Between the sunburns of summer and wind chill of winter, our Minnesota skin takes a beating. White Bear Lake-based Brevena hopes to put your skin at ease with its product line, released in February. While the company was founded in 2014, the technology used in the creams and gels has been years in the making, and started in hospital burn units, according to Brevena president Barbara Klein.
Klein got her start in the medical burn-unit industry right after graduating from the University of Minnesota. With a major in economics, she decided to enter the sales industry, and chose the medical arena “because I thought it was a professional environment that would be conducive to women sales reps,” she says. The nearest medical device manufacturer to her home at the time happened to specialize in burn care, and she got a job selling to burn units and wound care in a five-state region. After working her way up through the company, Klein left to pursue other medical markets, but returned when a coworker had the idea to purchase the burn unit and wound care sector of the company.
Klein jumped on board, and Brennen (German for “to burn”) Medical was born in 1993. It was here that the new technology in skin care was discovered.
“In 1995 I identified this oat beta glucan as an additional healing agent,” Klein says. “You’ve heard stories of using oatmeal baths to soothe skin for poison ivy, poison oak—and it’s been around for ages in that form.” The beta glucan is extracted from the cell wall of the oat plant, and is a healing agent for skin loss. Klein purified it to remove any oat byproducts, “and that’s what we put in the medical devices.” That pure, medical-grade product is still used in burn units at medical centers around the world, she says, though in 2012, she sold the company.
But when she started getting calls from friends in the medical industry looking for samples of the product for personal use, “it dawned on us … all of our skin is damaged to some degree,” Klein says. “The daily damage, or assaults from the sun, wind and air, significantly benefit from this hydrating beta glucan.”
So she and her team created Brevena, the consumer line based on their 20-plus years of success in the burn units using beta glucan, which they now refer to as the macro-B complex.
“Our goal is really to be a skin care destination for skin health,” Klein says. “We want to keep it really simple: Just keep your skin hydrated.” Brevena currently offers six products; one of them, the Restorative Skin Balm, was recently awarded the National Eczema Seal of Approval, Klein says.
And they already have a loyal following. Anne Long, of Minneapolis, tried the products after her husband brought her a sample pack. “I had never found a moisturizer or any type of lotion that worked on my face that wasn’t too oily or made my skin too dry,” she says. She also had struggled with acne since she was a child and tried all the acne medications on the market, but nothing ever worked. “At age 32 I finally have clear skin,” Long says.
All of Brevena’s products, which range from $40 to $89, are completely manufactured in a 55,000-square-foot warehouse in White Bear Lake that Brevena shares with two other companies. “We love the community,” Klein says. “It’s a good area to be in.”