Made-in-Greece skincare brand Korres has been using real Greek yogurt in their products long before it was as ubiquitous as orange juice in Canadian grocery stores. “We knew from growing up in Greece that yogurt is an anti-inflammatory, soothing and nourishing ingredient,” says Lena Korres, co-founder of the brand and head of product development. “We decided to [create a product with it], only to discover that it was a complete disaster. Yogurt has 4,000 living cultures inside it; it was impossible to formulate with in the lab.” Eventually, the brand figured out how to use real Greek yogurt in their shelf-stable formulas – a feat, they say, no one has been able to replicate – and in 2003, launched Yogurt Cooling Gel, an aftersun lotion.
After attending a conference two years ago on the microbiome (essentially, the bacterial makeup of our skin), Korres knew it was the future of skincare. While yogurt is rich in pre- and probiotics that are known to be good for the skin, she made it her mission to find an active ingredient that was clinically-prove to rebalance the microbiome.
Hydra-Biome, the technology included in the mask, is one of the first to do so. It’s a trademarked combo of polysaccharides, peptides, sugars and minerals that work together to energize skin cells, help good bacteria grow and diversify and protect from environmental stress. To prove its efficacy on the microbiome, Korres partnered with an institute in Italy that does clinical testing to design a first-of-its-kind protocol.
They recruited test subjects with stressed skin, identified by an acidic pH balance, as well as other symptoms of an unbalanced microbiome, like redness, itchiness, dry patches and sensitivity. They mapped the microbiome of each subject, defined the bacteria on their skin, used the creamy Hydra-Biome mask for 15 minutes two to three times a week for up to four weeks, then mapped the bacterial makeup of the skin again to ensure they aligned with those in objectively healthy skin. (Spoiler: They did.)
“We now understand that every interaction we have with our environment affects the microbiome of our skin and that is linked to different skin conditions [like redness or eczema] that we were not able to explain before,” says Korres. “The microbiome is going to change the way we see a lot of things, first in medicine, then in beauty.”
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's daily newsletter.