It’s the little things that really get to Skin Authority founder & CEO Celeste Hilling. Think really little, like pollutants clocking in at a miniscule .1 microns. Surround yourself with enough of those and you count on seriously compromising your looks and health.
Though most people don’t obsess over the air quality in the spas they visit, Hilling most definitely does. And she’s extra-concerned for the estheticians, massage therapists, and other healers who spend their days in 10×10 rooms, breathing in all those essential oils and candle fumes for hours on end. Not to mention the “off-gassing” from the gorgeous décor—everything from the wallpaper, to the carpet and furnishings can release VOCs. Oh, and in addition to indoor pollution, we have some pretty intense viruses wafting through the air these days . . .
Enter a kind of adorable, approximately 10-inch R2D2 look-alike called the DefenderPRO. Designed in collaboration with an air-filtration specialist, and officially dubbed DefenderPRO Air Beautification System, it’s an FDA-approved Level II medical device that sweeps the air of chemicals, fragrance, oils, smoke, bacteria, virus, and fungus. While traditional HEPA filters tackle particles larger than .3 microns—stuff like pet hair, dust, and pollen—Skin Authority’s silvery tabletop gizmo gets to the finer things in life.
Hilling, who spent years in the tech world before launching Skin Authority in 2005 (her bonafides include a stint as VP of Compaq Computer’s worldwide consumer division), has been studying the effects of indoor and outdoor pollution recently, and growing increasingly alarmed. “The more I immersed myself in the research, the more scared I got,” she says. “And once it’s out, you can’t put the fear genie back in the bottle.”
“No one really thinks of skin—this thing we peel, pluck, and shave–as a gateway to the body that is more direct than the lungs. If we can become ambassadors of preventive techniques, we can slow down, and possibly even thwart, disease…”
Immunity From Every Angle
Though she doesn’t want to come off as a Chicken Little-style alarmist, Hilling is happy to help build awareness about the impact pollution—as well as radiation from our ever-growing assortment of devices—is having on the population.
“As with everything else in life, knowledge is power,” she says. “No one really thinks of skin—this thing we peel, pluck, and shave–as a gateway to the body that is more direct than the lungs. If we can become ambassadors of preventive techniques, we can slow down, and possibly even thwart, disease and also look more beautiful because we can eliminate contact dermatitis, itchiness, and allergic skin reactions.”
Already snapped up by the Beverly Hills Hotel for use in its spa and select guest rooms, as well as many other day and destination spas, the $899 next-level air filter is scoring big with consumers, too. In reviews on Skin Authority’s website, happy owners are giving the thumbs up for portability and efficacy in not only clearing the air, but also boosting REM sleep and “overnight” infant eczema relief.
That last bit about the eczema makes perfect sense to Hilling, who firmly believes our skin needs all the help it can get keeping the bad stuff out. That’s the core premise of hero product SkinSuit, a mineral shield that blocks broad spectrum UV, blue light, infrared, heat, and pollution.
“I started this company around making people more well,” she says, “and skin is a really big part of our immunity.” Prioritizing topical environmental protection from the brand’s inception, Hilling honed-in on antioxidant technology first, developing classic vitamin C-spiked products that countered free-radical damage.
SkinSuit is a big leap forward. “It’s like a topical spacesuit because there’s so much radiation and pollution out there–we need to think about more than just sun protection,” she says. “We have a patent on our unique coating, which keeps it from breaking down. And it could be white if you just left it as is.”
Determined to find a workaround for that tell-tale whitish cast, Hilling and her team spent more time on tone and texture than on the actual technology behind SkinSuit. “Most brands don’t do that,” she notes. “They’ll just say, ‘Hey, it’s mineral, so there you go.’ But we’re based in San Diego, and our community is a rainbow of beautiful skin tones and ethnicities. We design for that and always have.”
Dana Wood is the Contributing Beauty Editor at InsidersGuidetoSpas.com. She has been writing about beauty and wellness for decades, and no matter how many times she taps the words “hyaluronic acid” or “healing modalities” into her keyboard, it never gets old. Dana spent a total of 20 years at Condé Nast, serving as Beauty Director for W, Cookie, and Brides. A transplanted New Yorker, Dana now lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. Her peak spa experience? Dana says it’s impossible to decide between the Coco-Mango Body Buff at the Driftwood Spa at Jakes in Treasure Beach, Jamaica, The Land of Beautiful Waters Anti-Aging Facial at Four Seasons Nevis, and the 80-minute 5 Senses massage at the Spa by JW in Marco Island, Florida.