Her Natural Approach To Healthy Skin Whatever Your Age

By Patricia Canole | Photography by Neil J. Tandy
Coordinator & Assistant to Ms. Ballou, Lauren Powers
Shot on location at Ms. Ballou’s Manhattan residence and Maison 10, NYC


Many skincare brand founders let others do the talking while they focus on formulating. But for Immunocologie’s Karen Ballou, she enjoys both. As a result, you’ll often find Karen appearing nationwide at health, wellness, and beauty events sharing tips and positive messages with her growing loyal followers.

This founder/CEO realizes that the skincare market can be full of empty promises. Today, consumers are intelligent and want to know that the ingredients they’ll use on their skin are naturally derived. They care about their health and well-being and wish to avoid the synthetically derived overload of chemicals encountered every day. Not a day goes by that Karen does not receive questions from those who want to understand what it is they’re putting on their face and body and how it all works. For that reason, Immunocologie products are formulated based on the skin as a living organ. It needs nutrients to thrive.

Beauty brands often find their roots in their founders’ backstories, from how they discovered skincare to relieve the skin woes that plagued them over the years. Immunocologie is no different. In 2008, Karen was diagnosed with cancer. During treatment, she found it a necessity to care for her skin due to adverse reactions to drug therapies. Her background as an esthetician and developing skincare products for 30 years at top companies eventually led to her current career as the head of Immunocologie—with an emphasis on natural.

And so Immunocologie was launched in 2014.

New York Lifestyles Magazine met with Karen Ballou recently to learn more about this fascinating woman and what she sees for the future.

Tell us a bit more about yourself and your background.
From a young age, I knew I wanted to help people. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a doctor or nurse, but I envisioned being a doer. Skin became a real passion from spending time with my grandmother during her skincare routines which led to being interested in the cosmetic industry and having a natural knack for chemistry. From mixing my first perfume kit or concocting my grandmother’s oils, I loved formulating and working with my hands. 

So, instead of becoming a doctor, I became a pioneer in the cosmetic and aesthetic industry, where I started my career in beauty with Elizabeth Arden and then onto Redken. Following this, I trained as a master esthetician. I opened a school in Atlanta, Georgia, and my first spa in Chicago, Illinois, and began consulting for major skincare brands and bringing innovation to the market. As life continued, I had four children and continued developing products, which I call soil-to-seed and seed-to-market. 

Fourteen years ago, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and much to my surprise, it was the beginning of my intense work of looking at the ingredients I was putting on and, in my body. Something a lot of us don’t think about. But because I was working on a new project with French green clay, it was recommended that it would be a great source to use during my chemo treatment. It wasn’t until I was in remission and was feeling better that my immune system was in a healthy state. I was ready for my next journey. This was when Immunocologie was born, which means studying the skin’s immunity. The products we use support natural immunity, giving the best skin results. 

Were there other changes you made after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
After my diagnosis, I began with a naturopathic doctor; it changed my life and way of looking at how I lived. Finally, I could fine-tune my habits to support my health and not take what I was doing for granted. I always ask, “is it good for me?” Eating better, sleeping, and exercising are now life-long habits that I partake in every day to keep me at my best.

What is the importance of French green clay used in all Immunocologie products?
When I was diagnosed, I was already working with an ethnobotanist on a project containing French green clay. We were using clay water within the clay products and found that its properties are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antimicrobial. It was most effective on the largest organ in our body, the skin. The discovery gave me the knowledge and understanding of how we can treat the skin’s microbiome naturally and have a delivery system.

Immunocologie uses this mineral-based delivery system founded from French green clay, creating an ionic exchange that brings energy to our skin cells and has a multitude of uses, including purifying, detoxing, and hydrating while supporting healthy skin naturally. The most important thing about French green clay is that it’s the best of all Earth clays and has 12 essential minerals that are imperative for the health and detox of the skin.  

Tell us how clay is used and whether there are other vital ingredients.
Most people believe all clays are alike. However, there is a distinction between different clays and their minerals. For example, the French green clay, also known as Montmorillonite, combines lava, and bentonite. Immunocologie means the study of the skin’s immunity, but also that skin health is health. We use this clay to support our brand purpose of the best ingredients for beauty from the outside, combined with our other plant-based ingredients that support the skin. 

Immunocologie’s mission is healthy skin over anti-aging. Why did you decide to formulate products in this manner?
Aging comes from inflammation in the body. We all will age, but it’s how well we will age. The one thing that is key to this is that French green clay is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. So, adding the ionic exchange clay water makes for a more substantial visible difference with skin. This is a powerful story for people to understand that what they put on their skin goes into their bodies. Therefore, we know our Immuncologie ingredients are healthy for our bodies. 

Describe a typical Karen Ballou wellness routine. 
It’s about getting up and having a routine of health. My number one routine is exercising, whether a little bit or a lot. It can vary; sometimes, I work with trainers or may take phone calls on the treadmill. Every day I have celery juice with different ingredients, or hot water, to start the day feeling enriched in the mind, body, and soul is what’s essential for me. Plus, a little bit of wine doesn’t hurt later.

What would you say to consumers who haven’t tried natural skincare?
It’s necessary. We are in a time where we need to have healthy bodies and minds for today, tomorrow, and the future. The fact that the skin is the body,s largest organ has been lost in beauty. We follow trends and often use guesswork for our skin. Beauty has always been about the newest/latest/being beautiful. Consumers should focus on buying products that support the health of the body and skin—not what’s on trend. 

Do you have one favorite Immunocologie product?
While I love our products, my all-time favorites are the Super 7 Elixir, Vital Ionic Mist, and Clay Mask. I can’t live without my clay water! So, I use the Clay Mask as a cleanser and scrub.

What’s the future of natural skincare?
Natural skincare is here to stay and has only become better and better. Immunocologie is a step above and has a delivery system to allow our body to utilize those healthy ingredients for the glowing, radiant skin we all look to have. I say, “why can’t natural be a luxury, and why can’t luxury be luxuriously natural? 

What are your plans for the brand?
I plan to reach everyone I can to help them in their journey of skin wellness. As a cancer survivor, the people I can share Immunocologie with, the more I know I’m helping to change their lives and how they care for skin. I am passionate about supporting oncology programs and developing routines for those undergoing cancer treatments or any health issues with immunity-supporting skincare.

What is your idea of a perfect day?
A perfect day is creating positivity throughout the day, leading to positive results. It’s what I’ve always been about. Why be sad when you can smile!  

For more information on Karen Ballou and Immunocologie, visit immunocologie.com