Interviews

The Path: Gigi Mortimer Dishes on How to Protect Yourself From Skin-Damaging Blue Light

Sophie Wirt
Gigi Mortimer

Courtesy

In The Path, we spotlight different women making a difference in the beauty, fashion, wellness, and medical aesthetics industries. Here, EyeJust® founder Gigi Mortimer shares her road to success.

I am chatting on the phone with Gigi Mortimer, and I feel mildly concerned. It has absolutely nothing to do with Mortimer herself — the recent Director of Design Inspiration at Tory Burch exudes the warmth, charisma, and smarts of someone I’d like to have as a brunch buddy. So what was the problem? I am acutely aware of the blue light emanating from my cell phone; something that I given very little thought to before Mortimer enlightened me to its consequences on my skin and sleep cycles. In fact, the 50-something-year-old founded an entire company, EyeJust®, dedicated to protecting us from the stuff.

But it wasn’t an immediate win. Initially, Mortimer’s own husband even questioned the concept. Recalls Mortimer, “[I told him] I care about protecting my sleep and my skin [from blue light]. ‘I just have to do this. I just . . . I just . . .’ And then I was like, ‘Wait, that's the name of my company, EyeJust.’

Keep reading to learn more about her innovative technology, plus the business woman’s take on beauty, skincare, career advice, and more.

Spotlyte: How did you get to where you are today?

Gigi Mortimer: It's a bit of a long story, but I had a career in accessories. For over 20 years, I was the Director of Women's Accessories at Ralph Lauren. I've been at Tory Burch [since then], so creating products was something that I did. About five years ago, my son was having difficulties sleeping, and I couldn't figure out what it was. He was the easiest kid, and all of a sudden he was getting emotional, he wasn't doing well in school, and I couldn't figure out what was happening. [Finally, I discovered] he was watching movies on his phone after I put him to bed. So I took the phone away! I had read this study out of Harvard [Medical School] about how blue light has a dark side. I could not believe it, and I realized that this was what was happening to my son.

Spotlyte: I think many of us are guilty of following that pattern! What was the solution?

GM: One of the accessories I worked on was eyewear, so I thought, "Oh, I could make blue light-blocking glasses." I was one of these crazy people in bed wearing the amber glasses at night over my reading glasses! My husband was looking at me [strangely]. I thought, "This doesn't make any sense. I'm going to put the blue light-blocking technology on a screen protector." So I went to the consumer electronics show, and tried to really create this product.

Spotlyte: Such a simple concept and a clever idea.

GM: It has taken a while to really get [the technology] right. And also, people weren't talking about blue light five years ago. Science is very slow and technology is quick, and so now all the science is really emerging.

Spotlyte: Okay, so EyeJust can protect from blue light. As far as UV light, do you have any favorite SPF products?

GM: I'm obsessed with Esteé Lauder™ Daywear ($34), which smells so good and feels so good on your skin. It doesn't feel like sunblock but it has an SPF of 15 in it. I combine that with my Chanel® Vitalumière Foundation ($50) so I get all my protection during the day without feeling like I'm wearing sunblock.

Spotlyte: In addition to SPF, what are some other skincare products that you rely on to keep your skin looking healthy?

GM: I love the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair ($98). I'm obsessed with it. If I go off and I try something else, I come back to it. I love the fact that it's not sticky. And then the other thing, which I get from my dermatologist, is the NEOCUTIS series. My most [nostalgic] product is a Jergens® face cream ($7), which I love for removing my makeup at the end of the day. It's this whiteish pink stuff. It's very old school and it's really hard to find. It cleans your skin, but it makes your skin feel really moisturized, too.

I also love the Neutrogena® wipes ($9 for two packs) for your face and the Burt's Bees® Cucumber Wipes ($14 for three packs). I put them in the fridge and use them on a hot summer's day. It’s a really nice way to remove the sunblock from your skin.

Spotlyte: Do you have any other skin care rituals that you look forward to?

GM: Well, there's a great Tata Harper™ mask that I wish I had more time to use. I love sheet masks, too. It feels like like a wonderful luxury, and I sometimes use one while I'm meditating.

Spotlyte: Have you been meditating for a long time?

GM: No. I wish I could say so. A colleague of mine turned me on to Headspace®, and it’s amazing. It really allows you to not be so afraid of meditation. And it has great meditations for sleep.

Spotlyte: Clearly you're interested in beauty sleep because you've developed the blue light technology, but do you have any other tips for sleep hygiene?

GM: Because I've been researching so much on why sleep is so important to us, I have learned a few rituals which I think have really helped me along the way. One is a hot bath at night with Dr. Teal's® Lavender Oil; it’s a $4 bath oil, and I love it. It's great for your skin, but also the relaxing lavender scent, so you get some aromatherapy. The hot bath cools down your body temperature, and the cooling down actually is what stimulates the melatonin [the hormone that regulates sleep cycles]. The other thing that's very advantageous is taking magnesium at night. Magnesium is a calming vitamin and should be taken at night. But what I learned is often athletes take magnesium at night because it's also very restorative to the muscles.

The other thing that I've learned is that if you have too many glasses of wine, your body heats up in the middle of the night because it’s trying to detox itself. So, you end up waking up at night because your body's trying to get rid of the alcohol in your system. And then I obviously turn off my phone before I take my bath.

Spotlyte: Do you turn it off like an hour before bed or is it right before your bath and then you go to bed?

GM: I feel like I'm on it so much during the day and on the computer, I just love it when I say, "You know what? I'm done for the day. No more." And I turn it off around 8:30pm-ish.

Spotlyte: Do you have any sort of lasers or peels or any sort of anti-aging or youth-preserving treatments that you swear by?

GM: My dermatologist, Dr. Anetta Reszko, really helped me do the research on the light and skin; she helped me dig up a lot of these studies that they're doing on mice. I go to her for a Clear + Brilliant® laser treatment. It’s a quick recovery and it lessens the effect of time and environment. I grew up in Bermuda and the Islands, so I have a lot of sun damage. This is great for taking away pigmentation and sun spots and things like that.

Spotlyte: In one sentence, what is the most salient piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

GM: “Don't beat yourself up for the mistakes you make, because they're all going to be experiences.” I think women can go back at the end of the day and say, "Oh, I should have said this," or "Oh, I wish I had done that" and I think sometimes people dwell on that at night when they're in bed when they should be sleeping.

Spotlyte: So true!

GM: So true, right? I spent a lot of years saying, "Oh, you know, I wish I'd said that in the meeting" and everybody does in the beginning of their career. [Instead]...take one thing you did right that day [and you] wake up happier and feel more positive about yourself the next day. It's one of those things that, again, you have to practice. 

 

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