• Kyla

Why I Started a Skincare Company

When I was in junior high and high school my skin started to become, let’s just say, uncooperative. I dealt with really terrible breakouts that seemed to never end. I started seeing a dermatologist every 6 months to deal with it (and hopefully prevent scarring!).

Now, I don’t have anything against dermatologists; I would go to one again if I had an issue I couldn’t figure out. However, there were definitely some issues with the treatment plan I was given. It consisted of a handful of prescription strength topicals and an oral antibiotic. As time went on, the dosages kept getting stronger and I had to use them more regularly throughout the day. I’d do a full routine in the morning, after school, and again before bed. The topicals bleached all of my towels and sheets, made me really sensitive to the sun, and were overall an unpleasant experience (they were very “medical” in nature and smelt like chemicals).

But the worst part was the oral antibiotic. Apparently, antibiotics have been shown to reduce acne in some people, presumably because their acne is being caused by certain bacteria. So even though skincare is not the intended use of antibiotics, I was still put on them for my breakouts. Like the other treatments, the dosage kept increasing and I was taking multiple pills a day.

Fast forward a few years and I was getting sick all the time. We’re talking not-able-to-keep-water-down sick, multiple times in a month. My dr. couldn’t find anything wrong so he recommended some pretty invasive testing. That scared me, so I figured I would really focus on what I was putting in my body, and see if I still got sick. This meant stopping the antibiotics. Lo and behold, the sickness stopped. When I went to the dermatologist a few months later, I told her what happened. My skin hadn’t gotten any worse since being off those pills, and I was “coincidentally” not getting violently ill anymore. She then told me that you’re not really supposed to be on antibiotics for longer than a few months, and I should have called her right away.

It took another 5 years or so for my digestive system to finally get back to normal. For most of my life I thought it was normal to feel nauseous every time you ate and to vomit several times a month. Little did I know that the reason I was feeling that way was most likely because I had killed off all of the good, necessary bacteria my body needed to function. AND my skin didn’t change at all from going off of the antibiotic, so it was most likely a pointless exercise to begin with.

This got me thinking about the rest of my skincare routine. If that key piece was actually doing harm to my body and not helping my skin, what were the rest of the treatments doing to me? I started using all-natural products that nourished my skin instead of “drying out” the acne. And I immediately saw huge improvements! It turns out my skin is most sensitive to being too dry and being exposed to anything harsh or irritating. You might be thinking that I just outgrew my skin issues, which is a valid point. But I’ll admit that I still break out if I don’t follow my new skincare routine, or if I go through something stressful. My skin isn’t “perfect” but it sure is better than it used to be.

So why start Ibimi Botanicals? I’m the third generation of a family of cranberry growers, so I grew up knowing all about the health benefits of cranberries. They’re great at reducing inflammation and are antimicrobial to name a few (which is perfect for skincare!). After high school I went to business school and started working in corporate finance. While I was in college, my family started making cold-pressed cranberry seed oil. I was of course interested in seeing how that would work for my skin, and I fell in love.

I essentially replaced 90% of my skincare routine with the oil. I used it for cleansing and used it to moisturize. Then I started playing around with adding some other essential oils and active ingredients to make it more targeted. I ended up with an oil based cleanser that I really liked and an anti-aging serum that made my skin noticeably smoother. Plus, I knew exactly what was in it!

A few years later, I ended up leaving my finance career in the city for my small home-town to work for the family business and get married. I suddenly had a lot more time on my hands, and I was looking for a new project. I started learning more about formulation and what kinds of products are out there in the natural skincare space. I realized that there are other people out there with the same kind of skin story I had, and that they could benefit from cranberry seed oil as well.

I decided to launch a skincare line with a simple, easy-to-use routine that worked without compromising cheap or toxic ingredients. Since cranberry seed oil was my secret weapon, I made sure that it was infused into every formulation. The name I chose also pays tribute to cranberries. Ibimi is the word used by the Lenni Lenape tribe for cranberry. For hundreds (or maybe thousands!) of years this tribe, and many others, understood how to use this fruit to their advantage. They used the berries as medicine and intuitively knew that they could help with inflammation and infection. I love that history, and decided it’d be a great name for a brand dedicated to using cranberry seed oil. I also wanted the products to be effective (of course) without feeling “medical”. Nobody should have to feel like there’s something “wrong” with their skin or that it’s a problem that needs to be fixed. Your skin is beautiful and we nourish it to keep it healthy and glowing, not to “fix” it! That’s why I focus on creating a spa-like experience with everyday products.

It makes me so happy to hear other women having the same experience of embracing natural, effective, products and feeling beautiful in their own skin. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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