As we get older, we tend to care more about quality over quantity. We read ingredients labels more closely, and we pay attention to the people behind the products we spend our money on. At 44, supermodel Karen Elson is no different.
Skincare brand Proteger is her latest collaboration, and it’s no accident that the brand is devoted to sustainable, vegan, gender-inclusive skincare that delivers real results—and that the brand’s founders are personally committed to all of the above.
“Integrity is everything,” Elson said. “I’m a fashion insider and I know when something is a gimmick. It’s clear that (the founders) aren’t making gimmicks, they’re legit products that do what they say.”
Longtime friends JoLynn Henke and Peter Clarkson were inspired by Henke’s mother, who was diagnosed with ALS, to create Proteger’s fist product: Dermal Sérum. “Protéger was inspired by motherly love, and this shoot pays homage to our cofounder JoLynn’s late mother, who had a great affinity for Frederick Leighton’s painting, The Flaming June.”
Meant to be used head-to-toe, the serum is botanically-derived and packs a punch with 20% microencapsulated vitamin C, fractionated hyaluronic acid, organic arabica coffee seed extract, and organic aloe leaf juice. It’s free of fragrances, GMOs, unethical treatments “of any beings,” filler ingredients and common allergens.
And since it’s for the whole body, it doesn’t come in a tiny dropper bottle like most serums. The biophotonic violet glass (which ensures longer shelf life) is 6.76 ounces and retails for $115 (or purchase Rescue Bottles—product with a slightly scuffed bottle for $76 and Proteger will donate 20% of proceeds to the Beagle Farm Project).
Proteger’s second launch is a collection of three Sérum Boosters that add a layer of customization onto Dermal Sérum (or any other skincare product). Smooth Sailing evens out texture with lactic, glycolic, mandolin, and citric acids. Seamless smooths lines with bakuchiol (a gentler vitamin A alternative), rose hip oil, and acmella extract, which mimics and prolongs the effects of Botox. Get Even normalizes skin tone and reduces dark patches with aloe barbadensis leaf juice, spinacia oleracea leaf extract, butylene glycol, glycerin, kiwi fruit water, salicylic acid and more.
The boosters are available for preorder, (shipping expected in late summer) at $65 each, or bundle all three for $112.
Elson, who said she’s “very much a minimalist” when it comes to skincare, has added Seamless and Smooth Sailing to her regimen. “Both are great and really do what they’re supposed to do. My skin feels so lovely with Dermal Sérum but the boosters take it up a notch.”
Proteger products are thoughtful both inside and out. While using glass bottles is more expensive and can be more prone to damage during shipping, “we refuse to cut corners in this realm,” Henke said. “Our glass is infinitely recyclable and better protects our formulas so that we do not have to use controversial preservative ingredients.”
Clarkson, who is also a model, said partnering with Elson was a natural fit. “Our products are designed for everybody (and face!), regardless of gender, age and stage… We also feel strongly about representation, and want to do our part by casting talent from a variety of backgrounds.”
Elson is optimistic about the future of older models in fashion and beauty.
“I think the fashion world is finally realizing that women are beautiful at all ages, sizes and ethnicity which is a wonderful thing,” Elson said. Representation, she added, “sets the tone that women don’t have an expiration date. Because of course we don’t!”