The first thing to know about Supergreat is that our community doesn't buy in to the hype. Sure, we've all made a few impulse purchases and have fallen for social media marketing, but collectively, we don't let each other buy products if we don't think they work. So when we say that Epicuren Discovery has rave reviews on SG, and that just about every review is a 10 on 10 would recommend, that's a pretty big deal. Epicuren is what we would call a derma skincare brand; it doesn't rely on trends or marketing—it relies on proven science and the many trademarked ingredients they're known for, like the Metadermabolic Enzyme (we're going to let Lisa explain that one).
Before we get into this information heavy interview that is the dream of any skincare-nerd, here's a little background on Epicuren. The brand was founded by Colleen Lohrman with developmental scientist Robert Heiman 35 years ago in California, where it remains to this day. Lohrman passed away in 2015, but Epicuren is still family owned, and their products are still used by facialists all over the world because of their undeniable effectiveness. You can even become an Epicuren-certified facialist, thus Lisa's role in the company, and sometimes you can even catch glimpses of their classes on Epicuren's Instagram stories.
We spoke to Lisa about all the science behind the brand, took a deeper dive into Supergreat's favorite Epicuren products, and of course, asked her about her own skincare routine. She also took apart many skincare myths and settled the St. Ives Apricot Scrub debate once and for all—you don't want to miss this one.
On how her career started and her job at Epicuren:
My title here is Director of Education. My background is twenty five plus years in the beauty industry, licensed as an aesthetician for over twenty, and my passion is education. That's what I went to college for, actually in college I got a music degree. I thought I'd be a music teacher and I realized early on that it was quite competitive, so I decided to take a different route and got an aesthetician's license and just fell in love with the beauty industry. And at one point in my career, I had an opportunity to become an in house corporate trainer. And that was about sixteen or seventeen years ago and that pretty much what I've done ever since.
I came on to Epicuren a few months ago into their education department, and what I do here is quite a big spectrum of things having to do with aesthetics and education. I oversee our field educators, making sure that they're out there doing their training, and they have all their educational supplies and gratis gifts, and working out their travel budget to make sure that they're getting the best deal and being treated fairly. We have a training center here and our corporate headquarters, and we have an area where we can hold classes, and we can set up webinars. And then we actually have in hands-on side of it where students can come in and watch a demo, and then they could you use our products and learn our facial protocols there.
I also develop new classes, I create and write and produce all of that. It is only for our accounts, so in other words, we don't let just anybody come in off the street and take our classes. They have to actually be an Epicuren account holder in order to take our classes.
On how to get Epicuren certified:
Our certification classes are pretty top notch. We go over the entire line, both retail in professional, and we really talk about our core and our foundation here at Epicuren, which is the Metadermabolic Enzyme. That's kind of what put us on the map, as well as our signature facial that encompasses that technology. And so we do that complete knowledge on all the products and then they watch a demo of our signature facial, which is pretty in depth, and then they actually will do it to each other.
So in order to be certified, you have to go through the complete product knowledge, you have to watch the demo, and then you have to perform the treatment with our corporate trainer. So it's like a three step process.
On the Metadermabolic Enzyme and the beginning of Epicuren:
How it started was the gentleman that was the co-founder of the company (Robert Heiman) suffered from vitiligo, and he had been working with different types of doctors and individuals to try to figure out a treatment. And there's a particular enzyme that they studied that the body produces that really does help to reverse the cells that have become damaged. And in this case, his vitiligo started to improve slightly. And so, with these Metadermobolic Enzymes, which are proteins—and they aren’t just one thing, it’s actually a complex of proteins and B vitamins, niacyn, riboflavin and biotin—they found that what it does is it kind of supports the health of the skin and reverts it back to a healthy, younger, more vital cell.
From what I was told, as Colleen and her co-founder were doing this research, they had tried different formulas. And at the time, she was a flight attendant, so she would bring all the test samples for her flight attendant friends. And as they ran out, people would say to her 'I just absolutely love that product. Do you have any more?' And she would manufacture a little bit more. And apparently this is how it started and it led her to the creation of the products in her garage. And then several years later, she branched out into a corporate office where we still stand to this day. This was all thirty five years ago.
She also had a very homeopathic nature to her. So a lot of the products had to do with essential oils and the different types of aromatherapy that can address different things like stress or pollution, or inflammation, irritation, that sort of thing.
We have one amazing body oil it's called Soul, and it has a citrine stone in it just to help with, positive awareness, confidence and it’s just so lovely. And it has notes of citrus, vanilla and black pepper. We have an aroma therapist here, Monique, and she's amazing. And as you apply this oil to your skin, the different notes one will dissipate, one will be stronger at one point and then it will dissipate and you’ll start to smell the next one and then the next one. So it's a wonderful process that we go throughh and there's a lot of studies that we do here in house on the different types of blends and what they can do to benefit the skin.
On the most popular Epicuren product on Supergreat—the Pumpkin Apple Spice Peel:
I only know from my years of teaching and working for different skin care companies that people just really like the smell of pumpkin. And pumpkin enzyme, that pumpkin extract, does help to very mildly digest the dead skin cells. If you're looking for a daily mild exfoliant, this is kind of great. Now it depends on your skin type too, for somebody who has a little thinner, dryer, dehydrated skin, this might not be a daily thing. But somebody who has a buildup of dead skin cells or if you have a condition called retention hyperkeratosis, where you secrete a lot of oils and have a lot of dead skin build up, this is something nice that you could do. You could put it on for a couple minutes while you're in the shower and then rinse it off. It also has malic extract, which is originally derived from apples, which is considered on par with glycolic and lactic, and the three of them are what's called alpha hydroxy acids. But in this case, the malic acid has slightly larger molecules, so when it comes into the skin, it's not going to be irritating to the skin and cause any redness or inflammation.
The nice thing is that it's really good for all skin types. Let's say you have somebody who has a lot of congestion, maybe some some deep, you know, underground acne lesions. It's perfect for that. Let's say you have somebody who is dehydrated, that person could use this product. Let's say somebody has mild rosecea, or sun damage or is a little older, and their skin has become thin. This really is the perfect product for pretty much everyone.
You also have to take into consideration with different skin tones, because the darker the skin color the greater the chance of having inflammation and hyperpigmentation. So sometimes if you're using a stronger peel like a hypersonic glycolic or something like that, it's not really advisable to use on somebody who has darker skin. But in the meantime, this would be perfect for those darker skin clients that couldn't necessarily use the higher glycolic.
On other popular Epicuren products:
So there's a couple of products that I really like, as far as cleansers I really like the Citrus Herbal Cleanser. It says it's for combination oily skin but even somebody who's really dry would love this product. It has cucumber in it so it does have that humectant property. The Apricot Facial Scrub is another very gentle polish. It does have walnut shell granules, and if you're anything in the beauty industry, you know that we've always poo poo’ed St Ives Apricot Scrub. But the difference is that those are ground apricot seeds, so they’re sharp and they have jagged edges. And the problem with that is those granules can tear the gentle tissue of the skin. And so this is why aestheticians don't really promote that, because it's too aggressive for the skin. Ours on the other hand is still the apricot seed and walnut shell granules, but we've actually made them spherical. So they're little small little round balls that are very gentle and won’t scratch or tear the gentle tissue of the skin.
Our Protein Mist Enzyme Toner does incorporate the Metadermabolic Enzyme complex and is a wonderful toner that you can spritz after cleansing to bring down the pH from cleansing the skin. You can also use it throughout the day just to kind of mist your face for hydration.
We have quite a few serums that I really love, our Ultimate Peptide Maximum Peptide Complex truly is your botox in a bottle. It has six different types of peptides in it and it works on the neuroreceptors that work to relax the muscles in our skin, which is what botox basically does. Our vitamin C complex, which is called the CXC Vitamin C complex, to say it simply, has three different types of stabilized Vitamin C, and each form of Vitamin C addresses a different process in melanogenesis, which is the production of melanin when the body or the skin has been attacked by certain aggressors. So whether it's from UV, pollution, stress, or cigarette smoke your body becomes inflamed. And when that happens, there's a message that in our brain, and it stimulates an enzyme that sends a message down to the Melanocytes, which are responsible for making pigment in our skin. It has a wonderful brightening effect to is, and it has shea butter in it so it’s very coating to the surface of the skin.
We also have our Retinol Anti Wrinkle Complex, which has 2.5% glycolic acid with retinol. What studies have shown is that retinol and AHA do work really well together. Our black line is also very popular because again, it's great for all skin types. It really does help to plump the skin and there's a dragon's blood and an orange stem cell that work with the dermis and the properties of the dermis to basically make it stronger so it could be more supportive of the epidermis, which ultimately helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
On her own skincare routine:
So I'm a little older. I have always had oily eczemaic skin, but because of my age now I have dehydration. So the products that I used twenty, thirty years ago to help keep my acne at bay are not necessarily great now because a lot of these products will basically draw out a lot of the oils and then make me dryer. So there's a switch where I have to balance out using products that are going to help absorb oil and be anti bacterial while also making sure that I get enough water in my skin.
I pretty much use everything Epicuren. There is one little acne product that I do use as a spot treatment, it's just an old habit, you know? (she wouldn’t share which one, because, brand loyalty) but that's only because Epicuren doesn't have anything like it.
Everything else from my cleanser, to my toner, to my exfoliator is Epicuren. And here's the funny thing, and this is something aestheticians in the back room fight about all the time. People who have oily skin feel that they don't need a moisturizer because they produce enough oil, and that is completely false. That's a myth. Because moisture is replenishing the water in our skin that we lose as we get older and oil is something that our bodies secrete. So some of us secrete more oil, which keeps our skin lubricated, which usually, if you have somebody who has really oily skin, they probably will have less fine lines and wrinkles. But on the downside, they tend to have more breakouts. Somebody who has a lack of oil production will have much drier, thinner skin because their skin is not lubricated all the time. The downside there is that they’ll show more deep lines and wrinkles.
I’ve had oily skin my whole life, so I don't even really like to have a heavy moisturizer on unless I've been in a really cold, wet, snowy climate, and it's just sucked everything out, then I'll put on something a little heavier. But most of the time a good serums that has humectants, which are ingredients that pull moisture back into the skin, things like hyaluronic acid or glycerin. So I'll use serums that are loaded with those types of ingredients over putting on an actual moisturizer.
My daily routine is the Citrus Herbal Cleanser in the shower and when I wash my face at night, I use the Micro Derm Ultra Refining Scrub, it’s a strong scrub, so use that in the shower to make sure I get that all off. At my bathroom sink, I'll use the Apricot Facial Scrub and I use the Protein Mist several times in the morning while I'm getting ready. I’ll mist and then go do something, come back and mist again. Right now, to be honest, I’m still kind of new (at Epicuren) so I'm just trying products for a week or so, just so I can get a good feel and see how it's affecting my skin. Right now some of my favorites are the CXC Vitamin C complex and the InjecStem Biofirming Serum. And then, of course, I always follow up with a sunscreen, the Zinc Oxide Perfecting Sunscreen, it's an SPF twenty seven.
On whether or not changing up your skincare routine is actually good for your skin:
Oh, absolutely. The reason for that is our skin does get acclimated. So I'll give you an example; let's say that you're a really avid gym-goer, and every day you spend 45 minutes to an hour in the gym and you do bicycling, and it becomes routine. So your body knows exactly how to react to those forty five minutes of that type of exercise. But now let's say you go in one day and you kind of want to mix it up. So you do the stairmaster instead. Well, guess what your body is going to tell you? It's going to react, but also in the beginning it's going to react negatively because those muscles you weren’t working out very often are gonna say ‘ouch.’ But in a few days, you're gonna start to notice the change in your body, and your body is going to start acclimating to the benefits of doing this new exercise.
Our skin is a living breathing organ just like our muscles or tissue, but it's not always going to react. Depends on what you do when and how much you do it. But it'll react and eventually it will become acclimated in a good way, based on those products and their ingredients. Now, not so much in Southern California, but when you live in an area like New York, where you have very distinct seasons, your skin actually changes too. So in the winter, your skin becomes more dry and dehydrated, so we need to address that during the wintertime. In the summer, when it's more humid, our pores open up, we start to sweat more toxins, and we will produce more oil. Also, things happen in our life. We go through stresses or we move and there's new pollutants, or we get a new job, or we're flying all over the place. So for everything that we do we have to remember that our skin is going to react to that. And in order to maintain its health, we have to use products with ingredients that will address that.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.
In this article