Becky Bluh, founder of Blüh Alchemy, developed her skincare line to soothe her daughter’s skin after chemotherapy
Rona Berg: How did you get started?
Becky Blüh: My journey into the world of skincare formulation began in 2011 after my daughter was diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening vascular disease called Wegener’s Granulomatosis, which, in her case, was rapid and severe. After coming off life support, her treatment involved rounds of chemotherapy and a cocktail of aggressive drugs that left her skin very dry and sensitive to the touch.
Growing up in the hills of Western Massachusetts, my father was an avid naturalist, seasonally planting vibrant gardens overflowing with vegetables and an assortment of medicinal and culinary herbs. As a child he instilled in me a deep appreciation for nature. To help support my daughter’s tender skin, my instinct was to return to my roots and craft simple soothing balms from nourishing oils infused with the healing herbs we grew in our garden.
I knew that in her fragile state I had to keep the formulations simple and pure. Witnessing the transformative power of plants was both a relief and incredibly inspiring. This ignited a passion in me to advance my skills as a cosmetic formulator and my understanding of the skin’s physiology.
RB: How does your background fit in?
BB: Years before embarking on my career as a cosmetic formulator I was an assistant food stylist which involved lots of cooking. Not only was my culinary training put to use for magazine shoots, it has proven to be an incredibly handy skill to have for developing skincare products. There are many similarities to cooking and cosmetic formulating from choosing the raw materials like nut oils and butters to carefully weighing and measuring each ingredient. It takes numerous batches, working and reworking a “recipe” to land on the ideal texture, scent and efficacious product. So now I’m basically a skincare chef!
RB: How do you describe the line?
BB: BLÜH ALCHEMY is a Fair Trade, plant-based skincare line that integrates cutting-edge science with small-batch botanical alchemy to create a targeted, treatment-focused range. Our results-driven formulas utilize powerhouse antioxidants and concentrated bioactives derived from the groundbreaking technology of cellular extraction.
Our quest to find the most nutrient-dense ingredients brimming with vital bioactives led us across the globe to Australia and the world’s first cellular-extracted botanicals. This cutting-edge extraction process works to rapidly harness a plant’s complete phytoactive profile—pure, stable and unadulterated as it exists in nature. The vital constituents of a plant are not damaged, unlike with conventional methods that often overheat or leave plants stewing, rendering them less effective. This allows the full power of the plant bioactives to be delivered directly to your skin.
RB: Why the name?
BB: My father’s side of the family is from Hungary and Austria. We’re a very small clan, in fact I’ve been told that if anyone has my surname they’re likely a relative. To be honest, I was a bit nervous about using my name Blüh [Bloo] as it lends itself easily to awkward mispronunciations. However, I’ve grown to appreciate it more than ever as its meaning—to blossom, flourish and thrive—embodies the heart of our brand.
RB: What do those who go through chemo need to watch out for in skincare?
BB: People who are undergoing chemotherapy can experience dry, flaky, irritated skin and, in some cases, the skin can become severely inflamed making it susceptible to infections. It’s important to manage dry skin not only topically with creams and salves, but also by maintaining proper hydration levels. Water, green smoothies and nutrient-dense pressed juices are great options.
Skin that’s overly dry and irritated can become very sensitized to fragrances, essential oils and other additives, so using natural, fragrance-free creams, balms and lotions is a good choice.
When my daughter was going through chemo I formulated thick balms from oils infused with chamomile, calendula and other healing herbs, not only to help soothe her dry skin but to provide an occlusive layer that protected against transepidermal water loss. It’s also important to use an SPF as the skin can become more prone to sunburn, however, I would recommend a daily SPF regardless.
RB: Please talk about autoimmune conditions and skincare.
BB: When people have autoimmune diseases, their body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys its own healthy tissue as it fails to distinguish between damaging antigens and the body.
Over 80 autoimmune diseases have been identified, and, according to American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association between 23.5 million to 50 million Americans live with an autoimmune disease. Although the cause is unknown, chronic inflammation is considered a dominant factor. Possible triggers can include poor diet, high stress and exposure to toxins. Other factors include family history, ethnicity and being a woman of childbearing age. It’s speculated that female hormones and estrogen may play a significant role.
The National Institute of Health reports that 75 percent of the people coping with autoimmune diseases are women. According to health experts, autoimmune-related diseases are on the rise and many believe the chemicals in cosmetics are fueling this health crisis.
There are several possible factors that may link toxins and chemicals to autoimmune disease. There are over 75,000 chemicals used in the United States and most of them haven’t been tested for their effects on human health. One effective way to mitigate your toxic load and exposure to chemicals is by using clean, natural, personal care products and cosmetics.
Scleroderma, lupus, vitiligo and psoriasis are a few of the most common autoimmune diseases that manifest in the skin. They often have telltale rashes that are unique to the disease such as the UV induced butterfly-shaped rash that can erupt across the cheeks and bridge of the nose of people diagnosed with lupus.
Vasculitis, more specifically Wegener’s Granulomatosis, the disease my daughter is coping with, is an inflammation of the blood vessels. It causes changes in the vessel walls, including thickening, weakening, narrowing or scarring. These changes can restrict blood flow, resulting in organ and tissue damage. A classic rash associated with vasculitis is purpura, small purple-red spots usually found in patches on the legs. These lesions are the result of blood leaking into the skin from damaged, inflamed blood vessels.
RB: Some of your favorite ingredients?
BB: I choose potent ingredients that work synergistically to address specific skin concerns. For our Multi C Serum, my aim was to target hyperpigmentation, hydration, skin tone and overall protection. I chose Kakadu plum which contains the highest known source of stable, bioavailable vitamin C; it activates collagen production and brightens skin tone. I included Kangaroo Paw Flower for its rich source of ferulic acid which improves the stability of vitamin C, offers photo-protective benefits and boosts hydration by reducing transepidermal water loss.
Quandong is a rich source of Rutin which strengthens capillaries and works synergistically with vitamin C, intensifying its ability to reduce oxidative stress. Quandong is also a potent source of phenolic acid which has antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
Our Toning Elixir includes Finger Lime Caviar and MSM for their ability to enhance the absorption of vital actives, improving the overall performance of the formula. Mountain Pepper Leaf is a powerhouse antioxidant setting new benchmarks on the global ORAC rating. It’s loaded with powerful actives including anthocyanin, chlorogenic acid and flavone glycosides. Hibiscus, known as the “Botox plant,” and hyaluronic acid, boost hydration and plump the skin. Snowflower is rich in catechins and gallic acid and acts as a photo-protective agent, with powerful UV-absorbing properties.
This transformative new concentrate is powered by Bakuchiol, the only plant-based alternative to retinol clinically proven to dramatically improve skin texture, collagen production, firmness and elasticity while decreasing the appearance of wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and acne. Further boosting this formula is the Blüh Alchemy advanced bioactive hydration complex and over 15 of the world’s most innovative ingredients, including cellular extracted flame tree, emu apple and Tasmanian kelp, cacay oil, watermelon bioferment and vegetable ceramics. bluhalchemy.com