From bar­ley to BIOEF­FECT; Schön! dis­cov­ers how a hum­ble grain is chang­ing the face of cos­met­ics.

Schon! - - Barley Beautiful - Words / Rachel McCul­loch Photography / Travis Rath­bone @ Apos­tro­phe Styling / So­nia Rentsch Re­touch / MONARC New York

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 bioef­ and at se­lected spas, in­clud­ing The Sloane Club Spa in Lon­don.

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