The Caribbean Seaweed Expedition (Part 6 of 6)

Learning from Our Experience

Wherever I go in the world, I love to research local resources that could benefit our customers, especially for skin care. I am always on the lookout for new ingredients, and whenever possible, try to test them on people in different countries, in different circumstances and in differing climates. I have been looking for years for something that brings “instant results” for a variety of skin types and skin conditions from very dry skin to even semi-oily skin.

My Caribbean voyage ended in Colon, Panama. I will always be grateful to my friend Paul Roncken for inviting me aboard his beautiful yacht and for being willing to sail to the remote San Blas islands of Panama in search of a special seaweed.

From Colon, my friend and I took a beautiful train ride along the Panama Canal to Panama City, crossing from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. After all our efforts to harvest the special plant, I made sure the seaweed samples were dried properly to bring back home to Langkawi.

The fresh, salty smelling fragrance of the drying seaweed permeated my hotel room in Panama City. As I drifted off to sleep, I felt I was still on the open ocean because of the rich fragrance. The salt makes it very tasty as well. People who love seaweed should try this one!

I am sure that our senior cosmetic scientist, Dr. Gatot on Langkawi Island, looks forward to what I bring back. At his side in the lab, we will work together to try to achieve the best possible skincare formula. Our company is going in new directions with direct network sales so that our products reach a much wider range of customers. As always, we try to keep up with the latest scientific developments. Dr. Gatot is now experimenting with plant stem-cell materials and their possible applications for cosmetic science and new products. The possibilities for the future are exciting.

It took me almost 4 weeks in the Caribbean Seas to find what I hope will be a ‘secret weapon’ against the effects of weather and ageing – a very special seaweed from the San Blas islands.

Our “Caribbean Seaweed Expedition” was a great adventure but not without its frightening moments. We did not always have the best weather. Though I have sailed for many years, I was seasick 2 times. On dark nights in heavy rain, huge waves surrounded us. There were times we could not see anything and sailed through the treacherous seas on instruments alone. Was it all worth it?

Many would say, “Wasn’t that excessive effort just to gather a sample of seaweed?”

Nevertheless, isn´t this one more example which shows the difference between our company and others? Constantly seeking the best makes us what we are. Isn’t that what I always have done? For that – for excellence — I ended up taking the Paul Penders company to the gorgeous tropical rainforests of Langkawi Island in Malaysia. Why? Because the first moment I saw it, I knew there may not be a better place to live in the world. Maybe it is. It is where my heart is. And I knew it is where I would find pure natural ingredients from the rainforest to produce the most effective natural beauty care products.

On this amazing sailing trip in the Caribbean Sea, I was reminded that there is extraordinary beauty to be found all over the world, sometimes in the most unlikely places. And as our adventure came to its end, I remembered that, “There’s no place like home…”

Back in Langkawi, Malaysia I shared the seaweed with Dr. Gatot, Senior Cosmetic Chemist at Paul Penders labs. He will start several extraction tests; then add the best of these extracts to our new formulations for our new products being “Instant-Result-Moisturizers”….
How exciting!


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The Caribbean Seaweed Expedition (Part 5 of 6)

Meeting a Woman Sailor – Musician – Artist… Jessie’s Story

Wherever I go in the world, I love to research local resources that could benefit our customers, especially for skin care. I am always on the lookout for new ingredients, and whenever possible, try to test them on people in different countries, in different circumstances and in differing climates. I have been looking for years for something that brings “instant results” for a variety of skin types and skin conditions from very dry skin to even semi-oily skin.

There is always something interesting to learn from your neighbours. Here we were sailing along in the Caribbean Sea, stopping off at a marina, this time in Colombia, and no exception. My friends and I ran into Jessie van Beckhoven, a remarkable woman who told us the story of her life.

What really got my attention was that besides being an accomplished sailor, she also shared that she is a singer, a classical piano player, a chef, and a wonderful artist who makes beautiful drawings and sculptures using the simplest natural materials, changing them into something very unique.

We invited her for a coffee on our vessel. Our first impression was that she was a kind and friendly soul. We learned about her life’s journey; a story of personal bravery and inspiration.

Earlier in life, she volunteered to help people in Liberia. Living there, she survived 3 wars, shielding children from the dictators who murdered hundreds of thousands of people for whatever terrible political reasons. When she describes some of her experiences at that time, her face changes and the emotions cause her hands to fly up into her hair.

In all those years surrounded by enormous cruelty, she still tried to find beauty. For 20 years, she lived in Africa trying to help lessen the pain of thousands of people. Her life story is actually so dramatic that a television company wants to make a film about her experiences.

As a follower of Anthroposophy, she finds peace and wisdom in the teachings of Rudolph Steiner. She believes in freedom, kindness and positive thoughts for the best of all people on earth.

Jessie showed us images of her works. An amazing artist, her talents also include photography, growing herbs and an exceptional gift for cooking. She told us about a delicious dish made with rosemary, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts to which she adds some pepper and sea salt. It sounded so good that the day after we went to the local supermarket in Cartagena to buy all the ingredients and prepared ourselves a delicious and healthy meal.


Purely delicious; easy to prepare and healthy

I became interested in how she must have taken care of her skin for so many years in the worst of weather circumstances. I bluntly asked her age and was relieved she was even happy with that question and I was surprised to learn that at her age of 63 she still not only fully expresses signs of beauty but also a passion for life.

I explained I was here on an expedition aimed at making better skincare products, testing new formulations in the worst conditions for any type of skin. I asked what her secret was. She had tried many things; some worked better than others did. How does someone take care of their skin having lived for decades in hot, dry Africa and now in the harsh salt-water conditions in Colombia with lots of sun as well?

I promised her I was going to send her some of our skincare and hair care products. I asked if she would try out the new beauty serum that Dr. Gatot is working on in our lab? She said she would be delighted.

Will our new anti-ageing serum bring instant improvement to Jessie’s skin? Will it make her skin appear fresher, although her youthful energy shines through already? This then will be another story for future blogs.

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Plant Enzymes For Healthy Skin

Malaysia’s largest newspaper wrote not long ago about the beneficial effects that plant enzymes have on keeping skin healthy and beautiful. They mentioned that plant enzymes work as a tool to maintain radiant skin, as well as repair adverse skin conditions such blemishes, spots, discolorations and excessive sebum production.

The article confirms why we are using plant enzymes in our products since 2009. We also write about it for several years.

How does papaya work in skincare?

As we age, the glue that binds dead cells to our skin hardens and that make it more difficult for us to get rid of dead skin. Regular skin exfoliation is essential in order to remove dead skin cells allowing the skin to produce new, healthy cells.

Since 2009, we are using various types of plant enzymes mixed with coconut water extract in all Paul Penders skin and body care products because plant enzymes are considered great super cleansers for skin. Plant enzymes’ effects are beyond the effect of a cleanser, as enzymes are gently proteolytic exfoliants that expel the dead cells from the skin.

They also help in regulating the sebaceous flow, following the needs of your skin. Plant enzymes help creating an extraordinary smooth skin and a refreshed, clear and youthful complexion

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The Caribbean Seaweed Expedition (Part 2 of 6)

The Search for Seaweed in Crystal Blue Waters


UNDERWAY– LEAVING COLOMBIA FOR THE SAN BLAS ISLANDS

Wherever I go in the world, I love to research local resources that could benefit our customers, especially for skin care. I am always on the lookout for new ingredients, and whenever possible, try to test them on people in different countries, in different circumstances and in differing climates. I have been looking for years for something that brings “instant results” for a variety of skin types and skin conditions from very dry skin to even semi-oily skin.

We sailed from Aruba to Cartagena, Colombia where we took on fresh provisions for the next leg of our journey and berthed in a marina there where we made new friends. Soon we would set off on a four days sail for the remote San Blas islands off the coast of Panama in search of a very special seaweed.

Dolphins jumping around our ship reminded us that the marine life here on the western edge of the Caribbean is truly unspoiled. Isolated by rough seas and strong winds, the San Blas islands remain pristine and truly beautiful. I found myself offering up a little prayer that this magical paradise will not be destroyed and will be preserved ‘as is.’

As we drew close to the island group, we began to see the fabled seaweed floating on the crystal clear waters. This far out at sea, the man-made pollutants that surround the coasts all over the world have not yet contaminated these islands. It is one of the last places on the planet that remains truly pure and natural.

The tiny plankton (microalgae) and the brown, green, and red seaweeds (macroalgae) all share certain important qualities. Their growth depends on the availability of sunlight, conducive water temperature, and nutrients. Most seaweeds have a super-absorbent ability to attract and extract nutrients from water, as part of the photosynthesis process. In fact, seaweed is used in water filtration and algae scrubbers for lakes and reefs because it can virtually purify the surrounding water, absorbing into itself harmful or undesirable nutrients like ammonia, nitrites and nitrates from fertilizers, phosphates, iron, copper, etc.

If conditions are right, pure seaweed can be one of the healthiest foods and one of the best substances for skincare. Did you know that seaweed and its by-products are used in thousands of products from ice cream to dental moulds to wound healing bandages? You may have used agar instead of gelatin in recipes or tasted the sea in the nori seaweed wrappings for sushi. Most seaweeds are high in iodine absorbed from sea water. As the human body does not make iodine and it is essential for life, we have to get it from food – and eating seaweed is one of the best ways.

You have probably also heard of seaweed spa treatments which many claim detoxify the body and improve the health and appearance of skin. Many cosmetics companies now produce special seaweed-based serums and lotions.

But one of my concerns is where they do source the seaweed?

How pure is seaweed brought in from coastal waters polluted by the effluent from seacoast cities? How much of the ‘bad chemicals’ has the seaweed absorbed?

As I looked down through the crystalline waters all the way to the sea bottom below our ship, the clarity of the water made certain things very clear in my mind. Seaweed from the San Blas archipelago might be among the cleanest, purest and healthiest in the world – and would be perfect for Paul Penders skincare products.

Join me next time for more of the Caribbean Seaweed Expedition!


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The Caribbean Seaweed Expedition (Part 1 of 6)

Ship Ahoy! Seeking a Lifesaver for Beautiful Skin!

Wherever I go in the world, I love to research local resources that could benefit our customers, especially for skin care. I am always on the lookout for new ingredients, and whenever possible, try to test them on people in different countries, in different circumstances and in differing climates. I have been looking for years for something that brings “instant results” for a variety of skin types and skin conditions from very dry skin to even semi-oily skin.

Just over a year ago, I heard about a very special seaweed that we might be able use for a brand-new product formula. In a total of 6 blogs, I look forward to sharing my exciting adventure sailing in the Caribbean with you.

This trip provided an ‘ultimate test.’ Would I find the ‘magic’ seaweed growing around remote islands off the coast of Panama? How would I know? What could be a better test of new natural skincare products than trying them out on peoples’ skin, even on a sailboat in the tropics? Our skin was battered all day long by the brutal sun, dry conditions, salt water and strong winds.

Some 100 km off the coast of Panama lie the pristine and isolated San Blas group of some 350 islands, of which a few inhabited by a very small population of Kuna Yala Indians. In this remote place, the islanders manage to retain much of their traditional lifestyle. A friend had told me that the locals use a high-mineral seaweed both for food and for their skin care regimens. I had to go see for myself!


 
TWO “PAULS” SAILED THE CARIBBEAN TOGETHER
 

Luckily, my lifelong friend Paul Roncken is also interested in the wonderful things of nature and is actually sailing around the world on a beautiful 90-foot sailboat called “Aria.” I flew to Aruba to meet him. We sailed to Cartagena in Colombia where we took on extra provisions. Then it took us four days and nights in treacherous seas to reach the San Blas islands — but we finally got what we had looked fo…

We heard of boats of people who had tried to reach the remote islands and had had to turn back. Many ships lie buried beneath the wild waves or are cast up on the reefs. To see these ships buried was hard to look at. We were lucky as we had an experienced crew and captain!

Testing Nature´s Finest Ingredients

Sometimes the best tests can be done outside the laboratory. The ultimate test lab is Nature itself. The natural environment, the weather, the factors of sun, water, wind, and available nutrients all force the local flora and fauna to adapt. The San Blas archipelago endures some of the harshest conditions and remains among the world’s most pristine and unpolluted. What we were to find there would have to be very special.

Where is Nature’s lab? To me it is anywhere in the world.

In nature’s lab, we can finish what our R&D people start. Our scientists work long hours to make sure all components are in the right chemical balance. Of course, we always try them out in study groups to see if they perform well and meet my own critical expectations as well. Under nature’s harsher conditions, however, we can put our new creations to the ultimate tests. Then we can decide whether these new formulations will really stand up against the elements of life, such as ageing, sun and wind damage, and man-made pollutants.

Please join me for the next parts of this Caribbean adventure when I’ll tell you more about what we discovered!

 


 

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