Baché de Mar founder Renee Alyce was living on the remote Fijian island of Vatulele, helping establish a new resort, when she first applied sea cucumber to her face.

“I was living a bit of an unusual lifestyle,” she tells Broadsheet. “Without access to make-up or skincare, I was having a lot trouble with my skin and got a tropical skin disease … through insect bites that got infected and never really healed.”

Many of the locals suffered from similar skin infections and ulcers, which they sometimes treated with the inner lining of sea cucumbers.

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The cylindrical, sea-floor-dwelling marine creatures are known for their bizarre defence mechanism. If threatened, they expel sticky respiratory tubes that entangle and poison predators. The cucumbers then have to quickly regrow their dispatched insides to survive. This collagen is touted as a sustainable, safe alternative to bovine collagen, which has been linked to diseases such as Mad Cow.

“I was just fascinated by this,” says Alyce, who had already been reading up on the rejuvenating properties of sea cucumbers and experimenting with extracting coconut oil, and using volcanic rock and sea minerals in homemade beauty concoctions.

“One day the villagers [and I] went out on a boat and we found a sea cucumber and brought it back,” she says. “I followed some scientific literature about how to extract the collagen, extracted it, washed it with saltwater, put it in the fridge and, after a day or so, put it on my skin. It was insane. I put it on my face and it didn’t smell too good but it had this really unusual feeling – it went from hot to cold to hot.

“I took it off an hour later and all the redness around my nose had gone and my face looked completely different. It was quite shocking. I was doing a crazy dance and running around the island yelling, ‘I think I’ve discovered something!’”

A year ago, after returning home to the Gold Coast, Alyce launched Baché de Mar with a single flagship product: Sea Cucumber Collagen Regeneration Serum. Unlike the raw, pongy material that led to the original eureka moment, Baché de Mar’s product is extracted at a lab in Byron Bay, delicately fragranced and beautifully packaged.

The serum is applied at night to reduce scarring, redness, and visible signs of ageing caused by naturally occurring collagen loss.

The company recently released a moisturiser for daytime use that counters dryness and sun damage. Body creams, face masks and an edible supplement are currently being trialled. All of Baché de Mar’s products are designed to be suitable for sensitive skin.

Baché de Mar has free Australia-wide shipping and free international shipping for orders over $150.

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