The Harken Derm Story

Harken Derm is a marriage in a bottle--literally and figuratively. The company began when Edit Olasz Harken, MD, PhD noticed how many sailors had skin problems on their faces. Her husband, Peter Harken, had been making boats and blocks for over 50 years. When the couple attended boat shows and regattas, Edit--a practicing academic dermatologist--spoke about the need for good quality, consistent skin care in light of sailors' constant exposure to wind, water, and sun. Sailors don't always practice good skin protection. As Peter puts it, "When we get in a boat, we generally will grab what's the easiest available sunscreen" with no regard to its ingredients or properties.

Edit wanted to change this. From her academic work she saw that UV light immuno-supresses the skin to an extent that people who spent a lot of time in the sun were similar in cancer risk to transplant patients. The triple threat of water, wind, and sun was that damaging. To change this, Edit created a two step solution:

1) A sunscreen that was extremely water-resistant and contained only physical filters. Physical filters such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide have the best spectrum to reflect the light. A sunscreen with only physical filters that would stay on the skin for a long time was the first step.

2) Research confirms that sun-induced damage doesn't stop when you leave the sun. There is the direct damage to cells while in the sun. This is what sunscreen is created to protect against. But there is also indirect oxidant damage which continues for hours after you're out of the sun. Harken Derm's Daily After Sun Skin Repair Lotion is an antioxidant solution to this damage.

Edit Olasz Harken MD PhD, creator of Harken Derm products, tells the story of how she began working on dermatological solutions for sailors.