Women are willing to try almost anything in search of perfect skin, whether it’s algae-based rainbow hues of makeup or Korean face masks made from snail slime. Now, there’s Restørsea PRO, the first non-toxic, naturally derived medical grade beauty line. If “Restørsea” makes sea creatures come to mind, you’re not entirely wrong. Restørsea is made with a salmon egg enzyme concentration.
For those wondering why you should smother your skin in salmon instead of enjoying it on a bagel, see this study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. It explains how the enzyme naturally keeps skin looking young, because it eats through dead skin cells, much like a fish pedicure.
Restørsea was founded by Patti Pao, a beauty industry veteran. Ms. Pao was touring a hatchery in Norway that practiced synchronized hatching, when she noticed the workers’ hands looked much younger than their faces. The Observer talked to Ms. Pao to find out why women should turn to fish egg enzymes for their next beauty treatment.
What was your background before starting the company? When I graduated from Harvard Business School, all I wanted was to work in the beauty industry—much to my father’s chagrin, who said, “Why can’t you be an investment banker or consultant like everyone else?” I took a job with Avon Products, where I was fortunate to be adopted by their R&D team. They introduced me to the leading dermatologists of the day, including Sheldon Pinnell, Albert Kligman and James Leyden.
What were some of the projects you worked on at Avon? I met Eugene Van Scott M.D. and Ruey Yu Ph.D. and they had a usage patent on glycolic acid. As a result, Avon Products was first to market to launch glycolic acid. Since then, I have created and launched over 400 beauty products for skincare, color cosmetics and fragrances.
How did you realize the hatchery could provide beauty products? I have a science background and love to formulate products. I’m always looking around and I’m incredibly nosy. I was touring a salmon hatchery in Western Norway. The workers’ hands were in the water, herding the salmon fry into a separate tank area where they can grow into little fish, picking out the unhatched eggs and picking out the egg shell fragments. I noticed that their hands looked like they were 20 years old, while their faces looked substantially older.
Can you explain how the enzyme works? The enzyme is composed of over 2,000 proteins. The top two are choriolysn and lectin. The lectin sticks to an area of the eggshell membrane and acts as food for the choriolysn. As the choriolysn digests the lectin, it carves a hole in the eggshell membrane. The salmon fry swim out the opening unharmed.
Can vegetarians and vegans feel comfortable using this product? While no salmon fry or animals are harmed, the enzyme is derived from an enzyme the salmon fry release. After the salmon fry are herded into an separate tank to grow, and the unhatched eggs and egg shells are removed from the water, we collect the water in four liter jugs and immediately freeze it. When we need the enzyme, we thaw the water and filter the enzyme through a proprietary and patented process.
How is your product’s result similar to microdermabrasion? The enzyme molecule is very large and as a result, it can’t penetrate past the first two layers of skin. It sits at this “horny layer” and digests the dead skin cells, which is how microdermabrasion works. In contrast, retinoids, AHAs and glycolic acid are much smaller molecules, which penetrate all the way to the dermal layer where the newborn skin resides. This causes irritation in the newborn skin which translates to inflammation , which is the redness and flakiness that users see.