Bluemercury Founder Marla Malcolm Beck Dishes on Her New Skin-Care Line

The eight-piece M-61 collection marries the best of natural ingredients, derma-loved compounds, and technical results.

By: Kara Manos

Finding the perfect storm of a skin-care line sometimes feels like a near-impossible beauty feat. The serums and creams that deliver the most immediate results can be laced with chemicals, but the all-natural stuff sometimes seems totally ineffective. Sigh. What's an eco-conscious, skin-perfecting girl to do? Well, our latest solution comes straight from the mind of a local beauty guru. Marla Malcolm Beck (aka the brains behind the chain of Bluemercury beauty shops founded in Washington) designed her new skin-care line M-61 to marry the best of both worlds.

"About five years ago, pre-recession, there was a fever pitch of clients looking for highly effective, beautiful and natural products," Beck says. But at the time, natural products weren't as effective as their lab-created competitors, and they certainly didn't smell as nice. So Beck took up the cause herself. After five years of testing and research (Beck recalls reading over 500 scientific journals), the eight-item M-61 collection debuted in Bluemercury stores and spas last week.

According to Beck, it's one of the first green cosmeceutical skin-care lines on the market. Plant-based ingredients include high concentrations of bilberry extract (reduces inflammation), aloe (treats acne scarring), and gallic fruit acid (lightens pigmentation), but there's also a healthy dose of compounds beloved by dermatologists such Vitamin C, Vitamin E, peptides, glycolics, and Retinol. What you won't find in M-61 bottles are parabens (a preservative linked to breast cancer), sulfates, and synthetic fragrances and dyes. The products are also not tested on animals.

So who should be using M-61? Beck indicates that the line is ideal for men and women ages 28 and up looking for maximum results in minimum time.

"The want to reduce lines or hyperpigmentation, hydrate or firm the skin, treat pimples, and achieve the ultimate: glowing, refreshed skin," she says. It's also quick and easy to apply--perfect for the always-on-the-go working population of Washington.

Beck's personal favorite M-61 products are the two-minute exfoliating Power Pro-Peel ($28 for a 10 pack)--"I travel with it religiously. It takes the grime off, brings out the new skin and leaves me with a beautiful, radiant finish."--and the Vitablast C ($92), a vitamin C serum with Gallic acid (an antioxidant found in blueberries and flaxseed) that brightens the complexion overall.

Also available: a two-minute vitamin C Fast Blast facial mask ($50), the Hydraboost Serum ($78) that Beck describes as a "drink of water for the skin," three different cleansers ($26-$34), and hand cream ($19). If you'd like to give the line a go without committing to buying the product, book an appointment for Bluemercury's new "Peace, Power, and Glow" facial ($60). The spa treatment includes a quick peel and vitamin C mask for healthy skin. "It's a perfect pre-Washington cocktail party," Beck says.

Kara writes about all things beauty in the District on her blog, Politics of Pretty