At only six years old and based in Auckland, New Zealand, Sans is becoming a main stay on the green beauty scene for their small considered line of beauty elixirs made from sustainable and mostly local ingredients. And although the beauty industry is not new to products with an unapologetic stance towards natural ingredients, fewer brands have created products that convince the consumer into accepting this more organic approach with the ease and poise as that of San’s Ceuticals founder, Lucy Marr.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Lucy to talk about her history in the industry, the Sans products and what beauty means to her as someone creating something real in an industry geared towards to the superficial.
Tell us a bit about your background.
I left school at 15-years-old to work as a hairdresser in Nelson, New Zealand. I moved to Auckland at the age of 23 and set up a salon with my partner Stephen Marr. I am grateful for the industry I fell into as it provided me with so many opportunities: to own my own business, drive it in a way we wanted to, and to have the ability to segue into other fields, such as beauty.
How long have you been in the Beauty industry and what inspired this career path?
I have been in the beauty industry for since 1988. Six years ago I was trying to find products that were active, environmental, yet beautifully designed, which was a struggle. I had a friend who was a top biotech scientist who was also a devout beauty junkie and after numerous conversations with her I decided to develop my own. I had also been working with a number of great dermatologists both locally and internationally and discovered that there was one key ingredient that was their default or go-to: vitamin A. We delved into the research, which was astounding. What it was able to do on a cellular level was amazing and it is incredible at repairing UV damage, which is great for Antipodeans who are so susceptible. So we started with this as our foundation.
What does Beauty mean to you?
This is actually the question we always end with when interviewing our Sans Women. I love reading the answers because everyone’s approach to the concept of beauty is so personal and overwhelmingly positive. It’s generally not about image but more about depth. For me, beauty is about character and warmth; embracing difference and humour.
You have a very carefully considered and limited range of products for Sans. What is behind this approach?
I guess my lifestyle and gaining an understanding in the lab, how products are formulated and can be easily made to perform multiple functions on an exceptional level. For instance, Activator 7 Hair + face + Body Oil — a brilliant body oil, is also the most effective eye make-up remover as we use a pharmaceutical grade olive oil called squalene – highly bio available and fine in texture makes it brilliant to use around the eye area. It is also fantastic for shaving your legs, gives a close shave and leaves your skin feeling soft and nourished.
I love the idea of being able to use one product for your face, skin and hair. You have an oil-based product that is exactly this. How does this work considering each part of the body has different sensitivities?
For this particular product (Activator 7) we use a fine, pharmaceutical grade oil that is particularly bio available – meaning readily absorbed and utilised by the skin or hair. We use a combination of oils that are the closest on a molecular level to our own natural sebum and therefore easily recognised. Sebum plays a role in keeping both skin and hair nourished, supple and waterproof so there is no reason to have separate products if the formulation is right.
There is a Sans product specifically created to target the pH levels in your hair. Can you explain what ph has to do with having healthy hair?
When hair grows out of your head it is healthy, robust and shiny as the outer cuticle is smooth and flat. This smooth surface enables light to refract achieving shiny, glossy hair. After exposure to the elements (hot tools, colour, air conditioning, etc) the hair’s cuticle layer will become damaged, making that smooth surface rough, open and craggy. Light is no longer able to bounce off this surface, is absorbed, giving a matte dull appearance to the hair. We have created a formulation that physically alters the outer layer of the hair to resemble its original, virgin state. We do this by changing the pH. This smoothes the cuticle detangles hair bringing back brilliance and shine.
What is your morning skincare routine?
Mornings for me are akin to military strategy and my sole focus is to get out the door in one piece – kids, breakfast, school lunches. Then I tend to myself. I wash my hair twice a week, because I find the curl is better when it is a little worn in. I use a really good cleanser and moisturiser, a little concealer, mascara, blusher — done. Oh, and brush my teeth.
How do you practice beauty from the inside out?
I’m lucky because I have a love of food and its origin that was passed on from my mother, so eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetable is key and I don’t eat processed foods – only because, for me, there is no ritual and I don’t particularly enjoy the flavour. I also believe joy plays a big part in our wellbeing so if its a bloody good steak and bottle of red you feel like, do it, life is to be lived! My approach to a skincare routine is really simple, don’t over do it, wear sunscreen when out in the sun and use a great vitamin A moisturiser. I take Sea Buckthorn capsules, they contain omega 7 — the closest thing to your own natural sebum, therefore, it is readily utilised and absorbed. It’s the best internal moisturizer, highly anti-inflammatory (more so than fish oil) and great for your skin.
What is your prescription for a beautiful life?
This is an interesting question because the thought of it suggests it’s hassle free and easy, which, when I think of a life richly lived, it isn’t. I think (and I’m no expert here) trying to find out what makes you happy, be curious, and be generous to those you love. Also practicing being present daily, allowing the things that were previously ‘everyday’ and ‘ordinary’ to become extraordinary.
Interview by Hollie Van Osenbruggen