Meet the Founder - Georgie Cleeve Oskia

Oskia has grown from strength to strength; raid any beauty blogger's bathroom cabinet and you're sure to find a bottle of {Renaissance Cleansing Gel} - the peachy-pink gel-balm that leaves skin feeling plump and looking luminous. A truly great British brand, we caught up with the founder - Georgie Cleeve - who talked us through the brand's beginnings, its unique qualities and her expert, insider skin tips.

{Cult Beauty} Hi Georgie! To being with, could you share a little bit about your background? How you first discovered 'MSM' and how this led you to developing a skin care line? 

{Georgie Cleeve} It was an accidental - and propitious - discovery. I never purposely set out to build a brand - it was more of a 'I need to share this' situation, having stumbled upon an ingredient that saved my knees, my sanity and my skin. In my teens, I suffered from severe knee cartilage damage and after many failed operations, I succumbed to my dad's pleas to try his new joint supplement - developed for race horses; namely, MSM.

In short, having been told that I would never ski or run again, I went on to compete in endless triathlons and marathons, I skied heavily and my skin - an infuriating mix of acne and eczema - was completely transformed; a very welcome and yet unexpected side-effect.

The seed of an idea was sown - but it took many years of being a food and health journalist before I decided to embark on bringing a nutritionally-designed skin care range to the market, and even more years of extensive research, development and nutritional training before {Oskia} launched in 2010.

MSM happens to be our founding story, but it makes up only one of the remarkable bio-active nutrients used within our products - all of which are designed by me and an exceptional team of nutritionists, doctors and cosmetic scientists - before being made in our very own lab (in Monmouth, Wales); something very special, and incredibly rare in the industry.

{CB} And for those who're still uncertain, can you explain (in layman's terms) what MSM is and why/how it's so skin-beneficial?

{GC} MSM is to collagen, what flour is to cake - your cells simply could not make collagen - or keratin - without it. It's the most bio-available form of the mineral sulphur - and sulphur is, not only vital to collagen (and therefore cartilage) production, but also keratin, amino acids and another 150 different bodily compounds and processes, including detoxification and anti-inflammation.

It's fantastic for all skin types, but we have a seriously loyal base of acne and eczema sufferers - MSM is brilliant for stimulating collagen, eliminating impurities, calming acne and eczema and strengthening hair and nails.

Oskia Renaissance Mask

{CB} You use the term 'bio-available' - can you demystify this phrase for us?

{GC} Oskia stars nutrients which are both 'bio-active' and 'bio-available' - meaning that they are in a form that will penetrate into skin's lower levels (where they are most beneficial), and are in a form that cells can actually utilise - as opposed to simply being rich in actives that contain vitamins and minerals (which are often unusable by the skin).

{CB} Oskia is very special in that it appeals to/benefits a swathe of age groups and skin types - from the young beauty bloggers who're besotted with 'Renaissance' to more mature women who're looking for 'serious' anti-ageing. Why do you think {Oskia} so successfully straddles all skin types and age groups?

{GC} At the end of the day, skin health (and therefore, a glowing complexion) is what all women want, and this is what {Oskia} delivers - via our (aforementioned) bio-active nutrients. I believe people can relate to the health benefits of a good diet, so Oskia is very easy to understand - it's 'nutritional' skin care. Our products are also very targeted, and I'd like to think, innovative. For example, our {Renaissance Cleanser} was the first gel-to-oil cleanser on the market when it launched, just over two years ago.

{CB} Increasingly hectic lifestyles are wreaking havoc with our complexions. Spots are no longer ‘outgrown’ and there are ever-increasing numbers of women who’re battling blemishes and wrinkles simultaneously. Is there a regime you’d recommend for those whose skin is ‘mixed up’ or rebelling? 

{GC} I wouldn’t say 'mixed up' - it’s more that our poor skin now has a host of new evils to fight. On one hand we have the normal sands of time, but on the other - increased pollution, fatigue and stress! Women in particular have seen stress levels spiral over the last twenty years due to the ‘I want it all’ rebellion - we can and do have it all - career, family, home - but our stress levels have shot up as a result, and stress produces cortisol and adrenaline which dramatically accelerates ageing and breakouts. Therefore, using strong anti-inflammatories (such as MSM) and super anti-oxidants (like astaxanthin), are two of the best additions to any routine.

Oskia Super 16 Serum

{CB} Which is your ‘hero’ product and do you have any alternate, ‘insider’ product tips/uses that Oskia-lovers need to know about?

{GC} At the moment I have 3 hero products, if I’m allowed...? The {Renaissance Cleanser} is never out of my bathroom, and if I’m having a bad skin day, or am attending an event, I will always turn to the {Renaissance Mask} for an instant beauty boost - it’s used at Pinewood Studios during filming, before a close up. It’s also fantastic for hands and feet - particularly hands before a wedding! Then {Restoration Oil} is my night time love. It makes my skin feel like it's wrapped in cashmere and ready for bed.

{CB} The Oskia range is still relatively concise and it’s apparent that a great deal of thought goes into each new product launch (rather than a race to release something new). How do you set about developing new product and what kick-starts the process?

{GC} I never want to produce a product that is like something already on the market, which is why the research and development process is quite a lengthy one. A new product will always come out of an idea - usually how to solve a skin problem - and then it’s just a case of finding the best solution, in a form that hasn’t been done before. For example, one of the key ingredients in our {Super 16} is the wonderful bakuchiol - I wanted an ingredient that had exactly the same effect as retinol, but without the potentially irritating side-effects. It took two years, but I found it. We have six, very different, new products launching in the next twelve months. I can’t wait to share them with you.

{CB} And finally, do you have a beauty pearl of wisdom to impart? Something surprising you’ve learned on your skin care journey?    

{GC} I wouldn’t know where to start on this, as I could write an encyclopaedia but, as corny as it sounds, I believe in the power of endorphins. Be happy and your skin will look happy. Twinkly eyes and a smile will win any day.

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