For many cosmetic tech and skincare aficionados, Biologi is not an unfamiliar name, with fans devoted to its world-first 100% active plant extract serums which claim to significantly outperform harsher, chemical-based products.
AESTOLOGYY sat down with founder and cosmetic chemist, Ross Macdougald, to discuss his journey of building a beauty empire, along with what he hates about the skincare industry (‘Greenwashing’), and Biologi’s world-first cosmetic plant actives extraction technology – delivered in our trademark authentic, inspiring style.
(Notes from Editor-In-Chief, Roma Christian: As a media title, we are always very selective about interviewing brands who claim they are among the ‘world‘s first’, however, with many beauty experts in our trusted network raving about the plant-based power of Biologi, we knew we wanted a deep conversation with its founder to get to the bottom of exactly why they believe they’re so good. The result is a conversation that unashamedly goes deep into cosmetic tech, and reveals the cost of producing a mission-focused brand – “… if other brands may have been willing to bottle the [plant] extracts at 100%, I may never have created Biologi.“)
AESTOLOGYY: Describe the journey of starting Biologi? Advice for others who are seeking to build a skincare or beauty brand?
ROSS: Throughout my career, I’ve spent over 30 years working in the skincare industry, both for large cosmetic giants and now today through my own companies Biologi, Plant Extracts and Phytoverse. Prior to creating Biologi I had developed over 300 products, so I had extensive experience and knowledge behind what goes into these products and how ingredients are made.
Skincare Industry Frustrations -> Biologi Founder
ROSS: One of my frustrations was that brands often focused solely on revenue and not whether the product actually worked. Back then, it was widely known that active ingredients delivered the results the skin needs, however, brands were only bottling tiny percentages of the active ingredient (sometimes as little as 2%) simply because the active ingredient typically costs more.
Then what happens is it is combined with other filler ingredients that rarely have any effect on the skin, resulting in a product that might look and smell nice, but not actually do anything.
Another frustration was that consumers were being sold that ‘more is better’ and then filling their bathroom cabinets with products that consisted mainly of water and filler ingredients. With all the confusing options available on the market, people were (and still are) haphazardly combining products not realising that many of the ingredients were overlapping, cancelling each other out, not working, or worse – resulting in harsh reactions.
Plant extractions: 100% Plant Actives
ROSS: In 2008, I began my journey in pioneering a revolutionary plant extraction method called CLECS™ (Cold Liquid Extraction Closed System). This signalled the launch of my company Plant Extracts which supplies 100% active plant extracts to various industries.
These extracts are revolutionary, not only because they significantly outperform synthetic alternatives, but for their purity and ethical production. Through my research I knew that delivering 100% active plant nutrients would dramatically change a person’s skin, and thus, launched Biologi.
AESTOLOGYY: What would you say has been the biggest accomplishment and the biggest challenge in the founders’ journey so far?
ROSS: The biggest accomplishment is definitely our extraction technology, which is a culmination of over 12 years of research, trials and expertise harnessed from a team of professionals who each had unique input evolving the initial methods into tech used today.
This revolutionary extraction method allows Biologi to offer extracts that harness the powerful phyto-actives as well as the plants liquid matrix (without the need for chemical manipulation to mimic natural function).
Plant Cells, Human Cells & A Liquid Matrix
ROSS: Our research found that plant cells – similar to human cells – produce a liquid matrix that protects the Phyto-active nutrients from breaking down. When exposed to oxygen the Phyto-actives breakdown and become inactive after exposure of within 5-15 seconds. Our breakthrough extraction method allows 100% water soluble active Phyto-nutrients, and the liquid matrix to be extracted from the plant, this process is known as the Closed Liquid Extraction System (CLECS™).
World-first Cosmetic Skincare Technology
ROSS: By bottling the liquid matrix (Phyto Nutrient Protection-PNP™) the goodness of the plant operates inside the bottle, as if it was still inside the plant.
No one else in the world has this technology and we are incredibly proud of that.
Another accomplishment is definitely being able to build this incredible brand alongside my wife Lucy Macdougald, who is Biologi’s Managing Director and Dermal Specialist. Without her, Biologi would not be where it is today and I’m so lucky and proud that I get to share the success with her. We get to work together every single day and combine our knowledge and expertise to help make a difference to people’s skin.
Husband & Wife ‘Dream Team’
ROSS: Lucy works incredibly hard and her passion for changing people’s skin for the better is unwavering – she is truly inspirational.
I’d say the biggest challenge was certainly in the earlier days when I had first developed the extraction technology. I had discovered that we could bottle 100% of the plant activity and that it was highly effective on the skin, however, no other brands were willing to use these extracts in their pure form.
The majority of them were willing to use the extracts, however only at small percentages and combine it with filler ingredients.
They say that every cloud has a silver lining, and this was certainly the case – if other brands may have been willing to bottle the extracts at 100%, I may never have created Biologi.
Biologi was created as a way to be able to provide the consumer these extracts in their pure form and at 100% activity, without any synthetics.
AESTOLOGYY: In your words, what is ‘Biologi’ and why is it different to competitors?
ROSS: Biologi was developed to create a new paradigm in skincare, delivering the world-first 100% active plant extract serums that change the skin on a cellular level. We are different to our competitors in many ways. Firstly, we prove that the old narrative in skincare that often says ‘synthetics are better’ is not true – our products prove that undiluted nature truly works.
Secondly, we are one of the only plant to bottle skincare brands in the world, with a focus on using single plant natives that are sourced locally, ethically and sustainably.
As a brand we’re passionate about educating our consumers on everything from production processes through to how ingredients are made, but most importantly, on empowering our customers to feel good in their own skin.
World-Class Vitamin C
ROSS: And finally, we are the first skincare product in the world that contains natural, stable, active vitamin C (not Ascorbic Acid) thanks to Biologi’s revolutionary extraction system that keeps plant nutrients stable.
Let’s get nerdy – talk cosmetic tech with us:
AESTOLOGYY: How were you able to use 100% active plant ingredients? Was there a long process to get it all approved and what were the challenges you faced when ensuring the products were real and not simply marketed that way?
ROSS: We’re able to extract 100% active plant ingredients through our proprietary extraction method mentioned earlier. Yes, it certainly was a long process to firstly understand how plants work and learning how to mimic this process.
Over 7 meticulous years and in excess of $5 million of my own investment went into research, development and invention of this revolutionary plant extraction method.
The proprietary extraction technique identified that the Phyto-nutrient Protection (PNP™) did more than keep the plant nutrients active within the plant. When we analysed how the Phyto-nutrient Protection (PNP™) interacted with human cells, we found it contained a “bio-key” that opens the human cell wall membrane, flooding the cell with active nutrients, which purges the toxins, detoxifying and reducing inflammation in the effected cell. Once the cells have detoxified, the Phyto-nutrient Protection (PNP™) delivers potent active nutrients through the cell wall membrane which helps the cell structure repair.
This method of extraction of active nutrients from plants has significant benefits in the preservation and rate of absorption of these nutrients by human cells.
We spent years doing our own analysing of these ingredients and we continue to discover more (largely untapped) ingredients that are beneficial to the skin. We also have all of our ingredients independently tested as well to ensure our customers can rest assured knowing the products truly. However the results on people’s skin speak for themselves!
Warning: ‘Greenwashing’ in a “largely unregulated” industry
ROSS: Because this industry is largely unregulated, there are many brands that are employing Greenwashing tactics to sell their products.
This is something that I’ve been frustrated with since day one and I’m passionate about educating consumers on this topic. As you may know, the basic premise of Greenwashing is brands using marketing tactics where they make unsubstantiated and misleading claims to encourage people to buy their productions.
An example of this is using terms like ‘naturally derived’ or ‘free from’ to lead the customer into believing that what they’re buying is natural, green or organic (when it actual fact, they’re only partially, or in worst cases, not at all).
Brands are constantly strategically choosing words on labelling based purely on marketability and because the governing of this practice can be tricky, many brands are still getting away with it. Part of Biologi’s ethos is 100% transparency and this is something we pride ourselves on.
We like to ensure that our customers know exactly what’s in our products (which is pretty easy given that our products contain only one single pure plant extract and 0.2% Sodium Benzoate, a small percentage of a preservative).
AESTOLOGYY: What were the sacrifices and costs of using pure ingredients?
ROSS: Well the first cost was certainly the time and money invested into creating our extraction technology.
Plant Actives Extraction Technology
ROSS: However, that has allowed us to deliver a product using pure ingredients (which costs a lot more than those products filled with water or filler ingredients).
We are lucky because we have cut out the middle man.
Many brands will use contract manufacturers to create their products, however, we are able to literally pick the fruit, extract the nutrients and put it straight into the bottle for our customers.