In the Limelight with Clarissa Burt interviews Dr. Hal Simeroth: Co-founder and Chief Technical Officer for Stemology
Clarissa here and we are In the Limelight! After much ado, we are here with Dr. Hal Simeroth, Ph.D. Today we’re talking skin, skincare and exciting things that he’s been doing for quite some time around research and development. What an exciting thing to help people the way you do, Doctor, especially your daughter. Tell us about that story.
Dr. H.Simeroth: I appreciate you bringing that up. It was a very nice synchronicity there between the work that I had been doing for several years helping to restore skin that has been ravaged usually by age but also many environmental factors. Of course, chemotherapy is a very ravaging thing to the skin. In July of 2018, my daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Young woman in her mid-40s with two small children and a very devoted husband and a really strong career in the geoscience world was suddenly struck by this. She had a tumor about the size of a small grapefruit and needless to say, this was extremely distressing for all of us. My daughter, if you saw a picture of her and I’m not bragging, is a beautiful woman and she has a lot of hair. First thing she thought about, “I’m going to lose my hair to chemotherapy. I’m going to have issues in premature aging due to the chemo.” It was a real blow for her and a tough thing to address and deal with at the same time. Interestingly enough, and coincidentally enough, although I don’t necessarily believe in coincidences, she was concerned about her overall appearance. This can be a real downer when you’re already going through chemo. You want things to help lift you up and make you feel better about yourself. I had been working on a special stem cell complex for about two years and I just applied for a patent for it, as a matter of fact. This was aimed at activating all of the various stem cells that are in your skin to sort of wake up and behave as they did when you were a younger person. I talked to my daughter. Even though the product wasn’t on the market, I put some together for her and asked her to start using it after she was about two months into her chemo.
Clarissa: It was something already in the works then. You were already working on this cream called Stemology.
Dr. H.Simeroth: Correct it was going to come out later as a product for Stemology Skin Care but it hadn’t been released yet. So I ask her, “Just try this.” I felt like it would help. I knew how much chemo ravages your skin. Its aim is to destroy rapidly producing cells in stem cells because they’re constantly reproducing new cells because our skin has to be rejuvenated all the time. It goes after our skin stem cells. I was trying to find assistance in the stem cells in her skin. My daughter began to use this. She wrote a little article about it. She immediately, within a month to six weeks, began to notice how much her skin had improved on her. My granddaughters would say, “Mommy, you look beautiful.” It was just a real up experience for her. She continued to use it for the entire amount of chemo, which lasted about six months. She ended up, she said, with better-looking skin than she had prior to chemo. That was a great feeling for me. And sure, this is a product I and our company hopes to sell, but if I didn’t make one dime from this, it would have been worth it.
Clarissa: That is the sweetest thing ever. That is such an amazing story. I mean, how many people would say they have a father that can jump over to the lab and say, “I’ll be right back. I think we have the elixir for you and we’re going to fix you.” This is a lovely story and we have a happy ending, I understand.
Dr. H.Simeroth: That’s right. She is cancer-free. She went in for one final PET scan, which is a way to check and see if there are any living cancer cells, she was completely free. They told her, “You don’t need to come back for a long time.” It was a great piece of information. We were so happy.
Clarissa: Now, there’s a lot of other things that you have been doing for many years around skincare and research. I’m assuming product development because I think you’ve worked for the companies as well. And there are four myths you like to talk about when it comes to sun damage. Can you elaborate on those for us?
Dr. H.Simeroth: Sun damage is the single biggest aging factor for us. Of course, we age intrinsically with our bodies but the damage the sun does prematurely ages our skin. We need to have good protection. The very best protection is to stay out of the sun but that’s not practical. So people often rely on various types of sunscreen to help them, stay in the shade, antioxidants and other things. In general, some of the things people believe are incorrect. Number one, if you’re shading yourself, then you’re safe. Not true. There are reflection and additional UV that bounces off of other things that still bombard the skin. It’s not as bad as direct sunlight, but if you think you can stay five or six hours in the shade, it’s just wrong. In southern California, we have a lot of overcast at the beach. People are out at the beach for hours and hours thinking they’re fine and they get very badly burned.
Clarissa: So there’s myth number one. Two, I understand, is you have to be out in the sun for a while to get skin damage. In other words, it has to be prolonged exposure.
Dr. H.Simeroth: Yeah, not true. After 20 minutes, you’re already into what I call the Redness Zone, where you’re starting to burn your skin red. From that point on, you continue the UV exposure and making it worse and worse. Anything over 20 minutes is immediately going to begin to cause damage. That’s for all skin types. Even though our melanin – our various shades of brown that we all have, I’m about medium brown – is there to help protect, it doesn’t completely. That’s why anyone from a very dark shade of chocolate brown to a very light shade of brown, no matter what, that radiation is going to damage the cells in your skin.
Clarissa: Here’s another one. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised by this. You won’t get sun damage if you wear sunscreen. So a lot of people going out and slathering, going, “I’m good to go. I put on my sunscreen.”
Dr. H.Simeroth: Just not true. You will get blockage from sunscreen. No question about it. Your factor, 30 sunscreen will give you about a 93% blockage, 50 will give you about a 95-96% percent. But if you stay out there for a long time thinking that the sunscreen is protecting you, that 20 minutes that I mentioned earlier, can happen because over 3-5 hours, even the 8% or 10% getting through the sunscreen cause damage and premature aging. The other issue, too, usually when you’re out in the sun, there’s perspiration, there’s water, things going on with the beach or the pool or whatever. That sunscreen does not stay on well, despite many of the advertisements, it will come off with water and wash off. You may think it’s protecting what it isn’t.
Clarissa: Another one: You’re only really at risk for sun damage in the summer months. Your good to go in the winter?
Dr. H.Simeroth: Not so, even in the winter when the sun is out, that UV is going to cause damage. You cannot escape it. Summer, winter or fall. It doesn’t matter. You just need to stay out of it as much as you can; stay in the shade, wear a hat, use sunscreen. Do all those things but if you’re out for more than an hour, it’s going to cause some damage. No questions.
Clarissa: One thing I did want to ask you there, Doctor, is you hear a lot about sunscreen toxicity. That it’s very toxic to our bodies, what say you?
Dr. H.Simeroth: I’m probably a little bit of a radical in that I only design all-natural cosmetic products. I have a real problem using ingredients that are synthetic, especially ingredients that don’t have a long track record of usage. There are some chemical sunscreens out there I would not use personally in a product. They have not been long term tested. Only a couple of them are actually approved by the FDA and some of those chemical sunscreens we now know if used in the beach areas, in the water, in the areas where there is a lot of people, they actually damage the coral reefs. I would stay away from any chemical sunscreen. Both zinc oxide, titanium dioxide are proven natural mineral sunscreens, they do work. There are products available with those out there. I would highly recommend that you stay with either natural or organic products.
Clarissa: Make sure to read the product label and if you see a bunch of chemicals in it, don’t buy it.
Dr. H.Simeroth: On the label for a sunscreen product, the FDA requires it to be listed as an active ingredient in the product used for sunscreen. You can look at those right at the top. If it’s not zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. I would stay away from it. That’s my opinion.
Clarissa: The other thing that you tell people to stay away from is the skin brighteners or hydroquinone. Can you tell us a little more about that?
Dr. H.Simeroth: Yes. Hydroquinone is a proven destroyer ultimately of your melanocytes, which are the cells that produce melanin, which is the pigment that we all have. It has long term negative effects. I would definitely tell anyone to stay away from that. There’s a lot of natural brighteners out there from both plant phytochemicals and herbals that work quite well. But hydroquinone is one that I would never put in a product myself.
Clarissa: Let’s talk about Stemology, your product line, how it came about, how long has it been in the works? Where can we find it? That sort of thing?
Dr. H.Simeroth: It’s been around for some time. It actually started in some research work at the University of Texas in Austin. I was managing a research project there, part of which was about developing artificial skin for burn victims. Out of that research, I turned to stem cells. This was back in 2005 when stem cells really got going. With two other medical researchers, we went to work on some solutions that might be quite useful from using human stem cells. Out of that technology, we developed our first product and had some really good success with it. From that, we moved on to the Stemology product line, which came out in 2013, which had some additional ingredients that were quite useful with stem cell technology. Then in 2017, this newer patent, the technology that I was talking to you about earlier, has just come out and the latest Stemology products have this SRC7 complex, which is a complex of mostly phytochemicals from plants that wake up stem cells in your body. Most people don’t know, but we have a huge array of stem cells in our skin. Some of them at the bottom of the epidermis, some of them at the bottom of the hair follicle in the dermal region, and then millions of them in the hypodermic dermis, which is that fatty area that cushions your skin right at the very bottom. These stem cells are there to help with trauma such as burns, cuts or wounds. There are also there to fight aging. The problem is, as we get older, these stem cells get sleepy, they get dormant, they don’t work that well anymore. The SRC7 technology is designed to basically wake them up. Not unlike giving Red Bull to somebody.
Clarissa: Like Red Bull for your skin! As I understand, you have the Cell Refresh Hydrating Cleanser, the Cell Rescue Active Gel Toner, and the Cell Revive Brightening Serum. These products can be found at www.StemologyProducts.com?
Dr. H.Simeroth: That’s correct, yes.
Clarissa: Wonderful. Any parting words you want to leave our listeners with so that they’ll know more about how to take better care of their skin?
Dr. H.Simeroth: Well, I would say essentially stay away from UV as much as you can. That includes tanning beds as much as it does sun. Use good skincare products. You in your Arizona climate, in a dry climate, have to be extra careful about keeping your skin hydrated and moisturized because that is the second most aging element behind sunlight. Be sure to keep your skin hydrated. Be sure to use good quality products that have all-natural aces.
Clarissa: That would be Stemology, I’m sure. I loved having the chat with you, Dr. Simeroth. Thank you so much for your time. I know you’ve got to get back to work so we’re going to leave you to it.
Dr. H.Simeroth: You’re quite welcome. Take care. ✧