Though the rest of the country might believe it’s perpetually raining in the Pacific Northwest, we know better. Our weather is more complicated than that, which makes it challenging to know how best to care for our skin.
In the fall and winter, all that drizzle and mist we’re known for adds up to less annual rainfall than befalls many other cities, including New York, Houston, and Washington, D.C. And when it’s not raining, cool temperatures and low dew points leave the air feeling dry. Perhaps more significantly, we see more than 200 cloudy days a year, so we often are Vitamin D deficient.
“Our skin experiences surface dryness, but underneath there is congestion due to our dank, damp climate. It’s also overcast for months on end, which makes getting enough sunshine challenging. This means we struggle to achieve balance on our skin and need specific support,” said Susan Grace, an award-winning Seattle esthetician who created Partly Sunny, a climate-specific skin care line formulated to meet the needs of people living in the Pacific Northwest.
Grace, who opened her private practice in 2005 and has a clientele of about 800 people, spent years recommending various products to alleviate the symptoms of what she calls the “Northwest face” and her clients often expressed the wish for a single product line that could meet their needs. In the three years since she launched Partly Sunny, her skin care products have become a North End favorite. To be clear, these aren’t private-label products. Instead, they are a labor of love, the result of several years of research and development in collaboration with a scientist with whom Grace felt ethically aligned.
“I’m so proud of the formulations,” Grace said. “Being a Northwest girl, I have a handle on what people want.”
Grace takes pride in using local ingredients from ethical providers, her product line is cruelty-free, sulfate-free, and paraben-free, and the packaging is recyclable. The experience she gained working in a Portland apothecary, where she studied the beneficial properties of herbs and essential oils, influenced her formulations. All of her products are fragrance free as well.
The base ingredients for Partly Sunny products are Pacific seaweed and water, so it’s a gentle line that’s suitable for all skin types. “Seawater is amazing, because of its similarities to our blood plasma,” Grace said. “Seaweed works well as a detoxifying and cleansing agent for our skin, and it has a natural emollient that protects our hydrolipid film, which consists of the natural oils our skin secretes everyday to protect itself.”
The cleanser’s primary ingredient is dandelion, which acts as an antiinflammatory to relieve the appearance of ruddy patchiness. Soapwort leaf extract and a foaming pump generate lather in the absence of sulfate, which is a lather-causing agent. “Making a cleanser without sulfate was a challenge,” Grace said, “But I’m really excited about our formulation. The bubbles are tiny and luxurious and offer an elegant tactile experience that really give it that bliss factor.”
Though many people think of toner as a fluff product and skip using it on a daily basis, Grace offered several compelling reasons to give the Partly Sunny Vitamin D Toner a try. The toner delivers Vitamin D through mytholized microcapsules, which makes for the most effective transdermal absorption. It also soothes, tingles, and tightens.
The Partly Sunny moisturizer is very sheer and feels light and fresh when applied. It consists of honey, calendula, seaweed, and water, and delivers vitamins C, E, and B. Calendula acts as a natural antibacterial and antimicrobial agent and combats bacteria growing in follicles. “It’s a very light protectant,” Grace said. “Even someone with the most troublesome acne can use it without fear that it will cause blemishes. In fact, it would do the opposite and help calm breakouts.”
Soon after the launch of the Partly Sunny line, Grace’s clients began to request a product line formulates to meet the needs of aging skin, so she set to work on the Illumination line, which includes a serum, face cream, and eye concentrate.
Grace said that helping people fills her with joy. “I love treating people with acne or delivering postoperation care for people with facial reconstruction. People come to me with specific goals in mind and together we create a plan,” she said. “It’s my life’s passion, and I’m so lucky that I get to do this everyday.”