Twenty years ago, Currimundi resident Irene faced sensitivity. Nothing she tried could relieve her itching skin, but a chance meeting with a horse trainer was to change her life. She went on to create a unique range of natural products that relieve pain, improve joint health, and soften and enhance skin at the same time. "While the horse trainer was using MSM to relieve joint pain in his horses, he said it also seemed to improve their coats and fix skin conditions," Irene explains. "I wondered if it would work on humans too?"
Diving into the published research (not so easy in the early Internet days), Irene read up on the science behind MSM and the different benefits it could bring, including reducing inflammation and improving skin health. She couldn't find any skincare products that included MSM as an ingredient, so her home kitchen became a temporary research laboratory as she set about concocting various natural lotions and potions and testing this organic sulphur compound on herself.
"My own skin was giving me such grief at the time when I started researching MSM that I thought to combine MSM with Aloe Vera to create a soothing gel. It had a fantastic calming effect on my skin, so I shared this first formulation with family and friends during a beach holiday. It seemed to work for lots of things from mosquito and midge bites to scratches and especially sunburn," she recalls. "We believed we were on to a winner, so we started working with a cosmetic chemist to formulate a range of natural moisturisers that would all include MSM. In 2003, our first products under our MISMO brand were manufactured, and we launched our first website to market the products and explain the benefits of MSM."
While the MSM skincare line was taking off, we started to have people wanting to buy our raw MSM powder for what it can do for joint health, including mild osteoarthritis. And so started the MISMO range of pain relief products, which now also includes several magnesium-based products and various other all-natural nutritional supplements.
"There are no other ingredients in MISMO MSM - just pure MSM of the very highest quality. It is a listed product with the TGA; therefore, all claims about the benefits of MSM must be supported by published scientific research," she adds. "My husband, Peter, and I have been taking MSM every day for 22 years," she confides. "We take high doses or around 20 grams per day, although we did start with more like five grams (a teaspoon) daily for many years. As age and arthritis descended, the dosage has increased. "I had a hip replacement three years ago but didn't even know I had severe osteoarthritis until a few weeks before the operation. This was probably because MSM alleviated the symptoms. Peter has had a huge improvement in his pain levels from arthritis due to taking MSM. It's easy to prove - just stop taking it for a week! However, people who take prescription blood thinners should not take MSM because MSM has a slight blood-thinning effect," she warns.
Irene admits over the years, she has become more and more interested in finding and testing active ingredients for anti-ageing serums and moisturisers that actually work. "Hyaluronic Acid is one of our favourites - but not the cosmetic form of hyaluronic acid - we use a unique hyaluronic acid with a molecular weight that you won't find in anything except the most exclusive high-end skincare products. As an active ingredient, it costs about 20 times more, but we think it is worth it, and the results speak for themselves," she adds.
MISMO produces four major anti-ageing products in their range:
Rejuvenating Serum - "an evergreen serum with a very high composition of Hyaluronic Acid, peptides, MSM, and Aloe Vera works a treat to keep the lines at bay and plumps the skin"
A C E Serum - "designed after a request from a long-time beauty clinic client. The mix of vitamins A, C, and E in the correct proportions reduces sun damage, lines, and pigmentation while firming the skin. Wonderful restorative power. The clinic has used it since 2007 and calls it their liquid gold"
Anti-Wrinkle Cream - "a platinum-grade moisturiser using multi-vitamins, including the amazing Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid - which is our best-selling anti-aging moisturiser"
Eye Cream Complex - "an effective combo of actives to tackle eyebrow lift, dark circles, and puffy under-eyes plus reduce lines around the eyes. These active ingredients are all developed from natural sources."
MISMO also has a Hydrating Mask. "It's luscious," says Irene. "Full of natural hydrating compounds, including Manuka honey, hyaluronic acid, oatmeal, Aloe Vera, MSM, of course, and natural oils. It literally feeds the skin.
Irene admits she is always the first person to test and trial MISMO products. "If they upset my skin, we go no further." MISMO has grown a loyal clientele over 20 years with more than 100,000 orders shipped to customers all over Australia and around the world. "Once people find us and try our skincare, they tend to stick with us. We have people who have been with us since the earliest days. They still use our products daily, and they are looking great, I might add." MISMO skincare products are made in Queensland and contain natural oils, organic aloe vera, and MSM. "We do not use propylene glycol, parabens, mineral oils, alcohol, sodium laurel sulphate, micro-beads, or colouring," adds Irene. A family-owned company, the daily operations of MISMO are now looked after by the next generations (Peter, Hannah, Issy, and Bret) with Irene focusing on new products and supporting the team. In 2013, they moved into their current premises in Premier Circuit, Warana, and have recently transformed the space to include a specialty coffee shop and gallery space where people can relax, try out the range of MISMO products (including makeup), and get personalised skincare advice.