Clean beauty brand Dermalist is an Australian company at the cutting edge of the cosmeceutical industry.
Their mission, to deliver the most efficacious and most luxurious conscious skincare range around the world at an affordable price, believing that everyone deserves to have beautiful skin.
I sat down with Dermalist founder Stefanie Milla to chat about the brand and what it delivers to all women around the world.
Now in her forties, founder Stefanie Milla has worked in the skincare industry for more than nineteen years as both a trainer and an educator in the industry. She lives on an acreage, on the edge of the Yarra Valley in Melbourne’s east with her family, including her lovely sister Monica. The inspiration for Dermalist.
Many skincare therapist and Specialists start their own brand as a result of suffering a variety of skin conditions themselves. Is this the case for you also, did you suffer from any skin issues which led to developing a skin care brand like Dermalist?
“I personally have, yes, I have a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome which affects my hormones, which I was diagnosed with after suffering from cystic acne and severe skin inflammation for about five years.
It left me with pitted scarring on my cheeks, which was quite devastating for me at the time. I have fortunately been able to successfully treat this, but it did play a big part in my initial interest in the skin care industry.
However, regarding actually developing my own skincare range, the real inspiration for me was my sister. At a very young age, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and responded very negatively to the medications that were given to her. So after that I began a journey to find a more holistic and natural way of managing her disease – and one that addressed the root causes of the illness rather than just treating the symptoms.
I remember at the time, I did a lot of research on epigenetic triggers to autoimmune diseases and discovered that there certain factors like environmental pollution, and harsh chemicals that we use in our daily lives, such as in cleaning products and pesticides that are sprayed on our food.
At the time, I was quite shocked to find out that even some preservatives and ingredients used in skincare products can cause a toxic burden on our bodies and potentially the accumulation of these can result in an immune response and chronic inflammation.
And then remarkably over the years, I observed the same thing in a clinical setting regarding the skin. For almost all of our clients, there was a common causative factor for their skin conditions – chronic inflammation.
So my goal in creating this range was to develop skincare that was really powerful, efficacious and luxurious, but didn’t add to the toxic burden placed on our bodies, and in fact helped to reduce inflammation in the skin and really treat the skin from a holistic perspective.
And ultimately products to create products that would be safer for my sister and for my family to use.”
How did you find yourself developing a targeted skin care brand, with products designed to work successfully for a variety of skin care concerns?
“I developed Dermalist through necessity really, I was struggling to find a cosmeceutical strength skincare range that met all of the requirements for our clients. For example, I needed products that:
- Were free of chemicals that could cause disruption to skin, like parabens, sulphates and even preservatives that release Formaldehyde.
- Reduce skin inflammation and skin stress which is extremely important.
- Were easy to use / to adhere to – often clients would be discouraged as they would be prescribed 3 to 4 serums to target their skin concerns which was just too expensive, too time consuming and too overwhelming for a lot of clients.
- Were multi-functional and would treat the skin holistically.
- Were completely ethical and transparent.
- And of course – they had to be extremely effective and fast working – people don’t want to wait long periods of time to see results. They want to see real results within a short period of time.
When I couldn’t find a brand that could deliver all of that as the bare minimum, I just knew I had to create it myself, it called to me. I think at one point I literally said, I’m throwing out the budget, let’s strive to make perfection….I was that passionate!
I was extremely fortunate actually, as I already had an abundance of experience and knowledge in the skincare industry and in treating skin, but I was also in a unique position to be able to know and work with leading Cosmetic Doctors, Nurses and Dermal Therapists, as well as some of the very best Cosmetic formulators in Australia.
So that collective knowledge helped me immensely, especially when testing and trialling the products.”
How did the name of Dermalist come about?
“When I imagined Dermalist, the brand, I poured all of the things that I loved and valued into the brand, but then I also married that with all the feedback that I had received from literally thousands of people, over 19 years in the industry regarding what they wanted from their skincare.
I really wanted our clients and people to know that we had heard them. And we actually gave them that voice during our “what you said” pre-launch campaign, which was really very special to us.
The concept behind the name stemmed from me and the fact that at times I literally wanted to go home with my clients and be able to treat their skin every single day until it got better. I used to say that I literally wanted to create a Dermal Therapist in a bottle for people to take home and use every day and then one day the name came to me and was exactly that – Dermal TherapIST – Dermalist.
Maybe it’s not quite as good as having a Dermal Therapist at home, but it’s definitely the next best thing!
In terms of the skin care concerns that Dermalist targets, the formulations really act as though they are seeing the skin through the therapist’s eyes, so to speak. When a therapist assesses the skin, they do so holistically. A patient might be concerned about their pigmentation, which they feel is making their skin look dull, tired and a more mature, however the therapist sees the skin as a whole.
They will treat the pigmentation, absolutely, but they will also treat and address all the other concerns they see and improve the skins overall health. Dermalist products are designed to do just that, treat the skin’s health and appearance, holistically.”
What is the core foundation of the product range, the signature ingredient so to speak, on how and why your brand is the best at what it does?
“I think Dermalist is actually very unique, as it takes the very best that skincare science has to offer and simplifies the process so much that it almost guarantees compliance. And in the skincare world, client compliance is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome, people just don’t have time to use 3, 4, or 5 serums, each targeting one specific concern.
There are just 3 core treatment products in the Radiance Range –
Our Ultra Hydrating Lactic Cleanser which uses Lactic Acid to refine and purify the skin without stripping it and damaging the lipid barrier.
Our Ultra Smoothing Facial Exfoliant – this is magic. It uses 3 modes of exfoliation – chemical using a blend of AHA’s, enzymatic using fermented and sustainably sourced pomegranate enzyme and mechanical using smooth biodegradable beads and seeds.
And then finally our Allserum Skin Perfector – This serum is absolutely revolutionary, it is an all-in-one serum that targets multiple skin concerns, in one step, and in just one skin cycle.
And just by using these 3 products, people will notice visible changes in their skin hydration, fine lines and wrinkles, skin laxity, pigmentation, redness, inflammation, breakouts, blackheads and skin congestion, pore size and the list goes on.
You see….the difference with Dermalist is, that the target is not just one individual concern per product, like pigmentation alone for example – the target concern is the skin’s overall heath and appearance, which will dramatically improve every condition, from acne to pigmentation and ageing, and that is the reason why people will actually want to use it.”
Aside from being vegan and cruelty free, what else stands out about these products?
“Creating products that target multiple concerns in each formulation is actually quite complicated. Ingredients have to be more thoroughly researched, tested and chosen not only for their effectiveness, but also their symbiosis. In other words, they need to complement each other and work well together. But also, they need to be active in the same PH, and then stable in the same base, and most importantly they need to not counteract each other, or cause irritation when combined.
So, in my opinion the remarkable thing about the range is that each formulation actually has a very high number of active ingredients in therapeutically prescribed levels. And each of those ingredients works on a different function within the skin. In Allserum for example, we have over 15 specialized active ingredients, each one with its own specific function and target.
We include tyrosinase inhibitors to target pigmentation, and peptides that target fine lines and wrinkles. We have actives that target redness, and even an extract that lowers cortisol levels in the skin reducing skin stress and inflammation.
We also include ingredients that protect against pollution and Infrared light, along with many other actives and extracts that improve the overall appearance and health of the skin.
In a traditional serum, maybe on one or two of those concerns would be targeted whereas we are targeting them all simultaneously in one serum, which significantly reduces the time and number of products on our Dermalistas’ beauty shelf… that for me is the big stand out!
Another thing that sets us apart is that our products are made in Australia and are held to the absolute highest standards in manufacture so we can guarantee supreme quality, freshness and safety in every single product. In fact, when we were first in talks with our wonderful manufacturing partners who have been in the industry for over 20 years, they were blown away with our exacting standards and unwillingness to settle for anything less than imperial quality. Fortunately they are all still talking to us.”
Why did you decide on creating a product which is completely vegan and cruelty-free?
“Because there’s actually no reason to use any animal products in skin care at all – in fact, most of the high performing ingredients are either plant-based or bio-engineered, often times to mimic plant-based actives, so being vegan for our brand was just a given.
And the cruelty free element really speaks for itself – beyond the fact that we love all living beings, this is 2019 and there is no need to test on animals as there are more accurate methods to test ingredients for safety that don’t involve using our animals.
We really respect the fact that more and more countries every year are eliminating animal testing, and we fully and whole heartedly support that.
Am I vegan personally? Yes I am and a big part of that decision is ethical, but I do believe that there are excellent health benefits in consuming a mainly plant-based diet, one of which is a reduction in inflammation in the body.”
What is your AM and PM beauty routine? Do you have any favorite products both in your range and any not from your range you use daily?
“Really at the moment I mainly use Dermalist products (the central benefits of owning a skincare line!). The ultra hydrating lactic cleanser, the ultra smoothing facial exfoliant and Allserum are absolute mainstays in my routine – my skin just doesn’t look the same when I don’t use them consistently.
But I’m also constantly testing and trialling new Dermalist formulations and ingredients, so at the moment I don’t have much room to squeeze anything else into my routine.
AM – I usually just cleanse with water. This helps to keep my lipid barrier intact and protect my skin from irritants and environmental stressors throughout the day.
Twice a week in the mornings I will use Dermalist’s ultra smoothing facial exfoliant which makes my make-up look incredible and leaves my skin smooth, hydrated and refined.
I will then apply Allserum, which treats and protects my skin whilst acting as an incredible primer underneath my make-up.
I finish off by using Jane Iredale mineral make up, I love it because the loose powder is actually a great physical sunscreen as well.
PM – When I’m home from the office I take off my makeup using our Ultra hydrating lactic cleanser which brightens and conditions my skin without leaving it feeling tight before applying another pump of AllSerum.
Whilst it sounds simple, I’m absolutely in love with this routine because it’s just so simple, and I am very time poor!
Honestly, sometimes even I can’t believe how great my skin looks with such minimal effort, but then that was the goal all along.”