Dr. Linda Miles Challenges the Misconceptions of Natural Skin Care
by Rachel Warrick
Dr. Linda Miles, mother
to two daughters, built her expertise in holistic health care and biotechnology
for more than three decades, earning degrees in biology, business and oriental
medicine, as well as becoming a licensed acupuncturist, doctor of Oriental
medicine and an appointed member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists. This
breadth of experience led her to build Derma E, a family-owned and
-operated company that has pioneered the development of high-performance
antioxidant skincare solutions. The comprehensive line of natural,
paraben-free, cruelty-free and 100 percent vegetarian products is at the forefront of
the cultural shift to natural health solutions, a topic Miles passionately
“The power of nature is pretty amazing, and we often can’t
re-create that complexity and balance in a lab by using just synthetic
ingredients," Miles says. "Nature provides us with healing agents that are superior in performance
to chemical alternatives—antioxidants are our best example of that."
Miles began her journey
of growing the Derma E brand with her business partner, David Stearn, more than three
decades ago, officially founding the company in 1984. Today, their products can
be found in thousands of retail outlets across the US, with additional
international distribution through their website.
Miles tells us about the
misconceptions of holistic health and working motherhood
As a mother, as well as the
vice president of Derma E, how do you make it all work?
At this point in my life, my girls are grown, so it isn’t as much juggling
as it was when I was younger. But even back then, I maintained a good work-life
balance. Both David and I believe in family first and business second, so if
there was a soccer game I needed to go to, I went to the soccer game. We really
did have an understanding that family was most important to us. That’s how you make it work.
What sets Derma E apart from
other natural skin care lines?
Our products are truly formulated for results. We create formulas that
have high concentrations of active ingredients that actually provide the
results you are looking for. If we promise you an anti-aging product, then you
are going to see anti-aging results. If we promise you a vitamin C product that
helps with age prevention, then you are going to get an effective age-prevention
My mom taught me two very important things. No. 1, life is what you
make it. What that means is you are the one responsible for your attitude about
life. You can make a bad situation better just by improving your attitude, and
you can make a good situation great by having an ambitious and positive
attitude. The second lesson was that you can do anything you want to do, if you
set your mind to it—the sky is the limit. These lessons were instilled in me
at an early age, so I have been fortunate enough to feel successful my entire
As a successful female
entrepreneur, what are some ways that you teach your daughters about “girl
I taught my daughters the same lessons that my mom taught me. However, it
is not just about girl power, it’s really about attitude. One of my favorite
sayings is a quote by Maya Angelou: “If you don't like something, chnage it. If you can't change it, change your attitutde.” I also teach my daughters that you are what you think
you are. I like to share this advice with people in general, as well, because we
form our reality with our thoughts and our behaviors, so it isn’t so much about
girl power, it’s about people power.
Has there been anything
about leading Derma E that surprised you or inspired you in a way you didn’t
The biggest inspiration that Derma E brings me is from the people I work
with, and I did not expect that. Just knowing how Derma E has benefited people
by providing jobs is definitely my biggest inspiration. I love hearing about
everybody’s experiences within the company. I find it very cool that David and
I were able to create an environment where we are bringing all of these diverse
backgrounds together to create a cohesive team. I find that to be very
rewarding. We started as a two-person company, and then we added a third, and then
a fourth and now we employ 45-50 people. Reflecting on the ability to mold a
company where people are employed happily is a unique and amazing feeling.
Why do you think the switch
to natural products is important to make?
As a doctor of Oriental medicine, I am a holistic practitioner, so I’m a
little biased, but my take on it is that the body doesn’t work in a vacuum. Meaning,
you can’t fix your diet and then be stressed to the max and still expect your
body to be healthy. It really is body, mind and spirit, so you have to look at
all aspects of your life and try to find the right balance for you. It isn’t
about sticking to a strict regimen. Occasionally you’re going to go to a
birthday party and have a piece of cake, and that’s OK. Holistic health needs
to be a part of your lifestyle, something comfortable that you put on and
wear and feel good about. Because if it doesn’t feel good, you aren’t going to
do it, and it’s just going to be a constant battle. It needs to become a part of
who you are and what you are for it to work.
What’s your advice for moms
who are looking to make a switch to a more holistic approach to health?
My best advice is to try to make the switch a little at a time and don’t
be too hard on yourself. Start by picking one thing you want to change and do
it. For me, one of the things I can’t stand is coffee because I see it as a big
stress increaser. The caffeine stimulates us in ways that amplify stress in our
lives, so I’m constantly trying to get people to switch to green tea or some
other hot beverage. Maybe instead of doing two cups of coffee they do one cup
of coffee and then switch to green tea for the rest of the day. The point is to
take baby steps and make it something you really want to incorporate into your
lifestyle, not just a short-term thing. Remember that it is a gradual process.
Make little changes and stick with them and then stand back, evaluate, figure
out something else that you want to change and then do that. Keep in mind the
benefits: You will be happier, healthier and you’ll live longer!
Do you think there are
misconceptions about the efficacy of “natural” treatments?
Yes. Consumer studies show
that most consumers do not feel that natural products are as powerful as
synthetic ones, which is just a case of misinformation because we have clinical
studies to show that this is simply not true. You can study the natural
formulas and see they are every bit as powerful as the high-end synthetic
brands. There are very good benefits that come from natural products. For
instance, natural active ingredients are very complex, and so is your body.
Your body recognizes that similar complexity and therefore works more
cohesively alongside natural ingredients than it does with the synthetically
made ingredients that are more simplistic.
What sacrifices have you
made as a mom and business woman to keep everything in balance?
I am lucky to have a partner like David who shares my belief that family
is the No. 1 priority, so I truly don’t believe that I have made any
sacrifices. The time I spent with my girls was always quality time. I wasn’t a
stay-at-home mom, but I was always there for my daughters whenever they needed
me. I don’t believe I would have been as good of a mother if I were a stay-at-home mom because I personally don’t have the patience for it. So I think it was
good that I wasn’t there all the time because that way, when I was home, I
could give all of my attention to my children and what was going on with them.
If I had been with them full time, I don’t believe I would have had that focus
so I feel like my situation worked well for everyone. I was able to provide for
my daughters a strong female role model and prove to them that they could be
both a loving mother and a successful businesswoman.
Are there any new products
or initiatives on the horizon for Derma E?
Always! David is fond of saying that if you sit still, you die—speaking
in terms of businesses, that is. We just launched four new products and we have
new product launches scheduled for later this year as well as January of next
year. You can keep up to date with Derma E on social media and our website to
see what we are up to—and to make sure you don’t miss out on anything!