Meet The Founder: Karen Ballou, Founder of Immunocologie Female Founders
With a successful career in the beauty industry that spanned over 30 years, Immunocologie was born from Karen Ballou's desire to explore the link between overall well-being skincare, creating a lifestyle brand to help all skin types. Immunocologie create an incomparably clean line that nourishes the skin from the outside in. Made from plant- and mineral-based products and crafted from ethically sourced, sustainable ingredients, they create products to effectively nourished and balanced, resulting in healthy, bright, radiant skin.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Karen. Can you tell us a bit about your background and the journey that led you to create Immunocologie?
I started my career in the beauty industry a couple of years out of college. I was fortunate to work with an iconic brand, Elizabeth Arden, who believed caring for the skin was the most important part of starting your day after breakfast. I worked in sales behind the counter, then moved into marketing, which gave me insight into working in the front of the house and the back of the house. It also gave me a good taste of the Professional market and so when I was asked by Redken to join their brand’s team, it was an honour to learn more about the beauty industry and how it worked between different markets and types of products.
After about 30 years in the beauty industry and as a leader, I knew the evolution of time was starting to need a change. Over the years, I brought many innovative ideas to the industry that are being used today, and helped change the way we personally and professionally think about our skincare routines and the products that can support the skin. I even became an esthetician to better understand the skin, and gained the opportunity to work with individuals treating skin and skin disorders.
I loved it so much that I opened up a school and became an Esthetician teacher. Education was so important to me, and it became very clear how much I could bring to the industry through my knowledge. I found the misconception of skin types and how people were using the products! This is when merging the Esthetician and the Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon together would open up a new source of work and how we looked at the skin. It was this world that opened up to many more jobs and product lines to choose from. This difference also lead to identifying what the skin needs every day to be healthy. without harsh chemicals that strip the skin's natural microbiome.
I was not on a mission to create my own skincare line. It was after going through Hodgkin Lymphoma with Chemo and being told 5 years later I was in remission, it was the remission that sent me in the direction to help care for skin no matter what kind of skin, especially since I had skin challenges during cancer. Knowing that what goes on your skin goes into your body through your skin, I knew I had to address how to create clean, safe products for all skin types. This was something I had started years before, but at the time we didn't have the full capacity to do the right thing for skin due to the lack of science in the field. Immunocologie has given me the pathway to achieve such success with effective, safe ingredients that brings change to every individual, glowing, bright, hydrated, firm skin with each use.
In what ways is skincare related to overall health and wellbeing?
The skin is a protective barrier to our inside world, and it is protecting us from environmental pollutants and irritants. It is important to treat the skin well by strengthening the microbiome – the same type of microbiome found in our gut. We have found from the years of science behind French Green Clay that this is a secret ingredient that improves our overall skin health and wellbeing. We call that absorption and adsorption: taking off what is harmful and giving back to the skin healthy ingredients that will balance the skin. This action helps take away extra stress from our skin daily.
French Green Clay is at the heart of each of your products. How did you come to discover it and why is it such an important ingredient?
It was introduced to me by a French Botanist who was studying French Green Clay for skin and reached out to me to study its effectiveness on skin with him. As it turned out, I used it during my Chemo days and found it had amazing skin hydrating properties that no one has ever seen with Clay masks ever before… It also had the ability to help improve the skin, even for the most sensitive skin types. The science of the ionic exchange that electrically charges the Clay water, adding benefits to each product for the skin, is used in the Vital Clay mask and all Immunocologie products for best results and helps to protect the microbiome on a daily basis when using Immunocologie.
What does a great skincare routine look like to you?
Well cleansed, well exfoliated, well treated with serums and well hydrated and moisturized.
In terms of a routine, would you recommend sticking to what you know, or mixing it up and trying new things?
I first want to say, it is always important when deciding on what is best for you your skin to go to a professional who will analyze your skin, give you a better understanding of it, and set you up with the right regimen. Trying new products without this understanding can lead to spending money on products that are not suited for you, can end up as both wasted money and product – I would love to end this! Most importantly, buy based on knowledge about your skin, this will lead to better and more long-lasting results.
This is how Immunocologie was built...our skin needs can also change the needs of our daily routines as environmental or seasonal changes, or diet can affect the skin. I’ve found that constantly mixing it up with different brands doesn’t lead to results, just frustration and more money spent. A targeted solution like Immunocologie will help solve many skin issues, and with Immunocologie we promote customer education with complimentary consultations to answer these skin questions and give you a proper, personalized recommendation...for the best results!
Did you have any founding principles that inspired you and the Immunocologie brand?
Yes! Skin Health is a healthy you.
Just like the need to brush your teeth twice a day and manage your Oral Microbiome, you have to do the same for your skin. A bright healthy complexion is the sign of a healthy microbiome inside and out!
What’s been your favourite thing about starting a business?
Watching it grow as people look at skincare as a daily necessity as a part of their routine for good health and a balanced microbiome.
And have there been any major setbacks or challenges that you’ve had to overcome?
Getting people to understand how Immunocologie is developed with fresh, natural ingredients that work, and trust the effectiveness of natural ingredients over other chemicals.
Sustainability and social responsibility are a major part of Immuncologie’s ethos. Why is it so important that your products are eco-friendly, and what have you done to ensure this?
My belief is to be thoughtful in every we do. My intentions are to create simplicity, give back and use best practices! We look at industry standards and see what we can do in the area of cosmetic sustainability. Our brand is conscious-minded, and our products are made by intentionally selecting each aspect of our ingredient selections and their sourcing, formulation, and packaging design. We make tradeoffs for more sustainable options that extend our products’ lifecycles, even if they introduce additional costs for us as a small business. Overall, we are strict about ingredients and formulas that don’t compromise the Earth’s health. We support responsible agriculture, and methods to reduce water and product waste. Almost all of our packaging is fully recyclable or compostable.
What would be your top tips for those trying to live more sustainably?
Looking into your water and energy sources, being a leader, not a follower when it comes to sustainability, creating good intentions that will leave positive effects in your home and for those outside your home.
And finally, a quick-fire round…
- Favourite TV series at the moment? Yellowstone- everyone is talking Yellowstone
- Desert island luxury item? My Super7 and Face Serum Oil
- Bucket list travel destination? Thailand
- Best book recommendation? The Ballou Review coming out in 2022 about knowing our beauty inside and out. A beauty journey...
- The best way to spend a weekend? With my Husband
- Favourite dish? Anything green and healthy