CPP-LUXURY.COM has recently interviewed Bunnie Gulick, Founder & Director, ISUN VISIONS, LLC, the company behind ISUN, the highly successful cosmetics brand based solely on wildcrafted organic ingredients.
How did you come up with the idea of setting up ISUN? What were the milestones in the development of your brand?
ISUN was the result and culmination of an evolution of creating skin care lines since the mid 80’s. An earlier career as a clinical nutritionist and educator gave me a unique understanding of the biology of the cell … What causes it to age in general … What causes it to age prematurely … What creates imbalances in the cell? Cellular imbalance is a key underlying factor for an experience of a high state of health and well-being or a state of disease. Cellular imbalances can also be a determining factor in how well we age.
When I was asked by an Italy-based company I had formulated a line of anti-aging supplements for, to compliment the supplements with an anti-aging skin care line, I knew all the principles I had learned regarding the health and aging of he body, surely applied to the skin as well. Hence, the first skin care product line I formulated was based on scientifically proven natural principles and time-honored traditions and relied on natural ingredients.
This brand proved to be successful and an inspiration for me to expand my knowledge and education to become a botanical cosmetic chemist. From then until now, I formulated and manufactured numerous skin care brands primarily as an independent contractor for various companies. Throughout the years, the science of natural skin care ingredients expanded as well as my personal knowledge. Each line I developed became progressively more sophisticated and organic.
My personal ‘organic’ lifestyle added to an immense bank of new knowledge in the effectiveness of natural ingredients and an ever-growing public demand for safe and effective organic skin care products is what led to the creation of my sole-owned brand – ‘ISUN Alive & Ageless Skincare’.
Free of partners or the dictates of other parent companies, I could make ISUN the very ‘best of the best’ from a vast accumulation of knowledge and experience and a heightened awareness of the harmonious inter-connections of our bodies with nature and natural law.
There have been only two minor milestones in creating ISUN that still remain to some degree today. The foremost is finding consistency in working with complex formulations based entirely on wildcrafted, organic and natural ingredients. Working 100% with ingredients sourced from nature is not the same as working with ingredients that are man-made. Man-made ingredients can easily be consistent in color, aroma, texture, etc… But ask nature to grow a wild plant the same way twice is an almost impossible request. Like wine, climatic conditions can effect the vintage from year to year … some good, some fantastic, some not so wonderful. Plants used in skin care are the same. They may vary in color or aroma depending on the weather that season. In turn, a crop acquired for one batch of products may be different from a crop acquired for another batch of the same product and therefore, give a varied, though more often subtle, change in the finished product – primarily in color or aroma. Although the variations are slight, many people who are not accustomed to ‘all things natural’, may think something has gone wrong with the product when in fact, all is well and good and different can even mean – better.
The second challenge was finding a natural preservative for products requiring one that did not create alterations in the finished product during it’s shelf-life. I believe I have tested every truly natural preservative that has become known to the industry. Most tested caused variations in product aroma, color or viscosity. Finally, I was delighted to discover Aspen Bark Extract – a native of our mountains where ISUN is produced. It has proven to be an effective preservative with no side effects to the products and with the added benefits of skin softening and moisturizing.
Where do you source your ingredients from?
ISUN ingredients are globally sourced, depending on where they most naturally thrive, whether or not they are sustainably harvested and whether or not they are sold in fair trade. These are our key criteria. Some of our ingredients are wild-crafted by us in our local Colorado mountains. For example, we source our water from an obscure, forested mountain spring at it’s source at 9,600 ft (more than 3,000 meters). This water was known as ‘sacred healing water’ by the indigenous Ute Indians of the land. We also harvest wild nettles, plantago, horsetail herb, arnica flowers, lavender, yarrow, geranium, wild rose, sage, valerian root, spruce and aspen bark from our pristine mountains. Other plant ingredients come from the Amazon Rain Forest, Himalayan foothills, India, Pacific Islands, Pacific Northwest and parts of Euorpe.
Which are the major differences between the organic beauty markets of the US and Europe?
I am unaware of differences.
How do you test your products and make sure of their effectiveness?
We have a group of estheticians who do human testing using their clients. Our products are tested on a wide range of subjects using of both sexes, all ages and all skin types and conditions. We believe broad-spectrum, real human testing is the only way to know the safety and effectiveness of a product. Prior to our finished product testing, most of our ingredients have been laboratory tested with promising results.
Many organic beauty companies have created a full range of products, including deodorants or hair loss treatments. Do you think pure organic products can have the efficiency of the traditional cosmetic products
I do. There are many documented traditions whose testimonial results speak the same for common plants. Science has taken note of traditional herbal applications and have conducted extensive studies documenting the same positive results indigenous cultures have known for eons. In our own personal experience and from consistent feedback from other ISUN users worldwide, we are pleased that our pure wild-crafted and organic products often produce even greater results than most traditional cosmetic products. The bonus is that ISUN gives safe results with no residual side effects from chemicals that may undermine the health and well-being of the user. However, it should be noted that formulation skills may determine the effectiveness of natural ingredient products.
What are your main distribution channels? Is your product featured at luxury SPAs?
Our main distribution channels are spas and resorts and some specialty skin care retail locations. We are featured in Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton and Grand Heritage Resorts, the elite Organic Shops in Russia among other specialized locations in the U.S. and worldwide.
Is there one particular product from your range that you can consider most successful?
This is a difficult question to answer. Among our 77 retail products, many are equally successful depending on what a consumer is looking for. Among our key facial treatment products that produce the greatest results – our best sellers are: Emerald Sun Hydrosol; Phyto-Infusion I&II; and our antioxidant vitamin C herbal oil moisturizers … Ultra Restore for normal skin, Intense Ultra Restore for dry skin and Ultra Sapphire for sensitive-dry skin. These products are best used in a layering system in the order given, but are also effective used alone or in combination with other brands – though we do not suggest using our pure products with chemically-based products.
How important is packaging for organic products?
Integrity packaging is key to the preservation of natural ingredients. Most plastics can leak gases into the products that may alter the ingredients to become less effective as well as introduce harmful chemicals into the products. Light colored or clear glass or plastic also contributes to photo-oxidation in the products. This creates damaging substances that contribute to more rapid aging in skin and further harmful effects in the body as the substances are absorbed through the capillaries in skin.
We have chosen to package our products in specially developed dark violet glass proven to maximize protection and preserve the integrity of natural products. This glass is superior to medical grade amber glass in proven laboratory testing.
What is your view on organic certification geographically?
This is highly controversial subject. Foremost, it is known in science that wild-crafted plants are the most superior in terms of active nutrient components and purity compared to plants that are organically cultivated or farmed. Secondly, not all plants are certified organic and if you have a complex formulation of plant ingredients with proven effectiveness, it is likely that you cannot source all the included ingredients that create formula effectiveness with
organic certification. Third, it has been found that some organic certifications have been bought rather than earned. Lastly, it is a little know published fact that organic certified growers may use certain chemicals up until 3 months before harvest at which time they must cease using the chemicals. In these cases, organic certification holds little value since earlier use of any chemical has already penetrated the seed, root system and ultimately the plant itself. Is such a plant truly organic? Is it pure? The answer is obvious but the facts are hidden from the public.
Although products that have organic certification are heavily marketed as superior, we believe otherwise. Many of these brands are compromised and this fact is not even always known by the brand owner or manufacturer. We are clear that the highest, most efficacious products are those that foremost include wildcrafted ingredients, second, organic ingredients, last a slight percentage of natural ingredients when neither wildcrafted nor organic can be found. An even higher effective and integrity skin care product is one that is a well-researched formula comprised of a synergistic blend of key ingredients that work harmoniously and powerfully together as a whole.
Which is the profile of your most loyal customer?
Aged from 30 to 70; Wants a more youthful appearance with radiant, glowing skin; Seeks a conscious lifestyle of well-being and wants organic purity in their routine diets and skin care regimes; Feels an emotional response to the integrity and truth of ISUN; Likes that they share in the humanitarian service aspect of ISUN VISIONS, LLC – the parent company of ISUN Alive & Ageless Skincare.
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