From barley to BIOEFFECT; Schön! discovers how a humble grain is changing the face of cosmetics.
You may not have heard of BIOFFECT yet, but, without using flashy packaging or overindulgent advertising campaigns, this brand has been quietly revolutionising skincare. With its little glass vials in pared-back boxes, BIOFFECT is utterly discreet but, as the saying goes, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Over the past five years, a troupe of scientists in Iceland has been developing the range, which is based on the game-changing EGF formula. Imagine vast greenhouses full of barley against the backdrop of a majestic Icelandic panorama and a skin-saving miracle with the ability to turn back time. It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but this is reality, thanks to ORF Genetics, who set out to develop a new technology (based on plant biotechnology), which would produce human growth factors and, specifically, EGF – otherwise known as Epidermal Growth Factor.
It wasn’t skincare that ORF Genetics had in mind when starting work on EGF, but stem cell technology research. In fact, in 1986, the team behind BIOEFFECT won a Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of EGF. It’s a plant-based cellular activator which, through complex signalling, leads to increased collagen and elasticity within the skin. In terms of cosmetics, this translates into thicker, denser skin and a reduction in wrinkles.
Through development, ORF Genetics, and then BIOEFFECT, were able to replicate the EGF that already exists in the skin, using barley plants. This very organic foray into skincare, from a technological starting point, can be felt throughout the brand. Dr. Björn Örvar, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of BIOEFFECT, tells us: “When we started product development, we were definitely not under a strong influence from the traditional cosmetics or cosmetic regimes. We developed the product in a very practical way.”
The BIOEFFECT EGF serum (the brand’s hero product) contains just seven ingredients, while the average skincare product contains over 50. No unnecessary colourings or chemicals mean that there is space to have a higher concentration of the factors that really matter. This is also great news for those who suffer from sensitivity; BIOEFFECT is hypoallergenic and suitable for all skin types. “The EGF produced in barley is void of endotoxins,” explains Dr. Örvar. “It is purer, more stable and, therefore, more active.” Just three drops of serum massaged onto the face and neck at night (when the skin is more able to metabolise) and the benefits are visible even after the first application: a brighter, smoother complexion, which is better equipped to defend itself against the usual skin issue triggers such as weather, diet and lifestyle. Still not convinced?
“The figures speak for themselves,” says Örvar. “After testing 30 women for eight weeks, skin thickness improved by more than 60%, while skin density increased by more than 30%.” For Örvar and his team, discovering these remarkable results was something of a Eureka moment. “We definitely experienced the ‘We are the first!’ feeling,” he recalls. “Our different angle, or our biotech approach, requires a slightly different thinking on what criteria we should have for skin care products… we believe that as newcomers we can bring something new to this arena.”
Something new is exactly what the marketplace needed. BIOEFFECT launched in Iceland in May 2010 with great success; it is now used by more than 30% of Icelandic women over 30. When it launched in the UK in 2011, over 2,000 bottles were sold on its first day.
Groundbreaking research, Nobel Prize winning discoveries and Icelandic innovation; channel these factors into three drops of serum at night and watch the clock turn back – at high speed.
BIOEFFECT products are available online at bioeffect.co.uk and at selected spas, including The Sloane Club Spa in London.