Confused By Clean, Natural Beauty? How Korres Clears Up The Confusion.

… [+] green herb medicine, Natural skin care beauty products, Research and development concept … Not So Pretty.” Skin is our body’s largest organ … more stringent Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act was … in a new KORRES skincare line. The Santorini grape …

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Melissa Juried Kriebel

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It’s no secret that the $81 billion global beauty industry has a dirty underside, as exposed in the recent HBO Max’s documentary “Not So Pretty.” Skin is our body’s largest organ and what goes on it affects our health as much as the foods, supplements and drugs we ingest.

But unlike food and drugs, the FDA provides minimal oversight to cosmetics, banning the use of only 11 ingredients compared with some 1,400 prohibited in Europe. In 2019 a more stringent Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act was introduced in Congress but failed to move forward.

The consumer is left with little direction when shopping for beauty products. Unlike food, where we’ve learned to shop grocery store’s perimeter aisles and look for organic food labels, shopping beauty is a confusing hodgepodge of ingredients only a chemist can understand.

For the layperson, choosing a safe, clean, natural beauty product comes down primarily to the stuff that is not in it, as opposed to what is. Sephora and Ulta have a list of about 50 ingredients banned from their clean beauty offerings, while Beauty Counter’s “Never List” includes 1,800 ingredients.

“It’s very complex because there is no regulation around what is natural and what is not,” said Larissa Jensen, vice president beauty at The NPD Group.

“Basically, when you talk about ‘clean beauty’ that means it is free of certain ingredients. When we look at brands, we separate them by ‘natural’ and ‘clinical.’ In prestige beauty, ‘natural’ was the biggest category for a while, then in 2020, it flipped to ‘clinical’ brands and remains number one today,” she continued.

It’s created a nature or science dichotomy for the beauty customer because as good as ‘natural’ beauty feels, it may not be the most effective.

“If you want to affect real change in your skin, you’re going to have to go for the chemicals,” admitted Dana Wood, a beauty industry veteran, having worked for L’Oréal and covered beauty for WWD, Condé Nast and now reporting independently. “A lot of natural beauty brands sound like there’s a bunch of twigs, berries and flowers floating around in the products. Who wants that?”

Putting more of the good stuff in beauty formulations, including natural ingredients with names people recognize but that also meet rigorous scientific standards, is the mission of chemical engineer Lena Phillippou Korres, co-founder and chief innovation officer at KORRES Natural Products based in Greece.

The company drew inspiration from ancient science, homeopathic medicine and bioculture to develop KORRES six-step Full Circle process that extracts the most powerful ingredients from nature and formulates them into modern beauty products. All the while, the company helps protect and sustain Greece’s unique flora and agriculture community and responsibly recycles product packaging.

Through her research work, Korres has identified the nine most powerful natural ingredients from Greece that work in beauty – Greek yoghurt, Apothecary wild rose, Pomegranate, Black pine, White pine, Golden krocus, Olympus tea, Greek olive and Santorini grape. She brings them into her lab where she and her team formulate them into products that give a scientifically-proven performance edge.

“When you are formulating with natural ingredients, it is ten times more difficult than when you are formulating with chemicals,” Korres explains. “Chemicals are predictable and stable while natural ingredients are alive. They depend on the weather, sunshine, and everything in the environment and are highly interactive with each other. We understand that and bring our deep knowledge and respect for nature and those ingredients into our products.”

KORRES got its start when Giorgos Korres began working in Greece’s oldest herbal-homeopathic pharmacy while studying at the Pharmacy School of the University of Athens. He took over the pharmacy in 1992 and launched KORRES Natural Products with then-wife Lena in 1996. No longer married, they still consider themselves family.

“Homeopathic medicine was born in ancient Greece. The principle of homeopathy is not just to treat the symptoms but to treat the underlying cause of a disease,” Korres shared.

Unlike modern pharmacology, which may weaken the natural immune system, homeopathy works differently. “The principle of homeopathy is to support the body and build the immune system with natural ingredients,” she continues.

When it comes to natural ingredients, KORRES home in Greece provides a plethora to choose from. “Greece is a paradise of biodiversity because of our climate, our soil, the abundance of sunshine and the variety of landscapes from the sea to mountains. Its great variety produces some of the most powerful natural ingredients on the planet,” she asserted.

For example, the Santorini grape, one of the world’s most ancient grape varieties, is grown only on Crete and is a key ingredient in a new KORRES skincare line. The Santorini grape is so robust that it grows virtually without tending and is watered primarily by sea mist that rises from the ocean overnight.

“Sea water is full of minerals, a thousand times better than any water we could give it. Because of the extreme conditions it grows under, the Santorini grape is super-loaded with polyphenols, antioxidants and minerals. And we use the byproduct of the winemaking process to formulate our line,” she said.

KORRES operates 13 stores in Europe and three in Asia and until recently, it was only available in the U.S. through its website and in selected stores, notably Sephora and Ulta. However, it just opened a store in New York’s Nolita neighborhood to share its story and the products’ Greek origins more widely in the U.S. market. The store also features a mini-recycling lab where customers can return empty packages for processing.

“Getting the story out about our brand, our phenomenal ingredients and product quality is so important because consumers need help getting satisfactory information about ‘natural beauty.’ The only navigation they really have is trust in your brand,” Korres said.

To that end, the company is vertically integrated and involved from start to finish in the entire process. “We work with more than a thousand farming families who cultivate our organic ingredients,” she explained.

“So we know where they came from, how they are grown and harvested, then we bring these pure ingredients into our lab to extract the active molecules from inside the plants to make sure they remain active and aren’t killed in the process.

“From there, we formulate the products, sustainably package them and then recycle them. I believe this full circle, end-to-end process is fundamental in building trust with our customers,” she concluded.

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