I came of age in what I like to call the pre-wellness era. Foods were chock full of gluten, juice bars were not a thing, and the premiere form of physical fitness was the exercise video tape. During this period, I was a normal kid in the suburbs of Chicago, in a town where every John Hughes movie was filmed. I rode my bike, hit up dance practice, and parked in front of the T.V. to watch Nickelodeon and eat "fruit snacks” that didn't contain any real fruit. The rest of my diet was like that too—there was plenty of mom's meat loaf, Lucky Charms cereal for breakfast, frequent runs through the local drive-thru McDonald's, and most of the "vegetables" that I ate came out of a Campbell's soup can labeled with "cream of something." My beauty regimen, which had prematurely started around age 10, was based on Clinque's 3-step program consisting of a bar soap, a pastel pink toner, and the famous yellow colored 'Dramatically Different' moisturizer. I thought that it was "dramatically different" indeed and it's what my mother used, so it all felt very grown-up.
Now, as a fashion and beauty editor in Manhattan in 2016, life is a little different. I eat as many vegetables as I can, I couldn't figure out how to watch a jazzercize video tape even if I wanted to—and please hide the Oreos and other processed foods, none of which are approved by Gwyneth Paltrow’s go-to “Clean Diet.” Albeit, I’m not at strict as Gwyneth, and I’ll admit to eating fast food while stranded at the airport a few times a year, and once in awhile, I still get that slice of meat loaf in (from Dean and Deluca's prepared foods section; not as good as mom's).
Needless to say, the pre-wellness era—which was marked by complete unawareness—is long over. We're more well-informed now, and the concept of living a healthy lifestyle is even trending. There's an uptick in eating clean, rigorous workout classes, and expensive skincare products have been commonplace amongst those who can afford it.
We might have literally drank the Kool-Aid (and the milk, because it did a body good) because there was no voice in our ears telling us that we're slowly poisoning ourselves. The dairy-free movement has gone mainstream and there's a growing number of people who are opting to skip the powdered drink mixes, but the same theories aren't being applied to skincare and beauty at all. For the same reasons that unhealthy foods are, well, bad for your health, we should also be calling into question the lists of ingredients of our daily moisturizer and face wash. A friendly reminder: our biggest organ is our skin.
During the last few years, there's been an emergence of beauty and skincare brands that are non-toxic, but there's one who has been whispering in our ears since the '90s. Tracie Martyn is famous for her trademark 'Red Carpet Facial,' but what's left out of those celebrity skin stories is that she's pioneered the movement away from toxic products to which we still can't predict the longterm effects of. Not only are Martyn's products healthy for your skin, but they deliver on all of the promises that they make. Successfully bridging the gap between luxury beauty and non-toxic, the 'Resculpting Cream' actually resculpts, the toner tones, and if you're going for that glowy "red carpet" look, Tracie Martyn's microcurrent Rescuplting technology is unrivaled.
Back in the ‘90s, while we were chugging milk, Martyn and her partner Marius Morariu were already onto green juice. “I was studying yoga and eating healthy and then I met Marius, who was a nutritionist,” Martyn says. “We got together with this incredible shaman and live food expert, David Jubb, who was one of the first people in New York to do live food.” Jubb was a shaman in the Native American Toltec tradition in 1997 and is credited with bringing the raw food movement to New York City.
Throughout the '90s, Martyn was regularly working with photographers Mario Testino and Annie Leibovitz as an editorial makeup artist for clients like David Bowie, Drew Barrymore, Debbie Harry, and the whole lot of top supermodels. Through the models, Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg learned about Tracie and still, to this day, come to her Fifth Avenue location for routine visits. By 1999, a Vogue writeup brought her so many clients that it seemed like the right time to take a break from her editorial work. But while some clients were soaking in—and seeing results from—Martyn's holistic advice, most of what she had to say fell on deaf ears. “When we started, everyone was like, ‘Parabens? What are you talking about?’ No one cared. All anyone wanted to know about was who our clients were, because we had the best clients.” But to Martyn, the connection between holistic living and skincare was clear. Why should we put synthetic chemicals on our face if it’s generally unsafe to ingest them?
What’s interesting about this approach to skincare, is that you may not feel or see the ill effects of bad skincare right away. We continue to use our yellow and pink-dyed jars full of petrochemicals, because we’re seeing the results that we want. “What people don’t understand is that while, with exception of parabens, pthalates and a few others that we call the Dirty Dozen plus list, not all the petrochemicals in most products are known to cause harm, using products containing them is a bit like playing Russian Roulette. In other words, they’re not guaranteed to be harmful, but we’re just not sure. When you work with natural ingredients—things that are found in foods, superfoods or plants—you already know that they’re safe. Unless you’re going to put poison ivy in a cream! With the petrochemicals, it’s not yet discovered what they’re actually doing to our bodies. It’s just logic.”
This is where the technology comes in. The research and product development phase for Martyn’s product line took several years. Even if you do happen to discover an effective concoction of all-natural ingredients, you still have to figure out how you're going to preserve it. “It’s called the preservation challenge—and we put ours to the highest test,” Morariu explains. “To test for parabens, you add bacteria to your product to see if it grows—because parabens kill everything. To find a solution, we created all of these botanic preservatives that, combined, do almost the same thing that a paraben system would do.” So the answer to anyone who thinks that they can cook up something similar is...don't try this at home.
Also to be taken into consideration, is how few all-natural products are on the market—let alone the luxury category—and how much better Martyn’s perform by comparison. If we have the information we need to create superior skincare without toxins, the large beauty companies would likely be on board. So what’s taking so long?
“Interests. Special interests,” Morariu says. “We feel blessed that we’re still ahead, twenty years later. We were at the bleeding edge and nobody wanted to listen to us.”
Martyn, Morariu, and now me, feel so strongly that eventually, this will be the future of food and skincare. It’s going to be all-natural. Once we’ve uncovered the harmful effects that these chemicals can have on our body, no one in their right mind will want to continue using them.
Words Ray Siegel