What would you do if you suddenly found yourself with a herd of 100 goats? It might seem like an unlikely scenario, but that’s exactly the conundrum Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell found themselves in shortly after relocating to the historic Beekman 1802 farm in upstate New York in Sharon Springs from Manhattan. It was during the 2008 crash and their neighbor was going to lose his farm and needed a new home for his goats. “We just googled what can we make with goat milk,” Dr. Ridge says. “What was interesting about goat milk was that it has been used for thousands of years. Cleopatra used to bathe in it; the milkmaids of Europe would wash their faces with it. But no one ever understood why it was working, or why people with sensitive skin always talked about using goat milk. And so we thought with my background in science and Josh’s background in marketing, we could tell this story, because there really is no other ingredient in the world [like this].”
“Every farmers market across the world, no matter what country, has goat milk products,” Kilmer-Purcell says. “Everyone in the world knows that for skin issues, like eczema and psoriasis, goat milk is good for it. There’s not a single beauty company that has goat milk as a primary ingredient. That was a genesis for the brand as well.” After doing some research, they learned that the reason no other beauty brand was shining a spotlight on goat’s milk was because it was an ingredient sourcing issue. But with 100 goats now on their farm, that wasn’t a challenge.
Named after their farm, beauty brand Beekman 1802 launched in 2008. With Dr. Ridge’s background in medicine, specializing in aging, Dr. Ridge had studied the science of the microbiome while working at Mount Sinai. “I’ve always been interested in knowing how the body ages, but even back then, the science of the microbiome, which was really focused on the gut, was an important part of our practice,” he says. “Patients who had been in the hospital for a long time had been taking antibiotics and whatnot; the way that we recuperated their intestines was to give them yogurt with live bacteria. That was the very first time that medicine really started talking about the microbiome. I’ve always been fascinated in following it.”
Goat milk soap was the first product Beekman 1802 created. “Our first tagline was ‘soap for sensitive people,’ because it’s so good for sensitive skin,” Dr. Ridge says. As the company expanded their skincare offerings, they did more research to figure out what was it about goat milk that made it so good for sensitive skin. They learned that goat milk has the same pH as human skin, so it doesn’t disturb the acid mantle, which is a very fine film on the surface of the outermost layer of skin, just beneath the microbiome, that serves as a protective barrier. Studies found that thanks to its pH level, goat milk won’t cause an inflammatory response in the skin that some other active ingredients can. “That’s what makes goat milk so powerful as a nourishment for the microbiome,” Dr. Ridge says. Kilmer-Purcell adds, “People understand yogurt is good for your gut. Goat milk is like yogurt for your skin. It’s the same general idea in the microbiome. The core thing to get people to understand is that your skin is not a dead wall that needs to be painted every day; we can teach them that your skin is changing all the time.”
The microbiome is constantly adapting to your needs. For example, Dr. Ridge explains that if you’re out in the sun, then certain bacteria need to rev up their production because they’re what’s going to mount the response to sun exposure. By feeding your skin actives every day, you’re nourishing it with what it needs, and that’s exactly what Beekman 1802 products are formulated to do. The co-founders describe the entire line as “cleanical,” where clean beauty meets science; they meet every retailer’s clean standards. Their latest hero product is the Bloom Cream Daily Probiotic Moisturizer, a light moisturizer with optimized nutrition for the microbiome that’s designed to work with all skin types. The formula can be customized with two boosters that are made to be mixed with the moisturizer. The Dream Booster Bakuchiol Beta-Retinol Better Aging Serum is designed for overnight use and minimizes the appearance of fine line, wrinkles and pores while smoothing and refining texture. For daytime, there’s the Golden Booster Amla Berry Vitamin C Brightening Serum; it’s chock full of vitamin C-rich amla berry to brighten, even skin tone, ward off environmental damage, fade acne scars and reduce dark spots.
“The way that we see it developing going forward is that we’re very transparent that this is first version of the Bloom Cream because as science continues to develop, we will continue to develop,” Dr. Ridge says. “But we also believe that people should be able to customize their regimen if they are having a specific problem, like if they’re having a breakout one day or maybe traveling to a different climate that’s super dry. You need to be able to adjust your nourishment for the day. And that’s why we have the Bloom Boosters. Going forward, we might have version two, three, four and five of the Bloom Cream as we learn more about how to optimize the nourishment of the microbiome. And then we’ll have very specific treatments that you can then drop in on a daily basis. As the science of the microbiome continues to develop, we’re going to become more and more focused on treating very specific, almost down to the micrometer of the skin. But regardless of that, optimizing the nourishment of the microbiome is going to be the first step.”
Sustainability is also top of mind for the brand and by offering boosters to customize their moisturizer, that means customers can buy fewer products, leading to less waste. “Moisture is the number one thing your skin needs, right?” says Kilmer-Purcell. “So, if you have one great moisturizer, and then you’re adding the different ingredients you need, you’re not buying 500 different moisturizers.”
Moisturizer remains one of the most important skincare products because of its link to the microbiome. “If you look at the most current literature on the microbiome, the most common terminology used is skin resiliency,” Dr. Ridge says. “What they found that increases skin resiliency is the amount of moisture on the surface of your skin. The reason that’s important is because the microbiota of the skin, which is trillions of different organisms, they have to communicate with one another. If your skin is dry, and you’ve got dry keratinocytes on the surface of your face, it’s almost it’s like little Grand Canyons all over the surface of your face. And if this group of bacteria over here can’t communicate with this group of viruses over here, the ecosystem is not working, because it’s not communicating with one another. That’s why moisture is really the most important thing for the microbiome.”
Everything at Beekman 1802 is developed in-house, with their own team of cosmetic chemists. They have even earned the Certified Microbiome-Friendly seal from MyMicrobiome for their Bloom Cream and for Goat Milk, making them the first brand to ever receive the seal for an ingredient. They’re also the only brand at Ulta to have this seal. It turns out their gift of goats is a gift that keeps on giving.