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It's Not Easy Being Green

August 4, 2008

From products to packaging, Issimo International is truly a 100% green company.


Guy Gear is certified organic.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

From products to packaging, Issimo International is truly a 100% green company.


By Joanna Cosgrove
Online Editor

Now more than ever, more companies are working harder to minimize their environmental footprint. Despite the long-reaching benefits, it’s not an easy proposition. Beverly Hills, CA-based Issimo International is committed to being green. The company’s three product lines—Guy Gear, Relax and Veladora—are comprised of primarily certified organic and active botanical ingredients. When certified organic ingredients are not available, the company turns to “wild grown” ingredients. The products utilize only natural aromas and are free of sulfates, surfactants, silicones, synthetic fillers/ingredients, parabens, EDTA, sodium laurel sulfate and other "harsh" additives. If color is used, it is food grade.

The company’s back story is rooted in Old World sensibilities. The founders’ ancestors were born in the Canary Islands in Spain and used native vegetation and flora to create homeopathic remedies for everyday ailments, and tonics and potions for beauty. Approximately 100 years ago, the family migrated from the Canary Islands to Cuba, where they started farming. The family later journeyed to northern California, where in the 1950s they made their home within the boundaries of an Indian reservation where the witnessed firsthand the traditions of Native Americans and their respect for the earth and its bounty.

The founders of Issimo hold sacred the knowledge learned and passed on to them by their grandparents and parents.

“Our modern potions contain a balance of what’s new and old to assure a product that is good to the skin,” comments Sixto Sicilia, one of the company’s founders. “Issimo International produces products with claimable levels of essential oils…any other way, it would just be Marketing, not Issimo’s commitment to producing good products for the consumer first and foremost.”

Mr. Sicilia added that Issimo International was established to carry on those Old World traditions both in a business practice and a formulation mindset.

“Our petrol-chemical free products feature all natural preservatives to keep the product fresh while steering skin away from unnecessary synthetic preservative irritants,” he said. “Issimo is on the constant lookout for change—we believe in our product having anti microbial, bacterial, fungal and viral properties but using ingredients that are natural antiseptics.”

When asked why organic ingredients are vitally important to his company’s philosophy, Mr. Sicilia replied that the organic concept has far-reaching implications.

“In the short term, organic farming is less damaging, organic farms do not consume or release synthetic pesticides into the environment, some of which have the potential to harm soil, water and local terrestrial and aquatic wildlife,” he said. “Organic farms are better than conventional farms at sustaining diverse ecosystems; i.e., populations of plants and insects, as well as animals. When calculated either per unit area or per unit of yield, organic farms use less energy and produce less waste; e.g., waste such as packaging materials for chemicals.”

Issimo’s organic ingredients are obtained through the company’s private supplier, which Issimo then certifies “making it a much more personal and trustful process,” according to Mr. Sicilia.

Product Overview

Although Veladora, Guy Gear and Relax each takes a unique approach to personal care, they are united by the same attention to formulaic detail.

Veladora is the company’s 100% vegetable soy candle line. The six candles that make up the line maintain a “green status” thanks to the use of only essential oils, cotton (and lead-free) wicks and a vegetable soy base that’s not only free of paraffin and petrol-chemicals, but so clean the company says the melted wax can double as warm massage cream oil for the hands and feet.

“Because of its lower melting point, the wax doesn’t harden, making the use of the 100% vegetable soy wax as a massage ‘oil,’ not only possible but highly beneficial,” said Mr. Sicilia. Each eight ounce Veladora candle has an approximate burn time of 40 hours and costs $22.50, with the exception of the Loyal candle, which costs $29. One hundred percent of the net proceeds of Loyal candles are donated to The Humane Society of the United States to support programs as Pets for Life and Rural Area Veterinary Services. 

Described as a “no fuss workout for the skin,” Guy Gear is a certified organic and all natural eight-product personal care line that takes a comprehensive, yet no-nonsens, approach to men’s hair, face and body care. The line is comprised of Tri Wash for hair face and body (8.45 oz., $18); Face Art non-foaming clear shave emulsion (8.45 oz., $18); Gush moisturizing face emulsion (2.5 fl. oz. $26); Shield SPF 20 (4 oz., $22), a spray tonic with UVA/UVB protection; Restore (1 oz., $20), a “corrective” blend of rosehip and grapeseed oils plus vitamins that can be massaged into the scalp or blended with Gush to replenish the skin’s vital nutrients and aid in the “regeneration process;” Body Scrub (8 oz., $18) that features grapeseed meal, powdered papaya, pineapple and soya meal, all blended with ground walnut shell powder to effectively exfoliate back, chest, shoulders, torso and legs, with essential oils and  Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) to “help dissolve deposits that clog pores”; Eye Thing eye balm ($33) with tetrapeptides to “help with puffy eyes and dark circles and minimize fine lines within 15 days of continued use,” and a plethora of extracts, minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients; and finally, Face Mud (6.75 fl. oz., $23), a dead sea mud mask that’s formulated with a high concentration of Dead Sea minerals and organic matter.

The Relax line is the company’s professional and at-home body treatment collection which features 11 Dead Sea Salt Body Exfoliators Dead Sea Mud Face and Body Wraps, and Fruit Blend Body Butters. The products are divided into three categories, Anti-Oxidants, Balancing and Calming, and include products such as Niaouli and Carrot Seed Balancing Body Exfoliant, Rosehip and Palmarosa Balancing Moisturizer and Chocolate Antioxidant Dead Sea Mud, to name a few.

Three Relax olive oil-based Massage Cream Oils ($26)—Castelian Herbs, Invigorating Mint/Rosemary and Provencial Herbs—are unique in that they contain no fillers, water or preservatives, only pure oils, butters and extracts. For instance, the ingredients in Castelian Herbs are simply olive oil, beeswax, mango butter, shea butter, avocado butter, olive butter, avocado oil, camellia japonica oil, rosehip oil, jojoba oil, tea tree oil, vitamin E, and essential oils of patchouli, fir needle, cedarwood and lavender.

Mr. Sicilia noted that the products do a great job of using beneficial elements and extracts found in the garden that are often overlooked and not typical of skin care products.

Through the use of “antiseptic by nature” essential oils, moisturizing botanicals and marine proteins, the company’s literature promised “improved [skin] texture, a more comfortable feel and a look that glows, not in a bad way, not shiny or oily, since our products work with your skin’s natural self-correcting and maintenance properties, absorbing the essential oils, botanical and marine proteins to work from the inside out.”

Issimo International’s products are sold in spas, resorts and special boutiques all over the world, and can also be purchased online at the company’s website.

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