06/01/2012 03:36 pm ET Updated Jun 04, 2012

Marie Veronique Nadeau, Chemist Turned Skin Expert, On San Francisco's Biggest Healthy Skin Mistake (PHOTOS)

Who: Marie Veronique Nadeau, founder of international skincare industry darling, Marie Veronique Organics.

Neighborhood: Berkeley

Years in the Bay Area: Life

Current gig: A former chemist and teacher, Nadeau swapped her beakers for bottles ten years ago when she launched her natural skincare company Marie Veronique Organics in her kitchen. Now, her boutique skincare line has been picked up by Auberge Resorts, Skins Institute in Amsterdam and the ritzy Sundance Resort in Sundance, Utah. Elle magazine called the company's glow-getting facial at Solage Calistoga one of the best spa treatments in the world.

Nadeau sat down with The Huffington Post to talk about the switch from chemistry to skincare and San Francisco's biggest skincare mistake.


How did you go from chemistry to skincare? It started because I couldn't find what I needed. I've always suffered from rosacea, but ten years ago the only thing out there to help was diaper rash cream. So I went into my kitchen, started experimenting and made my first sunscreen. My friends loved it and started buying jars of it. I still have the first $20 bill in a frame.

Describe your process been since then. I suppose my process has always been finding out what people need. Friends and customers will ask me, "Marie, what can you do about adult acne? What can you do about sun damage?" Before long, we have our next product. It's just like being a chemist really; we're experimenting hands-on all of the time.

Do you think being in the Bay Area has contributed to your success? Absolutely. I have a great supplier of organic oils here and there are so many beautiful natural ingredients all around. But reaching customers is easy here. People are on the same page and are very educated about the latest research. It frees me up to be more adventurous. You start to tap into ideas that you never thought were possible.

One of the cornerstones of your company is using natural ingredients. Why should people care about their skincare products being natural? Well the skin is really your biggest organ: everything you put on it gets absorbed into your body. So you generally shouldn't put anything on it that you wouldn't feel comfortable eating.

What's the number one skincare mistake people make in the Bay Area? Not wearing sun protection. Men are particularly bad about this, and it's not just about keeping the skin young. My business partner is a melanoma survivor so we are very passionate about this.

In San Francisco, it's often cold and overcast, so people think they don't need it all the time. But in reality, the rays from the sun are just as damaging to your skin and your health through clouds and even glass. And those rays shine just as intensely from sun-up to sundown, so you need it during that 7 a.m. jog, too. It's a year-round necessity. It doesn't have to be the stuff for the beach: spf 20 is fine. Zinc oxide is best, but you need something that will protect against UVA rays--remember, the "A" is for aging.

Any other common mistakes? The belief that you need to strip acne-prone skin of oil. Scraping off the oil only makes it worse. What you need is more oil.

Wait, you tell people with acne to add more oil? Yes, as long as it’s the right oil. Because it's not that you're producing excessive oil, it's the excessive sebum [an oily substance made up of fat and wax]. The right oil cleans this out while keeping the skin lubricated. I see the skin as its own ecosystem. With that kind of perspective, you look at how to balance the ecosystem to keep it healthy. You give nature what it wants and that's when you get the best results. Nature is very good at healing itself.

What is one specific change that San Franciscans should make for summer? Besides being even more diligent about the sunscreen, you need extra antioxidants in the summer. Sun exposure generates free radicals in the body and you want to eliminate those. Vitamin C is a fantastic solution. You can put it on the skin at night, and you can take an oral supplement by day. People always load up on Vitamin C to fight colds in the winter, but you need it in the summer to fight free radicals.

What are your favorite local spas? Well Solage in Calistoga, of course. And Purevana in Mill Valley—Sheryl there is great, and those are people who are very passionate about skincare. With those people, you go to them and get something that's tailored to what you need. You don't want cookie cutter skincare.

Check out Marie's rules for healthy summer skin in our slideshow below:



Marie Veronique Summer Skincare