The Art of Being Francine:
Osmotics Founder Francine Porter believes in Skin Care and consumer intelligence
By Tallulah Dumonde
In a world of empty promises packaged in designer bottles that cost a fortune, Francine Porter decided to try something strangely revolutionary: creating a product that actually delivers the proposed results. Osmotics is a labor of love for Francine and her husband, Steve, who started the company together after reading about transdermal patches and how they could deliver various substances directly through the largest organ of our bodies – our skin.
Osmotics Vitamin C patches and Blue Copper Firming Elasticity Repair
In 1993 Francine, who had always had sensitive skin, set out to formulate a product that would deliver effective levels of vitamin C to the skin. It took two years to launch the company, because the Porters were committed to creating something that worked, and not just another product that would fill shelves with empty promises. What they didn’t know was that they were about to revolutionize their industry. It is from this period of time, and through work conducted by the Porters and other pioneers, that Cosmeceuticals were born. Cosmeceuticals were the new breed of skin care “marked and sold as cosmetics, but contain biologically active ingredients that have an effect on the user.” For Steve and Francine, this type of science-beauty mixture resulted in their Anti-Wrinkle Vitamin C, and the industry took notice. The product was tested and retested and the results were amazing: a 50% reduction in facial wrinkles.
Following the success of the Vitamin C patches, the Osmotics line continued to grow. Francine found, along the way, that her pioneering spirit would change the face of the skin care industry, and that her hard work would end up in products that didn’t bare the Osmotics logo. For example, we all witnessed one mega-conglomerate after another follow their lead by producing creams with (blue) copper as a main component, mimicking Osmotics’ Blue Copper Firming Elasticity Repair. Asked about any possible frustration she might feel, being the one to do the work and research – only to have others jump on the bandwagon, Porter graciously replied, “Well, I have found that imitation really is the most sincere form of flattery.” (So you can take the girl out of the south but she’ll always have those gracious southern manners!).
With the support of her husband and parents, and some of the brightest minds in the industry as regards the medical study of the skin, Francine has grown Osmotics into one of the most respected skin care companies in the world. Placing a high premium on efficacy, each product produced by Osmotics has been researched and tested by the most qualified minds in the business. In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that the line has revolutionized the skin care industry, setting new standards for quality and performance. When the Porters first started Osmotics, Francine recalls that they had to struggle to get the industry to start putting real research behind the products on the shelves. “I have always had a great deal of respect for the intelligence of our buyers. We had to convince some retailers that the consumers wanted more than a designer name and a pretty smelling face cream. I knew that I was my target client, and I am a person who wants to know what I am using and why, and I want it to work.”
Cream Extreme Barrier Repair, TriCeram, and Anti-Radical Age Defense. Osmotics’ Barrier Defense and Repair Products
Clearly, the Porters were correct, because the line is a favorite amongst exactly their target market. Intelligent, well-informed consumers, who will spend money to keep their skin looking great, but expect results. Osmotics enjoys almost unprecedented loyalty among its core clientele, and each new product has been met with overwhelming enthusiasm. For example, the Porters worked with Peter Elias, who is a pioneer and leading researcher with over 500 published papers in the Barrier Technology industry. Osmotics was the first company to talk about this barrier technology, and to address it within their skin care line with products that protect the barrier from the environment and other dangers.
We asked Francine for some skin care tips, such as what she felt was the most important step in caring for your skin, and how to get an accurate skin care “prescription” at a retail sales counter. With a barely perceptible southern drawl that only ads to her charm, she replied, “a healthy barrier is essential, therefore protecting skin – with sunscreen – is the most vital step in caring for your skin.” Not to discount the value of cleansing and moisturizing, they are necessary (of course). “Our prescription, at Osmotics, is to Cleanse, Correct, Defend and Protect. Which is to say, clean your skin, correct issues (blemishes, aging, etc) if you have them, defend the barrier and protect from the sun and environment. We also recommend everyone use an eye cream” (because the skin around the eye is different in texture and needs to be handled as such). Francine adds, “Skin does have its own built-in system of regulation, so it is best to use as few products as you can. Choose the technology that addresses your issues and avoid overdoing it with gimmicks and snake oils. Keep in mind that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and respect your skin, and you’ll be fine.”
Since we think Francine is one of the most fascinating women in the skin care industry today, we wanted to probe a little deeper and find out about some of her favorite things, unrelated to skin care. So we had a little fun with questions about her personal preferences and routines:
BN: What four items would you need in order to survive if you were holed up in a cabin for a week, alone?
FP: I would need a great all in one cleanser for hair and body, a moisturizer with SPF (you can take the girl out of the lab but…heh), a great book – Francine loves southern writers like William Faulkner- and all the makings for a perfect Grey Goose martini.
BN: What fragrance do you wear?
FP: The original Marc Jacobs. I love gardenia but find most gardenia-based fragrances too overpowering. This one has a perfect blend and an almost watery essence. I’ve worn it since it launched and though I’ve tried other scents, I always come back to this one.
BN: When it comes to lipstick or gloss, do you have a signature color, and if so, what is it?
FP: I am fair-skinned with auburn hair (Irish descent) so for me, rosy-corals work best. I’ve tried other colors but this is the one that works for me. Right now I am using this beautiful lipstick from Clarins (#240).
BN: When you want to completely disconnect from work, what do you do?
FP: I play the piano, and I love to read. I just read John Adams. History fascinates me and I really get into reading about it. I also love southern writers. I am from the South (Atlanta) and I identify with the spirit of many of those writers. There is something special about the way they write.
BN: Is there any place that you’ve always wanted to travel to, but have not yet had the opportunity to visit?
FP: Ireland. I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland, and though I’ve been to other parts of the UK, travel to my ancestral home has eluded me. But I’m definitely planning to go there in the not too distant future.
BN: Favorite pair of shoes:
FP: Well, to be honest – though I have some really beautiful shoes – my favorites are my Nike Cross Trainers. I am an outdoorsy type of girl and though dressing up is fun, nothing feels better than my Nikes.
BN: Back to skin care for one last question. What skin care/beauty industry myth would you like to dispel?
FP: This might be untimely of me, but I would like for people to educate themselves about the reality of “organic” skin care. It has become a buzz-word and marketing tool. Of course you do not seek to put chemicals or harmful substances on your skin. However, for example, if the synthetic version of Vitamin E actually works better and more effectively in skin care, with no harm to your body, why wouldn’t you use it and maximize your benefit? It concerns me that people are so into organic – by the way, I try to eat organic…food is a different story – they are so into the term organic that they don’t stop to ask the important questions. There is no real clinical validation for choosing organic skin care over, for example, a product that has been tested in a lab and might have synthetic materials but actually produces results. There is no science to back up any claims that organic skin care is going to deliver results, and certainly nothing to suggest it will deliver better results.
I think that people need to do their homework and determine what is best for them. Like I said, I have always had a great deal of respect for the intelligence of our client, so I feel confident that they can differentiate between organic food and a marketing tool which makes use of the term ‘organic’.
Efficacy, respect, results. These are the cornerstones of Francine Porter’s ethics when it comes to the skin care she produces. No wonder we consider her* an industry pioneer. At a time when the skin care industry is growing at an unprecedented rate, we will continue to look to Osmotics to keep us thinking about our skin and how to treat it gracefully.