Three beautiful glass bottles sit on a table at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia. Atop the emerald bases are gold caps, the same glossy colouring in which the brand’s product names are printed. It’s hard to believe something this luxe was born in a lab at the University of Guelph.
Jessica Kizovski and Alison Crumblehulme are in Vancouver to introduce the West Coast to their new high-performance skin care line, called Veriphy. Founded by four women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), the brand boasts an ingredient that is being labelled as a beauty industry game-changer. It’s called PhytoSpherix, and it is being billed as a groundbreaking plant-based ingredient that rejuvenates the complexion—naturally.
“This whole ingredient was a serendipitous discovery,” says Crumblehulme, Veriphy’s president. “No one had any clue what they were looking for.” It all started when researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario found that they could extract glycogen (“the natural storage of energy that is in every single cell of your body,” Kizovksi explains) from plants rather than animals. “That’s why you haven’t seen that specific ingredient as a popular ingredient on the market, because it was coming from animal sources,” says Crumblehulme. “People with shellfish allergies, for example, wouldn’t want to be using it.” Crumblehulme was then hired by Guelph’s Mirexus Biotechnologies Inc. (where she is now vice president of business development, along with her duties at Veriphy) to help take the unearthing to market. As she continued her research, she discovered the incredible results this ingredient had on the skin: an increase in hydration, a reduction in hyperpigmentation, and a decrease in fine lines and wrinkles. “I saw potential to create a new skin care line around it,” she recalls. “But the timing wasn’t right and I wasn’t quite confident to do it myself.”
That’s when Kizovski came in. She was a recent graduate of Seneca College’s cosmetic science program in North York and was hired by Mirexus as a research scientist co-op student. When she wasn’t in the lab, she was working the floor at Sephora, assisting makeup and skin care junkies; Crumblehulme introduced the savvy, beauty-obsessed millennial to the ingredient, which Mirexus trademarked as PhytoSpherix. “It was something I hadn’t seen before,” Kizovski says. With eagerness, the pair quickly put together a business plan modelled around it, also tapping the talents of Carley Miki and Varuna Manoo. Within weeks, Veriphy was born.
The made-in-Canada brand currently consists of three playfully-named products, each packed with a high concentration of PhytoSpherix. First, there’s the velvety-smooth Self Absorbed facial moisturizer with hyaluronic acid and nourishing avocado oil to help brighten and plump the skin. Then there is the Power Trip AHA serum, a powerful blend of ultra-pure lactic acid to gently exfoliate and revitalize. Lastly, the particularly rich 20/20 eye cream, containing nurturing peptides, rounds out the skin care regime. “We wanted our brand to start as a treatment focus, and we felt like these three products are really the building blocks of a good skin care routine,” Kizovski, the brand’s lead formulator, says. With no silicone, parabens, mineral oils, fragrances, or phthalates, all three products are 98 per cent natural and fully cruelty-free. “Anything consumers may have concerns about,” Kizovski adds, “we just took out.”
To increase the chances of more discoveries like PhytoSpherix right here in Canada, Veriphy established a University of Guelph scholarship called The Veriphy Skincare Scholarship for Women in STEM. “Women are massively underrepresented in these fields and yet, when we looked at Statistics Canada, we found young women were performing better in math and sciences, but were less likely to go into STEM fields,” Crumblehulme explains. “Why, as a society, wouldn’t we want the best people bringing the new discoveries forward? The new technologies?” A skin care brand with a purpose to encourage future generations of women? Now that is how you change the beauty industry for the better.
Stay updated with all things Beauty.