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Shen Beauty: Q&A Immunocologie with Karen Ballou, CEO & founder

Babak Kheshti

Posted on March 28 2016

Q: How did you come to create Immunocologie?

It all started about 8 years ago following a diagnosis with hodgkins lymphoma. After many years working in skincare product development, and then going through chemo-therapy, I grew concerned that the products I was using could be detrimental to my overall health and well being. The challenge though was finding a skincare product that was as natural and effective as it was luxurious. As a user of luxury skincare products, I was paying a premium, but not getting what I felt was a true luxury experience due to many of the synthetic ingredients and lack of long term health benefits. The solution was to create a line of products that were produced with the best processes and ingredients in the world, while still being natural, healthy, and efficacious. In skincare, luxury products should inherently be natural. This is ultimately where the concept was born.

Q: On top of being a 99% natural line, Immunocologie takes a different approach to skincare, formulating to promote the skin’s immune health. This concept is fairly new to skincare. Why is it so important?

We do so much to maintain healthier lifestyles these days. We exercise, eat better, take supplements, go on diets and cleanses, but what about the skin? The skin is the body’s largest organ. It’s the first line of immunological defense against the environment and everything your body faces on a daily basis. Therefore the skin requires a vast amount of nutrition to stay healthy and active day in and day out.

Instead of focusing on strictly being “natural” or “anti-aging”, which our products still are, we have identified that by focusing on supporting the skin’s immune functionality and feeding the skin essential minerals like copper, iron, zinc and magnesium through our proprietary delivery system Vital Oligo Science, the skin stays healthier and more youthful over time. By supporting the skin’s immune health in this way, the skin more efficiently metabolizes the active ingredients in our products for even more effective results long term.

Q: Immunocologie uses clay as the basis of all its formulas. Why and how was this decided?

Historically, clay has been well known for both its detoxifying and anti-inflammatory qualities. You may not believe it, but when I was going through my chemo treatment, I was advised by our chemist to drink a tablespoon of clay as needed to help detoxify my body from some of the chemicals and also calm inflammation I was experiencing in my lymphnodes.

I was a bit skeptical at first but came to notice the swelling caused by the treatment would go down significantly on the days when I ingested the clay. I was absolutely shocked. From here, we asked ourselves how we could harness these qualities for a skincare product.


Q: How does the clay work with your active ingredients?

Clay may sound like a basic ingredient, but I will tell you it is not. In fact, it’s incredibly complex and effective. Due to the ionic characteristics of clay, we use raw earth minerals extracted from four different types of clay for three very critical roles in our products.

Firstly, through our patented Vital Oligo Science, the clays help us bind oil and water-based active ingredients. This permits us to not use any chemical based emulsifiers and maintain the natural composition of our formulas we pride ourselves on.

Secondly, the clays provide what we call Ionic Mineral Therapy. One of the biggest factors of aging in the skin and decreased skin health is positive ion activity, which in today’s tech heavy world, we’re bombarded with constantly. Positive ions can develop into free radicals that deteriorate cells. These clay based minerals contain a negative ionic charge that help counter balance positive ion activity, limiting free radical development and bringing ionic balance to the skin.

On top of that, many of us are mineral deficient, both in our skin and our bodies as a whole. With the clay minerals, we’re effectively feeding the skin the minerals it requires to be healthy and perform optimally on a daily basis.

The skin can be a hostile environment if it lacks the minerals and nutrients it needs. Because it also has its own immune functionality, it remembers what it likes and what it doesn’t. These clay based minerals help us create a calm environment on the surface of the skin where skin cells thrive and active ingredients perform more effectively.

Q: So there’s a bit of education that comes with the line?

There is, but we think it’s incredibly important to educate users of skincare on what contributes to their skins overall health. It’s our philosophy that healthy skin is synonymous with beautiful skin. We want to make sure we’re doing everything in our power to provide the knowledge that empowers people to make more informed decisions when it comes to their skin’s well being, from ingredients to application.


Q: The Super 7 Elixir contains Snail Mucin and has become a cult favorite. Can you share some of your other favorite products in the line? What’s their secret?

The snail mucin in our Super 7 Elixir is a hero ingredient. It’s reparative, regenerative and rejuvenating and will really help to reduce lines and wrinkles as well as keep the skin vibrant and full of life.

Of the other products in the line, our Exfoliating Lotion is a great introductory product. It’s not a typical exfoliator in that you’ll feel an immense tingle, scrub or sensation. It uses glycolic and lactic acids that dive deep into the skin and dissolve any impurities that cause blemishes or inconsistencies. It also does not disrupt the acid mantle, keeping your skin balanced and hydrated. Many exfoliators change the acidity of the skin, which in turn creates new challenges when trying to keep it healthy. Exfoliating Lotion contributes to maintaining the skins pH right where it should be, while also giving you all the exfoliating benefits you’re looking for. Do a test by applying to only one hand and let sit for 1 minute, then wiping with a tissue or soft cloth. The balance in skin tone and the impurities that come off the skin will astound you.

Another favorite in the line is our Hyaluronic Serum. It’s like a glass of water for your skin. It contains sodium hyaluronate which carries one thousand times its own weight in water. Hyaluronic Serum protects against trans epidermal water loss leaving the skin supple and plump and reduces irritation that often accompanies seasonal climate changes too. This is extremely important in urban areas, where we’re assaulted with pollutants every day that do great damage to the skin. I apply this every morning before I exercise and every evening before I go to sleep.

Q: The ingredients found in IMMUNOCOLOGIE come from many places across the world. How are they all sourced to meet the brand’s standards?

Immunocologie aims to have a net zero impact on the environment, while also ensuring our ingredient extraction provides a sustainable social and monetary infrastructure for the farmers growing our ingredients. That being said, we source our ingredients based on a UN agreement signed in 2010 called the Nagoya Protocol.

The Nagoya Protocol provides guidelines and transparency for us in regards to the fair and equitable use of the extraction of our ingredients. By using this protocol as our blueprint for sourcing integrity, we’re ensuring all IMMUNOCOLOGE treatments are sustainably and equitably sourced in accordance with what has been heralded as the world’s highest standard of environmental and social stewardship.


Q: What are your top three tips for keeping healthy, radiant skin?

With the exception of using Immunocologie… biggest tips are to cleanse properly – no matter how late, drink at least one glass of alkalized lemon water a day, and not only reduce your intake of sugars and processed food to decrease inflammation (puffiness), discoloration and blemishes, but also pay attention to the ingredients in the food you eat and the things you drink and do research on them. They’re all incredibly connected to having great skin.

Q: What is your idea of the perfect day?

When I started out with IMMUNOCOLOGIE, there was uncertainty about whether my chemo treatment would be successful. I think every day I get to continue working on building this brand and educating people is a perfect day. Maybe add a glass of wine in there during the evening and you’ve definitely got me.