And so to cow’s colostrum. The arrival of Ignae, produced on São Miguel, could almost justify the description of Portugal as being in its second “golden age of discovery”, for it is an extraordinarily exciting story. Its young founder Miguel Pombo noticed, while working in Brussels as an intern at a consultancy for pharmaceutical-industry clients, that thermal water – something São Miguel is not short of – was a key ingredient in many beautifying creams, so he decided to return home and start creating his own.
The island’s Terra Nostra botanical garden dates back to 1775; from here Pombo took the thermal water, exceptionally rich in silica and other minerals that improve the skin’s barrier function. He cold-pressed Camellia japonica seeds, making oil that delivers anti-ageing and antioxidant properties. From the cows he took colostrum (after their calves were sated), having found that the milk of cows in the Azores – probably due to year-round grazing and an immune system stimulated by the Atlantic winds – is unusually rich in immunoglobulins, growth factors and proline-rich peptides, which stimulate collagen production. Then he tapped the anti-ageing and replenishing properties of the local bees’ honey (the black Azorean bees also seem to produce a better quality of venom, extracted on a glass so they don’t die).All this resulted in a wrinkle-busting Day Complex (€115 for 50ml) with peptides and antioxidant-rich lactobionic acid; a revitalising Night Complex (€120 for 50ml) with peptides and collagen-boosting stem cells; an Enriched Regenerating Serum (€109 for 15ml) and an Eye Complex (€90 for 15ml) with haloxyl, which stimulates microcirculation to this delicate area; and a cleansing, firming and illuminating Bee Venom & Clay Mask (€95 for 100ml).
Lisbon’s Four Seasons Hotel Ritz has just launched Ignae facials at its spa, and the products are gaining global attention. Renowned US-based facialist (and global brand ambassador for Biologique Recherche) Joanna Czech is impressed: “The science is what impresses me the most about Ignae. The creams are hydrating and healing and have all the steps to fight the glycation process [when sugar reaches your skin, breaking down the collagen molecules – one of the main accelerators of skin ageing]. I have used the eye serum on clients before the Met Ball: it is great for red-carpet preparation, as it is lightweight and plumps the eye area, diminishing the appearance of fine lines.”