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Sensitive skin and summer: dos and don'ts
Kristina Pentti is the founder and CEO of Laponie of Scandinavia. Here, she shares her story of an almost lifelong struggle with skin issues and the road to healthy skin.
I was 11 or 12 when my skin started acting up. First, a pimple or two, then some dry, angry red patches followed by the oiliest forehead known to man and then all of a sudden nothing. Until came full blown acne. And rosacea. And a bunch of other skin issues, that on top of all would change frequently, sometimes even from day to day. Except for the unrivalled mean girl of skin diseases, seborrheic dermatitis, which put me in skin hell most days.
Looking back, it feels like I tried every single skincare product, treatment and medicine I could get my hands on. Some worked for a while, but nothing worked permanently. It took me surprisingly long to start looking at the labels and ingredients of the products I was using and also some time to figure out that certain ingredients just weren't working for me.
When I did, I started looking for products free from my growing no-go ingredient list, which back in the mid 90s was not the easiest of endeavours (not many in Finland had heard of any natural oil besides olive, which was also considered pretty exotic, and skin care blogs had not been born yet). After some very big misses, usually unsuccessfully fixed with antibiotics and sometimes with Accutane, I got fed up, read everything I could find on skincare and cosmetic chemistry, and started making and using my own simple products.
Gradually, my skin got better. Not flawless, but healthy, which I came to appreciate much more, especially when I got older. My skin got worse plenty of times, too (in particular when I wanted to be absolutely sure that a certain ingredient really was unsuitable and would try it time and again, and yeah, that still happens, because I have a hard time giving up), but in general, over time, I started seeing consistent improvement. After a while, my skin never went back to being as horrible as it had once been.
There were many deal breakers and my no-go list remains a mile long, but if I would have to name one thing that made a real difference, it was ditching traditional face creams in favour of vegetable oils, specifically argan. Nothing had had such an effect on my face. Later came the knowledge about the composition of oils and the understanding why some would work for my bitchy skin and some not, the realisation that skin also needed good humectants under good oils, that it mattered how and with what I cleansed my skin, that for me mineral foundation was second to none, that you actually could over-exfoliate skin (hello perioral dermatitis) and that the wrong kind of preservative could cause some interesting reactions.
It also took me a while to understand that what I ate and drank had a direct impact on my skin, along with climate, hormones, quality of sleep, stress and exercise. Also, after so many years of trying to fit my skin into one of the classical skin types - dry, oily, combination or sensitive - I instead started approaching skincare on a daily basis: what does my skin need today, and why?
Over the years, skincare and the making of skincare products became a nearly all-consuming passion and hobby. Having no experience of the skincare industry either education-wise or professionally, I nonetheless often thought about how great it would be to be able to create my own skincare line. Also, having gone through puberty and some of adulthood looking and especially feeling like crap, it became a mission to be able to help other people suffering from skin issues. Sure, having shitty skin gave me loads of insight into ingredients and how skin works, but it also impacted my self-esteem, and to this day, when I see a person who is obviously embarrassed about their skin, I want to hug her or him and tell them it's going to be okay. So, in 2015 I took the plunge and started Laponie Ltd, and several years and hundreds of formulations later, in early 2018 the first Laponie of Scandinavia products were launched. Now, in our lab in Espoo, I get to help our chemist Jaana create products I always wanted and needed, but could never find. I hope they work for you, too.