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Valerie McMurray founded Soleil Toujours after becoming aware of all the harmful chemical ingredients in sunscreen. Unwilling to compromise the health of her family, she started her own skin care company that focuses on mineral sun protection and anti-aging solutions. Soleil Toujours believes that shielding against UV rays is vital to anti-aging, and we couldn’t agree more. We decided to learn more about the founder and her vision.
You started Soleil Toujours after being unable to find sun care that met your standards. What prompted your shift from concerned consumer to business owner?
I actually had several small entrepreneurial businesses while I was working full time in financial services, but they were more of hobbies. It was a matter of time before I found a project that I was truly passionate about. With Soleil, I knew I was ready to take the plunge, leave my day job and pursue something I truly believed in and most importantly, would benefit my family.
How did/do you balance being a mother and a entrepreneur?
I had and still have an amazing support system in terms of child care. I have a rock star au pair and amazing friends who help pick up my carpool slack whenever necessary. The women in my town are incredibly supportive and come from so many amazing careers. I count on them constantly for business advice as well as child care help. I'm beyond lucky to live in such a great community. On a separate note, I find it so important and rewarding for my kids to see me working and building something. They will learn and understand that one day they too can do anything they want with their careers. They are learning the value of hard work and perseverance and that is all important to me.
What is the most valuable thing you've learned about skin care from working in the beauty industry?
Skin care starts with sun care. I almost feel like the majority of skin care companies approach skin care from the opposite direction. Many companies have dozens and dozens of skin care products, and only one or 2 SPF products. The sun is responsible for over 80% of premature aging. The breakdown of collagen in the skin is caused by 2 things: the natural aging process and the sun. I approach skin care by starting with sun protection. That's what makes Soleil Toujours unique. All of our products and future products revolve around UV protection, UV damage prevention and UV damage repair.
How should sunscreen fit into a beauty routine? When should it be applied?
Sunscreen is the single most vital step in any skincare regimen. It should be applied in the morning before UV exposure and then reapplied every 2 - 2 1/2 hours throughout the day.
Ingredients are a huge part of the Soleil Toujours philosophy. Are you an ingredient junkie? What ingredient are you most excited about at the moment?
The list is endless, but here are a couple of key ingredients that we are using in our new products that are very exciting:
Roxisomes – are an exciting and promising new ingredient in skin care. They work as mDNA repair enzymes that work against oxidative damage that would otherwise lead to cell death. They’ve shown efficacy in studies looking at cancer prevention, UV exposure, and anti-aging. While there are still more studies to be done to look at their application in skin care, they appear to be enzymes that will do a lot for skin care.
Haberlea Rhodopensis Leaf Extract – is an extract from a resurrection species of a unique group of land plants that can tolerate desiccation of their vegetative tissues to air-dried state (to just 5% relative water content, RWC) and resume normal physiological and metabolic activities after rehydration. This unique extract complex has skin restructuring, revitalizing and moisturizing benefits. It helps to increase skin elasticity in humans (3%Haberlea extract creme), stimulates elastin synthesis, and protects human dermal fibroblasts against H2O2 damage.
We are also big on incorporating the latest generation of plant stem cells to reduce pigmentation, fine lines, and protect the skin from environmental damages. These plant stem cells contain all the active molecules of the plant to effectively address multiple areas of concern. Sea fennel, edelweiss, gardenia and lilac plant stem cells are incorporated into some of the most advanced anti-aging products.
We love peptides as they are key anti-aging ingredients that reduce fine lines and wrinkles, promote collagen, reduce inflammation and brighten skin tone. With new peptides being discovered every year they are considered to be an active ingredient that will continually change and advance with time.
Finally, of course everything I do focuses on UV protection, so nothing is more important than minerals. At Soleil, we use the highest grade, non-nano mineral actives in all of our UV protection products.
Zinc and titanium are utilized for their superior UV ray protection and pro-longed broad spectrum coverage. Minerals are safe, effective, reduce inflammation, and are designed to be used on all skin types especially sensitive, acneic and those prone to hyperpigmentation and melasma.
With sunscreen being an obvious must, what is one other skin care product can you never go without?
We are developing a very unique sunscreen removal and purifying cleanser. Mineral sunscreens are often difficult to remove. Our new cleanser in development is formulated specifically to break down sunscreen, makeup and other impurities, and at the same time thoroughly cleanse the pores. One other product I never go without is my Après Soleil Exotic Shimmer Body Oil. My skin gets very dry. I use my body oil immediately after showering, and as needed throughout the day and before bed.
What does your daily skincare routine look like?
I cleanse with my new purifying cleanser, apply my Daily Anti-Aging Power Serum (although we are about to launch a new and improved silicone-free version), apply my Daily Moisturizer SPF 20 or my Perpetual Radiance Complexion Perfecting Fluid SPF 20 for more coverage and then apply my Eye Glow 100% Mineral SPF 25 around the eyes. Once a week I use my new UV Damage Repair Cloth Masque to help brighten spots of hyperpigmentation that I have all over my face as well as to help tighten and lift some of the areas around my face that need collagen boosting. Then I apply a little makeup — I am not huge on makeup, but certainly need some!
What can we expect from Soleil Toujours next? What’s on the horizon?
I spilled the beans on all of the products we are launching this year above. We have a few more organic SPF products in the works that are truly unique and groundbreaking as well. It's going to be a very exciting year, so please watch the space!