Clean beauty is all about finding power in nature, but there aren’t many people within the world of natural skincare that connect with the ocean in the same way as the brains behind OSEA Malibu.
Born from a love of the sea, this range of skin loving concoctions harnesses the unique benefits of marine botanicals, alongside the usual plant-based beauty heroes. This is no brand hopping onto a trend; OSEA has been in the game for more than twenty years and counting, and hasn’t stopped making waves the whole time.
Sustainability is also high on the priority list at OSEA, which is oh-so-important when you’re working with ingredients from such a fragile source. We chatted with founder Jenefer Palmer to find out more about the story behind the products, how our beauty regimes affect the ocean, and why there’s more to seaweed than meets the eye.
EcoSalon: Where did your personal connection with the ocean begin, and why was it important to you that it was core to OSEA’s ethos?
Jenefer Palmer: I’ve always been drawn to the ocean. I come from a long line of women connected to the sea. My grandmother, Elsa Reuschle, one of the first female chiropractors in the U.S., swam daily in the frigid Long Island Sound (outside of NYC) until her mid-nineties. Through her mentorship, I learned about the full spectrum of vitamins, minerals and trace elements present in seaweed and the incredible healing benefits they have on skin.
In the late ’80s, as a spa director in southern California, it was nearly impossible to find skin care for our clients that weren’t loaded with toxic synthetic chemicals. OSEA was born in 1996 from my desire to create natural luxury seaweed-based skin care. Products that not only were free of toxic synthetic ingredients but actually delivered powerful, age-defying results. As my grandmother taught me and chemistry confirmed, seaweed is a nutrient-dense superfood. Seaweed, the star ingredient in OSEA products, contains powerful bioavailable nutrients that are readily absorbed to rejuvenate the skin.
ES: OSEA has been around for over twenty years! How have your products and the natural beauty changed in that time?
JP: OSEA was definitely a pioneer in the natural luxury skin care world. Back in the ’90s, Aveda was one of the only other truly natural brands available. It’s so inspiring to see now in 2017 how the personal care landscape is changing—there are so many more natural options. Natural retail stores such as Credo Beauty, Follain, and The Detox Market are really leading the way. Even with OSEA’s immense growth over the past 21 years, I’m proud to say that we continue to use only the highest quality and most effective plant-based ingredients.
ES: Your formulations feature some beautiful marine ingredients. Can you tell us a bit about them and their unique benefits to skin?
JP: USDA certified organic Gigartina, Undaria and Macrocystis marine algae are rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, trace elements, and essential fatty acids.
Our seaweed contains bioavailable ingredients, meaning that the active, nutrient-rich compounds are more readily absorbed by your body. Greater absorption of nutrients means better results for your skin! Our seaweed extracts deliver results. They visibly minimize fine lines and wrinkles, plus address hyperpigmentation. Seaweed concentrates also naturally brighten skin, deeply hydrate plus reduce the look and frequency of blemishes, breakouts and that good old “oily shine”.
ES: How do you go about sourcing your ingredients from the ocean sustainably without upsetting the delicate ecosystem?
JP: We source our USDA certified organic seaweed from the Sea of Patagonia, some of the most pristine waters in the world. Many companies pollute the ocean by venturing out on industrial diesel-powered boats to harvest seaweed using invasive methods that damage marine life and the ocean floor. OSEA’s seaweed is eco-responsibly hand-foraged in small batches. Oddly enough, we are actually helping to balance the delicate ecosystem by harvesting Undaria algae, as it is globally one of the most invasive (albeit incredible) species.
ES: What inspires you when it comes to creating new formulations?
JP: I find inspiration to create new formulations in many places: the Malibu farmers market, Zuma beach, my garden, places I travel to and even cookbooks. It’s hard not to be inspired by the transformational power of plants. Some of my best inspiration comes in the kitchen. I love to cook. I love to eat. I find myself thinking, how can I incorporate that persimmon into a product? Pesto body polish anyone?
ES: You also manage to keep your products completely vegan! Has keeping animal ingredients out of your products been a challenge?
JP: There are so many vegan ingredients available now that it’s really very simple to formulate without animal by-products. What’s more challenging, however, is being a plant-based vegan company. A lot of skin care is technically vegan but loaded with toxic synthetic chemicals. Being plant-based vegan takes more thought and creativity.
ES: What is some of the most positive feedback you’ve ever gotten from an OSEA convert?
JP: Our Blemish Balm has frequently been called the “Holy Grail” of lightweight moisturizers for treating blemish-prone skin. Can’t really top that!
ES: Are there any ways conventional beauty products damage the ocean that you think most people are unaware of?
JP: If you live in a coastal region, everything you rinse off your body, i.e. soap, creams, shampoo, etc. ends up going down the drain and into our oceans. So when you apply that toxic petrochemical-laden lotion, you’re not only harming yourself, you’re also polluting our oceans. Oxybenzone, a common ingredient in sunscreen has been directly linked to the death of the coral reefs. This happens when swimmers wear sunscreen! Plastic packaging, especially the soft plastic of your favorite beauty cream continues to clog our oceans, disrupting the delicate ecosystem. Always, always opt for beauty products packaged in glass or hard plastic. Refill items such as soap or shampoo, or better yet, make your own! Ocean health is interconnected to human health.
ES: If you had to pack for a beach vacation, which OSEA products would be a must have for you?
ES: What would your dream sea adventure be?
JP: To be on a small research vessel in Antarctica with scientists working to study and prevent climate change.
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