Who? Karen Ballou founded skincare brand Immunocologie after suffering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of cancer which attacks the immune system. After 30 years working behind the scenes as an industry veteran, undergoing chemotherapy treatment suddenly prompted her to question what other sorts of artificiality she was introducing to her body – particularly through her cosmetics. “My skin and my body required something healthier than the things I could find on the market,” she explains, “but people kept saying, ‘natural products don’t work.’” Determined to find a solution, she sought out chemists to develop a luxury alternative to that which was already on offer: remember, the natural sphere can often be determinedly, and deliberately, unglamorous, more concerned with communicating an aura of authenticity than anything aspirational. Plus, “when you look at the brands out there in the natural market, you know you’re going to see a combination of things like camomile, ylang-ylang, marshmallow and elderberry,” Ballou continues. “It’s very hard in the cosmetic industry not to be glittery and flowery – but I knew there had to be another way.”
What? The products that Immunocologie offers aren’t glittery, or flowery – they come in shiny black glass (sustainable, yes, but also a natural way of protecting the products inside from UV rays that could impact their efficiency) and with all sorts of scientific clinical trials to back them up. They are based around the idea of supporting the skin’s innate immune responses at a core level, rather than simply covering up the problems that a weak immune response might provoke. They use ingredients equitably sourced from around the world – things like snail mucin from Brittany (already familiar to those au fait with Korean skincare), or borojo seed extract from Colombia – and blend them with green clay in a method they term “vital oligo science”. Essentially, it offers a means for the products to penetrate the skin’s barrier, so that they get to work at a deeper level – and the proof is in their effectiveness. One night wearing the Oxygen Treatment Creme (a twice-weekly exfoliating treatment) or a couple of applications of their clay mask (it smells like marzipan, and works a treat), and you’ll be sold. Another favourite: the Super 7 Elixir. It’s basically a miracle cure, but with a portfolio of biochemistry to back it up.
Why? “I love what my grandmother makes, the blueberry muffins and the strawberry shortcake and those are natural,” giggles Ballou. “I just thought, ‘hey, couldn’t I do that with skincare?’” Such a statement is surely worthy of investigation – and the covetable packaging doesn’t hurt. But equally, because sustainability, science and luxury needn’t be mutually exclusive: not everyone who wants to look after the planet wears hemp, and not all skincare aficionados buy into marketing fluff. In the modern age, one can expect one’s products to be simultaneously natural, impactful and chic – and that’s what Immunocologie offers. What more can you ask for?