They’re natural, artisanal, eco- and ethical-conscious – what’s not to love?
Decades ago, you could count on two fingers the number of beauty brands that were conceptualized, founded and produced in Singapore – unfortunately, even those don’t exist anymore. Singapore may have long been a melting pot of good food and home to a world-class airport, but back in the ’90s, locally made beauty products were nearly non-existent, not especially considering the established competition SG-made beauty faced from the rest of the world – those European stalwarts, American giants, and the ever-so-nimble Japanese-Korean innovators.
Fast forward to 2019, post J- and K-beauty, Strawberry.net and Sephora, and what do you know? It seems that made-in-SG beauty brands that purvey makeup, skincare, body care and haircare, are back and thriving. Online shopping, blamed for the demise of many retailers, has in part saved our homegrown beauty industry. Besides wider distribution and the potential for an international clientele, here’s why these red-hot glocal brands also rock, no matter which part of the world you’re from.
Allies of Skin
Founded by Nicholas Travis, who studied Bio-Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences before he graduated from French business school in 2012. Travis, who is based in Singapore, developed Allies of Skin after becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the existing products available to treat his own severe acne concerns. He struggled with a myriad of skin issues, and that became a driving force in the business plan he developed for his thesis: a skincare line based on a clean and non-toxic formulation ethos that would empower people to be confident in their own skin.
For Allies of Skin, his goal was simple: to create smart, effective products for the modern day professional, who doesn’t have time to fiddle or experiment with what works, nor take too long in the bathroom caring for his/her complexion every day. After 2 and a half years of research and development, Allies of Skin launched with 3 essential products. Within a year, the business expanded into 10 countries and Allies of Skin is currently available on www.alliesofskin.com. It is also the only Singapore beauty brand available on Net-A-Porter, Mr Porter, Harrods, Selfridges, Barneys, Space NK, JOYCE and Lane Crawford. It is also available at Sephora.
Says Travis, who was recognized on the ‘Forbes 30 Under 30’ Asia List (Retail & E-Commerce) in 2017, about the inspiring motivation behind Allies of Skin, “Amidst the false promises in the beauty industry and a lot of fear-based directives claiming one is not good enough due to wrinkles, or how attractiveness is judged by the fairness of one’s complexion, I felt it was time for products to empower the user.”
How it works: Supercharged Clinical and Adaptogenic
Allies of Skin is powered by antioxidants, probiotics and a wide range of nutrients, which supercharge the skin’s ability to correct itself. It takes clinically proven ingredients such as Retinol, Vitamin C, Acids and Antioxidants and boosts them in clean, biocompatible, optimally concentrated formulas that repair, regenerate and train your skin to perform at its best. Allies of Skin’s formulas are 20 times more potent than conventional but similar OTC products, and just a shade less than prescription products.
Its entire range is also ‘adaptogenic’, working in tandem with your skin to adapt its function according to your specific needs, by activating the skin’s various receptors, whether it’s collagen production or melanin formation that it needs.
Star products include 1A Retinal + Peptides Overnight Mask, for long days, late nights and very sallow, tired skin; Promise Keeper Blemish Facial that works on existing blemishes and prevents future ones, with a soothing formula that also refines and brightens the complexion; and Molecular Multi-Nutrient Day Cream that protects against pollution, is anti-inflammatory, and nourishes the skin.
The doctor behind the brand and the brand itself both need little introduction. Founded and developed by Dr Georgia Lee, DrGL is a range of proprietary skincare that infuses science into effective skincare and is dedicated to different skin types. Eschewing the mass for a carefully crafted selection of premium quality products, DrGL offers the modern, busy individual maximum efficacy, minimum fuss. Dr Georgia Lee is involved at every stage of the DrGL product development, from formula research to manufacturing and packaging, always striving for the highest standards.
How it works: Efficacy and Exclusivity
Never one to settle for less than the best, Dr Lee applies the same standards to DrGL products. Maximum efficacy is ensured with the use of top-of-the-range ingredients, a strict requirement that surprised even suppliers, who advised that cheaper mass alternatives could provide almost the same effects; but for Dr Lee, almost is just not good enough. Hence, manufacturers of the same mindset were sought, ensuring that the product quality is never compromised at any stage.
DrGL has expanded over the years and is available in Thailand, Hong Kong (via Sephora.hk), Germany. It is also available on Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Dragon Air and is the first Singapore skincare brand to be available in Shilla Duty Free. Online shop here.
Its best sellers include Skin Repair that helps the complexion to regain an incredible glow, so it looks remarkably younger, feels irresistibly smooth and supple. For those with very sensitive skin, this can be used in place of moisturiser to help speed up healing; Collagen Essence, which is lightweight and great for humid weather contains Hyaluronic Acid that has an amazing ability to hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water, so that skin is plumped from within, feels firmer and more supple; and the instantly absorbed Eye Repair Brightening, which lightens dark eye circles, reduces puffiness and the look of fine lines, so that the eye area looks brighter.
MandyT Skincare: Artisanal and All-Natural
If you’re looking for body scrubs made only with natural ingredients and come with scents that send you to ‘heaven’, you’ve come to the right place. Says MandyT Skincare’s founder and creator Mandy Leena Tan, “The idea is to use fewer, better ingredients in a smarter way.” Natural is their mantra, where chemicals are substituted with safer, plant- based alternatives, and unnecessary packaging is dropped for recyclable glass jars. “Following our belief that it is important to know exactly what customers are slathering on their skin, ingredient lists are kept short and uncomplicated,” she says. When she’s not creating award-winning, skin-friendly body care products that put the ooh into shower room pampering, Tan creates abstract origami art through the brand ORI LE GAMI.
How it works: Artisanal, Luxurious
It’s newest Green Tea + Barley + Citrus Body Scrub from its Zen Collection contains just what its label says. Tan expounds that, “All our ingredients contain 100 per cent plant-based ingredients such as green tea, barley, and citrus essential oils, raw honey, sweet almond oil, sugar, and vitamin E.”
“This luxurious body scrub was inspired by the healing properties of nature to restore vitality and radiance to skin; hence it is free of nasty chemicals and completely cruelty free. The elegant packaging is made of recyclable clear glass bottles where you can see the natural goodness of the contents yourself. Each bottle comes with a beautiful and handy ceramic spoon for convenience and hygiene. The elastic string provided can be hung around the neck of the bottle in between applications.”
Mandy T’s signature eponymous body care range looks intentionally like an assortment of condiments to convey the fact that they contain 100% vegan ingredients. It currently carries 20 varieties of bath and body care products that run the gamut of body scrub, body cream, bath salt, bar soaps and home scent.
Besides being proudly Singaporean, MandyT is also the first all-natural, eco-friendly body care brand to be showcased and retailed at Red Dot Design Museum since its launch in 2013. It is available online, and in Singapore at Deluxe Suites @ Ann Siang House, Isetan Scotts, Beauty Bar @ Habitat HonestBee, Cinq Salon, Moxie, L’éclair Cafe, Mills, and Naiise @ The Cathay, and in Paris at Le Jardine De Nana, Maison de Pelpel (by appointment only) & Atelier Mashizan, In Hong Kong, you can find it as Kapok & The Refinery. MandyT partners Quintessentially Lifestyle International by providing their clients with their bespoke services.
“Mmerci Encore is our riff on the French phrase ‘thank you again’ and we’re all about celebrating the small things,” Says its founder Alli Sim. “We’re an artisanal aromatherapy label offering self-care products for skin and psyche. The line includes aromatherapy perfumes, blends, and body products. Our intention is to create goods that help people pause, rebalance, and come back to themselves.”
Mmerci Encore products aren’t just handcrafted with passion and pride in Singapore, they incorporate 100 per cent pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils. Says Sim, “I love that aromatherapy goes beyond commercial perfumes to connect mind, body, and soul: it has many holistic wellbeing benefits both physically, emotionally. Our body care products (such our scrubs, hand cleansers and lotions) are sulfate, paraben free. The collection is entirely cruelty free.”
How it works: Authentic and Effective
Like most brands, Mmerci Encore does not create products for any one climate or skin type, as their clients are “as diverse as they are sophisticated and extremely well-travelled. But being based in Singapore, we intrinsically gravitate towards textures that absorb fast yet are hydrating, scents that are refreshing and not too heavy or cloying,” Sim explains.
“While it’s tempting to compare, we believe our voice, heart, and intention set us apart. We’re driven to create blends that make a real difference in people’s lives – and this isn’t motivated by focus groups or grand marketing plans. Our raw materials are of uncompromising quality, synergistically formulated by a certified aromatherapist, and we’re confident that what we offer is of a world-class standard. Profits are not only reinvested back into research and amazing essential oils, but people and communities. One of our core values as a brand is freedom: the freedom to live in peace, to discover your potential, which is why we’ve actively fundraised for anti-human trafficking and slavery NGOs in Asia and beyond.”
What are Mmerci Encore’s star performers and why must every beauty regime include them?
The trio of musts include Glow Elixir, an uplifting perk-me-up alcohol-free perfume, made of 100 per cent therapeutic grade essential oils, including certified organic geranium, to help rebalance the mood and promote lightness of heart; Nightshade Blend, created by Sim for herself, as travelling for work requires her to hit the ground running despite jet lag. This blend contains lashings of certified organic lavender from France and helps calm racing thoughts, offering a deeper, more rested sleep; and Mint Crema Hand & Body Cleanser, “our cult bathroom treat that’s so refreshing and perfect for our humid climes. It is infused with peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils to offer a cooling-sensation. This sulfate- and paraben-free treat is great post-gym or for mornings, when you just can’t get out of bed.”
See more here.
The newest kid on the block and the only makeup brand in this red-hot line-up, Sén Natural launched in early December 2018, with a range of already cult-favourite lipstick shades that celebrate inclusivity. This made-in-SG cosmetic brand celebrates beauty in its most natural and purest form, by using only natural, handcrafted and sustainable cosmetic solutions for its lipsticks. A champion of female empowerment, Sén Natural also strives to lead as a voice to inspire women to be bold, confident, and courageous.
How it works: Sustainable and Inclusive
Sén Natural products are preservative-free and handcrafted using only the finest, 100 per cent natural and skin-loving ingredients. Built with inclusivity at the core of its ethos, the lipsticks are designed in different shades of colour to complement beauty in all its forms: women of all shades, ethnicities and race.
Says Max-F. Scheichenost, co-founder of Sén Natural, “More than just inspiring women with natural, handcrafted and sustainable beauty products to stay true to their natural instincts whilst looking beautiful, we launched Sén Natural to empower women to be confident, courageous and move beyond their boundaries. We can only experience satisfaction in its purest form from our small personal rebellions when we push ourselves to the limits and do the unconventional.”
Commenting on Sén Natural’s expansion plans in the future, Scheichenost, said, “Over the years, the global beauty landscape has witnessed an increase in consumer demand for natural, organic and sustainable products. Tapping into this movement of conscious consumption, Sén Natural is targeting a remarkable growth and is poised to expand across Asia Pacific in due time. We are also committed to continuously increase our product portfolio.”
Sén Natural products are now available here.
Founder Xenia Wong’s philosophy of less is more is exemplified in her skincare range, SIGI. A firm believer of kind yet effective skin solutions, Wong ensured SIGI’s products remain vegan, cruelty-free and formulated without parabens, dye, sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), DMDM Hydantoin, phthalates and polyunsaturated oils (PUFA).
How it works: Simple and Superfood
Despite the cosmetic industry being an (over)crowded space, Wong confidently makes certain her line of products stand out by being simple and not overwhelming for consumers to navigate. She focuses on enhancing the skin’s natural state with a range of high quality core products. Wong believes that health is something that should always be addressed holistically.
Sigi Skin believes that a pared-down, fuss-free regimen works best if you use the right skincare. In her pursuit of the ultimate efficacious, minimalist skincare regimen, Wong developed a skincare range with three skin essentials that speak to urbanites everywhere. Her aim is to simplify existing skincare routines, by focusing on products that are effective.
This multi-beneficial vegan skincare range features a sunscreen, an eye serum and facial cleanser. These three essential products are made with superfood formulas and lightweight textures, using cutting-edge Korean skincare technology and advanced, proven superfood ingredients, to give you Korean ‘glass skin’.
More about Sigi Skin here.
Winona Tan found a way to meld her two passions: helping women in marginalized communities around the world, and creating a range of effective and fun beauty products handmade “with a consciousness for sustainability and to empower marginalized women. Every time you purchase a W.ANT product, you are contributing to local communities and especially to women in cooperatives in Bali, Indonesia and Benin.
How it works: Cruelty-free, Botanical-Based
Handmade from plant oils and mineral, W.ANT’s products are formulated without synthetic ingredients, preservatives and water. The brand maintains a full range of products for the face, eyes, lips, and body, and also carries a small range of Glitter Revolution products that are marine- and waste water-biodegradable, certified home compostable, contains no GMO ingredients, contains renewable raw materials, is of cosmetic quality, vegan-friendly, cruelty- free and 40 per cent softer than plastic glitter, so it feels more comfortable on the skin.
More about W.ANT products here.
Images courtesy of respective brands, artwork by Curatedition, all rights reserved.