Dermatology, and my passionate belief in plant based natural skincare is at the heart of Votary. I'm especially proud that brilliant dermatologist Dr Erika Klemperer is a Votary fan. Her knowledge and experience make her insights particularly compelling.
First of all, here is her starry bio:
Dr. Erika Klemperer earned her medical degree at the University of California, San Francisco. She completed her dermatology training at Stanford University and served as chief resident. Dr Klemperer was an Assistant Clinical Professor at UCSF and directed the Women’s Dermatology practice. For over twenty years she has been in dermatology private practice and has spent the past decade caring for patients in Santa Barbara, CA. She is a diplomat of the American Board of Dermatology and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Dr Klemperer is committed to cultivating sustainable and thriving health in partnership with her patients. She understands the intimate connection between skin health, whole-body wellness and real beauty. She recognizes the skin as a truth teller, providing a magnificent mirror that reflects both our inner health and wellness and our external exposures and influences.
She describes herself as obsessed with 'luxurious, effective, natural skin care products that are healthy for our skin, our bodies, & our planet' which is why I'm so honoured and delighted that she recommends Votary for her clients.
Thank you, Erika for participating in our Q & A series.
Votary products address a whole range of skin issues, and the brand grew from the belief that everyone can have healthy, glowing skin whatever their age. I'm really excited to learn your views on some of the dermatology issues Votarists ask us about. Let's begin with...
What do you recommend eating for skin health?
I believe in eating a nourishing whole-foods, plant-based diet. I try to eliminate highly processed foods and focus on whole-foods. Vegetables and fruits are the mainstay of my diet. I incorporate as much variety (types and colours) of produce. I eat organic, locally grown products whenever possible. Healthy fats, including olives and olive oil, avocados and avocado oil, nuts, and seeds, are incredibly important. I often support a low-glycemic index diet and try to minimize sugar intake. Most importantly, I encourage my patients to listen to their bodies. We are all unique individuals, with different needs and sensitivities. What is healthy for one person, may not be for another. Our bodies are always talking to us. We need to slow down, pay attention and listen. It’s also so important that we find pleasure in eating. And this can so easily be done with healthy and nutritious foods!
How do you treat adult acne?
Acne is a complex condition. I try to find the root cause. I investigate the status of my patient’s gut health, hormonal health, inflammatory state, nutritional status, stress levels, toxin exposure, and so much more. It is crucial to optimize gut health and hormonal balance. We need to calm inflammation, both on the skin and throughout the body. I try to maximize their nutritional status, both with foods and targeted supplements. I utilize a whole- foods, plant-based, low-glycemic, anti-inflammatory diet along with targeted supplements. Stress plays a big role in acne and thus it’s critical to finds ways to modulate their stress response. And of course its crucial that we optimize the skin health directly, including the skin microbiome, skin barrier, cell turnover, etc. This is where outstanding skincare products along with prescription topical products are a key part of my treatment for acne. And I encourage exercise, healthy sleep habits, stress resilience, and other lifestyle modifications.
What are your top tips for dealing with rosacea?
Rosacea is another complex condition. I once again focus on the gut, as I feel gut imbalance is a common driving force for rosacea. Triggers, such as specific foods, alcohol, heat, etc. need to be identified and minimized. I also believe that the skin barrier and skin microbiome are extremely important with rosacea. I try to restore optimal skin barrier function and microbial balance. Gentle, nourishing skincare is therefore critical. Rosacea skin is much more reactive and this must be taken into consideration when formulating a skincare routine for these patients. And once again, an anti-inflammatory approach, both topically and systemically, is of the utmost importance. Once again, I do this with an anti-inflammatory diet, targeted supplements, and other lifestyle modifications.
What is your approach to retinols?
This is a complicated one! Retinoids, which are derivatives of vitamin A, remain quite controversial within the natural skincare world. I believe in the power of retinoids. That being said, they are a powerful class of ingredients and it is essential that they be used correctly. As a dermatologist with over 20 years of clinical experience, I have seen firsthand the numerous benefits to the skin that they can provide. They increase cellular turnover and boost collagen production. They have the capacity to improve skin texture, fine lines, discoloration and skin tone. And there is solid science confirming these potent skin rejuvenation properties. Furthermore, retinoids are used for both the treatment of acne and in the prevention and treatment of sun damage, pre-cancers and skin cancers. Retinoids are not without their downsides, however. Local sides effects, including skin dryness and irritation, are common with many prescription retinoids. Retinoids can also cause sun sensitivity, so I never recommend them unless my patient is extremely committed to sun protection. They should always be applied at nighttime and never included in a sunscreen (watch for retinyl palmitate). And then there is the concern for toxicity. There is certainly potential toxicity with systemic retinoids, but at this time we have no data to confirm that small amounts and in low concentration applied to the skin are carcinogenic or teratogenic. I am nonetheless avoid them during pregnancy. In addition, many conventional prescription and over-the-counter retinoids contain other undesirable ingredients, including parabens and BHT, which I avoid. That is one of the reasons that I love some of the botanical serums with retinol, such as Votary Night Oil. Thus, for my patients who want to improve their sun damage or treat their acne (and are diligent with their sun protection and are not considering pregnancy), retinoids can be a good choice. If, however, my patient wants to be completely “natural”, then I will often recommend a botanical oil high in vitamin A and carotenoids, such as rosehip oil.
Do you think massage benefits the skin?
I believe facial massage may be beneficial to the skin. It potentially boosts circulation along with lymphatic drainage. It can relieve facial tension; and it can be incredibly relaxing, which is accompanied by its own health benefits. And there is the healing power that comes simply from human touch.
How do you treat sensitive skin?
Sensitively! I try to minimize potential irritants and focus on nourishing the skin. It is so important to try to maintain a healthy skin barrier for patients with sensitive skin. This can be accomplished by avoiding harsh chemicals and incorporating barrier-promoting ingredients (i.e. linoleic-rich essential fatty acids, ceramides, niacinamide, etc.). And skincare rituals, including cleansing and exfoliating, need to be modified.
Which Votary product wouldn’t you be without?
I love Votary Intense Night Oil. This luxurious blend of botanical actives, ultra nourishing plant- based oils, and a gentle yet effective retinol makes this a beautiful product for skin rejuvenation. For the same reason, I also love the Intense Eye Oil, another fabulous retinoid- infused botanical oil blend.
How crucial is sleep for skin health, and what are your top tips on getting the best sleep possible?
Healthy sleep is a cornerstone of wellness, including skin health. Sleep is crucial for both recovery and repair. Sleep is a regenerative process and skin has its highest capacity for cellular repair and cell renewal during those important hours. In general, 7-9 hours of quality sleep is ideal for most adults.
Getting up and going to bed around the same time daily is incredibly beneficial to establishing healthy sleep patterns. It's beneficial to attempt to maintain our body’s innate circadian rhythm. Prepare to sleep with nighttime rituals, and try to be consistent with preparing your body for rest.
I encourage a nightly digital detox, turning off all electronic devices at least 1-2 hours prior to bedtime. Remove all electronic devices from the bedroom. Sleep in a quiet, cool, dark room. Eat light at night, at least 3 hours before bedtime; avoid late night snacking, especially with sugars and refined carbohydrates; and avoid alcohol at least 2 hours before bedtime. And enjoy it! Sleep is a precious time for rest and rejuvenation.
If you had to give one sentence of advice on how Votarists should look after their skin, what would it be?
Just one sentence?! I would encourage Votarists to eat a delicious whole-foods, plant-based diet, stay active and exercise, commit to healthy sleep, support stress resilience, prioritize meaningful connections, use natural, beautiful skincare products, create pleasurable rituals with their skincare, slow down, get out in nature, laugh as much as possible, seek joy, and reach for what brings you alive.
And now for some quick fire questions...
How many minutes does your morning skincare routine take?
I’ve never timed it. I view it as a pleasurable ritual, rather than a chore. I enjoy every minute of it!
How big is your sun hat?
18” across with a 6” brim.
What is your favourite cocktail?
A glass of Viognier (not the healthiest choice!).
Erika Klemperer lipstick of choice?
Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioner SPF 15 in Maybe Baby.
Best guilty pleasure?
That glass of Viognier!
Yoga or workout?
What makes you laugh?
My 16 year old daughter, Sophia Stella.
Best book you’ve read recently?
Where the Crawdads Sing
Best Netflix series?
Thank you Erika. I'm so proud that you are a #Votarist. I know all our readers will really value your dermatology advice.
Love, Arabella x
To learn more about Dr Erika Klemperer's practice, read here.