Skin & Tonic is an organic skincare brand handcrafted in the heart of Hackney. When it comes to ingredients, Skin & Tonic are unashamedly frank with what goes into their products, using only therapeutic and sustainably sourced plant-based ingredients. We sat down with creators Sarah and Josh to further understand the need for raw, natural skincare.
How did Skin & Tonic begin?
I spent the first eight years of my career working in television. I worked for the Discovery Channel, BBC & Disney managing their global marketing and branding. I then retrained in aromatherapy and skincare formulation at Neals Yard Remedies, practised as an aromatherapist and eventually launched Skin & Tonic. A minimal, organic skincare range based in East London. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2009 (a disease that effects 1 in 10 women and effects your fertility). I started to re-evaluate my lifestyle and career in respect to my health. I quit smoking, drinking and started to eat healthy foods, exercise & using clean skincare. I was a beauty junkie and loved effective, stylish products. However, when I decided to ‘go natural’ I would end up spending so much time hunting on dusty wholefood shop shelves to find natural skincare (free from synthetic chemicals that are potential endocrine disruptors and carcinogens). I soon realised there was a gap for a cool, unisex, certified organic skincare range and gradually I started to dream up the concept with my boyfriend, Josh. Together we launched Skin & Tonic in 2014.
Have you always been interested in the beauty industry?
Not the industry so much, but I’ve always been a beauty junkie and loved trying out lots of different products. I still do this (just with natural brands). I think it keeps us on our toes knowing what other products and brands are in our market. I really don’t like big brands ‘greenwashing’ and I like to know and understand exactly what ingredients I’m putting on my body. I think the industry has a long way to go to become responsive towards consumer demand for honest, clean, well sourced products.
How did you begin to develop your products?
I started to make the products in my kitchen in the early days, trying them out on friends and family. I then moved into a small studio and now we have a bigger lab and manufacturing facility in Hackney with a few production staff who work to develop, refine and make our products.
What have been the highest and lowest points on your journey so far?
My high point was falling pregnant with our baby Thea (after being told after years of trying our chances were very poor thanks to my endometriosis). In terms of the business, hiring a great team and launching in some of my favourite stores. Low points have been managing cash flow & operations, often very challenging as a small start up.
How would you describe your customer base?
They tend to be 24-40 year olds who are educated and like to make conscious purchasing choices without compromising their style and efficacy.
What do you do when you are feeling uninspired?
I try and do something different, get out of my routine, go to a new place and get some headspace.
What is your evening skincare routine?
I cleanse with our Steam Clean cleansing balm, which is a beautiful blend of spearmint, eucalyptus, safflower & grapeseed oils. It gently lifts away my make up and build-up of impurities from the day. I breathe in the therapeutic oils which always help to calm me after a long day at work. I follow this with our Rose Mist Toner & our Naked Beauty Oil (a blend of rosehip fruit, seed, apricot & pumpkin oils that plump and nourish my sensitive skin). Finally I rub some Calm Balm on my temples and back of my neck. The sedating chamomile and lavender oils always help me to sleep well.
What’s different about your products?
We only use a maximum of 7 organic and natural ingredients in each product. We label our products in plain English (so our customers understand the ingredients) we source our ingredients from small, ethical producers and we donate 10% of our profits to a clean water charity.
Why is using natural/organic ingredients in your products so important to you?
I believe the skin can assimilate natural, pure plant ingredients better than synthetic ones. Our bodies are like sponges and absorb what we put onto them. At Skin & Tonic we don’t use synthetic chemicals that are potential carcinogens, skin irritants, endocrine disruptors and neurotoxins. Instead we use raw plant ingredients such as oils, flower waters, butters & powders that are full of nutrients, antioxidants & essential fatty acids (all of which are important for your skin’s health). Our formulations are simple and made with organic, plant based, sustainable ingredients.
What is your go to product from your range?
The Rose Mist (I have one on my desk, handbag & next to my bed). It’s a beautiful, gentle and hydrating mist that always leaves my skin feeling fresh and hydrated. I also love using our Coco Mask when my skin is looking a little dull and clogged. It’s a soothing face mask perfect for sensitive skin and yet is very effective at drawing out impurities and leaving the skin looking bright.
Do you have a mentor?
Yes, we now have a team of advisors & mentors. It’s very important when creating a business to have a team of experienced people who can support you and give you impartial advice.
Is there another brand whose work you particularly admire?
I really like TOMS as a brand. I’m all for creating cool brands with a social purpose, improving our planet and wellbeing as well as creating great products.
What drew you to Wolf & Badger?
We love their design led curation and how they support small, creative and interesting brands.
What’s next for your brand?
We are growing rapidly which is amazing and certainly keeps us on our toes. We have more product launches in the pipeline & hope to develop body and wellbeing products as we continue to expand.