Dr. Janis Covey is a mother, compound pharmacist, and founder of Kosmatology – an organic skincare line with products ranging from bug repellent to body wash. We are devoted fans of her, all thanks to her collection of family-safe hand sanitizers. We got to pick her brain on everything skincare, motherhood, compound pharmacy, and the intersection of all three.
What was the inspiration behind Kosmatology?
Kosmatology was started when my youngest daughter, Cameron, developed eczema at 3 months old; she went from being a happy baby to irritable overnight. Trips to the pediatrician landed us with prescriptions for topical steroids and I knew I could do better. With my doctorate in pharmacy and my background as a compounding pharmacist, I set out to create a product to help soothe her skin and keep the eczema under control. I ended up creating what is now our popular Goody-Goody Grapefruit lotion bar. Cameron has now been eczema free for 9 years!
What is something everyone should know about their skincare?
Stay away from any product that has fragrance listed as an ingredient. In the United States, fragrances are considered trade secrets, so the FDA doesn’t require manufacturers to disclose what’s in them. Fragrances can be made up of thousands of different chemicals (some known to be hazardous air pollutants and potent allergens). Fragrances have become a great way for companies to hide ingredients they do not want to list on the label.
How did having a child change the way you through about skincare?
Even before having children, I was aware of my impact on the environment affecting generations to come. I have always been an avid recycler and I do repurpose things. Growing up, I had an aunt who would reuse the same tea bag and would allow 1 paper napkin for the day. She would always say, "Get the most out of your things". I learned a lot from her on the value of products and not to lead a throwaway life style. When I became pregnant with my first child, I began researching baby products and couldn’t believe the amount of waste created between disposable diapers, wipes, etc. We cloth diapered both of our girls. My big AHA moment about skincare came with Cameron’s eczema. Even though I was buying organic skincare products, her skin was having eczematic flares, when I really examined the ingredients I saw alcohol listed in her baby lotion. Alcohol is a great preservative and is organic but is very drying to the skin, especially sensitive eczema skin.
You are Made Safe certified. Why is it important for consumer goods to have these kinds of certification?
I love the Made Safe Certification! What I find so amazing about it, is that they are examining products not only for human safety but also for impact on the environment. Prior to Made Safe the only certification for skincare companies was USDA Organic. The problem I had with the USDA Organic certification is that it was built for the food industry and tweaked to “fit” the skincare industry. Certifications such as Made Safe make it easy for the layperson to find safe products. They have so many resources for consumers and truly want to change the industry to be more accountable for the safety of products.
What unique perspective do you have on the skincare industry as a compounding pharmacist?
Due to my training as a compounding pharmacist, I have an understanding of the importance of formulation for safety and efficacy but also am able to think outside of the box. When I worked as a compounding pharmacist, I was faced daily with challenges on how to deliver a medication to a patient while avoiding certain ingredients due to allergies or working around a physical problem such as intestinal paralysis. We would create medications in gels that would absorb through the skin and bypass the intestines or create a capsule free of dyes and other fillers to prevent allergic reactions. I’ve applied these skills while developing my skincare line. One example would be our lotion bar, by removing the water component and creating a solid bar, I was able to avoid harmful preservatives, such as parabens, and avoid the alcohol.