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Sapelo Skincare Blog

Sapelo’s Cosmetic Scientist Reveals the Science Behind our new Seaweed Cleanser

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.

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Thrilled Sapelo Client Gushes Over Her Results!

Brenda Hermann reveals why Sapelo is her go-to skin care secret.

Listen for yourself why Brenda Hermann, a 40-year-old Sapelo client in New Jersey, loves Sapelo Skin Care. Our founders can’t wait to meet this beautiful woman who is “completely obsessed” with Sapelo products!

Click below to hear Brenda’s message to co-founder Cindy Edwards!

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Charleston Spa Owner Raves About Sapelo!

Kathryn Peters reveals why Sapelo is her go-to skin care secret.

Kathryn Peters, founder and visionary of Seeking Indigo wellness spa in Charleston, South Carolina


About a month after I started using Sapelo Skin Care, my friends began telling me that I looked 10 years younger! I am 52, but they say I look 40. They can’t believe the difference! My skin is smooth, supple and has a renewed radiance. Plus, my fine lines are starting to vanish. I have always used luxury products, but what I like about Sapelo is that it’s natural, and it gives my sensitive skin the same benefits of products with non-natural ingredients. I have the best of both worlds—and the products look beautiful on my bathroom counter!

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A Conversation with Michael Warshaw, Sapelo Cosmetic Scientist

Written by Stephanie Duttenhaver, Sapelo co-founder

Michael Warshaw, cosmetic scientist and founder of MW Labs

When we started Sapelo Skin Care, we knew we wanted to not only design our product line in the South, but to actually make our products here too. We turned to Michael Warshaw, a Southern-born chemist with a lab in our hometown of Savannah, and with his guidance, we created a luxurious skin care line inspired by the exact place we all live.

We recently sat down with Michael for some insight into how this Savannahian became such an expert on skin care.

Why did you become a cosmetic scientist?

If I follow the path of my life, I know that God has been directing me the whole time. In 1977, I was thinking about going to med school, and I was making rounds with a local physician. One day, we were in the ICU and I observed a patient suffering from severe skin problems. It really affected me. That was when I first had the idea to focus on improving the quality and well-being of someone’s skin, so I sought a more fulfilling avenue as a chemist.

How did you get started?

I worked my way into an R & D position for a large pharmaceutical company. During that time, my mother, Joy, had an issue with her eyes and the surrounding tissue: They would constantly tear up, swell and redden when she applied over-the-counter beauty products. She was frustrated and did not know what to do. She was also turning 50 that year! So I told her that I would make something for her to use, and I started experimenting with formulas.

And did your mom like it?

It was a hit! So, in 1985, I rented a small space and began to create skin-related products to help people with specific issues. I remember my next big project was for a little boy who ran into a barbed wire fence. I developed a nourishing cream designed to help heal his cuts and reduce scarring. And my skin remedies grew from there.

What inspires your work?

Each step I have taken along my career path was due to creating a product to help people. If I can change the life of one person for the better, then I have done what I was led to do. Healing skin issues—and the people who come into my life—has always been my inspiration.

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Behind the Science of Sapelo: Vitamin C and Healthy Skin

Written by John Duttenhaver, MD, Sapelo medical consultant

Vitamins are crucial to our health. Without a sufficient supply, our bodies can’t work properly. In the early centuries of ocean exploration, sailors frequently developed scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency disease, because they didn’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables on long journeys. Eating an adequate supply of vitamin-C-rich foods like citrus, bell peppers, strawberries and green vegetables is essential to maintaining a healthy vitamin C level.

Healthy skin depends on vitamin C because it acts as a cofactor (a helper molecule) in the conversion of procollagen (the forerunner to collagen) into collagen. The body uses one molecule of vitamin C for every molecule of collagen. Therefore, your skin requires a constant supply of vitamin C to maintain a healthy and resilient structure. The challenge is that vitamin C is water-soluble, so our body tissue cannot store it for long—another reason to constantly replenish it.

At Sapelo Skin Care, we found an even better solution. Ascorbyl palmitate is a lipid-soluble form of vitamin C that is stable for months. It is a natural ester derived from a reaction between vitamin C and palmitic acid. We add ascorbyl palmitate to our Rejuvenating Cream, along with two bioactive peptides that signal the skin cells to manufacture more collagen I and collagen III. Apply it twice daily and your skin will always have a constant supply of vitamin C.

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National News Anchor Loves Sapelo Products

Lis Wiehl reveals why Sapelo is her go-to skin care secret.

Lis Wiehl, National News Anchor

From the moment I unwrapped my Sapelo Skin Care products, I felt like I had been transported to the South. The packaging is so warm and inviting; it makes me feel like a Southern belle! I live in New York City, where the weather is brutal on my skin. I also have to wear heavy makeup every day because I work in television, so my complexion suffers. But almost immediately after I started using Sapelo products, my skin felt smoother and brighter! I love this line, and now I am a faithful daily user. And my skin thanks me for it!

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Yahoo Beauty names Sapelo as a Top 10 Beauty Line to Try Now

Sapelo’s Renewing Serum is one of Yahoo Beauty’s top 10 American-made beauty products! In honor of Independence Day, Yahoo Beauty featured 10 indie beauty lines that are made in the USA, and Sapelo is proud to be one of its selections.

Click below to read more …

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Behind the Science of Sapelo: Gentle Skin Repair

Written by guest blogger John Duttenhaver, MD, Sapelo Medical Consultant

Sapelo medical consultant John Duttenhaver, MD

Regardless of the cause, damage to the skin triggers our immune systems to release a “cascade” of chemicals that ultimately leads to skin repair. Cosmetic procedures that damage skin, like chemical peels, blue light therapy, laser resurfacing and dermabrasion, can initiate the same response; however, repeat damage (or repeat procedures) actually accelerates skin aging and thinning.In the last decade, researchers have learned a tremendous amount about the science of skin care, and as a result, we are now able to mimic some of our bodies’ natural repair processes. Our skin ages because of intrinsic events—mainly age-related hormone loss—and extrinsic events, such as sun and environmental damage.

At Sapelo, we believe in protecting skin, not injuring it. So our products contain multiple peptides that mimic the healing “cascade” of healthy skin repair without injuring the tissue. Sapelo's stem cell additives carry many of the same peptides found in the body’s natural repair system.

We start by blending multiple peptides that gently initiate the skin’s healing process. Our peptides interact with receptors in the TGF-beta pathway, which is involved with many cellular processes. Each peptide has a unique structure that signals the cells to initiate a specific function—including the production of collagen I, collagen III and elastin, which are all major components of healthy skin rejuvenation. A key peptide also infused in Sapelo’s Rejuvenating Cream triggers the skin cell to inhibit damaging inflammation caused by UV injury.

Nurture the natural process of skin rejuvenation. Don’t be cruel to be kind.

Pass it down.

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