Vancouver Loves Natural Beauty: Warren Brander of Thera Wise

Vancouver Loves Natural Beauty is a semi-regular column that highlights organic and natural beauty and skincare brands founded in our fair city.

Q&A with Thera Wise co-founder Warren Brander, maker of all-natural medicinal ointments in Vancouver, Canada

So you've greened up your beauty and skincare routines, replacing as many conventional products as possible with natural and organic versions (hooray!), but what about the ointments in your medicine cabinet? Founded in 2003, Vancouver-based Thera Wise believes you can have all-natural medicinal ointments that are just as effective as Preparation H, Vick's Vapor Rub, Lanacane, and so on.

Skeptical that Thera Wise products would measure up, I've been using Ac+ Acne Ointment (which has 0.5% salicylic acid) to control and prevent breakouts, and Dpr Natural Baby Diaper Ointment (which combines soothing calendula, chamomile, and aloe) to relieve itchy bug bites all summer. Conclusion? This stuff really works! Come fall/winter, I'll probably be relying on the Vpr Vaporizing Ointment to combat congestion during cold and flu season.

I caught up with Warren Brander, co-founder of Thera Wise, to learn more about his background and the range of ointments.

Thera Wise medicinal ointments: all-natural versions of Vick's Vapor Rub, Lanacane, Preparation H, diaper rash ointment, etc. made in Vancouver, Canada

What inspired you to start Thera Wise?

First, coming from a practitioner background, I noticed early on that the over-the-counter ointments available in the market had not changed in over 50 years; most were petro-chemical-based and did not address health conditions comprehensively or holistically. Second, my wife suffered from eczema flare-ups since early childhood, and I saw firsthand the challenges with using cortico-steroids to treat this condition and the yo-yo effect this created when trying to manage it. Lastly, I love personal care products, creams, emulsions, and natural fragrances.

Can you tell readers a bit about your professional background and areas of expertise?

My formal training is in traditional Oriental medicine (acupuncture and plant medicine), while my areas of interest are dermatology and internal medicine. I subsequently studied cosmetic science, blending my background with modern green chemistry formulations.

During product development, did you test how the ointments performed against their conventional drugstore counterparts?

The only way I would commercialize a product was if it was more efficacious than what was currently on the market. Secondly (and just as important) the products had to be clean, healthy and completely biodegradable. Apart from standard pharmaceutical testing protocol, I luckily had a solid network of practitioner friends who offered feedback and were willing to use their patience as my test subjects. (I also convinced my family to try my formulations early on too!)

Do you have a personal fave?

The SHO Skin Healing Ointment is a product I use everyday - it just works for almost any skin condition (even as a moisturizer and 'pick me up' after a late night).

Thera Wise Natural Skin Healing Ointment

I've been using the Dpr Diaper Rash Ointment to relieve bug bite itching all summer (and it works like a charm!). Can you suggest any other alternative uses for the different formulas?

Our HmR Natural Hemorrhoidal Ointment is an amazing eye cream! We have models and actresses confidentially buy it regularly. The VpR Vaporizing Rub is great for seasonal allergies (any nasal congestion) and tension headaches as well as muscle pain.

Are you working on any new ointment formulas or products?

We have completed work on adult and children’s (glycerine- & xylitol-free) toothgels using cranberry seed oil and a natural remineralizing ingredient. The adult toothgel will be especially helpful for those with teeth sensitivities.

What's your favourite part of the job?

I love the product development process and the interaction with our customers. Each day that I receive a message about how one of our products has helped someone I just get so energized.

What's next for you?

As a micro-organization, we are looking to take that next big scary step and really grow our business in North America. We have always wanted to be that go-to product that families can trust for their healing ointments and other personal care.

Thera Wise Natural Vaporizing Rub

For a full list of Thera Wise stockists or to purchase products online, check out their website.

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