Cecil and Dr Rebecca Booth

As an OB/GYN, Dr. Rebecca Booth’s studies of hormonal changes spawned the book, The Venus Week: Discover the Powerful Secret of Your Cycle…At Any Age in 2008. Inspired by the way women’s hormones affect the luster of their skin throughout their lives, she and her sister, Cecil Booth, a veteran of the beauty industry, got to work. The result was VENeffect, a skin-care line that uses plant-based phytoestrogens to restore collagen and decrease the signs of aging. We caught up with them on a recent visit to Neiman Marcus at Plaza Frontenac.

LN: How did you get started?

CB: I had been working in the beauty industry for 25 years, where I helped develop new products; and when I got into skincare, I got the bug. We were working with great experts, dermatologist and consumers, all looking for that ‘ah-ha!’ moment. My sister had the best ah-ha moment ever: We were on vacation in South Beach, and we were in a mall in Coral Gables. I was turning 40 and noticing changes in my skin, and my sister explained how our hormones are always changing like a beautiful dance. And the week where you look and feel your best aligns with ovulation. We call that the ‘Venus Week.’ The revelation was that although we know hormones affect things like mood and waistline, they also affect collagen. After all my years in the beauty industry, I had never heard the correlation between estrogen and collagen. Not many women are aware of it.

LN: So how does the line work?

RB: There are great mimics of estrogen in nature; they’re in many of the super foods you hear about. There actually are many estrogen receptors in the skin. The receptor is a large protein molecule in the dermis and epidermis, and it’s like a lock waiting for a key. When the phytoestrogen (or plant-derived estrogen) comes along, it activates the machinery to make collagen. It creates the same glow we see during pregnancy, and on our skinny-jeans days or good skin days. What we were looking for is how to get that effect all month long.

CB: The biggest challenge was finding the right molecules that can do something for the skin and getting them in a form that’s potent enough to make a difference. We developed the VENeffect line and found a partner in Neiman Marcus, which is the exclusive provider.

LN: How is a woman’s skin different from a man’s?

RB: We do like to say that VENeffect is ‘by women for women,’ but really there’s no reason a man couldn’t use it. It is sort of unfair that men don’t have cyclic hormones or a planned retirement of their hormones. Our aging process speeds up after menopause. Collagen peaks at about age 27 and quickly drops off. But estrogen can restore and preserve the Venus Effect. The receptors are there forever, in the most superficial layers of skin. We do have the ability to restore collagen by reactivating these receptors. This type of skin care is relevant in the 20s onward, and awareness is most important from about age 35 to 65.

LN: What is it like working together as sisters?

CB: It’s actually kind of magical. We have complementary backgrounds, and it’s brought our families closer together. And while the travel we do is rigorous, when I travel by myself, I miss that energy-sharing. If you have someone you’re peer-to-peer with, it’s wonderful.