Written by Stephanie Duttenhaver
Sapelo cosmetic scientist Michael Warshaw in his Savannah lab.
Photo credit: Kelli Boyd Photography
In a recent blog post, we introduced you to Michael Warshaw, Sapelo’s cosmetic scientist and expert on all things skin care. Michael, like us, is a Savannahian, and he loves working with local ingredients inspired by his life on the coast. Here, I chat with him about how a childhood curiosity of the coast developed into a career.
You love using marine botanicals; in fact, you are very experienced with using mostly natural ingredients. Where did you learn about them?
Those of us born and raised in Savannah consider ourselves to be children of the sea. We are surrounded by water: miles of warm tidal creeks, intracoastal waterways, and coastlines. In my life, I have had multiple mentors, and many have led me to love and learn about my coastal environment.
Tell me about some of them.
At 5 years old, “Uncle DeCoursey,” a family friend and marine biologist, gave me my first makeshift chemistry set as a birthday present. Then, while attending high school, Fr. Bertrand Dunegan, my biology teacher, led me and a group of students on hunts for marine fossils and critters while the marsh “pluff mud” oozed into our shoes. And before starting college, a marine biologist at the Skidaway Marine Institute gave me access to lab space and some of their facilities so that I could research botanicals and marine extracts.
When you developed Sapelo’s formula, how difficult was it to keep it natural, yet effective?
It was not difficult. I enjoy making skin care products that are natural and substantive enough so the skin will be kept in optimal health. I don’t work with dyes, silicones, high PEG’s, parabens, BHT’s, heavy glycols and other artificial compounds.
Let’s talk about some of the marine botanicals in Sapelo products.
With Sapelo, I looked for ingredients made from local botanicals like kelp, seaweed, marine extracts and honey. I was looking for different compounds from different marine extracts, but most of the marine botanicals in Sapelo are very rich, mineral-based compounds. The minerals are the catalysts for the vitamins and micronutrients that we have in the products. They are especially effective in cleansing the skin.
How do they work in our new Seaweed Cleanser?
The cleanser relies heavily on seaweed, a natural emollient that keeps the skin soft, conditioned and hydrated without stripping it of its natural oils. It is a soap-free system that gently lifts debris from the face. The seaweed used in Sapelo products has been tested for its efficacy in hydrating and conditioning the skin, preparing it for Step 1 of the 3-Step System: the Renewing Serum.