OSEA: A Family Affair

It’s not uncommon for beauty brand founders to be influenced by their ancestors and the recipes and remedies of days of yore. But for OSEA Founder, Jenefer Palmer, the inspiration behind her seaweed-based skincare line was more like a birthright, passed down from her tenacious grandmother, Elsa Reuschle, one of the first female chiropractors in the US. After injuring her leg so severely it led to bedrest, Elsa’s healing remedy came to her in a dream. The ocean beckoned, and the very next day, in the dead of winter, she and her husband trekked down to the frigid Long Island beach for a restorative swim. Weeks later, Elsa was healed! Crediting her miraculous recovery to the minerals and trace elements in the seawater, the couple committed to daily swims and founded one of the first Polar Bear Clubs in New York City, aging gracefully well into their 90’s. 

After establishing a multi-disciplinary practice that incorporated many holistic healing modalities, Jenefer landed a position as a Spa Director at Murieta Hot Springs in Southern California. Upon discovering that not all beauty products were created equal, and that many “natural” brands contained fillers, dyes and fragrances, Jenefer felt called to create change. She didn’t have to look far for her inspiration. As her grandmother taught her and chemistry confirmed, seaweed is a nutrient-dense superfood. Seaweed, the star ingredient in OSEA products, contains powerful bioavailable minerals and nutrients that are readily absorbed and utilized to rejuvenate skin. Throughout the years, Jenefer has refined OSEA to a perfect science, crafting a results-driven, vegan seaweed and plant based skincare line that harnesses the power of the sun, earth, ocean and atmosphere.

Today, the family-run business is a holistic company that is concerned not only with skin health, but the overall well-being of people and planet. And after over 20 years in business, at 63, it seems as if Jenefer is just getting started. Meet the visionary behind OSEA.

How did you learn the art of formulating?

I have a background in Eastern healing arts and started formulating OSEA products in the 90’s in my kitchen sink while my kids helped me mix and measure. I later refined my skills with the help of a cosmetic chemist.

When it’s time to create a new product, how do you begin?

I’m 63, so it basically begins with how can I keep my skin and my health as optimal as possible? 

How often do you make a new product? How long does that process take? Do you begin with an ingredient or an objective?

I generally begin with an objective, i.e. skin brightening. I formulate our products slowly and deliberately. I’m intent on sourcing the purest plant-based ingredients possible and making sure that a product actually works, so it can take anywhere from one to several years for me to release something new. And just when I think I get it right, I’ll go to the farmer’s market and try something delicious, like a fresh fig or drink a cup of polygonum multiflorum tea and work backwards to see how I can incorporate these antioxidant-rich superfoods into my formulations.

What’s been your biggest discovery in terms of the creative process?

I’ve discovered that creating a new natural product is a lot like mastering the art of healthy cooking. I believe that every ingredient should benefit the skin, but they also have to work well synergistically to deliver the desired result. This means that I’ll sometimes go through 100 formulations to find the right combination and ratio of ingredients. Sometimes I’ll be totally obsessed with an ingredient, but it just won’t work well in the formulation. So, I bookmark it for the next time around.

Do you have a favorite ingredient?

I love Gigartina Skottsbergii seaweed. It’s super hydrating to the skin and full of antioxidants, minerals, essential fatty acids and vitamins. It has a gorgeous red hue and the plant itself contains both male and female parts! Fun fact: the bumpy parts are female (eggs) which release a healing gel of sugar, which I call the “amniotic fluid” of seaweeds.

Can you share some of the details on how you source your ingredients sustainably?

We meticulously source our plant-based ingredients from suppliers that we know and trust and who meet our standards of purity and sustainability. We have worked with our suppliers for over 20 years! We source most of our plant-based ingredients in California but travel the globe to find other effective and sustainable options. Our organic seaweeds, present in nearly all of our formulations are sourced directly from our partners in the pristine waters off Patagonia. OSEA’s seaweed is eco-responsibly hand-harvested as it makes its way into the shallow waters, or is collected in small, hybrid zodiac boats so as to have minimal environmental impact. Undaria Pinnatifida, one our star seaweeds is actually classified as an invasive species, so by harvesting it we are actually helping to balance the delicate marine ecosystem.

What’s your workspace like and a little bit about your team?

I work half of the time out of our office in Malibu, which is also our family home and the other half in our Venice office. My daughter, Melissa Palmer is the CEO of OSEA. It’s really special to be able to create something you love with someone you love! My wonderful husband, Steve is the head of operations. I feel so fortunate to be able to work with a family that not only supports my visions, but also brings them to life! Our office culture is mostly vegan and plastic-free. Our lovely team members bring or cook their own food in our fully equipped kitchen. We make many joyful communal lunches here, and Venice neighbors are always popping by to see what we are up to and to play with the MANY pets that hang out here. Every day is basically bring-your-pet-to-work-day!

What’s next for OSEA, can you share some of what we can expect from you for the rest of this year?

I currently have about 4 projects in the works – I am very close to perfecting one of them. Stay tuned!

Do you collect anything?

Herbs and spices. I’m a maniac about taking my Chinese herbs and adding ayurvedic spices when I cook. Otherwise I’m a total minimalist. I’m constantly giving away junk. There’s not much in our house besides my husband’s instruments (he’s also a composer) and OSEA skincare!

Where might we run into you on a Sunday Morning? 

The Malibu farmer’s market or Zuma beach.

How do you relax?

I pour some Gigartina Therapy Bath powder in my outdoor bath tub and enjoy a long, hot, mineral-rich soak.

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