Seaweed-Centric Malibu Skincare Brand OSEA Opens First Store

Courtesy of OSEA
The new OSEA Skincare Studio on Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice.

“We were green when it was just a color,” says the founder of 22-year-old clean beauty company OSEA, loved by Kylie Jenner, Shonda Rhimes and Jessica Biel.

“I used to jokingly say, ‘OSEA: We were green when it was just a color’ and then someone told me it was a great phrase, so I trademarked it,” says Jenefer Palmer, self-titled chief seaweed officer of the Malibu-based natural skincare line OSEA (Ocean, Sun, Earth and Atmosphere). Palmer founded the company in 1996 — well before natural, organic beauty had become a booming, multi-billion dollar market.

Born in Palmer’s garage with six non-toxic vegan products, OSEA now numbers 29 items ($19-$108, crafted in a lab in Ventura) that blend nutrient-packed seaweed concentrates with essential oils and nature-derived ingredients such as lavender and rosemary that grow wild near the Zuma Beach headquarters. And this month, the company has opened its first brick-and-mortar store, OSEA Skincare Studio, in a beach bungalow on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice.

The menu consists of three treatments: a 30-minute Express Facial ($50 with $20 product credit), a one-hour Cranial Wave Facial ($95 with $30 product credit) featuring cranial touch massage, deep pore cleansing and LED light therapy, and a one-and-a-half hour Deep Sea Age-Defying Facial ($145 with $45 product credit) including cranial touch massage and lymphatic drainage massage with high-frequency and LED light therapies. The company wants the space to be a community destination with vegan cooking demos, meditation classes and educational talks on natural skincare.

Palmer first got into the beauty business in the early ‘80s as spa director at the iconic and now-defunct Murrieta Hot Springs resort, frequented by the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Jack Benny. Motivation to create her own naturally-derived products was fueled when she added facials to the spa menu and starting researching the ingredients in skincare lines: “I thought, they’re selling us a dream and they’re selling us products with ingredients that irritate our skin, at the very least. I wouldn’t have eaten any food that had comparable ingredients, so why would I put it on my skin?”

She realized years later that her focus on seaweed hails back to her health-conscious chiropractor grandmother, a German immigrant who swam in the ocean every day of the year in Queens, New York, and swore by seaweed after healing a torn ligament by packing her leg with the marine plant. Three types of USDA-certified organic seaweed used in the products are grown on a 200,000-acre farm on the southern coast of Patagonia. “The California coastline is dirty all the way up to Vancouver,” says Palmer. “In Patagonia, the water is pure and ice cold so the seaweed is more dense in minerals.There’s no electricity; the farm runs on generators. We call it ‘el fin del mundo’ or ‘the end of the world.’”

Foregoing advertising and marketing, Palmer has always prioritized the investment in quality ingredients. OSEA was on the down-low for years, as it was only sold in spas and at Fred Segal. Palmer credits her 38-year-old daughter Melissa, OSEA’s chief executive officer, for building a social media buzz and widely expanding retail distribution to stores like Credo, Detox Market and Blue Mercury.

Now OSEA products are a fave of Kylie Jenner (who’s professed her love for the Essential Hydrating Oil, Sea Minerals Mist & Undaria Body Scrub), Emma Roberts (a fan of Atmosphere Protection Cream and Eyes & Lips Cream), Jessica Biel (who goes for Advanced Protection Cream), Shonda Rhimes, Maggie Grace and Sophia Bush. Even Ozzy Osbourne once confessed that Ocean Cleansing Mud was the best acne fix.

Palmer also recalls peddling OSEA products on the floor of Fred Segal on Melrose Avenue in 2003 when she met a woman from 20th Century Fox who suggested placing them in Legally Blonde 2. But then she got a call that a giant skincare company had offered to pay for placement. “She had told me the storyline of the movie, Elle going to DC to protest animal testing, so I called PETA and asked if the other company tested on animals and they said yes. Bingo!” Palmer says. “The next morning I got a call from the prop master and they used OSEA in the movie without any payment. And then Reese Witherspoon used the products. That was a really exciting moment for me.”

This from the chief seaweed officer, who swears she’s not a savvy businesswoman.

OSEA Skincare Studio, 1732 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice; open Wednesday through Friday 12-6 p.m. and Saturday until 5 p.m.; book online at oseamalibu.com

comments powered by Disqus