Maybe there’s something in our water, or maybe it’s the vast open spaces and endless countryside that gives way to blue-sky thinking – but, there’s no doubt about it, Australians are truly an innovative bunch. From the country that birthed the electric drill, the cochlear implant and plastic banknotes, now comes a completely fresh take on skincare … Sigourney gets the story behind the Byron-based brand turning traditional formulating on its head.
It’s pretty rare that you see a skincare product that has truly broken the mould. Most skincare formulations follow a pretty standard recipe – water, oil and emulsifier. Oh and, you know, a few fancy sounding ingredients thrown in for good measure – and advertising kudos. I don’t mean to sound jaded but the point is, no one has ever thought to just hero one ingredient and make it the most active it can possibly be. Until now.
Byron Bay-based chemist Ross Macdougald worked as a professional formulator both in house and freelance, and after over 20 years in the industry, he grew frustrated with some of the marketing claims coming out of beauty brands.
“The product claims you read are actually based on what would happen if the active ingredient within the product was in its pure 100% natural form, not diluted as it is in every formulation on the market. Most products contain over 80% water or synthetic fillers – they are never composed of 100% of an active ingredient,” explains Ross, who has just very impressively done exactly that - with his new skincare range Biologi.
The three serums – one for face, eyes and body - each contain only one ingredient – a 100% pure ‘organic plant liquid matrix’, which is essentially just plant’s cell juice. There’s no water, no additional oils, nothing at all to dilute the potency. And the best part? There’s no need for preservatives, since the plant has its own natural preservative system.
As for the plant actives Ross chose? Three of Australia’s most famous antioxidant-laden fruits - Davidson Plum, Finger Limes and Kakadu Plum.
“Thanks to years of research as a chemist, I knew the phyto actives these fruits contained and the benefits of the actives for the skin,” he says, adding that it was also a conscious decision to support the local Byron Bay regional farmers who produce the finger lime and Davidson plum fruit and the indigenous communities in the far north of Australia who harvest the Kakadu Plum. (Tick! A nice sustainability effort never goes astray.)
“The active ingredients in each of the Biologi serums were developed using a technique extracting the complete water soluble plant phyto active profile of any plant within a few short hours without damaging the plants cellular matrix. This is a world first,” says Ross proudly.
He’s clearly an innovator, but Ross doesn’t look like your average scientist. Cutting a stylish figure at the brand’s Sydney launch, in a tailored blue blazer and black-rimmed glasses, he looks like he’d be more at home sipping drip coffee and discussing film noir than measuring pipettes of pure actives over a Bunsen burner. He also brought along wing-woman Lucy Kuper, a dermal therapist who is full of nifty tips on how to use Biologi to its best.
“Less is definitely more where Biologi is concerned!” she says, demonstrating the unique pump packaging that not only measures out the perfect amount but also helps keep the ingredients stable and active.
“You really only need one pump of the Biologi Bd Luminosity Serum to cover your whole face and neck. Eyes only need a half pump or less of the Biologi Bk Rejuvenating Serum and your body needs one to two pumps per section of the Biologi Bf Hydrating Serum.”
The best news for lazy girls like me, is that you can actually ditch your moisturiser when using Biologi.
“Biologi’s plant extract ingredients enter the skin cell walls quickly and effectively completely hydrating the cell. Hydrated cells mean hydrated skin, making moisturisers redundant when using Biologi serums,” she says.
When I receive the product and read about it, it seems kind of elementary, and bizarre that no one has ever thought to do this. Of course something in its pure form is going to be more effective. It’s the same as eating raw vegies or not processing your meat. Science has taught us that the more you fuss with something the less bioavailability it has – e.g. the less able our cells are able to recognise and utilise its nutrients.
With that in mind, I embark on the brand’s 30-day challenge – Biologi are so confident in the results that they promise noticeable results in that time. On first use I’m honestly impressed. The texture is beautiful and light. It absorbs quickly but it leaves the skin feeling really seriously quenched – there’s no need for moisturiser – even hours later, but it’s not greasy. It’s hard to describe and I’ve never really experienced this kind of sensation on the skin. I can only put it down to the purity of the actives.
I have to ask Ross – what the most outlandish claims he’s seen are, from a scientific perspective.
“Anything that says it’s been created and formulated for sensitive skin,” he says. “Skin becomes sensitised from the ingredients that are applied to it over time. The main contributor to this sensitising is often the synthetic emulsifiers, fragrances and preservatives - which most products contain!”
Noted! As for the ingredients he thinks are bogus?
“The use of gold, pearls, charcoal and used coffee grinds makes me shake my head,” he admits. “The skin is a living organism which needs live, active nutrients to keep it healthy. None of these ingredients are live, meaning they will make little difference to skin tone, texture and health.”
And with that I have to concur – at the end of the month I notice my skin has taken on a glow, and a… how do I put it? A juiciness. It feels like I can’t top up the amount of hydration, no matter how hard I try. And Lucy is right. I don’t need moisturiser.
“The best feedback we’ve had so far is from consumers who have suffered from skin issues such as psoriasis, eczema and rosacea,” says Ross. “I’ve seen skin change from red, inflamed, highly irritated skin to normal healthy skin within days of using Biologi serums and stay that way.”
It’s a truly satisfying testimonial for a brand that dared to innovate, and, may I say, did a mighty fine job of it, too. I’m going to keep up my Biologi habit, my skin’s far too happy not to!