Alison Crumblehume knows the value of using cruelty-free products in skincare. The CEO and founder of VERIPHY skincare Inc has extensive experience working with start-ups and is a leader in innovation and development in the STEM field.
Elixuer spoke to Crumblehulme about beauty, skincare, and her efforts in STEM, where she shares valuable insight about assisting women to enter these fields. Crumblehulme also explains the science behind VERIPHY’s unique plant-based ingredient and reveals helpful tips on maintaining healthy glowing skin.
VERIPHY products utilize a revolutionary ingredient called Phytospherix. What is it and why is it useful for the skin?
It really was the inspiration behind creating the brand. Phytospherix is a plant-derived form of glycogen. Glycogen itself is a natural storage form of energy within your body; it’s in your muscles, hair, and skin. It traditionally has only been found from animal sources, usually from some forms of shellfish or animals.
What was interesting was there was a biotechnology company that came out of one of our universities here at the University of Guelph that discovered a way to extract it from plants. They use a super clean process to do that. It’s all water-based so that the ingredient itself is very clean, but what makes it super exciting is that it naturally fuels your skin cells to produce more collagen, hyaluronic acid, and elastin—all of the key components to having healthy looking skin. What that translates to is a real increase in skin hydration and reduction in fine lines and wrinkles and having smoother radiant looking skin.
VERIPHY provides a scholarship for women in STEM at the University of Guelph. How did this initiative come about and why is it important?
For us, one of the first things was discovering this exciting ingredient at the University of Guelph. What really inspired us is that we are a company that is founded and led by women in STEM. As we’ve seen, women are rising up, but at the same time, it is still not at a stage that is equivalent to men in terms of the number of women that enter these fields. We really wanted to keep that as part of our brand pillar by supporting and encouraging young women to enter these fields, so that’s science, technology, engineering, and math. And then we recently added on business as well because we feel that that is also an important area that we want to encourage and support women in as well.
Maintaining glowing skin can be tricky. Can you offer any tips on how to sustain healthy skin in the winter?
Start with a gentle cleanser; you don’t want to use anything that’s too stripping on your skin. And then I think the two other key products that you want to have within your routine would definitely be an exfoliant to really help that drier dead skin be removed to help keep things smooth. And then, of course, hydration.
A really great moisturizer you can use is the control+alt+delete facial cleanser to start with. It’s very gentle and removes your makeup all in one step as well, so you don’t have to do a double cleanse. Our power trip facial serum is very gentle but very powerful at the same time, with natural exfoliants to help with that cellular turnover. And then, of course, our self-absorbed moisturizer, which really has that powerful dehydration without feeling greasy, so you have a nice soft, smooth feel to your skin.
Who has influenced you in your STEM and business career?
I can’t identify someone for example who is a celebrity type STEM person. I would have to say that the number one influencer was really my mom. That’s mostly because she was just so encouraging right from kindergarten onward; she would always say reach for the stars. I know a lot of parents probably do that. She was always encouraging me not to let anything stop me and really giving me the confidence or helping me to get the confidence that I needed.
In addition to that, there were definitely a few male figures in my life, bosses that I reported to throughout my career that were also incredibly encouraging and also believed in equal rights for women and really helped support VERIPHY and what we were going after. It’s a combination of those things.
Do you have advice for someone who wants to start an ethical cosmetics company?
I would say make sure it’s really aligned with your own values because it’s a real risk if you want to do this just because it’s trendy. You also have to make sure that you sort of walk the walk and not just talk it. Especially in this day and age, there’s so much connectivity with your clients, and with the consumers, you will get caught very quickly if you are being misleading about these things. So that’s number one. Number two is to make sure you do a lot of homework and research because you have to follow through on your supply chain. For example, ensure you get the supporting documents if an ingredient claims that it’s cruelty-free and that it’s vegan. You need to make sure that you have the documents to back that up because, ultimately, you are the one marketing it; you need to be responsible for ensuring that it’s correct.
It’s also important to start networking. What’s interesting is that you’ll find some really good organizations where you can meet with other women in business and other women in skincare, and you will generally find that people are willing to share their experiences. And it’s not quite so much just about “you are my competition I don’t want to talk to you”–people are still willing to share and give advice, so networking is number one.
David Messiha | Staff Writer