May 11th 2018
Karen Ballou: "Women want something better, and the industry has had to respond"
June 14th 2017 / 0 comment
With more than 30 years' experience in the skincare industry, Karen Ballou created Immunocologie, a luxurious natural brand that puts your health first. Judy Johnson finds out why she did it
Many beauty brands, especially in the skincare sector, begin with a personal story, becoming the answer to a problem that the industry just hasn’t solved yet - and Immunocologie is the result of CEO and founder Karen Ballou’s own health scare.
Following a two-year bout with lymphoma, the beauty expert questioned her own skincare regime, and with a focus on the skin’s immune health Immunocologie was born. Here I find out what led to that lightbulb moment and why the natural beauty sector is thriving…
GTG: You created Immunocologie following your own cancer treatment - but what was it that drove you to change the skincare you were using?
KB: I’ve spent the majority of my career in skincare working behind the scenes on product formulations and brand development and with that comes a certain knowledge about how ingredients are made and what they can do. Though the skincare industry is starting to make a tremendous shift toward natural, for years we weren’t able to produce so-called natural products at scale mainly because the resources and technologies either weren’t there or not developed enough. That meant synthetics, in many cases derived from petroleum, became a standard. At the end of the day, the skin is an organ and we now know 60 percent of what is put on the skin is actually absorbed by the body. So if not a direct cause, I definitely believed there was a correlation.
GTG: The products are unusually luxurious for a natural brand, in look and feel - was this important to you when you created it? What was your inspiration?
KB: As I was undergoing chemo I had to make tremendous shifts in my lifestyle, this included my skincare regimen. I wanted to make sure I was staying away from anything I felt could even potentially limit my health. Because of my concern over some of the ingredients in the products I was using, I basically stopped using and threw out about 90% of the products I had on my bathroom sink. As a self-proclaimed skincare junkie, it was incredibly difficult to do. What was even harder though, was finding a product that gave me effective skin health benefits along with the same beautiful, luxurious application I was used to, and most importantly peace of mind that what I was putting on my skin was strictly beneficial to my skin and my body.
GTG: Attitudes to ‘natural’ and organic beauty are changing - why do you think this is?
KB: Simply put: demand. For years the beauty industry has sold this idea that the only way you can achieve your best skin is by pumping it full of chemicals over and over again. And quite frankly, I think people, particularly women, are tired of these blatant lies. I certainly was, and still am. They want something better, and are demanding it, and the industry has had to respond. There is still a long way to go, but when you look at the growth projections for natural beauty, it’s incredibly exciting to be a part of.
GTG: What do you think is the biggest challenge as a brand in the beauty industry today?
KB: Rising above the noise, the smoke and mirrors of the industry, whilst maintaining your integrity, all the way from ingredient sourcing to product formulation and quality. Lastly how you market your brand and engage with your customer and keep the brand loyalty long lasting.
And now for the quickfire GTG quiz...
In three words, I’m….
So incredibly fortunate.
My last health check was…
The workout that works for me is…
The product I tell everyone about…
Probably not enough.
My secret to staying sane is….
My morning workout. And my 4 kids.
If I could be anywhere on Earth right now…
I’d be right where I am.
I got my big break by…
Working incredibly hard and never taking no as an answer.
If I were to give myself a performance review, I’d say…
I can always do better.
My best budget beauty buy is...
My biggest health/beauty spend is...
Naturopathy and acupuncture.
I’m surprisingly good at…
Not getting tired.
Find out more about Immunocologie products on their website