Meet The Founder

Meet the Founder: Georgie Cleeve of Oskia

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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Verity Ann Douglas

Verity Ann Douglas

Content Editor

Verity is our Content Editor and a Cult Beauty veteran. Currently on maternity leave, raising Cult Beauty’s honorary ‘word nerd’, Tabitha, she speaks fluent ‘beauty’ and loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm (and cleanser and candles… ad infinitum). Nothing can stop her from quoting Nancy Mitford, treating herself to yet another Bella Freud candle for her desk or buying that pilgrim-esque collared or heavily fringed outfit she’s been eyeing. You can trust her to debunk widespread beauty myths and dispense invaluable advice with ease…