by Daniela Coderanu

President and owner of SkinScience, Marie Bertrand prides herself on educating her clients about their skin type while providing tried and true solutions for their concerns.

“I wanted to create a place that women and men could turn to for unbiased, ethical and science-based skin care recommendation,” says Bertrand. There are so many product options out there causing lots of confusion, she says. What works for one person may not work for another. She was asked frequently, “What’s best for me?”

Marie Bertrand graduated in microbiology from the University of Montreal and not long after, received a research internship in Washington, DC at the National Cancer Institute. She was studying on a molecular and cellular level different types of cancer such as skin cancer and breast cancer.

“I was really fascinated by the theory of it, but I was not enjoying the work that I was doing in the laboratory. For me, living a life that I loved and living a life that was fully self-expressed didn’t include talking to my petri dishes all day long,” she laughs.

Eventually, it was time for a change, so she went on to work with the brand powerhouse L’Oréal at its head office in Montréal developing training programs around skin care lines like Vichy and La Roche-Posay. Over the next two years, she learned enough to motivate her to start her own business, SkinScience, in 2007 in Calgary.

Marie Bertrand uses a computer-based program, Visia, which provides an analysis of the individual’s current skin state on the face by taking several photos; this is used as a baseline for the first consultation. A follow up is done after six months and again after 12 months. She documents the results with pictures taken at the different timelines.

Because after all, Bertrand says,  “not all wrinkles are created equal.” One of her tests is called the Genetic Test Kit; a swab is taken from the inside of an individual’s inner cheek and sent to the lab to determine how they are aging.

Here’ some more thoughts on aging from  Bertrand:

Q: You began your career in cancer research and made the switch to educating others about skin care. What motivated the switch?

I’ve always loved learning about microbiology, molecular biology and genetics, but never enjoyed the lab work. So when I ended up doing cancer research, spending hours at the bench, I was tapping into my Type-A personality traits and doing what needed to be done. But deep down, I was feeling completely unfulfilled.

I was working in Washington, D.C., three months after the attacks of Sept. 11. Living in a city that had recently experienced such an unfathomable tragedy radically changed my outlook on life. I had to make a difference in this world by doing something that I truly loved — educating men and women about the latest scientific advancements in skin care while improving their skin and self-esteem along the way

Q:  What does it mean to be a Skin Coach?

A: Everybody has a different DNA, so their skin-care plan should be adapted accordingly. In eight years of doing consultations, I’ve rarely done the same routine/skin care plan twice. Everybody ages differently, has different skin types, skin goals, budget, lifestyle . . . the possibilities are truly endless. By having a Skin Coach, you are ensured that your skin plan will be adapted to you.

Q: There are endless amounts of anti-aging products to choose from. Which one do you recommend and why?

A: It is difficult for people to figure out on their own what the perfect products and active ingredients should be. People are usually missing one or many pieces of the “puzzle.” They can spend thousands of dollars along the way before finally finding a routine that works.

A current trend in the skin care industry is to have multitasking, anti-aging products that will work on multiple aspects of aging: fine lines and wrinkles, brown spots, inflammation, glycation, oxidative stress and lack of firmness.

One of my favourite multitasking, anti-aging product lines is Optimera Formula by U.S.-based company Nerium International. Their night cream and day cream both work on improving the signs of aging by working on all major causes of skin aging in a single step. And if you combine the day cream with the daily use of a sunscreen with an SPF higher than 30, you’ve got an amazing anti-aging powerhouse at your fingertips.

Originally published on Sunday June 4, 2015 in the Calgary Herald.