The Ogee skin-care line first caught my eye a couple of months ago, right after Pantone had announced its color of 2017: greenery. Here, it seemed, was a brand that was way ahead of the trend curve, with packaging in the verdant, fresh color that was sure to be everywhere in the coming months. But while pretty packaging is all well and good (and who among us hasn’t at least once been a sucker for what a lotion looks like, forgetting about what it actually does?), I was interested in finding out if Ogee would be something I would want to incorporate into my daily routine. And I was all the more intrigued because of Ogee’s explicit promise to deliver the indulgence inherent to luxury skin care with the feel-good aspect of using organic products.
Ogee Organic Skincare is a line founded by Mark Rice and Abbott Stark, and not only utilizes all-organic products, promising to “never use petroleum derivatives, parabens, synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde, or GMOs,” but it also uses recycled materials for packaging, not skimping on its environmentally conscious standards anywhere. The luxury aspect comes via the products themselves, which all utilize jojoba oil, a non-comedogenic oil that promises not to block pores and retain the skin’s moisture the same way that biologically occurring sebum does, making it feel seamless on the skin, instead of weighty, like some other oils that will go unmentioned.
This all translates into beautifully effective products which always feel gentle on the skin. There’s a serum and a face oil which, particularly when used in tandem, led to my face feeling almost effortlessly plump and soft, and without any of the residue that I sometimes find myself dealing with post-serum or -oil application. Ogee also makes a moisturizing lip balm, which too uses jojoba oil, and is not only super fun to apply (it comes in a chubby crayon-like shape that I love), but made my lips as smooth as silk—which was easier said than done over this long, dry winter. But perhaps my favorite Ogee product were the cleansing cloths, which maybe didn’t change my life, but definitely changed my skin-care routine. These wipes are incredible; they’re super gentle on the skin, while also being 100 percent effective at removing makeup. And they’re perfect for lazy (or, you know, busy) people like me who forget to remove their makeup at the end of the night and just want to do something simple instead of arduous, like walk all the way to the bathroom to wash their faces. Since first starting to use them, I’ve become reliant on them for everything; they always leave me feeling smooth and clean and nourished by all the oils now resting on my face. Plus, they’re super easy to just throw in my bag for whenever I need a quick refresher but don’t want to, or can’t, wash my face. And they never make my ultra-sensitive skin red! I love them.
Below, I spoke with Ogee co-founders Rice and Stark about the line, the magic of jojoba, and what’s coming next with Ogee.
What hole in the skin-care market do you see Ogee filling?
Mark Rice: There’s been a void in the beauty market between the worlds of synthetic, conventional products versus natural organic products. On one end of the spectrum, there are the conventional luxury store products that promise wrinkle reduction, improved radiance, and intensive moisturization, but at the risk of utilizing questionable ingredients and potentially compromising long-term skin health. At the other end of the spectrum, there are only a few truly organic skin-care brands on the market—that sadly tend to utilize basic formulations, albeit with ingredients that we trust—that are sold at drugstores, health food, and grocery stores, and essentially lack the luxury factor.
Ogee is here to fill this luxury organic void. Our products are formulated to the strict NSF Organic standard and also utilize some of the newest, technologically advanced, and naturally derived ingredients like Edelweiss Plant Stem Cells. Our formulas push the boundaries between science and nature to deliver clinical efficacy in lightweight, innovative formulas.
Why the focus on jojoba? What makes it such a special ingredient?
MR: Jojoba Oil, which is actually a crystalline wax that’s liquid at room temperature, has a molecular structure very similar to sebum, the building block oils of human skin. This structural property allows for fast absorption and natural non-comedogenic properties. In contrast, all of the other face oils on the market are triglyceride molecules, which can be heavy and pore-blocking for many skin types. Jojoba also strengthens the top dermal layer of the skin to help prevent the formation of fine lines, which can help to eventually prevent deeper wrinkles. Jojoba balances oil production and even has antibacterial properties. It’s literally the best oil for skin care.
At Ogee, we take this one step further and source the highest quality of this oil: certified organic, golden grade, and cold-pressed Jojoba Oil. Using golden grade Jojoba Oil ensures that the naturally occurring antioxidants and micronutrients make it into the bottle and onto our skin. We use as much as possible in each of our products. For example, our Jojoba Restore Face Oil is almost pure certified organic Jojoba Oil, enriched with our signature blend of natural floral essential oils known for their various skin benefits.
What is so important to you about being an organic skin-care line?
Abbott Stark: I’ve kept an organic kitchen for the last 15 years. Because I was aware that so much of what we put onto our skin is absorbed into our bodies, I have also been using only natural and organic skin care for the last 11 or so years. Organic is also better for the environment, so it’s a win-win.
I loved sharing all of the conventional beauty products that I worked on with my friends, my mothers, and my sisters. It got to the point where I felt that the products I was sharing had to match my personal values. That’s when I started bottling Organic Jojoba Oil for my inner circle. My sister texted me from across the country once and demanded that I send her more. It was at that moment that I realized we were onto something—in other words, the seeds of Ogee were planted.
Natural skin care isn’t always thought about as being luxurious, but Ogee really feels that way. Was luxury an important component to you when designing these products?
We always strive to define and redefine what luxury means. We believe that healthy and beautiful skin is one of the ultimate luxuries. From the beginning, we felt that organic formulations and a luxury aesthetic would be a wonderful marriage. Good skin care might be a necessity, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be luxurious. Beauty products are a sensory experience meant to not only bring good skin health but to also feel, look and smell wonderful, creating a sense of inner well-being.
MR: I come from the world of luxury fashion, art, and media. I’ve brought my luxury design experience to create the Ogee brand aesthetic. Cultivating this aesthetic is a process that’s very hard to articulate, but when it comes to product design, we can say that it takes countless drafts and hundreds of hours of collaborative dialogue to get product packaging and design elements just right.
Are there any new Ogee products on the horizon?
MR: We are incredibly thoughtful when it comes to creating new products. Typically, our formulas take months of research and development to fine-tune all of the performance attributes and the right feeling on skin—not to mention the strict organic certification process. It takes months of careful scrutiny to get a skin-care product certified—from following each ingredient from the field where it’s grown, through every step of the production process, until it’s poured into our Ogee bottles.
In terms of products on the horizon, we can’t say exactly what we’re working on, but I can tell you that we will be guided by our brand values, combining cosmetic technology with natural science, all while maximizing organic content. Because so many of us travel and want to take our beauty routines with us (and because global warming has made weather so unpredictable these days), we are focusing on climate-adaptive technologies, which will automatically adjust to meet the environment’s humidity levels. Also, our Sculpted Lip Oil has become an instant cult favorite, so we’re looking at ways to expand upon that product.