Customisable skincare is one of the trends I predicted would be big in 2017. BIO-EXTRACTS, is a new vegan beauty brand that launched last year offering a “beauty lego” range of vegan face creams and serum boosts to mix and match depending on your skin concerns. I was intrigued to find out more and the founders kindly answered a few questions for me.
BIO-EXTRACTS was founded by Russian born, Britain-based mother daughter team, Marina and Irina. Is this another trend, the last company I wrote about KINN was also founded by a mouth-daughter team!
WONDERLUSTING CHATS WITH MARINA SHCHERBININA,CO-FOUNDER,BIO-EXTRACTS
Can you tell me a little about your background?
MS: “To make the long story short, I was born in Moscow in a family of Russian scientists who were involved in academic study for generations, mostly in the field of chemistry, physics and electronics.
Making creams and makeup was my passion from early childhood, and you also have to consider that there were no cosmetics products widely available in Soviet Russia. There was a very short supply of any goods in 1970s – 1990s.
I quickly became very popular in our neighbourhood and in the Moscow State University where I was studying. I could exchange a lipstick which I made myself for pretty much everything I needed and it was also the most well received gift by all the girls.
After having two children I moved to Britain and settled here, first I was working as a beauty editor in New Style magazine which was the first of its kind glossy magazine targeted specifically to Russian speaking people in the UK and Europe.
Getting more knowledge allowed me to set up my skincare company and own brand NuBo which I launched in 2008 in Harrods.
When the idea of Bio-Extracts as a “beauty lego” came to me, I quickly jumped on it and today we have 9 boosters with 4 face creams which make 8191 possible combination between them. I hope it’s enough to choose from!”
What inspired you to launch Bio-Extracts?
MS: “A number of factors indeed. Despite NuBo being the number one selling skincare brand in the Gentlemen’s Lounge in Harrods, I couldn’t offer products of this price range to the vast majority of customers outside Harrods. At the same time, I didn’t want to substitute effective and expensive ingredients for their cheaper alternatives. So I recalled the Russian tale “The seven coloured flower”, where a girl found a magic flower and every time she was tearing a petal, her wish came true.
I related this to skincare and a new brand was born – modern, effective, cleanly formulated and vegan! A brand of highly targeted treatments, which you can mix and match to make personal to your own skin.
If with NuBo every product is a real “orchestra” – a multi-tasker which is doing as many things as you can imagine (protect, nourish, regenerate, rehydrate, block unwanted enzymes which compromise skin performance, – you name it! ), Bio-Extracts is delivering highly targeted treatments, each product is playing a unique role. It is up to you how to make a perfect orchestra which will play for you what you like.
Another important consideration is that new, exciting technologies are becoming available, whilst a healthy lifestyle is gaining popularity worldwide.
The basis of every skincare is the perfect moisturiser, and at the same time everyone knows that it is beauty serums which provide the most concentrated form of the reparative ingredients. So I found the way to combine the concentrated power of serums with the nourishing power of the creams. And I believe it is an easy and rewarding way to do so.”
Is the range purposely vegan or did it just turn out that way?
MS: “This range was deliberately planned to be vegan and we are very proud to obtain the certification for all the products.
As Russian Christian Orthodox we have “lent” when we are not allowed to eat any animal derived food (forget the ‘ I’m not eating chocolate during the lent period’ approach), this is very strict. This brought us to discover the whole vegan world and we feel very excited about it, given its current growth in popularity.”
Please explain like I’m a 5 year old, what the Lamellar biotech system is and what benefits it has for the skin
MS: “Lamellar means layered so the system mimics our skin layers which are also lamellar/layered. As it is not just one thick layer, the absorption level of a Lamellar cream is much better, more efficient and more even, and gets in to the skin where it stays all day long like a patch.
I was really super-excited and inspired by Lamellar technology which was originally invented in doctors’ clinics to treat very dry, atopic and scaly skin. So I thought that if this works for such difficult medical conditions, the results are proven, this technology could be really good in treating ageing skin too!
With most skincare just sitting on the top of your skin, Lamellar technology is a real breakthrough! We want the skin to be rejuvenated “from the inside out”, and the exciting and exotic active ingredients to reach the skin in their “active” stage. With Lamellar technology we have this opportunity.”
I notice Bio-Extracts includes a few ingredients used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is this something you’ve studied or have an interest in?
MS: : “Again, this comes from the fact that I’m Russian and most Russians are mad with CTM, this is something we truly believe. Our nations live close to each other and we absolutely respect and adore CTM.
There are a lot of exotic ingredients from different parts of the world like French Guinea, India and China. What is your ingredients sourcing policy – do you look for any particular kind of certification?
MS: “Absolutely, all ingredients should be vegan, cruelty free and responsibly manufactured in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. Crucially, they have to perform. Independent clinical studies is the first thing I’m looking at when choosing the new ingredients. Most of our ingredients are also organic.
The packaging is very lab looking. Is there a purpose to this?
MS: “I can’t disagree, but to soften the medical look we choose nice pastel colours.
As a small family company we don’t always have funds to make all our desires true. So we had to choose from what is available here in accordance to our needs. First of all, the mixing process should be easy and not messy, that’s why the airless jar was chosen. When you add a booster shot to the top of the jar, the mixture stays on the top when the remaining product inside the jar is untouched, and stays fresh and hygienic.
For the boosters we couldn’t use regular tubes because in order for the formulations to stay active, they should be in airless containers. There is no reason to be scared of our syringes – this is very tight airless packaging, which also communicates speed of action.
How are the boosters different from a regular serum?
MS: “The boosters are very highly concentrated serums with up to five times higher concentration of active ingredients.
Just between us to explain my point, when a cosmetic ingredient is certified to be safely used at the rate of 0,5 – 2,5 %, we always chose the highest possible rate with Bio-Extracts. This is technically possible because each boost is a highly targeted serum which consists of the delivery system and an active. No other actives are interfering.”
Can the boosters be used on their own and if so what would be the best way to do this?
MS: “The best way is to super-charge your chosen moisturiser (chose from Light for oily and problematic skin, Delicate for sensitive, Normal for regular, or Rich for very dry and mature skin types) with up to 4 shots. All 4 shots can come from 1 boost or a combination of different boosters.
You can also use the booster-serum as a targeted treatment, but apply only to the area of your concern followed by the moisturiser.
During the summer period, are there any particular boosters that would be most beneficial to skin?
MS: “I would start with the cream, even for my very very dry skin I use the Light Moisturiser in the morning during the summer months. Thanks to rice micro-particles it helps me to keep makeup in place all day long and absorbs sweat.
The boosters are not season-related, they are person-related, but I would recommend to everyone HA Hydro Boost which is made of non-synthetic HA to increase skin hydration.
Lifting Boost is also great not only for the reassuring skin lifting effect but to extend the makeup wear too.
Summer is the time of parties, everyone will benefit from Glow, also I’m mixing this boost with my blushes too. Some people are mixing it with their foundations and the result is healthy glowing skin with desired coverage.
Finally, pollution is really high now and the Anti-Oxidant Boost is a must for everyone at least at night when our brain is sleeping and skin works hard repairing itself. Applying a few drops of this booster and mixing with your regular night cream will give a real boost to skin performance in fighting free radicals.”
Could you tell me about the aromatherapy side of the products?
MS: “We use natural fragrances and believe that they are mood-changing, uplifting and soothing! All our moisturisers contain a natural fragrance except for the Delicate moisturiser, which is why it is ideal for sensitive skin.”
Any new products planned?
MS: “We always have plans, the new Eye Collection is available now and the new Even Skin Boost to deal with pigmentation will come alive in Autumn. And more products are on the pipeline so that you can discover a different way to take care of your skin, personalised and targeted to your specific concern.”
As it’s a family business, have any beauty tips been passed down the generations?
MS: “My grandmother Alya told me: don’t cry, you can get wrinkles. I didn’t know at the age of three what wrinkles are but she was always telling me this in such a way that I was growing with a firm knowledge that wrinkles are the end of the world.”
Thank you Marina! I always find it fascinating the things our grannies say that stick with us!
Ingredients-wise, as mentioned above, BIO-EXTRACTS is vegan certified, made with mostly natural, organic ingredients and botanicals. Like many vegan lines, it does contain a handful of synthetic alternative ingredients. For fellow ingredient geeks, the full ingredients list are on the packaging but not on the website which only lists key ingredients, something I always find a little frustrating (on my hands and knees begging all companies to list completely). In any case I’m looking forward to having a play with the ‘beauty lego’ over the summer. The ‘Glow’ and ‘HA Hydra’ hydrating skin boosters in particular sound perfect for my skin.
Have you heard of BIO-EXTRACTS?
For further information visit bio-extracts.co.uk