Clean beauty. Two simple words, though they represent an entire movement that has dominated the beauty industry.
An evolution of clean eating, clean beauty refers to beauty products that do away with ‘nasties’ — ingredients such as parabens, sulphates, artificial fragrances. Natural, organic, or vegan, it’s also not unusual to find clean beauty advocates using these terms, while you’ll find that most ingredients are ethically-sourced as well. Quite the tall order already!
Our two London-based brand founders Elsie Rutterford and Dominika Minarovic take it one step further though.
“We think ‘clean’ is about transparency. In this day and age, with brands living on social, there’s such a demand from consumers for brands to be transparent,” says Elsie. What does that mean, then, for BYBI — their young, two-year-old brand that has to stand tall among skincare giants?
A mindful commitment towards 100% natural. That’s their promise to us, to make sure that every ingredient they pick, works, that nothing they include compromises on how effective the product is for your skin.
You’ll hear about bakuchiol, an up-and-coming skincare favourite that’s lauded as a non-irritating retinol alternative, or a hydrating Strawberry Booster that contains 100% cold-pressed strawberry seed oil, that’s all.
“For us, we are so proud of our ingredients — on our boxes, we put our ingredients list, massive, because we don’t think you need a magnifying glass to read it!” they quip. You see, BYBI is based on the belief that your skincare ingredients — and how effective they are — should be the most important factor in deciding what goes on your skin, “not the packaging, not the marketing, or the model who’s using it, but what’s inside it”.
That’s not to say their products look dull though. Far from the minimalist, ubiquitous lab-like bottles touted by fellow peers, BYBI stands out for their cheery colours and Instagram-friendly vibe. Plus, all their packaging’s made from sustainable materials! Consider this clean beauty for millennials then — fresh, fun, and thoughtful.
Starting from just $23, it’s also easy to buy into the brand. In fact, Elsie and Dominika shared that they came up with their now-bestselling skincare boosters for that reason — for those of us committed to our cleansers, serums and moisturisers, we can easily incorporate these skincare add-ons to our existing regime, instead of the infinitely harder leap of getting a whole new range of items.
With their keen understanding, openness, and a passion that’s so evident throughout our chat , it’s hard not to root for these girls — and the philosophy of clean beauty they hold so dear. So, what do these beauty entrepreneurs have to say about the journey of BYBI, skincare that works, and the best products for our tropical climate? You’ll just have to read on.
BYBI believes in 100%-natural ingredients that work — and on top of that, a sustainable approach to beauty.
“Efficacy is at the heart of everything that we do, and that means every single ingredient that we pick is chosen for its skin benefit. We don’t pick things for fragrance or texture, it’s all about what it’s gonna do for your skin.
This leads us quite nicely to the second thing we stand for, which is a 100% natural — every single ingredient is naturally-derived, and we work with some really interesting plant-based ingredients. We believe natural is better for your skin; better in efficacy, performance, less diluted formulas. As a whole, you get a much more pure product.
And finally, sustainability. You can see that across our packaging, everything is at the least recyclable. We work with bio-plastics derived from sugarcane, paper for our gift bags, a material called grass paper. For us, we believe that great skincare shouldn’t cost the earth.”
How the brand remains accessible to you and I.
“We make sure we’re incredibly accessible — especially for a natural and sustainable brand. We look at accessibility a couple of ways, starting from the places you can buy BYBI. Our focus was not on boutiques or high-end department stores, but reaching a mainstream audience. Sephora, and Boots in the UK, is the perfect space for that; it puts us in great company among other skincare brands. With our price point, we make it accessible to that audience as well.
Our visuals also speak to the consumer. We don’t patronise or talk down to them, but speak in a way they can understand. We talk about the benefits that someone is gonna see from our products, so we don’t overcomplicate things, and try to resonate with issues people are feeling.”
Skincare that caters to our lifestyle needs.
“So, we have a retinol alternative because we know some customers have trouble using retinol; or our blue light protector, because we know our audience is always on their phones. Our Babe Balm is multi-purpose, you can keep it in your handbag all day, and use it in different kinds of situations — we know our consumer’s always on the go and needs that one-stop quick fix.”
“Natural doesn’t mean basic” — how they ensure natural ingredients work for our skin.
“We look to ingredients that are well-known for efficacy, and try to find natural, plant-derived alternatives. So things like hyaluronic acid, we make sure that it’s vegan; we use a retinol alternative; we’re just about to bring out a Vitamin C caffeine cream.
Natural doesn’t mean basic. We formulate naturally because we know that efficacy is paramount and we get that through using natural ingredients because there’s no fillers, every ingredient has an impact on the skin. We do a lot of testing in-house, we trial things, and there’s a long development lead time so that we can make sure a product has immediate skin benefits.”
Clean beauty as a trend.
“We think ‘clean’ is about transparency. In this day and age, with brands living on social, there’s such a demand from consumers for brands to be transparent. It has a lot to do with their ingredients, what’s used and not used. I think that’s led to a rise in brands that are open about their ingredients.
For us, we are so proud of our ingredients — on our boxes, we put our ingredients list, massive, because we don’t think you need a magnifying glass to read it! We use fantastic ingredients, and like food, ingredients should be the first thing you think about when picking up a beauty product because it’s the bit that’s going into your skin; not the packaging, not the marketing, or the model who’s using it, but what’s inside it.”
On being a young, millennial, “Instagram” brand.
“We’re a brand born on Instagram, and we started with a community of insiders. Everything about our brand has been built around our community… Even for us, we jump into our social channels, we’re replying customers all the time, are in the comments, physically posting a lot of the time. And we’ll keep that as close as possible, because we know our brand the best. That’s the part of the job we really love as well, we love to hear people’s feedback, good or bad!
We’re such a young brand and we’ve got a long way to go, and we’re so open to improving. I think that’s what a lot of brands don’t do, they bring a range to market, and okay cool, done. But there’s no point in bringing products to market if it’s like, okay it’s alright but can be improved, and then just leaving it there or discontinuing it. Let’s be innovative, let’s constantly strive for better. Even if our products are good, is there something we can improve on?”
The evolution of Babe Balm — and how it’s okay to reformulate existing skincare products.
“We look a lot to reviews and comments as well, so we’ve been known to reformulate, to pull products, change products, because we want all our products to have 5-star reviews. We don’t want to bring out crap products that don’t have any benefit to the skin.
For example, we’ve reformulated Babe Balm, which is our hero product. We launched with it and have been on the market for 12 months with it, gathering feedback based on our customers. On the whole, everyone said they loved Babe Balm, but sometimes they found it a bit too heavy if it’s on the skin for too long. So we worked with our in-house chemist to reformulate it so it’s much lighter. Now it absorbs much, much faster, and you can use it on your face even.
Again, we have a lip product called Plumper, which is a plumping lip balm. It’s a natural plumper, but some people were like, “it’s not quite plumping enough, and it disappears quite quickly”, so we thickened it up and added chilli. So it’s now peppermint and chilli!”
Why launching a new skincare brand is tougher than it looks.
“It’s so hard! [laughs] Everything is so hard. I think we really care, so the challenge is if things don’t go as smoothly as we hope. A massive challenge for us has been bringing products to market at the speed we want to. We’ve brought some things really fast, and some have taken us too long, so we’re thinking of ways to speed up product development. Bringing to market products that are current and riding off certain trends, but also really high-quality products.
Just building a brand too, it’s a really crowded market. Even here in Singapore, there are so many heavy-hitter skincare brands. It’s about making our values really clear, that set us apart from other brands, so the consumer understands why BYBI is different and worth investing in and taking a chance on.”
BYBI ITEMS TO TRY
We’ve also tasked Elsie and Dominika to recommend items based on two particular skincare concerns — one, for surviving in this hot and humid weather (especially since they’ve experienced it first-hand too); and the other, for those with sensitive skin.
“A balancing skincare routine, one that keeps skin hydrated in the heat, humidity and air con, but doesn’t cause an overproduction of oil.”
- Swipe Clean — a gentle yet effective cleansing oil that removes makeup, daily grime, pollution and sweat; contains hibiscus and papaya, both high in AHAs, which dissolve excess sebum and break down dead skin cells, for clean, clear and balanced skin.
- Mega Mist — to lock in hydration, a hyaluronic acid facial mist that preps skin for the rest of your routine and isn’t heavy — which is key in this climate!
- Bakuchiol Booster — add a few drops to cater to your skin needs, from drying air-con to high humidity; contains 1% bakuchiol + olive squalane, a collagen-boosting, lightweight oil that’s quick to absorb.
“For those with sensitive skin it can be tricky, as environmental and emotional factors can trigger sensitivity — in addition to ingredients! We recommend maintaining your skin’s natural barrier, steering clear of essential oils and sticking to simple formulations.”
- Babe Balm — a great multi-tasker to keep in your bag; made with coenzyme q10 to restore skin and can be used on dry patches, lips or even as a natural highlighter.
- Strawberry Booster — made from 100% cold pressed strawberry seed oil, it’s a silky nourishing oil that leaves flakey, dry skin, healthy and hydrated.
BYBI Beauty, available at Sephora stores and sephora.sg.