Most women over the age of 30 will attest to the various changes and stages that plague our skin. Just when it seems we are getting through a patch of breakouts; that first wrinkle appears. As soon as our skin feels balanced, the hormonal changes of pregnancy send us straight back into teenagerhood. Oh, the joys of being a woman...
Bridget Carmady knew this feeling all too well, having experienced acne in her teens, scarring in her twenties and signs of ageing in her thirties. It was this experience – as well as her life as a qualified naturopath – that led her to develop Clémence Organics. Forever passionate about natural yet effective ways to improve health, Bridget set out to create a skincare line that was gentle and made from natural, organic ingredients that were still able to deliver powerful results and the luxurious experience of conventional high-end skincare.
Equipped with modern knowledge that our bodies absorb 80% of what we put on them, there has never been a more important time to make decisions that will benefit the health of our skin and our overall wellbeing. Today, Bridget shares with us the principles behind her beautiful brand (coming soon to GRACE Collective member boxes!), what grief and family have taught her about life and business, and a few beauty tips for time-poor mamas (how could we resist?).
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What are some of the biggest skincare concerns women in their 20s, 30s and 40s face and how can we overcome them?
In our 20s, our hormones have settled into a routine of sorts and any skin concerns still lingering from our teens need to be dealt with. This often includes acne, psoriasis and eczema. Most of these concerns can be treated with dietary and lifestyle adjustments and the right choice of skincare.
In our 30s, if we had it easy in our 20s, this is when we start to pay attention to our skin and take responsibility for it. Time to start repairing damage done (all that fun and sun) and preventing further degradation.
In our 40s, if we haven’t already, we notice signs of ageing appearing and the focus is on maintaining what we have. This is the time to choose high-quality products which keep your skin healthy, hydrated and protected.
What’s one beauty tip you swear by?
Don’t overly cleanse your skin. I used to strip the life out of my skin with foaming cleansers because my skin was oily and I was prone to acne. Since switching to a cream cleanser, in particular, our Refining Cleanser, my sebum levels are balanced which means no dry or oily patches, and I get very few spots.
Does drinking lots of water really make a difference to our skin?
Water intake definitely has an impact on our skin but it comes to a point where it will only make so much difference. We should all try to drink 1-2 litres a day, depending on our activity level and the time of year (seasonal temperature and humidity). Any more than this doesn’t make your skin more hydrated. Our body just gets rid of it.
Mothers are often exhausted – what’s a quick, easy way to freshen up our skin?
Spritz! I take our Ultimate Biome Spritz with me everywhere now because some mornings I simply don’t have time to give my skin any attention. This product contains vitamin C, green tea and hyaluronic acid, which keeps my skin moist, protected and glowing all day long.
Take us back to the trip you took to France in 2015 – how did it inspire you to go for it and launch your business?
It was a family holiday that saw us travel through Provence and some of the most stunning countryside I’ve ever seen. I visited several well-known natural skincare companies and realised that the products I was making for my naturopathy clients were often far superior to what I was sampling. I also offered something unique in that my products not only felt and smelt ultra-luxurious, but they were also authentically organic and alleviated many common skincare concerns.
It was because of this trip that I chose the French name ‘Clémence’ which means mild, merciful and gentle. This is how your skincare products should treat your skin, your health and the environment.
You follow naturopathic principles to create nourishing, non-toxic skincare – can you elaborate on this?
Naturopathy is a practice of medicine that is based on the body’s inherent ability to heal itself. We support the body’s healing process by using natural medicines and practices, both traditionally used and scientifically validated. The four-year bachelor’s degree I studied focused mainly on nutrition and herbal medicine, and so these have always been my key treatment methods.
When I approach the treatment of skin disorders, I use my knowledge of anatomy and physiology to first understand what is happening within the skin. Then I dig out the pathophysiology to look at all of the different variations of a particular disorder, and what the key features are. I apply my traditionally used knowledge to examine what has been used in the past to treat a disorder. I also look at current scientific studies to see if any of these methods have been disproven and what new treatment methods are showing success. I then use this knowledge to formulate my products.
“ Diet and exercise have always been a no-brainer for me as a naturopath, but I now spend more time on my mental health, including making time to meditate most days. ”
Talk us through the process behind each product you create?
All product formulations involve a combination of nutrition and herbal medicine. For example, when I formulated the Repair Face Serum, I thought about the key nutrients the skin requires to repair itself (vitamins A, C, D and E, fatty acids). Then I looked at the herbs and plants that have shown the best results both traditionally and scientifically to encourage the skin to heal (rosehip, calendula, jojoba, rose otto). Each plant is chosen for its unique contribution. For instance, calendula. The glorious flower has been used for centuries to repair damaged skin. Scientifically it has also been well studied. Studies show that it can influence the inflammatory phase of repair, increasing the amount of fibroblasts and collagen in the area, which in turn reduces the time it takes for skin to heal
You lost both your father and sister to cancer in the period of 2009 – 2016. How did this change your perspective on life? And also how you looked after yourself?
It completely changed the way I see the world. I now truly appreciate the life that I have and am grateful for every day I get to spend on this earth. Because both my father’s and sister’s cancers had dietary and lifestyle influences, it made me more conscious of how I treat my body. Diet and exercise have always been a no-brainer for me as a naturopath, but I now spend more time on my mental health, including making time to meditate most days. I’m also far more grateful for everyone and everything I have in my life.
The body absorbs around 80% of what we put on it – this is a pretty startling statistic. What are some of the ingredients found in other skincare brands we should we wary of?
I am still shocked by some of the ingredients skincare brands add to their products. I would say there are different grades of ‘scary’. Really bad are things like formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, which can still be found in nail hardeners and other beauty products. Then slightly less scary are preservatives like parabens which feature in a huge range of skin care products from cleansers to face creams. Parabens have been shown to interact with UV rays and potentially increase DNA damage. Then there are ingredients which don’t have a lot of research against them at this point in time, but I feel we should still be steering clear. These include nanoparticles, PEGs and artificial fragrances.
What ingredients should women who are pregnant be wary of?
Pregnancy is a time when you’re not only conscious of what you’re putting in your body but the growing person inside you. I always advise pregnant women to avoid all chemicals and go organic where possible. There are also some natural ingredients, like essential oils, where you just need to keep dosage to a minimum.
And what products would you recommend for women who are pregnant?
Organic skincare all the way! I highly recommend lathering your growing tummy in an organic balm or oil that will reduce stretch mark formation. Our Ultimate SOS Balm saved me for my two pregnancies!
What does your skincare regime look like – what products do you use in a day?
I often don’t cleanse of a morning, especially during winter when skin is at its driest, but will just spritz my skin with our Ultimate Biome Spritz and then apply Repair Face Serum if I have time. I’ll also quickly apply our Ultimate Hand + Body Lotion to keep my skin nourished and glowing all day long.
Of an evening my routine consists of Refining Cleanser, Tone + Hydrate Spritz, Repair Face Serum and Ultimate Face Cream. I’ll swap the Refining Cleanser for 2 in 1 Face Scrub + Mask every second day to encourage skin cell turnover, draw out toxins and keep my skin glowing.
Starting a business from scratch is something which a lot of people find daunting. Where did you begin – what were your first steps in creating your business?
Before Clémence Organics, I was a practising naturopath, university researcher and an expert writer/contributor. These jobs gave me experience and confidence in my knowledge base and the drive to create something truly beneficial to others. When I decided to launch Clémence I spent a lot of time getting clear on exactly what I wanted the brand to represent, the image I wanted to portray and the message I wanted to share. There are many other natural and organic skincare brands out there, and so I had to be sure that Clémence stood out for its quality and efficacy.
I also did an online business course to make sure I was on top of the ins and outs of running a business in the modern world. It covered things like entrepreneurial mindset, social media, and PR. It was a women-only group, drawn from all areas of business and the world. The weekly calls not only helped us nut out any issues we may have been having but fostered new friendships with like-minded women, many of whom I’m still in touch with today.
What has been the most challenging part of motherhood for you?
Facing up to my imperfections and being forced to work on them. Probably the best example is patience. I’m not a very patient person and so as a mother, I’ve had to work on this. Some days I’ve got it in the bag. Other days it’s a work in progress.
“ I love the fact that I can dream up a product, research it, work through formulation, design etc. and then see it come to fruition. It’s so rewarding! ”
What are your tips for time-management – how do you get it all done?
- Make lists. I know it seems silly but I find if I’m crystal clear on what I’ve got to get done in a day, I generally get it done.
- Block out sections of time during the day. I try to make certain times for single tasks only. Otherwise I find myself getting caught up in emails and taking a whole day to get a job done.
- Outsource! I used to try and do it all but I’ve learnt to ask for help when possible. Don’t spend time on things you can easily find someone else to do for you. Scheduling apps are also a must!
How do you handle those moments of self-doubt which all business owners feel from time to time?
It can be tough but I’ve been doing it for a few years now and I know that those moments come and go. All it takes is a message from a customer saying how grateful they are for finding my products, to feel on top of the world again.
Best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t be in a rush to grow your business too quickly. That’s when mistakes are made. I heard this at a women’s business event I attended a few years back. It was spoken by the founder of a multi-national cosmetics brand. I repeat it to myself when I get frustrated at things not moving forward as fast as I’d like. Always take advice from people who have been there before you.