A mother with a rare terminal skin disease has developed a range of natural skin care products which have become a hit with celebrities.
Maria Delray, of Chiswick, has suffered from diffuse cutaneous systemic scleroderma for about eight years and will eventually die from it as the production of too much collagen will cause her heart to stop beating, despite heavy bouts of chemotherapy.
Not one for defeat, the mother of three teenagers, decided to turn her condition into a positive by experimenting with only natural products, such as essential oils and nut butters to provide a bit of relief for her skin.
In turn has come up with a number of products under the name of Jeunvie which she has been selling for a year and believes they can help cure or at least relieve conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
The disease means too much collagen is produced in the 49-year-old’s body so parts of her skin have become numb, tight and hard but it does not stop there - she finds it difficult to open her mouth, her tongue is going stiff causing choking and difficulty eating, her lungs are affected and she has to have a permanent heart monitor because the muscles around her heart are hardening.
Doctors believe it was caused by toxic chemicals, despite Mrs Delray never having worked in a chemical environment.
She tried every skin product on the shelves in an effort to relieve some of the pain and discomfort the disease causes but nothing was working so she used her medical research background to experiment with totally natural products.
“The ingredients you find in products claiming to be natural normally are not entirely natural,” she said. “They keep for a few years and it's not possible for non-chemical products to keep that long so they have to put artificial ingredients in.
“None of them were working for me so I started researching and putting essential oils and butters together. I’ve found it really works for me, you can see one of my arms looks better than the other which I believe is due to my products because I’ve only applied them to that one arm.”
The entrepreneurial mother has been selling Jeunvie for about a year and has got quite a celebrity following, although she cannot reveal who they are because many endorse big-name cosmetic products.
She makes a whole range, including face creams, cleansers, toners and moisturising candles. “A lot of people who use my products are concerned about keeping their skin clear because they have to wear a lot of make-up everyday.
"There are also a lot of clients with eczema and psoriasis who’ve said they’ve seen big improvements which is always good because they’re really awful to live with.”
Mrs Delray has so far kept below the radar, not wanting to be in the public eye, but as her condition worsens she wants to ensure she leaves behind a legacy for her children so is hoping others will try her products for themselves to see how much they can help.
To buy the products and find out more, go to the Jeunvie website .
To find out more about diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis visit the Scleroderma Society website .