Seabody is a science-driven skincare brand with the ocean in its soul, says Lucy Cleland.
The Sea, The Sea: Meet Dr Helena McMahon, Founder Of Ultra-Regenerative Skincare Company, Seabody
When Dr Helena McMahon returned home to County Kerry from Dublin to raise her daughter ‘with the help of a village’, she had hitherto not harboured dreams of launching into the highly competitive skincare market. Helena – then more science geek than beauty entrepreneur, with a Masters in Molecular Medicine and a PhD in Gene and Cellular Therapeutics from Trinity College – had taken up a new job for a company that was mining seaweed for compounds with commercial potential. Their brief was for Helena to use her drug discovery expertise to characterise natural molecules.
It was during this period of developing the biotechnology to do this that Helena realised for herself the power of seaweed, packed full as it is of micronutrients, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals. It was particularly the ability to extract, purify and concentrate fucoidan (‘it’s not easy and definitely not something everyone can do; to manufacture the ingredient at scale has been a huge technical challenge,’ confirms Helena) that really excited her though. Making up around ten percent of a seaweed plant, fucoidan has incredible antioxidant, anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties. ‘My mind was absolutely blown away,’ she says, ‘because I had never even considered natural molecules before. I was like a hardcore, pharmaceutical, synthetic-type scientist. But I was shown the light – nature is the most intelligent technology there is.’
And so, in 2017, Helena co-founded NutraMara, a marine molecule company, a next-gen business that sits at the intersection of biotech, nature and molecular biology and whose mission is to bring marine molecules into customer products for daily life. Out of this, Seabody was born – a luxurious, highly effective skincare and wellbeing range with newly discovered ingredients that Helena hopes will eventually become a part of people’s everyday lives, thanks to its far-reaching holistic properties.
Helena’s unique approach to the creation of the products stemmed from studying skin biologically and what happens during the ageing process or when things go wrong (from melasma to rosacea). ‘I mapped the skin biologically,’ explains Helena, ‘and then I selected the things I wanted to look at – like cell renewal and cell turnover, hydration, collagen and elastin production. Seven things in all.’ And once she had the data, she designed the formulations in a very systematic way, wanting each one to stand on its own.
What’s beautiful, too, is that Seabody is regenerative, respectful of the boundaries of nature and has sustainability at its heart, from sea to shelf – and there is zero waste. The seaweed used is harvested by hand along the Wild Atlantic Way, from sources that are regenerated (it takes around two years to regrow). Some elements are used in the products, others in the range of supplements, and any of the leftover vitamin- and mineral-packed water is given away to produce organic fertilisers for agriculture.
Seabody’s luxurious products were immediately picked up by Brown Thomas in Dublin, and now they’re coming to London, thanks to the brand recently winning John Bell & Croyden’s 225th Anniversary Award (full disclosure: I was a judge), which was launched earlier this year to celebrate forward-thinking health and beauty brands, and which attracted entries from over 80 companies. ‘To be at John Bell & Croyden was always top of the list,’ says Helena. ‘They are tastemakers in terms of the curation of the beauty and wellness products that they have.’
And with that it seems that the sea – and not the sky – is the limit. seabody.com