Interview with Dr. Michele Brown, Founder of Beauté de Maman
by Teresa Bergen
While it may seem like a natural progression for a dermatologist to create her own line of skincare products, an OB/GYN who makes personal care items is more surprising. But when Dr. Michele Brown of Connecticut watched her patients try to navigate the hazards of the drugstore aisles, she decided to offer her own solution. “Not many products on the market today have been tested for the safety of the fetus,” Brown said.
Her Beauté de Maman line, founded in 2010, includes skin cleanser, face and body cream, nipple gel, stretch mark cream and a dietary herbal supplement for pregnancy-related nausea. Her products are defined both by what ingredients she includes, and which she leaves out. You won’t find parabens, phthalates, lanolin or BPA in any Beauté de Maman products.
Lanolin is an especially common ingredient used by new mothers in nipple creams, Brown said. “The majority of women are sent home from the hospital after giving birth with lanolin-based products.” These creams are designed to prevent mastitis, red hot swollen areas of the breast which can harbor infection and develop abscesses, Brown said. Lanolin is made from sheep’s wool, which at first sounds natural enough. “Lanolin is cholesterol,” Brown said. “So babies breastfeed with this cholesterol product. The sheep are sprayed with chemicals to prevent parasitic infections, which is absorbed into wool and oil glands. The way you make lanolin is to concentrate this oil. This is what you put on your breast. Plus, sheep eat grass grown with chemicals.”
Brown also worries about BPA, an additive often used in plastic cosmetic packaging. “The problem is the BPA, the chemical itself, gets removed from the plastic container and seeps into the product,” Brown said. “Women put the product on their skin and it gets absorbed.” BPA is associated with neurological defects, diabetes, breast and prostate cancer, and adversely affects fetal growth, she said. While BPA is banned in baby bottles and sippy cups, cosmetic companies can still use it for packaging, even in products marketed to pregnant women and new moms.
“That’s what makes my product line so superior to anything on the market, because we have taken these things into consideration,” Brown said. “We produce things that are safe and effective, and pre-tested.” She’s used her own patients as a focus group to report back on the efficacy of her products. “We had them fill out forms, and tweaked the products to get the best products we possibly can.”
So what ingredients does Brown think pregnant women should use? Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants such as vitamin C are featured in Beauté de Maman. She uses calendula for its anti-bacterial properties. For acne during pregnancy, she recommends tea tree oil. Her anti-nausea capsules combine vitamins D and B6, ginger and lime. “When you stick with natural, herbal things that are proven to be safe, you’re really going to come out with a wonderful product for pregnant women to use,” she said.
Beauté de Maman products are available through Brown’s website, which is also a good resource for links to the latest pregnancy-related articles and studies. “There are problems that are special to pregnancy that don’t occur at other times,” she said. “It’s a time of a lot of anxiety for women.” With her carefully formulated product line, Brown hopes to make women’s pregnancies a little less anxious.
To learn more about Brown and her products, visit her website.