Beauty bites: Biotherm
A look at the marine-based French skincare brandBy Jennifer Masseau
Since its inception, French skincare brand Biotherm—now marking its 60th year—has dedicated its research to marine ingredients.
According to the company, thermal plankton extract, the key ingredient used in Biotherm products, originates from the springs of Molitg-Les-Bains in the Pyrenees in southern France. Legend says the ancient hot springs were used by medieval warriors to bathe and heal battle wounds.
The first formal thermal springs station at Molitg was established in the 18th century, when visitors paid to bathe in the waters. In the 1940s, the station’s doctor-in-residence, Jos Jullien, discovered the secret to the springs’ regenerative properties: Vitreoscilla filiformis, a species of thermal plankton unique to these waters. Research discovered this microorganism is packed with biological elements such as nutrients, vitamins, amino acids and lipids. These elements are also present in our skin and are essential to its health.
Cosmetician Jeanine Marissal travelled to the springs in 1952. Seeing the potential in Jullien’s discovery, she developed three skincare products that captured the benefits of the thermal plankton—two for face, and one for hands—and called her brand Biotherm.
Today, Biotherm grows the plankton and cultivates its potent extract at its Biotechnology Center in Tours, France. Bought by L’Oréal in 1970, the brand has amassed scientific support for the extract’s benefits. A 2006 study in partnership with Stanford University found the plankton extract can stimulate MnSOD, a key “life enzyme” in the skin. This enzyme strengthens the skin’s natural defences thanks to its antioxidant properties and its potential to impact cellular longevity.
Biotherm’s research now includes sourcing of marine plants and micro-organisms throughout the world. Its new Blue Therapy products use extracts from a regenerative blue-green micro-algae found in a pure freshwater lake in Oregon; and from a firming golden macro-algae from the Celtic Sea. Biotherm’s new “Blue Biotechnology Platform” focuses on environmentally responsible exploration, extraction and cultivation of new active ingredients from global aquatic sources.