BY SARAH is a no nonsense company that are all about their customers knowing exactly what goes on their skin. The only UK skincare brand to put a full ingredients list on the front label, they’re making waves winning awards for their simple concoctions. I spoke to *the* Sarah to find out more about the ethics behind the company and why it’s so important that having good skin doesn’t mean bad news for the environment.  

  • The ethos behind BY SARAH is all about ingredient transparency, I know this was sparked by your sister’s illness. Can you tell us more about that and the origins of the brand?

That’s right: we believe you should know exactly what you’re putting on your skin and it’s why we detail a full ingredient list on the front label of each of our products. This approach comes from my frustration of trying to find natural and organic skincare that I understood. Lauren, my sister, (who is now my business partner) was recovering from leukaemia in 2012/2013 and I tried to find skincare that would help her sensitive skin. Many natural and organic ranges had long, cryptic ingredient lists and were not as transparent about the ingredients inside as they said they were. So I started sourcing the finest quality, certified-organic, cold-pressed, plant-based oils and hand-blended skincare at home (while working full-time). Lauren loved using them as did friends and family. So the brand grew organically (pun, intended!) from there.

  •       Did you have a background in skincare already?

Yes, I worked for over 10 years in the beauty and wellness industry on the branding and communications side. For as long as I can remember though, I’ve been interested in skin care; researching and developing bespoke skin care blends. I’m also a BABTAC-certified makeup artist having worked backstage at London Fashion Week.

  •         How important is the organic/ethical sourcing aspect?

It’s super important and at the core of our brand. We curate the finest ingredients from ethical sources around the world. All of the ingredients we use are chosen to perform a specific function for your skin and we provide a full explanation of their superpowers on the product pages of our website. Our plant-based ingredients are certified-organic by The Soil Association which means

  1. each one has flourished under the strictest requirements of organic farming: synthetic pesticides, artificial chemical fertilisers, herbicides and GM crops are prohibited,
  2. their cultivation protects the soil, respects animal welfare and minimises pollution and
  3. the quality of the ingredient is not compromised, meaning richer nutrients for your skin. Our products never contain any synthetic or artificial chemicals, additives or preservatives.
  •         Your products are cruelty-free. Was this a happy accident or something that was crucial for you from the start?

We have never tested and will never test on animals. This was crucial to us from the start and we have taken that commitment further by certifying our products. Our products proudly display the Leaping Bunny logo which is the only internationally recognized symbol guaranteeing that no animal tests have been used in the development of any of our products – this includes both the ingredient level (where the majority of animal testing typically occurs) and the finished products. Our vegan products are registered with The Vegan Society too. We also use glass bottles and jars for our products and recyclable packaging to further reduce our environmental impact.

  •         Are the products suitable for people with eczema and other skin conditions?

Yes. Our skincare is 100% natural and made from plant-based ingredients. There is nothing hidden, artificial or synthetic and we don’t use any essential oils or fragrance (which can typically be skin irritants). Our universal blends are suitable for all skin types and both men and women. As an example, our award-winning Organic Body Oil contains organic evening primrose oil which restores suppleness and provides nourishment and, due to its high GLA (aka, fatty-acid content), also helps to relieve symptoms of eczema and psoriasis by reducing inflammation.

  •         Have you found it hard developing a brand from scratch?

BY SARAH was borne out of a very personal experience and organically evolved to become the brand it is today. I think when something comes from a very heart-felt place, the messaging and values of the brand come much more easily. A lot of my inspiration has come from the food movement. What you eat and what you put on your skin bear a huge relation to your health and wellbeing. Plant-based ingredients are amazing at feeding your skin with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy!

  •         What other brands do you admire? How do they influence you?

Patagonia is a brand that’s been around for quite some time, but has stayed true to its values and is constantly innovating. Another is RMS makeup: a real pioneer in developing effective, natural makeup that is largely plant-based and free from synthetics. And finally, Jo Malone (the founder). She’s a truly inspiring woman who I once had the pleasure of meeting! Working in the Jo Malone store during my school holidays gave me an incredible insight into skincare and retail, and certainly influenced the career I chose after graduating from university.

  •         Do you have a strict skincare regime or are you very casual about it?

My skincare regime is simple but highly effective. Just three products morning and night (yes, really!) I start with our Green Clay Cleansing Balm. I carefully formulated this product with organic apricot oil (to nourish), organic virgin coconut oil (anti oxidant rich), french green clay (goodbye impurities and dead skin) and organic beeswax (anti-inflammatory). It leaves skin beautifully cleansed, soft and deeply-nourished. I then apply a few drops of our Organic Facial Oil to slightly damp skin to lock in moisture and feed my skin with the vitamins and omegas it needs to stay healthy. I finish with our Organic Lip Balm which I always have by my bedside to nourish my lips overnight and I also apply to my cuticles and any dry patches on my hands too.

  •         Which one of the BY SARAH products could you and Lauren not live without?

For me, it’s our Organic Facial Oil which is our hero product and really the anchor for the collection. Lauren loves the Organic Body Oil, because it’s so nourishing and smells as good as it feels!

What did we think of BySarah? Elle Ayres reviews.

I hate faff. I rarely wear makeup and I don’t really touch my skin. So I was intrigued by the simplicity of BY SARAH products. I tried the Summer Travel Mini kit to see if it’s exactly what we need to pack when we’re jetting off this summer. It includes: a muslin cloth, lip balm, facial oil and Green Clay Cleansing balm.

First up, the lip balm. There’s a subtle scent of coconut and it leaves your lips feeling nourished. It also comes in a cute little pot, perfect for your handbag. A real winner (my mum, who has severe eczema and is self admittedly allergic to everything, loved it too).

Next, the Green Clay Cleansing Balm. I put this on after a shower once my face was dry so that my pores were open. You apply a small amount in circular motions over your face and it feels luxurious which is always a plus. I then washed it off with the muslin cloth and my skin immediately felt fresher.

To finish, as instructed, I applied a few drops of the facial oil. There’s a subtle scent from the sweet almond which is divine and after a few hours my skin was still feeling super hydrated and smooth.

I can definitely get on board with this mini skin care ritual, its therapeutic, the effects are noticeable but it’s not demanding. The products are perfect for anyone looking to delve into the world of skincare who might suffer from skin problems, and even those who don’t. Sign me up.

Keep your eyes peeled for new BY SARAH products later this year in haircare.

Follow Elle on Twitter: @AyresElle