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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.”

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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 ___).

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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.


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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.

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Featured Skin

Hypoallergenic Is Our Family’s Normal

By Anna

“I have been using VMV since I was 12. I have atopic dermatitis and my allergies aren’t just my problem: my children inherited my atopic dermatitis and skin asthma.

Everyone in the family uses VMV. Even our pets! They’re not allergic but we are — bathing them in Superwash Hair & Body Shampoo (which we all use) and coating them in Know-It-Oil (we share with them also 🙂 means cuddling doesn’t lead to a rash.

From sunscreen to shampoo, conditioner, and more, we just live hypoallergenically. Because of it, we aren’t hindered from enjoying life fully. We’re outdoorsy and love to travel…we just make sure we take everything we need with us. My kids grew up in it; it’s our normal. Even my 7-year-old knows to pack his Boo-Boo Balm for flare-ups!

 

Anna Anastacio is Chief Officer for Business Development at VMV Hypoallergenics. Follow her on Instagram to learn more about cosmetic industry updates and being a hypoallergenic mom in an allergic family!

Categories
Featured Skin

My Baby Has Eczema

“My baby has atopic dermatitis and a friend of mine recommended that I use your products…

He’s 15-months old and was diagnosed by a dermatologist with atopic dermatitis when he was 6-months old. This was confirmed by an allergist who said to give him cetirizine antihistamine daily before bedtime. He has been taking cetirizine for about a year. He gets red patches in the folds of his arms and legs, white patches, prickly heat-like dots, rough elbows and dry skin, mostly on his upper arms, neck, nape and when bad, on the torso, too. He scratches all the time, especially with flare-ups. The triggers we have identified are carrots, sun, sweat, anything with a strong smell, oatmeal soap/lotion, change in climate, dust, stuffed toys, dairy. (Topical corticosteroid lotion) helps flare-ups subside in 2-3 days. I bathe him twice-a-day. In the morning, I use (soap) on his head, face and body, then (cleanser) all over body and rinse, followed by (bath oil) and (lotion). In the evening, I use the soap on his head, then (cleansing cream) all over, which I leave for a few minutes for absorption, and rinse. I follow this with the oil and lotion.”

We asked a few dermatologists and VMV Hypoallergenics CEO to weigh in…

Laura (VMV CEO): That is a lot of product, especially for a baby 🙂 I’d suggest a 7-Day Skin Fast first. Then Coo & Clean or Clark Wash for bathing, Oil’s Well virgin coconut oil (VCO) and, if needed, Armada Baby as a barrier cream. Also, Fawn & Launder for laundry, and avoid clothing with bright colors, elastics/spandex/rubbers, garters, any scratchy material. Just pure white or natural cotton for a while.

Dr. A. Ortega: I would advise against bathing baby 2x-a-day. Once is enough then just wash axillae, genital area and feet at night. If there are flare-ups, virgin coconut oil can double as body wash and moisturizer. I agree with Laura in using Clark Wash for body and Fawn & Launder for laundry.

Dr. B. Ong: My 21-month old daughter also has atopic dermatitis and our daily routine for her since she was 7-months old is:

  1. Know-It-Oil (VCO) all over the body before and after bathing, and bathe only once a day;
  2. Mommycoddling Lotion all over body after bath, before nap time, and before bedtime;
  3. Boo-Boo Balm on the backs of the knees, antecubital and ankles, and diaper area at least three times a day;
  4. Before bedtime: VCO first all over then Mommycoddling Lotion on top, then Boo-Boo Balm on areas of flare before she finally puts on her pajamas.

This routine saves her from topical steroids. I suggest this mom see her allergist again and ask about the cetirizine that baby has been taking for almost a year. I fear that may be too long a period for a baby of 15 months. The standard antihistamine duration for kids, even for mine, was at most, two months.

Dr. A. Ortega: Yes, a 15-month old baby taking cetirizine for too long is an important point to consider.

Dr. S: I fully agree with a change in detergent, using instead a very mild unscented one. No elasticized materials. Use white, cotton clothing including underwear. Even the beddings and pillowcases should be cotton with no bright colors, just plain white as much as possible.

These suggestions should not be considered medical advice. Follow your dermatologist’s directions.

Categories
Featured Healthy Living Skin Uncategorized

From Belly To Prom: Skincare For Kids

What to choose?

What do they really need?

What to avoid?

Categories
Family Blog Featured Healthy Living Skin

How About A Hypoallergenic Play Tent?

If you’ve got a child with eczema, allergies, or another sensitive skin condition, you know how difficult finding hypoallergenic play options can be. My daughter has very simple allergies to red dye and fragrance, and I’ve had to deal with an atlas of urticaria (swelling and redness) covering her little body head to toe after hugging a purple dinosaur all night; an angry red ring on her neck and arms from an orange blanket, escorted by a fever from the inflammation — plus her misery at possibly missing a beach trip because we weren’t sure if it was a viral infection — and other itchy inconveniences from accidentally touching anything with certain colors or scents, including just the little red patches on an adorable stuffed Yorkie’s plaid jacket. Even with her simple sensitivities, we’ve had to learn how to be careful about the toys she can play with, and the blankets and pillows that she can cuddle or lay on.

Enter this great find: Domestic Objects, beautiful brainchild of (rather beautiful herself) Sarah Jagger, a friend of mine. I saw a few of her teepees online and thought, goodness they’re gorgeous. The type of “toy” I wouldn’t mind leaving un-packed-away permanently. Then, I saw this white tent and thought…hey, my 8-year-old could play in that for hours…could even sleep in it…and not get a rash. One quick call to Sarah and I confirmed: the tent is 100% cotton canvas, no dyes, and anything that could be scratchy, like seams or velcro on the tie-backs, are elegantly hidden, safely tucked away from normal contact with sensitive skin. It even comes with pillows and a mat of the same material!

BINGO. A play option I could recommend to other parents of kids with sensitive skins. What I didn’t expect was how much fun this thing would be! I learned that first hand when photographing Sarah for VMV Hypoallergenics (stay tuned for those photos! 😉 ) On the same day, we were doing a shoot for upcoming VMV kids’ products (more spoiler alerts…I need a gag order) and Sarah graciously agreed to loan us one of her Teepee Play Tents. I knew that it would be perfect for the set…

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…but I didn’t expect how popular the teepee would be with all the kids! We had more trouble getting them out of it than getting them to pose. This was true even of my 5-year-old son who’s currently in that the-ickier-the-face-the-cooler-the-photo stage. And that photo right at the top? That’s him completely immersed in Horton Hears A Who…it was like, despite the chaos of the production around him, that tent, and that book, were his world.

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Like bees to honey, the second that tent arrived, we couldn’t keep the kids out of it. That’s my son playing adventure doctor on safari with his Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm (apparently, now also for injured baby jaguars).

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This is my friend’s adorable little girl quietly playing fairy…

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…and this is my daughter, the one who now has more play options than ever 🙂

If you’re looking for plush toys and other fun things to go with your Domestic Objects play tent, these are some general best practices:

  1. Opt for uncolored items: natural canvas or white. If you’d like some color, stick to very pale hues and ideally, mineral or vegetable dyes. The biggest risks would be known top allergens dyes like reds (including purples), indigo, and anything really bright.
  2. Pure cotton is your best bet. Synthetic fabrics don’t take color well, so manufacturers sometimes add chemicals called “mordants” (related to metals, many of which, like nickel, are top allergens) to help the dyes bind better.
  3. Avoid elastics, spandex, rubber, or make sure these things are covered up by natural canvas or white cotton cloth.
  4. You don’t want anything scratchy like rough cloth or velcro that comes into contact with skin.
  5. Nothing fragranced (like potpourri sachets hidden in a pocket).
  6. You might want things that can be laundered. Bacterial colonization is common in eczema and can worsen itching in atopic dermatitis or even just dry skin. Cleaning them with a hypoallergenic laundry wash like Fawn & Launder every so often — that also has a skin-safe antimicrobial (coconut-derived monolaurin) — could help prevent additional bacterial exposure without using harsher antimicrobials.

I’ve been so obsessed with Domestic Objects since the shoot that I kind of want a tent for me. This striped canvas one in particular. But with pockets for a cocktail shaker and simple bar set. For moms and kids, hypoallergenic play options abound!

If you’ve got other hypoallergenic home or play items you’ve found, I’m a big believer in #goodnessbegetsgoodness. Share them with me below or on Instagram, and I’ll be happy to keep our finds coming, too! 🙂


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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.