When Michele Meinhart saw a problem, she created a solution. And in the process, created a new skin care line.
Meinhart, a nurse practitioner and owner of Starkey Medical Esthetics, noticed that her patients did not have a reasonably priced product to use after a skin procedure. Some, she said, were going home and just using regular soap. So, drawing on her training in esthetics, she did research on making soaps and lotions. She learned about base ingredients, such as flax oil, which has a high quantity of phytoestrogens, plant-based estrogens which help plump the skin. The Vitagen products are vitamin-based, she said, containing A, C, D and E.
She produced the first products in 2005 and tested them on patients, family, friends and co-workers. Since then, she’s tweaked them and made adjustments. For instance, Vitamin E is oily, so she wanted to make sure that the products containing it were not too heavy. Her acne product is jojoba based, which is lighter.
Meinhart says her patients have told her they have seen results. The products reduce wrinkles, soothe the skin and help with conditions like rosacea. The Vitagen products are available at the three Starkey Medical locations in Roanoke County, Salem and Blacksburg or online at VitagenSkin.com.
In creating the skin care line, Meinhart drew on her education and professional background. She is a nurse practitioner, board certified in family medicine with a subspecialty in dermatology. The Lynchburg-area native earned her degree at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, now part of Rutgers University. She’s also board certified by the Board of Barbers and Cosmetology as a Master Esthetician Instructor.
“I’ve always been interested in the process of skin aging – both naturally and prematurely,” she says. She opened her Roanoke office (on Starkey Road) in 2003 and the Salem location (on West Main Street) in 2014. They offer laser treatments, chemical peels and cancer checks. Because she is a nurse practitioner, Meinhart also can perform biopsies on suspected skin cancer and do minor surgery.
She says the laser hair removal is the most popular service offered. Starkey Medical has a “large majority of that market in Southwest Virginia. We’re considered area experts in it. We did it before the others, and we’re very good at what we do.” She added that her staff members are experienced and understand cultural and genetic differences in the patients.
Going forward, Meinhart says, she would like to hire a dermatologist for the Salem location, and another nurse practitioner “doing what I do. We provide a unique combination of services.” She says that because they provide medical dermatology, they can help fill a gap that exists in the area.
She summed it up by saying: “I love what I do.”