If there is one thing that I love doing, it is trawling and discovering new skincare brands. I love reading about how brands came about, what inspired their founders and creators and basically how they set themselves to be different from everyone else. I find this exercise really interesting, to see what exactly is out there and of course to further deepen my own knowledge about skincare, the newest technology or to discover an innovation or innovative way of using a certain ingredient. For me, it is a lot of fun and something I really enjoy doing - curling up in bed and reading the "About Me" section of a brand's page and finding out what they are all about.
This month in May, my skincare discoveries has taken me to learn about cutting innovation with clay and how it works as a natural delivery system for the skin, to the simplicity of using kelp and minerals for effective skincare. I have learnt that sometimes a brand isn't all about the latest and greatest technologies but perhaps its 'personality' and what it aims to create and how it is functional in everyday life, something that resonates with me (especially with makeup as I am so lazy). Finally, I have learnt that some brands are a love affair, a thirst for knowledge and an outlet of creativity. Each and every brand that I have discovered this month is so different and so special in its own way!
Immunocologie is a brand that I have been quite intrigued with ever since I saw its products launch on Cult Beauty a few months back. It is a tightly curated line with 13 products in the range, there is a product for each skin need or concern. The line is luxurious both in looks but also prides itself on being focused on the skin's immune health, a concept that is quite unique in the realm of skincare. For founder, Karen Ballou her belief of the skin being the body's first line of immunological defence and not finding anything to help support that inspired her to create a skincare line that is healthy, natural and most importantly effective in supporting ongoing skin health.
The story of Immunocologie is a deeply personal journey which starts with founder Karen Ballou being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. With her cancer diagnosis, Karen become increasingly aware and concerned that perhaps the products that she was using on her skin was not helping with her health. She felt that there was a disconnect between skincare products that were not only natural and effective but also luxurious. For Karen, she personally felt that she was paying an absolute premium for luxury products that were full of synthetic ingredients that did not provide her with long term health benefits. Combining her 30 years of experience in the skincare industry, Karen created a line of premium skincare products that utilised the best possible processes and ingredients in the world - thus Immunocologie was born.
What sets Immunocologie from many other natural brands is that the product range utilises the healing and mineral benefits of French green clay. The science involved with this is Immunocolgie's own proprietary delivery system - Vital Oligo Science. This innovative science is found in each and every product. Vital Oligo Science stems from experimenting with clay and breaking it down to finer molecules by placing it in water and centrifuging it. When Karen was recovering from her cancer, she started experimenting with this procedure and added hyaluronic acid to the broken down clay. Noticing how how it immediately hydrated the skin, she began thinking as to how she could utilise this and use the clay as a natural delivery system for the skin.
Clay might not be as simple as many of us may think - due to it's ionic capabilities, the use of clay in Immunocologie's products helps to bind oil and water-based active ingredients. This in turn allows the brand to omit the use of any chemical based emulsifiers and maintain the natural composition of the brand's luxurious formulations.
The benefits of Vital Oligo Science is that it is supposed to deliver minerals, nutrients and antioxidants to the skin in a way that naturally mimics the skin’s metabolic process, supporting its hydro lipid barrier and helping to reduce inflammatory immune responses that accelerate aging. When this technology is paired with Immunocologie's natural, cold pressed, sustainably and equitably sourced active ingredients it is supposed to immediately reduce skin inflammation and helps to nurture more radiant, more vibrant and healthier skin.
What I find really interesting in the range is the Super 7 Elixir Face, a serum which uses a unique blend of antioxidants, snail mucin, rosa canina seed oil, vitis vinifera and borojó extract that claims to immediately reduces fine lines and wrinkles. It also supposed to improve skin elasticity, target hyperpigmentation and brighten the skin. This serum sounds like it pretty much does it all! I find that the use of snail mucin in a natural and also Western skincare product really interesting, as it is such an uncommon ingredient that is generally found in Korean skincare. It is quite facsinating how Immunocologie have utilised this in their own range. The other interesting product in the Immunocologie line is the Vital Clay Mask. This mask is composed of four raw and purified earth clays which are rich with minerals such as copper, magnesium, zinc and calcium. This mask seems to always be sold out as it is described as the Rolls Royce of clay masks - this mask extracts impurities, provides essential hydration to the skin, reduces inflammation, and reduces the appearance of pores. I love a good clay mask and it would be very interesting to see if this compares with some of my own favourites.
Immunocologie can be purchased from their website.
Hannes Dóttir is a skincare brand that takes inspiration from Icelandic heritage. The brand is founded by Janis Kristjanson almost 25 years ago. The idea of Hannes Dóttir came to Janis in a moment of deep meditation. She had a moment where she visualised a list of ingredients, with the first being Icelandic sea kelp. Janis also recalls that she could feel the presence of her Icelandic father in the room. For Janis, she believed that this moment, this vision was a gift from her Icelandic grandfather, Hannes Arthur and went to record the list of ingredients immediately.
Without further instruction, Janis relied on her intuition, she conducted further research and underwent careful and tedious formulating. For the next year Janis gave her friends and neighbours the product of which she thought she had envisioned. They tested each and every formulation until it was perfect. This labour of love became the first product in the Hannes Dóttir line - Seamasque - an unique youth activating treatment.
Hannes Dóttir is a range that uses extremely simple but powerful formulations. It also takes cues from the brand's Nordic heritage, as in the formulations often contain ingredients that are found only in Iceland. Most of the products in the range contain Icelandic Sea Kelp which comes straight from the volcanic fjords of Iceland. It is carefully collected by row boats (to keep the waters are pure as possible). This kelp is then dried with the same mineral-rich geothermal heat that feeds Iceland’s famous mineral baths, keeping it pure and active.
What attracts me to Hannes Dóttir is the simplicity and potency of its ingredients. Most products in the range have less than 10 ingredients and its signature ingredient, Icelandic Sea Kelp is generally right on top of that ingredients listing, making it the star attraction in the range. It is generally quite rare to see such a high quantity of marine ingredients in many skincare products and I think this is what sets Hannes Dóttir apart from many natural skincare products. Both masks in the range - Seamasque and Marine Collagen Mask are both products that look and sound amazing in the way they are formulated as they have high concentrations of sea kelp or marine collagen. The Elixir of Minerals is also a truly interesting product as it serves as a moisturiser/serum and contains liquid sea kelp, something I have never heard of until now. It would be interesting to see how well these simple yet potent formulations from Hannes Dóttir nourish and boost the skin in comparison to more complex marine skincare products I have seen on the market!
Hannes Dóttir can be found on the Hannes Dóttir website.
Onomie is a brand that combines the science of skincare with effortless makeup pieces to create multi purpose beauty products. The brand is for the woman who doesn't want her daily beauty routine to be complex, has no time for BS and basically wants a product that saves time and performs. The name Onomie is a play on the Latin suffix “-onomy” which means body of knowledge. The brand prides itself in seeing beauty in intelligence and strength. In fact all the shades in the makeup/skincare range are named after women who have made an impact in history. Interestingly enough, in an interview with Forbes, the General Manager of Onomie (Amy Chan) is quoted as saying "We didn’t start Onomie by thinking about what product category—whether it is concealer, mascara, or eye shadow—we wanted to compete in. Rather, we started development by thinking about the women the brand is built for. We want to support intelligent, ambitious women leading purposeful lives. We looked at her values, her interests, and her motivations". This stance on the philosophy of Onomie is somewhat refreshing. The brand seems to be all about the customer, their needs and creating smart beauty and functional beauty products for the 'everyday' woman.
Onomie prides itself on two things when it comes to their products - the fact their ingredients are of highest possible quality, cruelty free and are made in the US and also the fact that each and ever item has been clinically tested. The brand believes in using the highest quality ingredients to create innovative and powerful products and each and every ingredient is selected based on their value and proven results. The brand uses a combination of of natural, naturally-derived and lab-based technology in order to create the most effective formulas that deliver the promised benefits. In regards to testing, Onomie is completely transparent (something I respect) about their procedures. All claims made on the website are from clinically tested data, in fact each and every claim on the website is backed by unbiased third party testing. Each product is tested on a panel of 30 women run by a neutral third party to ensure that there are accurate and unbiased results.
As mentioned earlier, the products in the Onomie range are a hybrid of makeup and skincare. The brand is all about creating beauty products that give the immediate results that one would normally expect from makeup but also give the skin great benefits in the long term. For example, the Powerful Priming Serum is an all in one treatment serum that delivers to the skin powerful antioxidants as well as functioning as a lightweight primer for the skin. The actives in the serum have shown in Onomie's clinical studies to improve skin tone by 72% and increase the radiance in skin by 43% over a space of two months in their sample size of 30 participants. The Bright Concealing Elixir works as both an eye treatment as well as a concealer due to the fact it is pigmented to cover up and fine lines or dark circles but also actively lightens the appearance of dark circles around the eye area - up to 77% in fact!
I love the fact that Onomie merges both skincare and makeup into one and that it merges the two categories relatively well with the scientific data to back up the claims. The range is small but from what it sounds like in terms of what it offers, each and every product works effectively to not only enhance one's natural beauty instantly (via the makeup component) but also helps to benefit the skin in the long term through its skincare actives. I relate to this completely as I am often very lazy with makeup and love a product that can provide me with both skincare and makeup benefits!
To learn more about the multi-tasking Onomie range, check out the Onomie website.
Old Orchard is a skincare and body care brand that has been carefully handcrafted and is made from beautiful, natural and time honoured ingredients. The story of Old Orchard begins with Amy Traynor and her passion to create, discover and understand why things work. When Amy moved from New York to a quieter life in New Hampshire, she found herself reconnecting back with nature and fell in love with formulating, learning about cosmetic chemistry and researching and testing botanical ingredients. To begin with, Amy started out learning how to make different products for herself - soaps, lip balms, lotions etc and with more research she immersed herself in, she discovered that nature itself was rich in healing ingredients. Amy realised that she wanted to take her creations to market was when she formulated her No1 Beauty Oil. She says that, 'That facial oil, combined with switching to oil cleansing, completely transformed and balanced my complexion, and I realised I had something that needed to be shared'. With a background in design and art, she says that 'Old Orchard is an extension of my artwork, another expression of my desire to create and also to share beautiful, functional objects. I create everything myself, from formulating to designing the packaging and doing the product photography'.
In terms of formulating, Amy is completely self taught, however she has always been surrounded by alternative and holistic medicine due to her mother. Amy shares '(My) mother who is very well-educated in alternative health and wellness had been teaching me about things like herbs, aromatherapy, homeopathy, and holistic nutrition from a young age. I had the benefit of seeing natural remedies work all throughout my childhood'. Due to being surrounded by natural remedies for most of her life, formulating for Amy was always second nature. She enjoys the challenges that come with using only natural ingredients because she finds that there is always something new to learn and ways to innovate. What I love about Amy and Old Orchard is that she is constantly researching, experimenting, testing, and questioning. Pushing these boundaries has lead Amy to discover and create some incredibly unusual concoctions.
The use of turmeric in Old Orchard's No16 Turmeric Oil Cleansing Cream is quite interesting. For Amy, the discovery of turmeric and the inclusion of her own skin care rituals was something that forever changed her skin. 'For the first time, I was able to combat all my skin’s troubles, even pesky hormonal breakouts, without any irritation or dryness' she says. Knowing that turmeric was fantastic to add to masks, Amy wanted to create something a little different and that lead her to create the No16 Turmeric Oil Cleansing Cream. Old Orchard's No 5 Pebble Mask is something that I found so incredibly unique. Precious flower blossoms from hibiscus and cornflower combined with white clay are suspended in pebbles of passionfruit seed oil. Yes that is correct, the product literally comes out like a pebble (so different!) which when mixed with water, becomes a beautiful pink fluid which is then applied on the face. Amy shares that 'The No5 Pebble Mask was a more traditional clay mask recipe that I’d been working on for quite a while, when one day I had a happy accident and developed the little spheres of oil and clay! Those little unexpected things that you discover while creating and experimenting are what I live for!'.
Learn more about Old Orchard and its range via the Old Orchard website.
Have you tried any of the above brands before? What did you try and what did you think? I would love to know your own experiences with some of these brands in the comments section below.