Monday, July 18, 2011

Meet Ben Johnson MD, creator of Osmosis


Towards the end of last year I heard word that Osmosis skincare had arrived in New Zealand at last, and swiftly booked myself for an Osmosis Medi Facial at Lucy & The Powder Room to check out what the fuss was all about. It was a great facial with the promised luminous result, and I left with some products to establish my own homecare regime. I continued this right through the New Zealand summer, before changing to Sodashi once the weather turned and the cooler temperatures began creeping in and my skin became very tight and dry. I’m a fan of changing my skincare regime along with the seasons, and loved the results that Osmosis gave me but felt my skin needed more nourishment.
Osmosis has a different focus than most skincare lines, and creator Dr. Ben Johnson (also of Cosmedix fame) believes in building a “partnership with the skin”. This partnership includes utilizing ingredients that the skin recognizes, maintaining the epidermal barrier while focusing most of the attention on the dermis, virtually eliminating inflammation during repair and feeding the skin through increasing blood flow. The combination of these strategies and the ability of the products to penetrate the skin without harming it make this line one of the best in the world at restoring skin health and restoring its youthful verve.
Most skin care goes only about 5 per cent into the deeper layers of the skin, where signs of aging originate. Osmosis' liposomes are proven to increase penetration by 1000 per cent (yep, that’s one THOUSAND times more) as well as protect against sun damage and environmental toxins. Rather than the traumatic exfoliation common to many high performance skincare ranges, Osmosis stimulates and feeds the skin from the bottom up to “restore a more youthful appearance” by naturally nourishing and stimulating the skin. And like everything else you’ll find at Lucy & The Powder Room and The Marr Lab downstairs, Osmosis products are all natural with no artificial colours, preservatives, fragrances or other artificial irritants, no sodium lauryl sulfate or propylene glycol. They are simply plant-based and are not tested on animals.
Last month I was invited to meet Dr. Ben Johnson in person during a whirlwind trip that he made to New Zealand. Over coffee and cookies I put a few questions to him about the line and innovations on the way, and came away hugely excited about the possibilities out there on the anti-aging frontier.

You had medi spas for a long while, was that your product testing ground – on human guinea pigs if you will?
In a way they were, but not in the sense that you’re talking about. I often feel like we are all guinea pigs at some point and have been for so long – I mean how many philosophies have we tried out over the last 30 years? I consider Retin A to be a failure, and I’ve met a lot of doctors and aestheticians who agree with me when I say that a lot of people look older after five years on it. Treating my patients using the likes of that was testing for me.

You started the Cosmedix line when you still had your spas, is that right?
I did, but it was more of a business strategy and wanting to do my own thing. It turned out to be a really good line and well received – and it still is today – but it was dealing with an old school philosophy. After I left the brand I spent a couple of years looking at the research and trying to work out what made sense to me – and not going just the usual path of exfoliation and hydration, things we’ve already learned. I looked at why we do those things, and somewhere in that process Osmosis emerged. And over the last couple of years we bought in some pretty remarkable technology that’s given us the tools we need to reverse ageing.

You’ve gone down the natural route with Osmosis, with lots of organic ingredients here and there as well. Was it hard to get “natural” and “high performance right”?
It was, and I tried to make this line totally organic but the wall of regulations was so high. There are restrictions on how many actives you can use, and I was looking at formulas that were using 40 percent plant actives – when the restriction was five. That just isn’t high performance enough for me. Natural is achievable though, and the range is incredibly complementary to the skin with the ingredients I’ve used. The real philosophy behind Osmosis is working with the skin, in partnership with the skin and choosing ingredients in line with that.

An example is?
Our Retinaldehyde is a thousand times stronger than regular Vitamin A but it’s non-irritating. It’s a must and essential to the process.

So you would say it’s a non-irritating line in general?
I can honestly say that anyone can use this product once they get the right prescription. Your skin didn’t like being pushed really fast so we’re going to slow things up for a while with a new regime for you. If you’re peeling then stop what you’re using – you want to be protecting the barrier and yourself from the sun as well. Maintain that barrier as it reflects 80 per cent of light that gets thrown at it – destroy that by wiping it with alcohol and the like and more will go in. Feed the dermis and it will reward you for it.

What product in particular is a must-have in your opinion?
Catalyst, which could prove to be the single greatest invention in the history of skincare. Its key ingredient is Skin Repair Growth Factor (SRGF-7), which appears to be active in a lot of essential areas. It rejuvenates DNA/RNA by promoting the repair of damaged strands, and reduces scar tissue build up by improving protein production. It stimulates collagen production and improves the strength and elasticity of the collagen structure, and regulates pigment production so that it functions maximally while normalizing melanin output. This results in dramatic improvement for the likes of melasma and solar lentigines (age spots). It repairs many facial capillaries and even makes your eyelashes grow longer!

Before I know it our time together is up, which is probably a good thing as my brain feels like it’s about to explode with information (it doesn't take much, seriously). He prescribes a new treatment routine for me, putting me on Stem Factor (two pumps) and Clarify (one pump) with a little Catalyst to follow if all goes according to plan. I also get a copy of his book, Transform Your Skin Naturally inscribed with the phrase “let’s make great skin together!”… to which I wholeheartedly agree.

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