Venus in the house

By Andrea Kennedy

Women’s jaws drop when they hear one startling fact: Collagen in women’s skin peaks around age 27. Women may argue it’s all downhill from there. They’re fighting gravity, of course, plus a losing battle with fine lines and luminosity. Some seek skin-care specialists to reduce the wear of their years. Some seek physicians for rejuvenation from the inside out. But what if women could benefit from both?

Nearly 10 years ago, 25-year beauty industry pro Cecil Booth began collaborating with her sister, gynecologist and hormonal wellness expert Dr. Rebecca Booth, on a skin-care line that combines cosmetic and medical smarts. Last year, the duo launched their Chicago-based company, VENeffect, a product line featuring a blend of plant-derived molecules to shelter skin from the signs of aging.

Around her 40th birthday, Cecil consulted her sis for insider secrets on why her skin wasn’t quite what it used to be.

“She shared with me the direct correlation between estrogen and collagen,” Cecil says. “Estrogen, which is the hormone of beauty and fertility, directly affects the collagen in your skin. It actually stimulates collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid, which are the building blocks of elastic, healthy, vibrant, glowing skin.”

According to Cecil, for women in their childbearing years, estrogen’s monthly peak is “Mother Nature’s gift” – when they, and their skin, look and feel their best.

“We don’t want to have that effect for only a week out of the month. We want to have that effect every week throughout our lifetime.”

That effect – what the Booth sisters call the “Venus effect,” hence VENeffect – drops off most significantly when women experience what Rebecca calls “programmed ovarian retirement,” essentially estrogen withdrawal and its subsequent menopause.

“No one was talking about it,” says Cecil, who professionally stays abreast of the latest beauty buzz and industry innovations. “People talk about the sun environmental factors and chronological aging – and those are real – but probably the most dramatic way we uniquely age as women is related to estrogen.”

After this “aha moment,” Cecil with Rebecca – a full-time practitioner who also penned the book “The Venus Week” (Da Capo Lifelong Books) – applied their synergistic backgrounds to develop a topical that inspires the Venus effect in the skin. Since collagen can only be directly applied via injection – and not always with a natural result – the sisters sought a potent formula to stimulate collagen’s production instead. They found the solution in the plant world with phytoestrogens, naturally derived molecules that mimic estrogen’s effects on the skin.

“They attach to the estrogen receptors that we have throughout our lifetime so your skin produces collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid the way it was meant to happen naturally,” Cecil says.

Years of research led them to key ingredients like grape seed and grapefruit seed extract, soy and soy isoflavones, clover and red-wine superstar resveratrol. (No fragrances here, folks, just natural citrus extract.) Many names have appeared on the market before, though often as antioxidants, Cecil says, and in a significantly more diluted form than the sisters found satisfactory.

“It’s one thing to find these molecules,” she says. “It’s another thing to formulate them at a high enough level to make a difference.”

The duo developed a luxury skin-care line with phytoestrogen potency at 10 to 20 percent higher than other products they found. It includes a moisturizer intensive, moisturizer with SPF 15 and eye and skin treatment. (They recently launched a firming serum and neck and décolleté crème and plan to also develop cleansers, exfoliates and masks.) According to Cecil, more than 100 clinical trials show – and grateful clients confirm – a week’s use leaves skin more elastic, even-toned and vibrant with a lessening of fine lines.

“People love it,” she says. “They love that it’s plant-based, and it just feels so good.”

The ladies didn’t stop at skin care. Their website also offers Rebecca’s whole-body wellness regimen intended to intensify the Venus effect on more than just the face, including a supplement list and lifestyle and nutrition tips for women regardless of their particular hormonal balance. The lesson here, Cecil says, is that healthy habits generally make women feel – and, yes, even look – more beautiful.

“Our mission is higher than just anti-aging skin care,” Cecil says. “It’s about educating women about the beauty of their hormones. We shouldn’t live in fear of them. We need to understand them.”

Women ages 35 to 55 are in the “sweet spot” for anti-aging skin-care products, she adds, although women as young as their mid-20s will benefit from the VENeffect skin-care and recommended wellness routine. Cecil also specifies that since products are topical, not systemic, the VENeffect line is safe to use whether women are on hormone replacement therapies, have undergone hysterectomies or even are breast cancer survivors.

To learn more, chat with one of the VENeffect co-founders in the flesh at Neiman Marcus, the line’s exclusive retailer. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (914) 428-2000, ext. 2053.


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