Current winter spell in England, to which most of the Brits are really not used to, is playing havoc not just with our daily life but stressing our skin too, so my meeting with the Swiss brand’s Selexir founder, Elena Herdieckerhoff, was more than timely. Even though I had reservations about my travel journey to Harrod’s Urban Retreat because of the snow fall, I got there on time.
Elena is a lovely woman, with flowing blond hair, kind eyes and a slightly shy smile. Looking at her, you will never guess that she has been through hell and back with the skin condition that affected her face-a horror story for any woman, but imagine if it happened to you, out of the blue, when you were in your 20s….
Eczema, unfortunately, is becoming more and more common and even though it’s severity varies, I regularly see little children smothered in thick, white creams in the playground, yet angry, red patches manage to come through-distress for the whole family and for the child in particular.
When Elena developed skin problems, while living in Paris ( she does admit to feeling stressed, after leaving a calm, home life behind and moving into a fast-paced city in another country, away from family and friends ) , so she went to see a dermatologist-a god scent if you are in Paris you would think, but in reality the steroid skin cream that he prescribed didn’t make things better, if anything it made them worse and Elena was faced with an ‘incurable’ diagnosis i.e. eczema in severe form and feeling ‘like an extra in her own horror movie’. Not the one to give in, she started researching the subject ( her eczema was on her face and neck ) and luckily, many health practitioners tried to help her, by suggesting certain ingredients or using Ayurveda principles, changing the diet and using homeopathy. Slowly, day by day, spurred on, Elena studied, explored and mixed her own potions ( as nothing new was coming to the market ), trying to get better, refusing to give up hope for almost two years, until she ended up with something that really started to make a difference to her condition.
Elena’s close friend, Mirella Messerschmitt, who had an extensive experience in international cosmetic industry, came on board of this venture and together they approached a laboratory in Germany, in order to do clinical trials on the product. Elena said to me that she had no ambition to launch anything, she just really wanted to heal her face, however Mirella convinced her that this product could really make a difference to people in similar circumstances-‘ Elena, it is your duty to share it with the world’ . Whether we like it or not, how we look often defines other people’s perception of us and even children can be cruel to other children, who look different. Elena refused to be rushed and said that she will do it when she will be ready and took time to enjoy her life without feeling ostracized- dating, working and being a pretty woman in her own right.
Elena sourced the ingredients from around the world ( southern Europe, Egypt, China, US, Africa, the Amazon rainforest region etc. ) and still thinks that the world is full of wonder. Her final selection, after endless combinations, totalling 21 ingredients, made a difference to Elena’s face in just under three weeks and allowed her to have a ‘woman in the mirror moment’, as at that stage she could no longer remember what her face looked like before eczema started changing it.
The tests in the German research institute, DermaConsult, were a success ( it actually specialised in trials on eczema prone skin and Elena told me that within 28 days all thirty patients, who suffered from mild to moderate atopic eczema, noticed a difference ). Elena equally insisted that all of her original ingredients were kept in the balm. Selexir and the Peace Balm entered the world last summer in Switzerland and were launched at Harrod’s Urban Retreat at the end of last year.
The name of the brand, Selexir, was born during a Lebanese dinner, with Elena and Mirella musing over possible names. Elena’s thoughts seemed to be drawn to the combination ‘elixir of life’, as the Peace Balm gave Elena her life back. The balm also contains healing magnesium salts, so the letter ‘s’ came together with the word ‘elexir’.
Peace Balm comes in three sizes, a tiny travel one, that is only available via Selexir website, 30 mls and 75 mls. It is a light green colour and very concentrated, so I tend to spread/warm it up between my fingers and then apply it to any dry patches or areas on my skin-be it face or body or even around the eyes. It moisturises, as well as hydrates your skin and strengthens its protective barrier. You can use it post waxing or if you have a shaving rash, some make-up artists already rate it highly as a make-up base. Some clients told Elena that Peace balm works well on mosquito bites. The balm can be used on babies, from the age of three months, to treat and sooth dry skin. You can add it to your after-sun lotion or use it after a skin peel. It works well on red noses, when you are in the grip of a cold. Elena says that there is no right or wrong way to use it and she leaves it to each person to find the perfect way to make the balm work for them. Personally, I love the herbally, slightly apothecary smell of Peace Balm, it reminds me of old apothecaries, like Santa Maria Novella, that mix creams, lotions and potions for you –I found them absolutely enticing as a child and loved spending the time standing by the dispensing counter, inhaling wonderful, unusual aromas.
While Pace Balm is not organic, it is considered to be a natural product and doesn’t contain parabens, silicones, petroleum, bisphenol, phthalates, artificial colorings or fragrances. Beware, it is frost sensitive,so don’t store it the fridge or anywhere where it is cold. It was specifically developed for distressed, irritated, sensitive skin, as well as light-medium eczema and can be safely applied to the face, ears, neck, hands, elbows or any body parts that feel dry.
Now, let me run you through the list of ingredients, to give you an idea what makes the Peace Balm so soothing and nurturing:
– exclusively developed for Peace Balm Serenity Seed Complex, an active seed oil compound extracted from black currant ( Ribes nigrum ) and black cumin ( Nigella sativa ).
– Aloe Vera ( aloe barbadensis leaf juice ) has the ability to stimulate healthy cell growth, supports skin’s natural barrier function, has cooling and calming properties, as well as being rich in amino acids, vitamins A, C, F, B, niacin and traces of B12.
– Beeswax is easily combined with other cosmetic ingredients and helps to protect our skin from harmful environmental factors, as well as assists with locking in of moisture.
– Calendula Officinalis ( marigold extract) is known for its antiseptic properties and speeding up cell regeneration.
– Centella Asiatica Extract contains triterpenes & lipids, which speed up the process of tissue renewal by boosting antioxidant levels, firming the skin and improving the blood supply to the damaged tissue.
– Chamomilla recutita ( Matricaria flower extract) is beneficial for the treatment of sensitive skin and helps to improve skin’s regeneration.
– Hamamelis virginiana ( witch hazel leaf extract) helps to stop bleeding, reduces swelling and skin irritations, as well as soothes rashes, cuts, insect bites & blisters. It is also valued for its natural astringent properties, which improve skin’s elasticity and firmness.
– Honey is rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants & skin-nurturing amino acids. It is said to help cure many diseases/conditions, as it has disinfectant properties, helps to boost immunity and supports the body’s regeneration process.
– Lavandula angustifolia ( lavender oil ) has calming and relaxing properties, as well as antiseptic and anti-irritation effect.
– Leuconostoc ( radish root fermented filtrate ) enables the natural conservation of cosmetic products, as well as reduces the swelling, if you are bitten by an insect.
– Lonicera japonica & Lonicera caprifolium ( honeysuckle flower extract ) has soothing properties and is commonly used to treat rashes.
– Magnesium chloride is often used in treating skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, psorias and skin itchiness.
– Magnifera indica ( mango seed butter ) not only melts quickly when it comes in contact with our skin, it is also quickly absorbed. It protects our skin from UV rays and helps to keep moisture in, as well as soothes skin rashes and helps to relieve itching.
– Oenothera biennis ( evening primrose oil) is commonly used to treat inflammations and contains gamma-linoleic acid ( GLA ) which is essential to maintain the elasticity of our skin.
– Persea gratissima ( avocado ) oil contains phytosterols, phospholipids ( lecithin ) and soluble vitamins A, E and D. It assists cell regeneration, stimulates cell production & supports skin’s barrier function.
– Populus tremuloides ( Aspen tree barks extract) helps to relieve skin irritations & burns. It is also rich in salycin, an aspirin-like substance which has soothing & pain-relieving properties.
– Black currant ( Ribes nigrum) has high levels of phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, essential fatty acids & minerals, as well as being a source rich in gamma-linoleic acid ( GLA ), which supports skin’s elasticity. It helps to treat red, scaly and itchy skin. In Russia it is very popular and many women make jams out of it during harvest time, that the whole family eats with their tea throughout the winter, thus boosting their immunity.
– Black cumin ( Nigella sativa): the oil extracted from its seeds contains more than 100 active ingredients and is a rich source of proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, niacin, as well as minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc. The application of the black cumin seed oil is particularly beneficial for dry, sensitised and cracked skin.
– Shea butter helps to sooth mild wounds, stretch marks and dry skin conditions like dermatitis and psorias. It also assists the process of cell regeneration and fighting of free radicals.
– Theobroma grandiflorum ( cupuacu) is the product of the cupuacu tree, which grows in the Amazon rainforest. The butter that gets produced from the fruit growing on this tree has moisture binding properties and is rich in fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and flavonoids.
– Zinc is one of the most stable minerals in the earth’s crust and when used in cosmetics it helps to treat eczema, psorias and acne, as it reduces itchiness and helps to strengthen the protective function of the skin. It also plays a crucial part in cellular function and enzyme reaction to repairing the damaged tissue, as well as assists in the body function of collagen synthesis.
All I can say is that unlike many steroid treatments our there that only bring a temporary relief and often lead to all kinds of problems, like skin sensitivity and thinness, this product is personal and well thought out ( even the design of the packaging, with black, blue and white colour scheme and a little blue bird, which is believed to bring good luck ), it was born our of pain and frustration and I hope that it brings a welcome relief to many people, grown-ups or kids. I know that while I am very lucky not to have eczema, I really enjoy using this product now when the weather is harsher than normally and I can vouch that it healed the dryness that was in plain view on my children’s face, around cheeks and chins. I hope it makes a big difference to your skin too, it certainly made Elena not only look beautiful, but also she emits happiness from the depth of her eyes and that really does mean that she is doing things right.
p.s my gratitude goes to Elena and to Purple PR team for their help in putting this post together ( photos and information relating to the Peace Balm, list of ingredients and statistics )