She had already spent three decades working in the beauty industry, but it was facing a personal challenge that would ultimately set Karen Ballou on the path that would change her career – and her life.
When she was diagnosed with lymphoma, Karen, who is in her early sixties, noticed that the luxury skincare products she had used for years were no longer meeting her needs as she underwent treatment.
The experience gave Karen, who had previously worked for industry giants including Elizabeth Arden and Redken, a newfound passion for truly ‘pure’ skincare – so much so that she was inspired to found a line of her own.
‘After having worked in skincare for as long as I have, on the back end with product development, I do believe there’s a correlation between my cancer and my experience in the industry,’ Karen told FEMAIL.
She set about sourcing the ‘finest, purest ingredients’ – specifically green clay found in France – and pairing them with her scientific know-how.
Her Immunocologie brand is the result, and Karen says it delivers ‘healthy, beautiful skin – with no concern that something inside the product is potentially harmful’.
For the glamorous blonde, a focus on natural ingredients doesn’t have to mean sacrificing luxury, and her exceptionally A-list roster of clients is testament to that – Karen has worked her magic on everyone from Kate Beckinsale and Naomi Watts to Alec Baldwin and Steve Tyler.
Here, the skincare guru shares the most crucial of her tried and tested beauty rules – the same ones she drums into her famous customers…
Actress Naomi Watts, 49, (seen in 2013) has also sought out the skills of Immunocologie founder Karen
Karen Ballou has previously worked with celebrity clients including actress Kate Beckinsale, 44, pictured in 2016
Karen has also worked with male celebrity clients, including actor Alec Baldwin, left and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, right
Tap, never rub
‘When applying your eye products, don’t rub, but lightly tap into the skin,’ says Karen.
Being all-natural doesn’t mean compromising on luxury, Karen says
‘The skin around your eyes is some of the most sensitive and thinnest on the body.
‘This [tapping] will help increase micro-circulation within the capilaries that can cause dark circles and puffiness.’
Not all pressure is bad…
‘Lightly massage pressure points on the face, notably the temples, the corner of your nose, under the cheek bones,’ Karen says.
‘This can help alleviate stress and tension build up underneath the skin that leads to increased cell oxidation.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Karen says: ‘This is especially important during air travel. You want a great serum that will give you deep hydration under the skin and then a moisturiser that will lock it in. Also, drink anywhere between 6-8 12 oz glasses of water a day.
‘For those of us in urban environments, pollution is a big concern, as it can increase the rate at which your skin cells oxidize (think ageing). That being the case, we should be trying to extract these pollutants as best as possible from the skin topically,’ says the beauty guru.
‘I love masking and an effective green clay mask has been my go to for a long time. This is because of its ability to not only extract toxins and impurities, but also replenish the skin with minerals it may be deficient in, that are also essential to its health.’