Science + Beauty: 8 Must-Have Skincare Products


I’m not going to lie. As a skin scientist with a microbiology background, I am weary when it comes to skin care claims. I’m able to detect bogus cosmetic claims and poorly designed clinical studies from a thousand miles away. And frankly, I’m getting really tired of the pseudo science in the cosmetic industry. While I am able to separate fact from fiction, I understand that the general population is not so clear on whether a product will work or (once again) offer false promises.


Having worked for the largest cosmetic company in the world, I am well aware that through smart marketing, you can ‘say things without saying them’. The general public is then left with the impression that a particular skin care product ‘looks like it would work and deliver on unsaid promises’. By using proper marketing angles, Health Canada (or the FDA) will leave you alone and let you advertise if you don’t make certain claims. Hey, you can even stage your ad with a petri dish, a lab flask and a pipette to give the impression that your product has science behind it. And people will fall for it. Again. And chances are high it won’t give visible results. Again.


It takes a tremendous amount of time to keep your knowledge up-to-date on cosmetic products these days. But for me, it’s what gives my business (and myself) an edge amongst a plethora of competitors – knowledge, science, cutting-edge discoveries, ethics, accountability and customization.

~Marie Bertrand, skin care expert, microbiologist & entrepreneur


I study thousands of skin care products yearly and have been doing so for the past 15 years. Once a year, I truly fall in love with a product. Sometimes it’s because of the formulation, sometimes it’s the science behind it, but always because it consistently gives outstanding results, for myself and my clients. Sometimes my favourite products are affordable, sometimes they are more expensive. But they are always worth it. We’ve got the pictures and clients’ feedback to show for it.


In the spirit of helping women and men stop wasting money on products that don’t work, here are my favourite products (analyzed, tried, tested and true) from the past couple of years:


Best Skin Care Tool: ClariSonic Brush

If you still haven’t invested in this skin care tool, you are missing out, my friends. Best long term investment for all skin types. I’ve had mine for 5 years, and it’s still going strong. The latest research shows that it not only removes makeup better than a manual cleansing, it even helps remove daily environmental pollutants that might have an effect on your skin’s health. Who would have thought. Anti-pollution skin care is the next big thing, and having a ClariSonic brush will put you ahead of the game. ($180-$275, depending on the model you choose)


Best Product for Ingrown Hairs: MinSolution for Ingrown Hairs

Forget what you’ve tried before for ingrown hairs – this product WORKS. Once they’ve tried it, patients come back to the office and buy 3-4 bottles to share with their friends, I kid you not. Even the toughest ingrowns hairs on the beard and neck of African American men cannot resist this product. Super easy application from the rollerball format, works on legs, thighs, bikini line, chin, neck and everywhere else you might be getting those pesky ingrowns. ($35 for a 2- to 9-month supply, depending on area covered)


Best Foundation: Laura Mercier Oil-free Tinted Moisturizer

Where would I be without this makeup? Even when a product claims to be ‘non comedogenic’, I still get clogged pores. Story of my life. This is the only liquid makeup that has never given me breakouts. And if I want more coverage, I layer a compact powder foundation and voila! Best. Makeup. Ever. ($56 for a 4-month supply)


Best Acne Serum: SkinCeuticals Blemish & Age Defense

This serum packs some serious scientific punch to unclog pores and fight acne bacteria. It’s a life saver for thousands of my patients and I’ve always joked that if SkinCeuticals discontinued this product, a lot of people (including myself) would be in serious skin trouble (and I would probably have to start my own skin care line). The best serum for acne and to unclog pores, hands down. ($95 for a 6-month supply)


Best Lightening Serum: VivierSkin Seequin IDS Lightening Serum

If you have melasma, this product will change your life. Vitamin C and lightening ingredients are synergetically formulated to visibly lighten and even out brown spots, pigmentation and melasma. For normal to dry skin types. ($136 for a 6-month supply)


Best Mechanical Exfoliant: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

This product is called a ‘cult product’ for a good reason. The results are immediate and it will leave your skin unbelievably radiant and smooth. When used on a daily basis, it will also help with skin hydration and will enhance the results of your skin care products. A must for all skin care junkies. ($74 for a 6-month supply)


Best Facial Cleanser: IMAGE Ormedic Balancing Facial Cleanser

Get ready to fall in love with this organic, soap-free, sulfate-free cleanser! Made from organic aloe, organic green tea, organic chamomille, organic calendula, it smells absolutely delicious and removes face and eye makeup gently, without drying out. It is pH balanced, which eliminates the need for a toner. I also like the fact that it can be used for all skin types, even sensitive ones. ($48 for a 4-month supply)


Best Body Product: Nerium Firming Body Contour Cream

Ok, so I never thought I could find a product that would actually improve the overall condition of the skin on my body – but this one won’t disappoint. It’s like a whole body anti-aging cream that exfoliates, smoothes, tightens, tones – all in one formula. And (for once) there is strong science behind a body product, which is rare in the industry. Patients have reported an improvement in the look of stretch marks, cellulite, mummy tummy, bumps on the back of the arms, ingrowns on the legs and overall smoothness of the skin. It even improves the appearance of the skin on the neck (note to millenials – it even works on tech neck). The formulation is unique and very complete – just look up “forskolin” on Google, and you’ll understand why this product really delivers on its promises. ($150 for a 1- to 4- month supply, depending on area covered).


What are YOUR skin care essentials? Please comment below and let’s help our community take the guesswork out of skin care!

In healthy skin,

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DISCLAIMER: Information on this blog is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own dermatologist or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the companies, brands and products mentioned.


The Huffington Post interviews Skin Care Expert Marie Bertrand on ‘Natural Beauty’


Are you into ‘Natural Beauty’? The Huffington Post interviews Skin Care Expert Marie Bertrand.

“Not all ‘Natural Beauty’ products are made equal.”


As the old adage goes, beauty is more than skin deep. This is true for both the reason that there’s more to a person than what we see on the outside and because when it comes to maintaining our looks, we must take care of our body from within in order for our beauty to radiate on the outside.


As a woman (and even for men today) there is constant pressure to be beautiful and remain appealing by looking youthful, and while there’s been a trend in recent years of moving away from Botox and filler products that use harsh or unnatural methods to make you look younger, there is still a lot of pressure to “age gracefully.”


While the fashion industry continuously evolves, so to does the world of beauty and the ever-growing debate about the merits of “natural beauty.” As a consumer it is often hard to understand what that means, so I sat down with skincare expert and owner of Canadian skincare clinic SkinScience, Marie Bertrand, to gain better insight into the world of natural beauty.


What is “natural beauty?”

“Over the years, I’ve found that ‘natural beauty’ means different things to different people.
From my experience, it can either mean aging gracefully using topical skincare combined with non-surgical and non-invasive facial procedures, or using topical skincare products that are natural and non-toxic. Sometimes clients want both. You have to specifically ask them what ‘natural beauty’ means to them, and then design a skincare plan that will answer their skin concerns while respecting their request for a ‘natural beauty’ approach.”


Are all-natural products better for my skin?

While the global concern to take better care of the environment grows, the marketing world continues to find clever ways to sell us “natural” products that somehow make people feel like they’re doing what’s best for the environment, but that is not to say it’s what’s best for your skin or for your body.


Is every natural product good for your skin?

In short, no! Marie puts this in terms that are quite easy to understand: “Poison ivy is natural. You don’t want to have it on your skin.” She continues with some equally poignant examples: “Lavender oil contains known allergens such a linalool, geraniol and linalylacetate, which are well recognized to cause allergic contact dermatitis. The juice and oil in limes contain light-sensitive chemicals called furocoumarins (psoralens). On their own, furocoumarins are harmless, but when they come in contact with UV rays from the sun, they chemically transform into something very unpleasant for the skin. The resultant rash — which is much larger than just the point of exposure — is as red, blistery, itchy and uncomfortable as poison ivy. Celery and parsley also contain psoralens that can react with UV rays and lead to a similar skin rash.”

Another factor to consider is that the “natural” sector of the beauty product industry remains unregulated so companies can get away with calling things “natural” even though they are not good for you. There are paraben-free products that contain formaldehyde, Marie notes. “Who wants to have formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) on their skin? People are misled by a lot of information found on the web, along with misleading marketing from cosmetic companies.”


Are ‘natural ingredients’ always effective?

Marie points out that it depends on what treatment outcome you’re looking for. “If you want to moisturize your dry skin, coconut oil could work. But you cannot expect it to increase firmness, reduce brown spots and shrink pores — because that’s not what coconut oil does,” she says. “Aloe vera gel is actually a decent, oil-free moisturizer and can improve hydration, as well as help reduce redness and inflammation. But it is unreasonable to expect aloe vera gel to work on deep wrinkles, firmness and brown spots if nothing else is added to it.”


Which are better, natural or ‘pure’ ingredients?

“Salicylic acid, a well-known exfoliate for acne-prone skin, can be sourced from willow bark. It can also be synthesized from the lab. It’s the same molecule, no matter the source. Which will you trust? Which one is purer? Personally, I would use salicylic acid that’s been lab-synthesized anytime, because I know it’s ultra-pure. And it does the same thing as the one sourced naturally without harming the environment.”

Marie feels that the ultimate in skincare products are ones that have the best of both worlds: natural ingredients, when possible, combined with active, pure ingredients from the lab.


“This is what I appreciate about product lines like DermaQuest, they offer the best of both worlds: some ingredients that are naturally sourced, and others are made in a lab, balanced and formulated to ensure safe, pure and sustainable skincare products that yield effective results,” she says.

Source: The Huffington Post / Melissa Bessey / March 2016


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The ABCs of Stretch Marks

Red? Purple? Silver? White? The Science of Stretch Marks

When stretch marks are just starting to appear on your body, they can look red or purple. Purple or red stretch marks occur when your skin is expanding and when there are micro tears in the skin’s collagen and elastin. With more blood vessels in your injured skin, that’s why stretch marks appear red or purple. These colours could last for months or years after the stretch marks first showed up (Awesome. Not.)

If you have older or mature stretch marks, they look white or silver. This happens after blood vessels fade and when there’s no longer an inflammatory response. More mature stretch marks have less collagen and elastin compared to non-affected skin.


Losing weight will NOT remove your stretch marks. 

Stretch marks are considered scars so they’ll still be there when you drop pounds. Stretch marks usually occur due to a few things that cause the skin to stretch: pregnancy, weight gain and weight loss.


Thin people don’t get stretch marks ==> WRONG!

It doesn’t matter how big or small you are—people of all sizes can have stretch marks. When people go through puberty, a stage where hormones are rapidly changing, stretch marks can form. Even if a thin person has an impossibly fast metabolism and never gains weight, hormonal imbalances causes stretch marks.

Body builders who are notoriously fit and built can also sport some stretch marks. These marks are usually seen on the upper chest or shoulder areas.


So what can I do to improve the look of my stretch marks?

The introduction of Fractional RF (also known as FRACTORA) a few years ago has revolutionized the treatment of stretch marks. We used to be able to only work on red & purple stretch marks, while there was nothing scientifically-proven to remove the silver and white ones (apart from surgically removing them of course, which will most likely leave a scar).


Fractional RF works on red, purple, silver and white stretch marks, to help improve the look, texture and appearance of those unsightly dermal scars. When coupled with traditional RF (bipolar radio frequency) treatments, the results can be spectacular. ~Marie Bertrand


Research shows that 70-90% of women have stretch marks, which can impact our self esteem, especially when bikini season is around the corner.

Sign up today for your complimentary Body Consultation! Only in March!

403 287 1477

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Got ‘Mummy Tummy’? (yes, there is something you can do about it!)


What is a ‘Mummy Tummy’ ? (Post Pregnancy Tightening)

The term ‘Mummy Tummy’ is used to describe changes of the skin over the post pregnancy stomach area. ‘Mummy Tummy’ represents a combination of remnant loose skin and stretch marks. During pregnancy, the rapid growth of the baby causes the skin to over stretch. Following birth, some retraction of the skin may occur however most women find that this area is looser than before. The skin may also resemble a deflated balloon or simply appear looser with or without stretch marks.

How is ‘Mummy Tummy’ treated?

Loose skin is generally treated with the Body RF treatment platform, however creepiness and stretch marks often combined with Fractional RF semi-ablative treatment. The experts at SkinScience can assess the skin condition and develop an individualized treatment plan to tighten and treat stretch marks.

What are the immediate post treatment effects and long term results? 

The treatments involve heating the deeper layer of the skin. Our Body RF platform uses an advanced sensor technology that provides even and controlled heating for optimal results.

Following treatment, the skin is mildly inflamed and warm, resembling a mild sunburn. Dermal heating will settle down over a few hours to 24 hours, after which the skin will have a ‘sand-like’ feel for a few days. An antibiotic cream is used to keep the area softened and moist. The skin will appear immediately tighter as collagen is contracted and the skin will continue to improve over a period of 2 to 3 months following treatment.

Contact us today to see which treatment options will be best for you. Procedures & packages should be 100% customized to you! (just like your skin care routine)



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NEW PROCEDURE ~ FRACTORA Stretch Mark Treatment

Stretch marks, also known as striae, are pink, red, purple, or white lines on the skin caused by rapid, excessive expansion of the skin. When skin is stretched too far, the collagen-based structure within the dermis (the layer underneath the epidermis) can break or rupture. When this critical support structure for the epidermis is compromised, the skin becomes thin and stretched and scar tissue develops, leading to the long, wide, unsightly marks we know as “stretch marks”. While stretch marks do not cause discomfort or lead to any medical problems, they can cause acute embarrassment and dramatic loss of self-confidence and unfortunately, many traditional remedies such as creams and lotions are simply not effective.


SkinScience Clinic, located in the heart of Calgary, is pleased to offer a powerful new way to minimize the appearance of stretch marks and regenerate smooth, healthy, beautiful new skin: FRACTORA™ stretch mark treatment. In fact, FRACTORA™ treatments offer a significant advancement over other methods of stretch mark removal:


  1. Unlike creams and lotions, FRACTORA™ stretch mark treatment sparks the growth of new collagen and new, healthy skin tissue to entirely eliminate the appearance of most visible stretch marks
  2. Unlike surgery (which can only eliminate stretch marks on the abdomen), FRACTORA™ stretch mark treatments can be used to eliminate stretch marks anywhere on the body!


Am I A Candidate for the FRACTORA™ Stretch Mark Treatment?


The FRACTORA™ stretch mark treatment is perfect for anyone who has stretch marks on their abdomen, shoulders, thighs, hips, and buttocks as a result of:


  • Rapid growth and hormone fluctuations during puberty
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Rapid weight gain and loss
  • Excessive build-up of muscle due to body-building and weight-lifting
  • Use of performance-enhancing steroids by athletes and bodybuilders


How Does FRACTORA™ Stretch Mark Treatment Work?


The key to successfully improving the appearance of stretch marks lies in rebuilding existing collagen and generating new collagen deep within the dermis. This powerful semi resurfacing procedure harnesses the power of radio frequency to gently remove thin layers of skin around the stretch mark and disintegrate the scar tissue of the stretch mark itself. This process stimulates the body’s self-healing capabilities to spark the remodeling of existing collagen strands, grow new collagen, and form new, healthy layers of skin in place of the stretch mark.


Recovery and Results


Side effects from FRACTORA™ stretch mark treatments are minimal and temporary, usually involving redness and tenderness in the target area for several days. Severe stretch mark removal requiring intensive treatments may require longer healing time, however.


For optimal results, most patients require multiple treatment sessions, depending on the scope and severity of the stretch marks. Patients with extremely severe stretch marks will see significant reduction in the visibility of their stretch marks, but it may not be possible to eliminate these stretch marks entirely.


Want to know of you are a good candidate for FRACTORA™ Stretch Mark treatment? Book your FREE stretch mark consultation today!



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Marie Bertrand, President & CEO
SkinScience Clinic