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Juice Beauty’s Karen Behnke on business, wellness and fruit-powered skincare

January 1 | 4 minute read

Juice Beauty Founder Interview Hero 16x9

Words by Alexandra Whiting

Originally published on | February 10

Juice Beauty founder Karen Behnke is often described as a ‘serial wellness entrepreneur’, a title she takes in her stride.

“It’s a fun thing to be called,” she tells The Memo. “Wellness and sustainability form the entire basis of which I live my life, and since I always combine my lifestyle with business, I’ve spent 38 years in the industry.”

At 22, Behnke founded an aerobics company in San Francisco. Next, she launched an enterprise that offered worksite medical fitness screenings. It wasn’t until she became pregnant with her first child in her early forties that she took a deep interest in the ingredients in beauty products.

Inspired, she developed a line of luxurious, effective skincare with plant-derived, antioxidant-rich juices as the basis – rather than water. “I always knew our high efficacy skincare products could beat the ‘natural’ brands, but I was aiming for beating conventional chemical results,” she adds.

Alongside results, fans love Juice Beauty’s fast-absorbing formulas and lightweight texture.

In 2015, Juice Beauty collaborated with Gwyneth Paltrow to expand into colour with its Phyto-Pigments Makeup collection, which Paltrow wore for her wedding to husband Brad Falchuk. Juice Beauty ingredients are USDA certified organic, and organic formulas have higher antioxidant levels to help the appearance of ageing.

The line is purpose-led, vegan-friendly (some products do contain sustainably-sourced beeswax) and manufactures all products using wind and solar power. To find out more about the brand, we spoke to Behnke for all the juice.

‘’My goal has always been to consistently marry my passion for helping people enjoy healthier lifestyles with my ability to build financially successful businesses.’’ - Karen Behnke

TMM: What first attracted you to the wellness industry?

KB: “Health and wellness was my original passion and I wanted to combine my career with my passion! My goal has always been to consistently marry my passion for helping people enjoy healthier lifestyles with my ability to build financially successful businesses that are mission-driven.

“My original interest was in fitness as it helped me overcome a lot of the terrible medical problems that I had as a child. Then, it was a step-by-step progression in becoming passionate about nutrition and subsequently the wellness of the planet. Juice Beauty [brands-juiceb] is an amalgamation of everything I’ve learnt in the industry.”

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Juice Beauty Founder Interview 3x4 1b

How did you get Gwyneth Paltrow involved with the Juice Beauty makeup line?

KB: “Gwyneth and I met through a mutual investor, Amanda Eilian, and we immediately bonded over wellness and the desire to have beauty products that were amazing and worked well but didn’t compromise on health. Juice Beauty already had an entire line of successful skincare products, so we decided to launch a makeup collection together. Thus, Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Makeup was launched and Gwyneth became our makeup creative director for three years.

“She was incredibly involved with designing the look, feel, colour palettes and more, and I think the entire world knows Gwyneth has incredible and decisive taste! We were thrilled to work with her. She is still a shareholder in Juice Beauty, and Juice Beauty is a shareholder in Goop."

How do you know if a product is working for you, and how long should you use a Juice Beauty product before you can really decide?

KB: “That’s a great question that most people don’t really ponder. Many of our products, like our cult-fave Green Apple Peel Exfoliating Mask will provide instant results but continue to improve [the appearance of] your skin over time. The Stem Cellular Exfoliating Peel Spray is probably our most ‘instant gratification’ product; when you use it you should see dead skin cells falling off!

“However, our serums and moisturisers really work as a system over time, so I would encourage our customers to use a cleanser, treatment or moisturiser for at least a month to assess skin tone and texture. The most frequent compliment our customers get is, ‘Your skin is glowing!’”

What ingredients are you particularly passionate about?

KB: “All aspects of organic grape (grapeseed, grape skins, grape ground seeds, resveratrol from grapes and grape stem cells), organic olive squalane and organic olive oil. These AU-edits-ingredients will all eventually come from our Juice Beauty Farm that we established [in 2018, located in the Sonoma wine region of California]. Of course, I’m also quite partial to organic fruit acids. When they are formulated correctly they can rejuvenate your skin.”

How do you feel about the beauty industry becoming more conscious of ingredients?

KB: “I think it’s terrific that it’s drawing more attention to the ingredients in products that can be harmful to the health of animals, the planet or the user. However, [when it comes to] words like ‘natural’ and ‘clean’ that have come with the movement, none of those words have solid definitions. That’s why we abide by the strict organic regulation guidelines. Juice Beauty was founded in 2005 – we were pioneers.”

What are the benefits of organic skincare and why should people make the switch?

KB: “Firstly, organically farmed ingredients can have higher antioxidant levels than conventionally farmed ingredients. Antioxidants fight free radicals and free radicals are responsible for skin damage. So high antioxidant levels are fabulous! Secondly, as organic ingredients are farmed to limit toxic and synthetic pesticides, that residue is not left in your products nor in the Earth!”

What does your morning routine look like?

KB: “I always drink a large glass of filtered water, followed by organic black tea. I go for either a run, bike ride or do yoga for approximately an hour. Then I cleanse, treat and apply an AM SPF moisturiser from either Juice Beauty’s Stem Cellular or Green Apple collections.”

What’s one non-beauty thing everyone can do to improve their health and have it show in their skin?

KB: “Daily exercise. It gives you that glow.”

Related topics and brand tags

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