“Same-same, but different” – Function-First Options

In a previous letter, I described how the pandemic has impacted our stock availability. Impacted feels like too delicate a word … it’s been gutted and we’re looking at months of grueling recovery ahead. To those of you who’ve shared well wishes along with your desperation for stocks: THANK YOU. That grace means a lot to all of us. Especially because we know how frustrating it’s been!

In that letter, I also shared some things that we’re doing to help our beloved skinthusiasts get whatever products we do manage to produce as quickly as possible. One of them was “selling products in conditions we wouldn’t normally.” We’re calling this “skinitiative” our Function-First Program. Due to the unpredictability of the global supply chain crisis, and because so many of our clients cannot use any other product but ours, we are occasionally offering products in conditions that would usually keep them from being released (at least outside the company; we in the company use them all the time — which minimizes waste too! :).

In a nutshell: such Function-First products aren’t as picture perfect as we’d like. These products are tested and proven to be safe and to function as the formulation should — they are, in other words, good products that look a little less polished than we’d normally allow for release. Because such items are clearly marked, they cannot be refunded or exchanged (refunds are still available in the unlikely event of another issue, of course).

Being preservative-fragrance-dye-free, our hypoallergenic products tend to have more variance (we tend to allow for a wider range of acceptable physical characteristics) than traditional cosmetics anyway (more on that later). For example, some products like Essence Clark Wash can be translucent and “slightly yellowish” to a more opaque milky white. Separation can sometimes occur, especially if the product isn’t stored in ideal conditions, but this can often be addressed by shaking the container before use. But with Function-First products you might see more variance than what you’re used to such as a product in a bent box or no box at all; with a cap instead of a pump; or with a consistency or color that is slightly more different than the usual range of variability.

We ALWAYS test for safety and function (and have repetitive tests, post-marketing surveillance, and continuous monitoring of our retention samples for additional confirmation) before releasing anything at all. So while Function-First products might look or pour or otherwise seem a little different, they are definitely tested for safety and function.

I wanted to share additional info to help put this decision in context. A lot of the normal stuff that you find in typical cosmetics is there to help the products look and smell and feel and pour out exactly the same, batch after batch after batch, in huge volumes, and over very long periods of time in trying conditions — like being in super hot or freezing temperatures (or both!) on a boat, waiting at a port, then stored in multiple warehouses for months. Without these typical chemicals, formulations would show “organoleptic” changes (any change in appearance, smell, etc.) more often and more quickly. While some changes can be signs of a microbial contamination, others are, without so much chemical intervention, naturally occurring with time, heat, or exposure to light — like how a painting or pillow or photo on a patio fades over time.

With few exceptions that are clearly indicated by their VH-Rating, VMV Hypoallergenics products do not contain preservatives because many (like parabens, MCI/MI, formaldehyde, phenoxyethanol, etc.) are top contact allergens. We do not use fragrances or masking fragrances (some are used as preservatives when claiming “preservative-free”) or dyes (they help mask a product’s inherent or changing color) for the same reason. Because these ingredients better control how the end product appears, us not using them tends to result in more of a variance between batches. Think organic fruits and vegetables that naturally look less perfect and consistent versus fertilized or GMO produce.

To be clear, our products are self preserving with a proprietary, non-allergenic formula that makes use of monolaurin and virgin coconut oil, both of which have a long history of published studies proving their efficacy as broad-spectrum antimicrobials. We subject our products to preservation efficacy and microbial challenge tests as well as all other standard tests for cosmetic manufacturing (and often more rigorous ones to ensure stability for our “weirdly simple” hypoallergenic products).

Another important thing: we formulate and manufacture our products. This means that we can be sure, first-hand and directly, about all aspects of each batch of our products. We can confirm things like: no ingredient has changed, a delivered raw material has passed important requirements, how our retention samples are performing, if a batch was properly cooled (or heated) before mixing, etc. It’s a level of control and knowledge that a manufacturer might have (although not always because some manufacturers only produce; they do not always have R&D departments) but that a brand who outsources its manufacturing might not (or not so directly).

Still and all, in non-pandemic times, we would not release products with variances found in our Function-First options even if they were good because most of us (not incorrectly) are used to our products looking more or less the same each time we buy them. This gives us a sense of security that nothing has changed in a product that we love. For those of us with sensitive or complex skin conditions, this is no small thing. Also, most stores (again, not incorrectly) prefer a standard uniformity on their shelves. But the truth is that most of the time, for formulations like ours without preservatives, dyes, or fragrances, such variances are normally … normal. Like some organic, non-GMO bananas naturally having more or less spots in groceries that do not reject spotty bananas 🙂

We’ll make sure such “function-first” products are clearly marked so that you can choose to use them (my entire family does) or wait for the next batch of stocks to be announced. With stocks so uncertain, we just wanted to make sure that you had that the same options that our VMV family does.

I recognize that this isn’t a normal decision to make for skincare and cosmetics. In this industry, a polished and consistent look MATTERS. But our why is to save the world’s skin and often, the skins we serve need actual saving … they need-need us. Can’t-shower-without-us-need-us. Making good, skin-saving formulations available as an option, even if they look a little quirky, is the right thing to do.

We’re all here for any questions that you might have:

We’re working as hard as we can — while keeping our team safe and balanced, physically and mentally and more — to get stocks to you as quickly as possible (remember to subscribe to our email newsletters to not miss alerts!). We wake each day crystal clear about why we’re here, committed to serving you and putting good in the world, and deeply grateful for your support and patience.


DrVRLVB Jun2019 20200815

Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a VMV cream!)



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