The town of Brittany, France, has long been seen as holding sacred springs, for instance, "Saint-Fiacre’s Fountain in Le Faouët was considered to heal leprosy and skin diseases, Saint-Mériadec’s Fountain in Pontivy to cure deafness, Sainte-Anne’s Fountain in Plonévez-Porzay cured rheumatism" (Gites).
On the day of the Pardon, around 1925, I saw groups of mothers waiting their turn to splash the sacred water over their babies from waist to toe. Still in 1969, some grandmothers rubbed their little children with this water.- Pierre-Jakez Hélias
While this view of water had been present since antiquity, in 1972 a man named Jean Gédouin began to look into Brittany's waters to heal his case of gout.
After distilling the seawater into a powdered concentrate (lated named Oligomer, the star ingredient of the brand), Phytomer was born. You can experience this revolutionary product in the comfort of your bath, or with a foot bath, by mixing Oligomer Pure into your water.
The Wards of the Ocean
Phytomer is located in a fascinating intersection of the ocean. The coast of Brittany is one of the most diverse seaweed areas in the ocean because of the various water sources surrounding it, including the English Channel to the north, the Bay of Biscay to the south, and the Celtic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Although areas of water are given different names, you may not have realized that these different areas also have different water. For example, there is a famous division between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, which you can see in the photo to the right. This distinct division is the result of differences in water density, temperature and salinity.
Seaweed has been on this planet for at least 300 million years, and the world's trees are in fact descendants of green seaweed and are closer in DNA than a red seaweed is to a green variety. In addition to being abundantly present, algae has been honored by marine cosmetics for its various healthy influences. Many Asian cultures have seaweed incorporated into their daily meals, and science has suggested that the seaweed has anti-aging benefits, and are shown to facilitate tissue regeneration, immune function, and cell-to-cell communication.
Thus, seaweed extracts not only make up a healthy diet, but are also a cosmetic that serves the health of the skin. Furthermore, Phytomer's developments in methods of cultivation in photobioreactors make these raw materials exceptionally unique - as they are able to grow to their fullest potential.
As with any ingredient, you are sure to notice a difference in quality when you grow something inside versus outside (or in the ocean versus in a cultivation tank). By choosing to grow ingredients in cultivation tanks, Phytomer is able to control every aspect of the growth. This leads to ingredients being developed that are not accessible through traditional harvesting. Romuald Vallée, the Scientific Director at Phytomer, has said the brand is driven to "copy and paste” from the living world without affecting the resource ecosystem that they are using.
Sea Plants of Paradise
The potential for new raw materials from the ocean is considerable. 90% of the volume of the biosphere is of marine origin, and 99% of the biodiversity of our planet is in the oceans. Out of the 100,000 algae species in the world, only 40,000 have been identified - although it is safe to say that there are likely many more species than currently listed. With each passing day, new technologies for extracting and new ingredients are discovered, and with that new developments in marine-based skincare are created.
For Phytomer, their method of cultivating, harvesting, and distilling their algae is completely unique. Many companies look to Phytomer for guidance in this sector, and some even end up purchasing older-formulations of seaweed and algae extracts once Phytomer has exceeded its usefulness.
From its conception, Phytomer has always been about limiting its impact to the environment. Over the years, they have become masters of marine biotechnology, and have developed advanced methods of cultivating marine microorganisms in their ideal environments.
In 2022, PHYTOMER received the GOLD ECOVADIS certification, an independent certification label that attests to their excellence in social and environmental policies. The GOLD ECOVADIS recognition level ranks PHYTOMER among the 5% highest rated companies in all sectors.
This in-house cultivation and refinement of ingredients allows them to produce new and natural active ingredients with remarkable effectiveness on the skin. In addition to generating a perfected version of each ingredient, Phytomer does not have to pull resources from the ocean itself. Only a single sample is needed from the ocean, after which the team of bioengineers, cosmetic chemists, and other brilliant minds begin to recreate and expand the ingredient's availability.
Phytomer uses production methods that reduce their impact on the environment wherever possible throughout production stages, including:
- Sustainable active ingredient extraction without solvents or chemicals
- Renewable energy sources at the production facility
- Filtering gardens that clean up production water
In addition to working internally to minimize any impact to the environment, Phytomer also supports Time For The Ocean, an organization that uses art to build public awareness around the urgent need to protect our oceans. Phytomer works with artists to present their SEA ART documentaries. Designed to incite wonder, these impactful films showcase artists with intimate ties to the world’s oceans - such as dance-divers or underwater sculpture gardens.
This Is Just the Beginning
Most of the ocean is still unknown to humanity to this day. There are countless other seaweeds, algae, and microorganisms left to discover, of which Phytomer will likely take a minuscule sample of in order to expand their research. For example, ten years ago Phytomer obtained 1 miligram of a potentially extinct seaweed called Jania Rubens. In 2022, they were able to expand this 1mg to 1 tonne of dry material - without ever returning to the ocean for materials.
Jania Rubens is a red macroalgae with incredible properties, but it is slow-growing and there is a significant risk of overexploiting it. So we considered a simple question: how can we grow the algae without having a negative impact on nature? That’s where science and research came in. - Romuald Vallée
Today, Jania’s pompoms have become the symbol of Phytomer. Its culture and history are the best example of Phytomer's work and approach to Eco Vadis' Corporate Social Responsibility and Supply Chain's standards.
We collected the strain, purified it and have not had to touch Nature since. That’s important. We can leave the algae alone in its natural environment surrounded by other algae and sea creatures." - Romuald Vallée
Phytomer's algae culture technology continues to develop and will improve continuously. Even with products Phytomer has already released will be improved over time once more science is discovered. For example, in late 2022, Phytomer reformulated their Hydra Original moisturizer to include an EPS that provided increased hydration, compared to the previous formulation.
"Minerals are vital cofactors for many reactions and have diverse functions throughout the cells in the body. Altered metabolism of micronutrients due to insufficient intake or ineffective utilization can have profound effects on the body."
Even though Phytomer has been around for over 50 years, this is just the start of their innovations and impact. If you are interested in learning more about Phytomer, you can read our blog article Phytomer's Commitment to. For skincare specific guidance, check out our Phytomer Sensitive Skin article, acneic and blemish prone blog, or our removing pollutants and toxins from the skin blog. We also have an article going into detail on the impact different minerals have for the health of your skin here. If you are interested in learning more about the science and extraction processes Phytomer uses, we have detailed much of it in this article.
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