The Shocking Truth About Natural Skincare for
Sensitive Skin

Interview with Dr. Flora Stay

Did you know that some natural skincare for sensitive skin products can actually cause skin rashes and breakouts?  I had the great pleasure of personally interviewing Dr. Flora Stay, researcher and hypoallergenic product formulator, to discover a new approach!

Resources Mentioned

Dr. Flora Stay is the genius behind the highly effective hypoallergenic product line Cleure which is my favorite source for sensitive skincare that actually makes you look good!

Flora's new Face and Body Wash was voted best Facial Cleanser and Bodywash in 2014 by the Yoga Journal.

Prefer to Read?  Here's the Transcript

ME:    Hello everybody and welcome to the My Sensitive Skin Care show!  I’m so grateful that you’ve joined me for today’s topic.  This is something that I feel very passionate about for my own personal experiences and I am so excited to have on the line with me a very special guest. 

So the topic of our podcast for today is The Shocking Truth About Natural Skincare Products, and why some organic or natural products may actually irritate your sensitive skin or make it worse.  

I know a lot of you listening on the line or who have visited website have that experience!  So today, I have a very special guest to share more information with us about this very little known secret about sensitive skin care. 

I would like to welcome Dr. Flora Stay who is the founder and creator of Cleure Sensitive Skin Care Products.  Flora welcome.

DR. FLORA STAY:    Thank you.  I’m really am happy to be with you today.

 ME:    Thank you, Flora. I feel very grateful and excited and honored that you have taken time out of your busy schedule to talk with us today.  I want to share with people a little bit about your background so that they understand some of where you are coming from. 

Flora has over 30 years experience in the health and wellness industry.  She is an author, a speaker, a practicing dentist, and a professor at the University of Southern California. 

She comes from a family of doctors and her father was a university professor who discovered many medicinal plants and wrote 20 volumes of botanical books that you can find in the a lot of universities today. 

So, she has this wealth of experience and Flora is also an absolutely delightful person to speak with.  She has developed a line of safe and effective sensitive skin care products that I personally love.

You’ll see on my website that the Cleure products are some of my most recommended skin care products and the reason for that is that they meet a lot of my rather stringent guidelines, but also they work really well and they provide some really noticeable benefits, so you can be beautiful even if you’re dealing with skin problems.

So welcome Flora!   Flora, one of the things that I wanted to ask you about was based on my own experience.  I’ve had this over the years as you know, but especially I’ve noticed this about a year ago.

My Experience with Natural
Skincare for Sensitive Skin

I had some health challenges where I had to take antibiotics and I noticed that there was this one botanical ingredient, not from the Cleure shampoo, but it was like a hair rinse, I think it had green tea and a couple of other ingredients, it was very nice.  It smelled wonderful.  It had some nice essential oils and I used it, after I’d been on antibiotics for about a week or so, and I felt awful afterwards! 

I really felt the effect of that and I remembered some of our conversations that we’ve had about the effect that even if we don’t ingest certain herbs or plants, that sometimes this can have quite a strong effect on our bodies and especially if we’re very sensitive or have sensitive skin. 

So this kind of underlined to me with my own personal experience in the last year recovering from some health challenges and I realized that lot of my visitors, many of whom I sent to you, they’re dealing with things like this. 

They might be taking various medications or just having a lot of different things going on.  So could you say a little bit more or tell us about the effect of some of these ingredients on people with sensitive skin and their bodies and why people might consider limiting their use of products with herbs or essential oils or botanical ingredients?

DR. FLORA STAY:    Well, not only can they affect sensitive skin Mashubi, but they can actually cause sensitive skin.  Let me just give you a little bit of history. 

For example, right now and for the last I would say 50 years, the word natural just automatically conjures up feelings of nature and it might be good for you and the more you use, the more you buy products that have natural, the better. 

 Now if we look at history of how that came about, back in ancient Egypt, to ancient Chinese, Grecian women, they use a lot of strange natural combinations to use because there were no packaged products.

For example in ancient Egypt, they used coal with lead and animal fat to line their eyes.  In Grecian women use crocodile dung to lighten their skin.  So really strange things.  And Chinese they use seaweed and jellyfish mixed together to make their skin look more youthful. 

Then what append back in the ‘20s, in the US, fertilizers and pesticides began to be used, and so people started to become more ecologically minded, thinking that we need to do away with chemicals and things that can be harmful. 

Then during the ‘60s, when the advent of the flower children, which was my generation came about, they started to get really closer to nature.  Everything natural, nature was good. 

So this started a whole new marketing strategy for  companies where they started to add plant extracts, herbs into the everything, just a potpourri of combinations which just for marketing as long as it said this extract that plant and the more the better, without any science behind as far as having any side effects and that type of things. 

Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration does not monitor skin care, personal care or cosmetics, and so they could add whatever they wanted as long as they didn’t make claims as to this will cure this or cure that. 

So when that came about, what people were really being duped into thinking that that’s what they were getting all these plants. 

Over the years… at first, it smelled good like you were saying and it felt good, but overtime with chronic use of these extracts and essential oils and that type of thing it started to cause some problems.

And the reason why, as you mentioned my father did discovered a lot of medicinal plants because all of pharmacology started with plants.  That’s how medicinal prescriptions, all of these drugs originated with plants that have certain effects on the body. 

So having been in the natural health industry for a long time, I know that, and I do prescribe for healing and treatment with herbs and plants and that type of thing.  But to just inadvertently use it on a daily basis and products that we use everyday, you’re really asking for major troubles with skin conditions, sensitivity and all of that.  For example, you mentioned tea tree oil.

ME:    Yes.

DR. FLORA STAY:    Well, tea tree oil is a very strong anti-fungal chemical and if you’re using this on a daily basis to prevent fungal infection when you don’t have any infection it’s like taking penicillin every day just in case so you won’t get any infection. 

Well, the Center for Disease Control is constantly berating us health practitioners, dentists, physicians, especially dentists these days, to not prescribe antibiotics all the time because people are going to get sensitized then when they really need it it’s not going to work.

That’s why there’s all these bacterial infections now, MRSA and a lot of other powerful ones that antibiotics just aren’t working against, because they’ve added these antimicrobials, antibiotics to toothpaste, soaps, deodorants.  People are just absorbing them into their bodies and it’s causing a lot of problems. 

So yes, not only can it cause…and that’s why a lot of women now they say, well I use to use such and such brand, all of a sudden when I use it now my skin stings and burns because their body is totally rejecting it now because it’s just too harsh.

ME:    Yes, absolutely.  And Flora, what I’ve noticed from my personal experience of having to take antibiotics, that I started reacting to just simple kinds of things.  These were herbs or natural things, like I could no longer drink my favorite herbal tea.

I have no problem with Cleure products, which are my main skin care.  I noticed that there was no reaction to Cleure even when my physiology had changed because I was taking this kind of medication, so I was very grateful for that!

This gave me a whole new level of respect for just keeping things very simple with skincare.  One of the things that I appreciated about the products you’ve developed for is that there isn’t a huge long list of ingredients.   

I think that makes a huge difference for people that are finding that they’re reacting to things and that they don’t even realize what they might be reacting to.   The Cleure products have that short list of ingredients, they’re all very effective, so I’m very grateful for that.

DR. FLORA STAY:    Well, you know the thing is that a lot of people because of this whole major marketing on natural thinks that all chemicals are bad…

ME:    Yes, I’ve noticed that too.

DR. FLORA STAY:    Yeah.  And that’s just not true.  The thing is that there is science behind chemicals and as long as you incorporate and formulate with safe chemicals that don’t have any side effects they’re much, much, much more preferred and should be preferred to the plant extracts and ingredients which can be very harsh.

And again, another major lie by the so called natural product industry is that people think that that’s all that’s in there, no preservatives, it’s all natural. 

Well, if you put a product on the shelf let’s say avocado, if you put it on your kitchen counter after a few days it’s going to turn color and then it will just go bad.  So you either have to keep it in the fridge and use it within so many days or else it’s just going to be bad. 

So these products that are sitting on the store shelf certainly have preservatives in them, but the gimmick is that they add those preservatives into other ingredients.

For example, I went into one manufacturing company where they had jars and jars of plants, roots and leaves that were soaking in some liquid and I ask him what those were.  He said we soak those in preservatives and then, but you don’t have to list those preservatives on the labels.

ME:    Wow.

DR. FLORA STAY:    Yes.  So they do contain and they can be some very harsh preservatives, but they don’t have to put it on the labels.

ME:    So then those type of products even if they, you know, say like ingredients green tea or whatever, it doesn’t green tea plus, you know whatever chemical preservative that’s in it.  So you would just see green tea and maybe whatever else, grapefruit seed extract or something that sounds friendly and not scary.

DR. FLORA STAY:    Right exactly.

ME:    This is so helpful for me Flora to learn more, and also because what I have learned just in my own personal journey of dealing with sensitive skin and various health challenges, is that each of our bodies is so unique, including how we react to things. 

You’re sharing with us some of the reasons why that might be!  I kind of figured out that I have to learn to think for myself.  I have to not be swayed by the nice marketing with the pictures of grass and flowers because I love nature and I love herbal teas and plants and all of that. 

I’m just really connected with the earth, but it’s so true what you’re saying that each of these wonderful gifts from nature, the different herbs, they really have a strong effect on the body.

DR. FLORA STAY:    And they have the purpose.  They have the purpose.

ME:    Yes, exactly.

DR. FLORA STAY:    Good purpose for the right reasons.

ME:    Yes, exactly.  So a lot of my journey with sensitive skin care and I encourage others to do this too is to become more simple. 

To not use products with 25 different ingredients on the label, to not use products that are going to add more activity to an already inflamed situation. 

If your skin is already inflamed, you don’t need more herbs and plants, you need like calming.  You need something that’s calming and soothing.

DR. FLORA STAY:    That’s right.  And ingredients that have been shown to be safe.

ME:    Yes, exactly.

DR. FLORA STAY:    With sunscreens, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have been shown by the FDA to be one of the safest ingredients for wide spectrum sun protection.  And that’s what Cleure uses, but yet a lot of other companies do use very harsh ingredients that even have been shown to contribute and increase the risk of skin cancer.

ME:    Exactly.  It can be very, very challenging.

DR. FLORA STAY:    Yeah.  Or like ingredients that are for let’s say acne.  Salicylic acid is promoted quite a bit by even dermatologists for acne and anti-aging.    Of course salicylic acid is found in aspirin and it is an anti-inflammatory chemical, but it also has major side effects. 

It’s very drying to the skin and also can cause allergies.  And that’s why a lot of women that do use it, some of these products that they have on infomercial constantly they end up saying, yeah, I use such and such a brand for acne, but now my skin is flaking.

ME:    Exactly.  It’s so true Flora.  You know, I sometimes I just feel so badly, you know, for some of the people that write in and share these kind of stories.  

I had a skin problem and I used this.  Or even sadly, my doctor prescribed this thing for me and then it got much worse.  I never recommend not going to your doctor, but sometimes these varying ingredients that are supposed to help actually can make the situation worse.

DR. FLORA STAY:    You really have to do your homework and because of bacteria…let’s say acne and it’s caused by bacteria, you do need to see your doctor and get antibiotics for a short period of time.

ME:    Uh-hmm.

DR. FLORA STAY:    But when you use it continuously that’s when you have problems.

ME:    Yes, absolutely.  I feel this is very important information Flora.  And I’m just so grateful that you’re able to share this with us.

I have a related question that comes to me as a very happy customer of Cleure and has to do with one of the things that I notice …some of you who’ve visited my website may remember my story of having thin, fine hair and having so much trouble finding a good shampoo that did not have added fragrance and that just was simple, and that didn’t make my hair look … I always had that wet cat look, it always looked very flat!

So I found the Cleure shampoo and I was thrilled and because it just worked … my hair looked good!   It was all shiny and there weren’t any perfumes and there wasn’t this long list of ingredients. 

Then over the years, because I’ve used your shampoo I think since 2008, I’ve used your shampoo and it’s only gotten better, it’s gotten even better, and so I would love to … you have the gift for somehow finding the right ingredients and how do you do that Flora?  It’s a gift, it really is.

DR. FLORA STAY:    A lot of research.  Let me tell you, a lot of research.  And unfortunately online there are some websites that give false information as far as ingredients, and it kind of scares people about everything. 

If you really have the databases that are reputable, which I do because I am at the University of Southern California, so I have access to a lot of databases, when you can find ingredients that have science behind them and they’ve been shown to be safe and effective, and that’s what I start with. 

Then from there, testing it and checking it and seeing overtime if it works then we go ahead and start making that product.  And then let me tell you, if customers start saying, oh this particular (product) and we get a lot of…if we get a lot of response that’s negative, then we go back to the drawing board and reformulate.

ME:    Yes.  Yes.  Wow, that’s amazing Flora.  It’s like…it starts with the research but also knowing where it to look.


ME:    It’s almost like you have to find the truth, you know what I mean and look through all these different…to find you know what’s true and what’s really safe.

DR. FLORA STAY:    Right.  Reputable databases, not just, you know, just anything online that does say, oh, it’s kind of a scary thing, you know.

ME:    Right.

DR. FLORA STAY:    So yeah, there’s got to be science behind it.

ME:    Yes, exactly.  It’s like I have the image of you as a champion of, you know, like let’s get something safe and let’s get something that really works. 

You have the science, and you know people have different motivations for doing things.  I feel that you’re a champion of safe, good, skin care that’s actually going to work.

It takes a huge amount of work really to do all that research, and all of your experience, it sounds like you have so much experience to help you, to formulate these really wonderful products.

DR. FLORA STAY:    Well, the wonderful thing about it is the most rewarding thing is going on the website through your website, and then…and people like yourself that may comment about the products, and then going through the reviews that people writes on the products so that’s very rewarding.

ME:    Yes. 

DR. FLORA STAY:    That’s makes it all worthwhile.

ME:    I understand.  I do.  You’re making an amazing contribution to so many people.  You know I  remember a very wonderful friend of mine who I have worked with for a number of years, and I discovered that she had some sensitive care challenges, and as I told her about Cleure and oh she loves them!  She thanks me all the time for having told her about Cleure products and it just felt very satisfying. 

It’s true Flora, people do come to my website and thank me for sharing this information, which is not well known because it’s not really part of the marketing hype of how, you know, big business is usually done.  It’s a new way of, you know, it’s something new, which is about authentic and real and based in science and based on really what works for sensitive skin rather than anything else.  So I really thank you for that.

DR. FLORA STAY:    Well, thank you for spreading the word too and I just did get some good news yesterday from Yoga Journal and they said they had voted our face and body wash as the best, face and body wash, and they’re going to…I think it’s going to be featured in the next month or two on their journal.

ME:    Oh, that’s so exciting!

DR. FLORA STAY:    That’s exciting, yes.

ME:    I’m so excited  I think I just tried this because I have a few regulars, you know, that I use and I periodically will check to see your new products and I haven’t opened it yet.  But I…

DR. FLORA STAY:    Well, I’ve got to tell you, it’s best for oily skin.

ME:     Yes.

DR. FLORA STAY:    So it depends if you have oily skin.  If not, it’s just great to use for hand wash, it has a pump so it makes it easy.

ME:    Excellent.  I am so excited.  I am so excited about that Flora, that’s wonderful news.

DR. FLORA STAY:    So are we.

ME:    Yes.  Well thank you.  Well, I am really grateful and honored that you took this time flora to share with us.  I feel this is very important information and I want to encourage everyone to visit the Cleure website. 

Those of you that are visiting from my website, you’ll find links from my website because Flora is one of our honored affiliate partners. 

So thank you again Flora.  I’m very, very happy that you joined us and wish for lots and lots of growth and blessing for your business.

DR. FLORA STAY:    Thank you very much and it’s been a pleasure talking to you today Mashubi.

ME:  All right.  Thank you so much Flora.

Home > Podcast > Episode #6 - Natural Skincare for Sensitive Skin

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