Skin Nutrition co-founders Joanne Purvis and her husband Richard fused their individual areas of expertise in pharmaceutical skincare marketing and nutrition to develop their own revolutionary line: a bilateral system of skincare that specializes in anti-aging, age reversal and skin rejuvenation. We spoke with Joanne about how Skin Nutrition came to fruition, why both nutritional supplements and topical creams are key, and her love for the chock full of ingredients in the brand's Cell CPR serum.

I read that prior to co-founding Skin Nutrition with Richard, that you did marketing for Coca Cola, and Valpre Spring Water? How did you first make the transition to developing skincare products, and what led you in that direction?

I was involved with sales and marketing in bottled water in South Africa. There was no market in SA at the time, so it was a very successful launch, and it is still the best selling water in the country. When I met my husband, he was in the nutrition business and I had moved to a pharmaceutical company. At that pharmaceutical company, I was regional manager and looked after four different channels - skincare was one of them. So I was responsible for pharmaceutical products and he was involved in nutrition and we wanted to take it to another level. That's basically how we evolved. We had been wanting to do skincare, and with his nutrition background, we knew if you are eating correctly you are going to get the benefit of better skin. However, you also need to be applying topically. So we went the route of vitamin-based skincare.

What sparked the idea for Skin Nutrition specifically?

Like I said, we knew we wanted to have an 'outside-in' and 'inside out' approach, so once we were fortunate to come across an amazing product formulator we were able to put together some things that would do great things when applied topically. We already had the supplement side, so we were able to create a line that had both. We already knew the benefits of supplements ingested internally. We knew that applying those vitamins and nutrients topically has benefits as well. The route we took with our product formulator was to first create and then use focus groups where the products were applied over and over again. They were blown away by what they are seeing and we were too. For example, alpha-lipoic acid has done wonders. We have sort of moved and passed that technology now – but we started in that place, with vitamins.

After you had the idea, what was the process like in making it come to fruition? How long did that take?

From conception and visualization to getting the packaging and how it looked, figuring out the formulations, trying them out on the focus groups, I would say it took us 2 years. We started in 2000 and launched it in 2002.

What kind of scientific authorities did you reach out to in order to begin developing the line?

We did a lot of independent research, but we were lucky to have our product formulator John Knowlton's expertise. He was an executive product formulator for Johnson & Johnson Europe and was so tied in with all of the best suppliers in Europe, so he would always get the first ingredients on the market and the newest technologies. We are always trying to look at new technologies and constantly evolving our products, so we were lucky to have John Knowlton– and a Korean formulator by the name of James Joo. Korea is at the forefront of new technology so it has been a great collaboration between the two.

Could you explain Skin Nutrition's philosophy? How would you define bio-active skin care?

While we are constantly evolving in regards to technology, we are very much about natural products. Our concept is the 'inside out', 'outside in'. We are bilaterally attacking aging from two different angles. Whatever is ingested internally is also applied out. Everyone knows super foods are good for this, they slow down the aging process. What we've done is taken super foods like berries and spinach extract, and we've microencapsulated them. Our technology is such that we've put those into a microcapsule that breaks up so they are able to be absorbed into the skin and are able to penetrate into the different layers where you wouldn't normally have that happening.

Like you said, Skin Nutrition has both an 'outside in' (topical) component and an 'inside out' component with nutritional supplements. Why are both key to the line?

You can see the differences, a huge difference on overall skin. What can be done with different wrinkle depths and tone and texture, you'll definitely see a big difference. It really is a matter of taking care of both. We are aware that you if you eat McDonalds everyday, you are going to reverse that process. The point is that as long as you are eating food that is going to degenerate, it will have an effect on your skin. And the same goes externally. So it is about combining both. Skin Nutrition is a lifestyle brand – its anti-aging internally as well as externally, and the combination is what makes the added difference.

What makes Skin Nutrition different from other brands?

There are a few differences. We do supplementation and shakes, so there is that side, which is about internal optimization of great skin care. In our topicals and supplements, we only use the best ingredients on the market, from all the best European suppliers. We do our best to stay away from bad ingredients, we are very ethically driven. Anything that's going to hinder the efficacy of our products we stay away from. The fact that we are ethically driven and make sure we are giving our consumer the best product that technology can supply us at this point separates us from other brands. Not everybody is using so many active ingredients of this quality because it is expensive – at Skin Nutrition we are about giving someone the best possible product.

Could you elaborate how this is more effective for you, than say, eating healthy but not using the same topicals? Do they work synergistically.  Say you are using a certain cleanser, would you be taking a certain supplement to go with that cleanser? Or is it more general than that?

The supplements we sell are high levels of antioxidants, which destroy free radicals in the system and prevent them from destroying healthy cells.  These are all highly beneficial to the skin by protecting and energizing the cells. Certain supplements can be used in conjunction with certain skin care products. For example, if a client has pigmentation or sun damage issues she could use the Alpha Lipoic Acid (supplement) along with the Astaxanthin (supplement), and topically she would apply the Complexion Revitalizing Serum.  Or if a client has acne problems, she could use the Fabulous Face (supplement) along with the Deep Cleansing Mask etc.

Your website says that many of the ingredients are proprietary and patented. Which of these unique ingredients is your favorite in particular?

What is revolutionary for us is the patented technology of our preservation system. Most companies are either using parabens, or phenoxyethanol, which is simply the better of the bad.  Our technology is a natural system and nobody else is using it. We had to patent it because it is just that good. Another, for example, Renovasyn has phytosterols that support the renewal of the skin. And within this one particular patented set of ingredients there is also Omega Plankton, which has omega 3s and is anti-inflammatory. We also have Crylasine, which has epidermal growth factors and fibroblast growth factors that promote cell growth. And then we also have peptides that exfoliate the top layer of skin constantly, so if you apply it every day you are allowing all these great ingredients to really penetrate the skin while continually taking off the dead skin.

There are quite a few ingredients in Skin Nutrition products, especially in Cell CPR (70). If there are so many ingredients, aren't they also then in very small quantities? Do they all do something different or do they work synergistically?

This technology is going back to nano-encapsulation. We use them at the percentages according to the clinical studies that we have done. So let's say hypothetically Ilumisine, in the six week trial, showed a brightness of skin at ten percent of that ingredient.  We use that ten and with the relevant percentages of other actives in other studies. They all have different jobs. With Ilumisine you would see skin brightening, but Cell CPR encompasses so many things that every woman wants like brightening, lightening, plumping, helping with the texture of the skin.  We were initially concerned that this one product would cannibalize on the other products, because it does do so much. It is a serum that basically encompasses everything a woman needs. And once we did a trial on the finished product, the results have been phenomenal. But the jobs of each ingredient is different and that's what makes it effective.

If you had to pick one product to introduce someone to your line who is not already familiar with it, which one would you pick?

It depends on who would be asking and what their skin type is.  Most people would probably want to test out the less expensive products to see if they trust the brand, and then once they've done that, they focus on other things.

I'd say to start with a cleanser, toner and moisturizer. Most people love that the cleanser doesn't have soaping agents that make your skin feel tight. And the toner is a spritz. It has phytoendorphins in it and you just spray it so it is a great refresher. The moisturizer has super berry extracts and omega plankton, so when you apply it to your skin it is instantly hydrated. There is no layer of oil that sits on the surface. It absorbs quickly. And I think once people start using those three skin products, they love it and want to use the other products. But that said, if somebody is looking for a serum that is going to knock their socks off, they can go straight to the Cell CPR.

What is your favorite Skin Nutrition Product?

I do a lot of traveling and I'm lucky enough to have the Cell CPR in a big bottle, straight from our formulator. The reason why I think Cell CPR is the best is because I grew up in South Africa, so I was a victim of the African sun. I had a lot of sun damage, pigmentation, dryness, and obviously my skin has changed completely with Skin Nutrition, but with Cell CPR especially. It is an amazing serum. I can see how much my skin has changed. If I'm running out of my product, I go HUHH (takes a deep anxious breath). So definitely Cell CPR, because it is the most amazing product. I also use the dynamic wrinkle reducer, the conditioning serum, and the moisturizer. The great thing about them all is that you are able to layer easily and thinly, and they are able to absorb effectively.

What is in your bathroom cabinet right now aside from Skin Nutrition products?

We definitely won't use anything else.  It is funny because when you are so closely involved with the ingredients, my husband and I know whatever we want to apply. We are using these products ourselves and there are certain things that we just won't apply to our faces, so we won't put them in the products. I've been to other brand product launches and I get samples and they just sit there in my drawer. I have to give them away. I just know what I won't put on my face.

What do you foresee in the future as being the next breakthrough in cosmetics?

There is always something revolutionary. There is a lot of talks about stem cells, but there are so many ethical questions involved in that. We use plant stem cells. There are technologies that are on the forefront, but at this point we are looking at additions to our range. We are pretty much tapped into the best that there is right now.

Are there any new lines coming out soon for Skin Nutrition?

We are doing an anti-aging mineral baked foundation, and that would be applied over the skincare, we are looking at a tinted moisturizer that has anti-aging benefits and a neck and firming cream or serum. Those are all still in the works.

Now that you've been in the business for years, what ingredients raise red flags for you in cosmetics right away? What do you refuse to incorporate into Skin Nutrition products?

The red flags would be sodium lauryl sulfate, silicones like dimethicone and mineral oils. As soon as I see those, I go uh oh, no and put it down. And carcinogens or cancer starters we have always tried to go away from anything that is like that. At Skin Nutrition we don't use any synthetic fragrances, petrochemicals, sulfate detergents, synthetic colors, animal ingredients, parabens, glycols and diglycols (such as propylene glycol), PEG's, PPGs, urea, D.E.A, T.E.A, aliphatic alcohols or hydrocarbons, phthalates, fumarates, amines, alkanolamines, polyacrylamide, methacrylates, elastomers, poloxamer, styrene, polyquaternaries, synthetic chelating agents, nylon, nitriles, nitrates, nitrosamine releasers, bromates, alumininum or alumina.