The Dirty Secrets Behind Your Favorite Beauty Products
You’re almost aboard the green beauty train.
Coconut oil, tea tree blemish sticks, and witch hazel toners all have a place in your beauty cabinet—but they’re situated next to a hardcore antiaging retinol cream that makes your skin feel baby soft overnight and a pricey, miracle-working serum that definitely wouldn’t live up the Environmental Working Group’s clean beauty standards.
There’s just something about conventional (sometimes toxic) beauty and skin care products that you just can’t quit. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Maybe we haven’t fully transitioned to organic-only because we grew up with brands like Olay, Neutrogena, and Chanel, and we mistakenly trust that they would never contain harmful or toxic ingredients. (Wrong.) Perhaps it’s more about efficacy—a natural beauty expert once admitted to me that even though she loved organic products, she still used her prescription-grade retinol because it worked “better than any natural product” she could find.
Abbott Stark, the co-founder of organic beauty company Ogee, understands why you just can’t quit the toxic skin care. After all, he worked for nearly a decade in product formulation for some of the biggest cosmetic companies in the world. “We created beauty and skin care products for hundreds of brands,” Stark explains, rattling off many names of companies that you’ve definitely seen lining the aisles of Sephora.
His time in the cosmetics lab contributed to his desire to launch his own organic line—seeing what actually went into all the lotions and potions made Stark uncomfortable. He clearly remembers the startling event that caused him to kick production of Ogee into high gear:
“WHEN OGEE WAS STILL IN THE WORKS AS A NIGHT AND WEEKEND PROJECT, THE BAN ON PLASTIC MICROBEADS CAME OUT. I THOUGHT, WE’RE TOTALLY IN THE CLEAR, WE’RE MORE INTO MAKEUP AND SKIN CARE—WE’RE NOT INTO BODY WASHES OR THOSE TYPES OF PRODUCTS. ONE OF OUR BIGGEST SELLING PRODUCTS WAS A LIPGLOSS, AND I WAS TALKING TO A CHEMIST ABOUT HOW WE DIDN’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE BAN. AND SHE SAID, “ACTUALLY, THE NUMBER TWO INGREDIENT IN THE LIPGLOSS IS PLASTIC MICROBEADS.” THEY’RE MELTED DOWN INTO THE FORMULATION, AND THAT’S WHAT GIVES THAT GLOSSING EFFECT. IT’S ALMOST TOO GROSS TO TALK ABOUT.”
With a strong background in product formulation and skin care knowledge, Stark set out to create a luxurious, organic, efficacious skin care product. The result is Ogee’s four-item range: Daily Facial Cleansing Cloths, Seeds of Youth Anti-aging Serum, Jojoba Restore Face Oil, and the Sculpted Lip Oil stick.
Every product was painstakingly developed to contain only the highest-quality ingredients. “Our organic certification is huge, because it’s challenging to get that approval. All of our products have 89 to 95 percent organic ingredients. It’s just as much about what can’t go into the formulation—so there’s no petroleum byproducts, no GMOs, every ingredient is scrutinized from the field where it’s grown to when it’s put into our bottles.”
The hero ingredient of the entire range? Jojoba oil. Stark became obsessed with the unique ingredient because it’s identical to human sebum. “It’s antibacterial and has this incredible lubricity. It actually sort of washes the pores, because it very easily penetrates and it has that antibacterial quality—so it’s great for treating acne. It’s also loaded with essential fatty acids and it helps balance sebum production, so it will adapt to your skin whether it’s too oily or too dry and bring you back to that perfect sweet spot. It’s highly biocompatible and strengthens the top layer of the dermis, so it helps prevent fine lines and wrinkles. So it’s kind of a miracle. It’s different than any other oil out there.”
We’re obsessed with the Jojoba Restore Face Oil (it smells like a dream, scented with a proprietary blend of essential oils that enhance jojoba’s benefits), but we’re also loving the Sculpted Lip Oil stick. It’s an emollient moisturizer that instantly penetrates dry, chapped lips, molded into a little stick that looks like Clinique’s old school Chubby sticks.
Honestly, the best thing about Ogee’s range—and many of the high-quality organic beauty products available—is that the ingredients are incredibly potent and pure, so they work quickly and effectively to nourish skin with vitamins and minerals. They’re great multi-taskers, treating everything from acne to wrinkles while nourishing skin so it looks even better in the future. That means you, as a consumer, don’t need to use as many lotions and potions every day in order to look and feel beautiful.
De-cluttered beauty cabinet and more glowy skin? We’re in.