard-core dermatological researchers and serious clinicians, it was unethical for her to promote any products. She therefore refused to put her name on the products (she allowed no more than “VMV,” her initials) and has never fronted for the brand (she preferred not to be its public face). People do find out that her research and clinical care are behind it but she won’t “sell” it.

She’s a pretty rare creature on a few levels. She finished high school at 14 and medical school at 21. By the time she came back to the Philippines from the USA (she is originally from Cebu and Leyte, where our organic coconut farm is) she was already an awarded and published researcher, with a paper that won a prestigious journal research award (she was a 2nd year resident at Cleveland Clinic at the time). She’s both a dermatologist and dermatopathologist with over 100 published studies to her name.


My mom has over a hundred published studies at this point. Over 75 are clinical trials on VMV products or (as with those on contact dermatitis or monolaurin) studies on ingredients, diseases and other science that goes into VMV products.

She also wears an impressive three hats: as a clinician and pathologist handling complex (often, hospitalized) cases; a researcher; and a chemist/formulator. It’s rare to find one person who is all three, and at such a level.

VMV Hypoallergenics was born out of her practice, when she saw an increase in patients who were reacting — with rashes but also acne and hyperpigmentations — to cosmetic products that they were using.

In the 1970s, cosmetics were often dismissed in dermatology circles as unimportant, there was relatively little research to go on, and the pickings were slim as far as alternatives she could recommend to her patients.

Already immersed in patch testing at the Cleveland Clinic and other fellowships, and convinced of its importance, she let her research into contact reactions lead her to experimenting with formulations that she customized for her patients. Around this time, she met my father, a businessman and entrepreneur originally from the USA who was an expat in Manila. He came to her as a patient and she cleared his skin. Acne had plagued him most of his life, as had various allergies, and his skin showed damage from a lifetime of tanning. He had the pockmarks and hyperreactivity to prove it. Over time, these scars, sensitivities, and photodamage significantly improved. It’s tempting to think she cleared his skin and he proposed to her but it didn’t happen that quickly. After they married, he convinced her to begin selling her concoctions, particularly Superskin, a patented formula that combined retinoic acid and clindamycin. She balked at the thought of selling products but he assured her that she would never need to be the main public face of the brand, that the brand would never limit her research (it would always be patients, safety and clinical trials over market trends), and that she would always be “the cook in the kitchen.” He’d be the brand man.

As my mother continued her research, much got published in medical journals and much went into the creation of our products — the sales of which then funded more research, creating what we like to call a “VMVirtuous cycle.” This is why, while one published study is usually considered a huge deal, we have over 75 clinical studies in medical journals and presented in dermatology conventions.

Enter me, Laura, the eldest daughter. At around age 10, seemingly overnight, I developed a wild case of acne on the forehead. My mom told me I had to give up my beloved shampoo whose strawberry scent I thought was just the coolest thing. But after my acne had spread to my shoulders, upper arms, chest and back, I became a happy guinea pig, trying any formulation she developed. As it turns out, I had pityrosporum folliculitis (sweat acne).

I hated it. To a pre-teen, what it was called wasn’t anywhere near as important as the humiliation of the acne itself, how widespread it was, and the fact that my mom was a dermatologist. I regularly lied about who my mom was. I’d say she was a doctor; when pressed, a brain surgeon.

In high school at 15, my mom explained that I had several types of acne. On the face, I had contact irritation acne (from my bangs) and run-of-the-mill hormonal/bacterial acne. The culprit of my adolescent scourge on the back and chest was a fungus.

In addition to the medications for my face, I was to try…dandruff shampoo. As a “mask.” All over the affected areas. When she’d discovered this, I was in school abroad = dorm = privacy, not so much. I would wake up at 4 or 5am and sneak into the bathroom so I could sit, half naked, and blue, in private. I still remember the cold, clear fear of discovery. How to explain my being alone in the communal bathroom at that ungodly hour, half dressed and covered in caking blue slime? I should note that the shampoo left on like this was also highly irritating and left me red, sometimes burned. This experience led, many years later, to the development of our Id Monolaurin Gel for face and body acne, and yes, for pityrosporum folliculitis. It’s one of our best-sellers and comes in — the irony — a blue bottle.

My background isn’t in business. It’s in critical theory, with a focus on race, gender, postcolonial studies, and consumer society. I came home to help in the family business after my father got diagnosed with multiple myeloma (more on this below) and set out to work on our culture: to make sure our messaging, representation, and how we treated each other was in keeping with our science and empathy and goodness.

My sister CC was born 11 years after me. At about age 3, my mother looked at her and said (total truth), “She’s got her father’s pores.” CC also has her father’s legacy of sniffling (honking), puffy, hivey, itchy, scratchy allergies. She couldn’t have been born into a better family, skin wise. As mom began seriously exploring the benefits of prophylactic care for hereditary conditions, CC benefited from early acne therapy with the SuperSkin Care regimen (cleanser, toner and moisturizer) at age 9. Take one look at her pockmark-free skin now and you’ll see how important that early care was. She’s still extremely sensitive — she needs our laundry soap on her pillow or she’ll wake like a startled puffer fish — but even that’s beautifully controlled with mostly just prevention.

CC and I were always “with” the company. The dinner table was the “birthplace” of many product ideas and the battleground for many product debates. We were raised on exciting stuff like micro-exfoliants in unbuffered form and with pH-adjusted regimens; a hospitalized case that got better with some really inventive mixture or protocol; a lifelong skin allergy finally accurately identified to be triggered by the strangest thing.

But many of our top products almost never made it past the dinner table, much less into a beaker. In 1984 (I remember because CC was still a toddler) there were loud discussions about a scentless hair and body shampoo that mom wanted to make — this, when “Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific” was still a top selling shampoo brand. It was a hard sell for poor mom. She stood her ground, though, and created Superwash, which became (and still is) one of our most successful, iconic products. I also remember being as bothered by my father at the thought of an SPF 30 sunscreen. In the late 1980s, SPF 15 was considered “crazy” high. And I liked being tan and would work at it. Mom insisted and got her way. Then she pushed even harder for ever-wilder ideas like the sunscreen being able to protect against UVA…then against indoor light (insert major eye-rolling here from me) for melasma. This led to Armada sunscreens, our top-selling product line ever (major mic-drop moment here for mom).

1988 saw her publish the first VH-Rating System based on independently published allergen lists. “Too hard to keep up, mom.” “No one will get it!” “Customers will be intimidated!” “No one knows what an allergen is!” The VH-Rating system was the first method of its kind to measure hypoallergenicity by allergen omission. It has shown less than 0.1% reported reactions in over thirty years of use in VMV products. And it remains the only hypoallergenic rating system of its kind. It’s published, too, in one of the top journals of contact dermatitis. In case you haven’t noticed, mom’s hasn’t wanted for mic-drop moments.

The list goes on. A flavor- and fluoride-free toothpaste in 1997. Raised eyebrows notwithstanding, Essence Skin-Saving Toothpaste came into being. Again, one of our best-selling products. Virgin coconut oil? Too tropical! Monolaurin as a sweat acne treatment and antimicrobial? Weird! Proven wrong, again and again…contentedly. We’ve since learned to furrow our brows at her “wild” ideas, double down to understand her science, and then surrender to her brilliance (we just hand her the mic for dropping ahead of time and go with her flow).

Some ideas have come from us, from our needs as individuals and as a family with skin issues. Our Grandma Minnie Mom & Baby line happened because I was pregnant with my first child and while happily walking (waddling) around looking for nursery supplies, I realized: there’s nothing that isn’t fragranced! With our family history, there’s a good chance my baby is going to have sensitive skin…what now? MOM!!! That’s not stylistic license. In that baby store, in that instant, I called her in a hormone-induced panic: “MOM! There’s NOTHING not fragranced! NOTHING!!! What do I do?!”

The stars aligned. Mom happened to be in the middle of her explosion of clinical studies on coconut oil and monolaurin, two awesome ingredients that would eventually make it into almost every VMV formulation. Coconut oil is added to some infant formulas for premature babies and monolaurin is found in breastmilk…they couldn’t have been a better fit for mom and baby products.

Our 1635 Gentle Men’s Therapeutic Shaving line was in the works for a while. It has its origins further back than most people know. My husband is Argentine and his whole family is pretty rugged (one of my BFFs has a term for them: R&T. Rough & Tumble). Farms, sports, camping, sailing, skiing, futbol, polo…all in the same day if the the daylight holds. When we were dating, facial cleansing was about as foreign an idea to him as waxing his brows. Letting the shampoo drip down his face sufficed. When we created our Id Clarifying line it included a facial cleanser/shaving cream to at least get half of his face clean. Fast forward to 2013 with our desire to have a more comprehensive shaving-skincare line. My dad was no longer with us (he passed away of multiple myeloma 13 years after a prognosis of 6 months, largely due to my mother’s stubborn research leading her to the awesome doctors at the University of Arkansas Myeloma Institute.) He was so meticulous about his shaving ritual — he sincerely enjoyed it as a simple, quiet pleasure — we had to name the line after him.

Red Better happened because, after years of watching my husband light up like a flakey siren, I finally went, hmmm, funny that we don’t have a line for rosacea.

MOM! 🙂

And then there’s Bessie, the unassumingly chipper heifer who watches over all our boutiques. She’s there because she was a gift: a brilliant artist friend of mine, Valeria Cavestany, gave us the original — a lantern sculpture in papier mâché — for us to welcome the new Argentine branch of our family. My father-in-law was coming to visit and we had the teensiest guest room. She thought the happy cow would be a lovely, warm touch. And it was. When building our first store, I saw an empty corner and thought: that looks so sad. On a lark, I brought Bessie to make the space more welcoming, just as she’d so nicely done at home. She felt so right, she “moo-ved” right into that space. So many things in our stores remind us of family and friends, and Bessie’s become our daily madeleine for family, friends, and happy memories. For some bovine reason we’ve never been able to explain, Bessie seems to make lots of people who visit us happy, too. Replicas are hand-made for each boutique and Bessie’s become a popular, central “cowponent” of our stores. She is (I swear this is the last of the cow puns) our “moo-scot.”

Bessie’s just one of the highly personal touches in VMV. Almost every model in our visuals is a real VMV fan, a family member, a coworker, a really good friend. I couldn’t be more grateful to them for believing in us and for graciously letting us photograph them. In this way, VMV’s been an ongoing, shared documentation of loved ones and family.

What’s nice is that we’re giving back to more families. We grow our own virgin coconut oil in our certified organic farm in Leyte, in the Philippines. It’s a collective farm that provides free education for farmers and schools in the area, and shares food and techniques with neighbors. On this farm, nothing goes to waste. Coconut by-products are used to feed fish in fresh flowing rivers on the land (gravity-fed fishponds) which has evolved naturally into a bird sanctuary for wild ducks, white herons, and hawks. Hit badly by typhoon Haiyan (one of the strongest tropical cyclones in recorded history, affecting about 11 million people, 4 million of them children), the farm took in 40 families; its one remaining structure with an intact roof (300 sqm or around 3,200 sq ft) served as a refuge for almost 300 men, women and children, providing shelter as well as food and water from donations and a site for medical missions. This farm belonged to my lolo (Tagalog for grandfather; my mom’s father). Being a beloved member of the community as a lawyer and agricultural engineer, I’m sure he would be proud knowing how much good we’re doing with the land and the community.


Family touches are in pretty much everything VMV. We wanted our boutiques to be highly personal because, well, VMV is so personal to us: we grew up in it, it’s in our bones. This is why our shops are designed to be both cozy-caring and highly scientific.


The architect’s eyebrows shot up, too: “where’s the cohesion? what’s the overriding theme?!” Call us corny but it’s “care.” Our science is formidable but what we do (and the formidable science is the reason we can do it well) is care. For so many people and so many different kinds of skin problems. All these things — homes, family, even the hospital where my sister and I spent hours after school, performing for the nurses while waiting for mom to finish her rounds — are what we associated with care and love and family growing up. Entering a store for us is like walking into a scrapbook, making us feel simultaneously cozy, grateful and safe. It’s why we  call our stores “skin havens”. They’re sanctums for skin, but they’re also, in a very real way, an extension of our home and family.


Laura is the CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of our founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister and husband (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about learning, literature, art, health, science, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness and goodness.

Family Blog

This Dad Uses Health & Fitness To Bond With Family

By Miguel Feuermann

Sports run in our family. 

Although many comment from the sidelines and think we are absolutely crazy because of what we do, we think ours is a super healthy dose of life!


With the kind of sports we do — gymnastics, swimming, triathlon, cycling, running, football and more — you can imagine what our home looks like. Water bottles everywhere, stretching aids, bosu balls, swiss balls, kettle bells, elastic bands, bikes, goggles, cycling shoes, helmets, wheels, sunscreen, nutritional supplements, running shoes (they line our floor everywhere: Nike, Saucony, Newton, Brooks, Hoka Hoka One…we are like the United Nations of running shoes!) Our washing machine operates on overtime 24/7 to keep up with the demands of our daily lives. Alone we couldn’t do it. We have a team for: logistics, nutrition/chef, talent manager (wife/mother), physio therapist, Masseur, Ironman training coach (online from Vancouver). Together, they make our lives much easier.

All this started approximately 8 years ago and has since become an addiction and part of our daily routine. Luckily, it is an addiction worth keeping.

As in most families, kids can pick up their parents’ habits. In our humble abode, it was no different. Ariel, who is turning 11 this year, took on the best habits of both mother and father.

A daredevil on her own, swimming became her sport from an early age. People recognized her ability and dolphin style…we couldn’t get her out of the water. We then introduced her to competition and she never looked back!


Our motto is to enjoy what you do to the fullest.

Results will come on their own. Apply yourself 100% in everything that you do. Results speak louder than words. Winning is the outcome of a well-executed training plan.

As a father who eats, breathes and sleeps the endurance sport of triathlon, I mentor Ariel whenever possible on the rigors of hard work, and the commitment and determination required to compete at a high level. Seeing her athletic development, her mental strength, and her confidence gives me tremendous satisfaction and provides me with a certain level of reassurance that we, as a TEAM, have chosen the correct path.

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The endless early mornings, late nights, and long training sessions feel like nothing, especially when you are able to spend part of it together with your children.

As a dad, it means so much that I can celebrate how far we have come, how strong and united we are. And I hope that this is only the beginning of an awesome journey to last a lifetime.

Chat with Miguel about endurance racing, juggling training with a career and family
— and even kids’ triathlons! —
on social now!

Facebook     miguel.feuermann

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Twitter_logo_blue   miguelfeuermann


Family Blog Healthy Living Skin

Skin Is In For Him, Too

“We’re determined to give our kids healthy habits. We explain why each step is important, then repeat, repeat, repeat. We ask them if they’ve brushed their teeth, showered, put on sunscreen. We make a VERY BIG DEAL every time they take care of themselves. We say, you eat fruits and veggies for your body, you do something active for your heart, you read for your brain…you wash up and wear sunscreen to keep your skin healthy. Skincare is just part of staying healthy for us.”

Juan Pablo, VMV COO, and son

Family Blog Skin

Gentle (Beneficial!) Shaving: The Skin-Saving Shave

Skin-Saving Shaving

VMV’s literal dad (husband to our founding dermatopathologist, my mother) loved to shave. It was his time for quiet contemplation and self tending. Yet it took a while for shaving to catch on at VMV because my side of the family, being Filipino and without a rich depilatory tradition, didn’t see the big deal…until my Argentine husband came alone. Thanks in part to his rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis, he hated to shave. Shaving hurt so he considered it a chore, and he envied my dad the pleasantness of his shaving routine.

Noticing that there weren’t a lot of options for people like him who had problem skin and wanted or needed to shave, he spearheaded the creation of a VMV shaving line. With my mom’s research, we discovered that we could make it multi-tasking: allergen-free safety and real skin benefits with each shave.

My dad succumbed to multiple myeloma, thirteen very full, active years after his diagnosis. His initial prognosis was 6 months and so we are forever grateful to the brilliant, researching, innovating, publishing minds at the University of Arkansas for Medical Services Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy for buying him over a decade of health. By the time we launched our shaving line three years later, we knew he’d be an inspiration for it somehow (or “skinspiration,” in our parlance 🙂 and he was. Everything about these formulations make shaving safer, less of a pain, gentler, and — with ingredients like yerba mate and coffee — a joy and a great morning picker-upper.

True to our mission of safety and proven efficacy, and our “why” of saving the world’s skin, this line’s efficacy, multi-beneficial elegance of function, and quiet luxury make this daily ritual a true pleasure, one that can be done leisurely, and with great benefits beyond the simple chore. And because these formulations are great on various skin and hair types, they’re awesome for anyone who needs to shave, any where!

We hope you enjoy it!

Laura, VMV CEO


Laura is the CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of our founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister and husband (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about learning, literature, art, health, science, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness and goodness.