The Interview: Helen Bannayan, Founder, Emulsion

The beauty market is flooded with new launches and products, spotting a niche in the market Helen Bannayan launched Emulsion Cosmetics, where beauty consumers can design their very own products that are versatile and customisable.

The brand focuses on unfragranced formula-based skin, body and hair collections packed full of efficacious ingredients which can be dialled up and customised depending on the customers needs using a range of essential oil blends and/or fragrance oils.

With scent being such a personal thing, founder Helen Bannayan took the decision to include fragrance oils as an ‘add-on’ so products can be scented according to personal preference and mood. Founder, Helen Bannayan tells TheIndustry.fashion’s The Beauty Edit more:

Could you tell us a little bit about your background?

I am an environmental engineer by education, and a creative entrepreneur by passion. I worked in numerous industries before finding my passion for skincare and beauty. Prior to founding Emulsion, I worked on projects in areas of manufacturing, research, and development as well as trade and then ultimately made the HUGE shift to something that hit closer to home; beauty!

What brought Emulsion to life?

My journey into skincare started as a soapmaking hobby. I loved curating the best ingredients to include in my products. I later expanded into skincare, and that is how Emulsion was born. All my life I struggled to find skincare products that are versatile enough to cater to my ever changing needs. I found myself purchasing new products regularly in order to keep up with my skin.

That is how the idea behind Emulsion was born. I wanted to create a brand that allows consumers to alter their skin routine daily depending on their skin care needs. For example, our face cream base can be made to tackle different needs from hydration, to radiance to improving texture, by using different essential blends.

When did you launch and what was the response like?

Emulsion launched late 2018. When we first launched people were very intrigued by the concept. It was new and people wanted to learn more. That is why education is a big factor when it comes to personalised cosmetics. We also found that our products ignited a playful spirit in users. They mixed and matched and tried and tested. This is the experience we want to give users every single day; high quality skin care that is enjoyable, a skin care routine that is far from routine.

What is your current route to market?

With the recent pandemic situation and because of the current need for customers to shop online we are concentrating on e-commerce. We are currently working with Amazon UK, USA, and Europe as well as fashion and beauty website sites such as Namshi.com. We also work with area distributors in regions like the Middle east, looking to expand our presence worldwide as we feel the modern-day consumer is ready to embrace a new trend.

What sets you apart from other custom-made skincare brands?

Emulsion is an experience…. what we offer is the freedom to express oneself. We do not premix the products, but rather give the components to our clients and they mix according to their specific needs at that specific moment. They take ownership of what they put on their skin! To make the choice of picking and choosing easy and straight forward we have come up with an interactive matrix which will be soon launched on our own website.

How do you come up with new product ideas?

I am a beauty addict… I read a lot of trend reports and learn about new ingredients. I listen to people’s needs and ask them for what they look for in a product. I basically start from the end. What do consumers want, how they want to see it, and what are the benefits. Then, what would be the best and more economical way to deliver it. As an environmental engineer I always have this in the back of my mind when developing any product.

What is the current play of the skincare market and what have been the most important skincare trends of
2020?

I think sanitisation has been the number one need in 2020. Consumers are driven by efficacy and science and they are shifting towards healthy beauty. They will adapt their beauty habits to their own lifestyles and will be looking for natural powerful ingredients that work and are potent.

Wellness and spa like experience is becoming quite popular specially with the current pandemic situation and people finding more time for themselves. Of course, sustainability and recycling remain a major concern for beauty lovers when they choose their products.

How is beauty and skincare different in the UKand Europe, and in the Middle East?

Beauty is universal. Skin need is diverse and is always changing. Of course, climate plays a strong role in what skin and hair needs. That is part of the reason why I wanted my products to be customisable. The essential blends add-ons offer something for everyone based on their needs.

Our fragrance oils cover the wheel of fragrance; we have floral, zesty, woody, and oriental. Depending on the region, these preferences change. We find that consumers in the Middle east generally prefer a heavily scented product.

Last year Emulsion was planning on extending its international presence to the Middle East, do you have plans for any further international expansion?

Definitely! We are now working with 6 Amazons: UK, USA, Spain, France, Germany, and Italy. We aim to expand into other territories soon.

What are your top 3 Emulsion product recommendations?

My personal favourites are the Micellar Water, the Youth Boost Essential Oil blend, and the Clay Mask base. The Micellar water leaves me feeling clean and refreshed after a long day, while the Youth Boost helps me keep my skin plump and radiant. Lastly, the Clay Mask base is super cleansing without being overly stripping. It is perfect for when your face needs a little TLC.

Sustainability is becoming a crucial focus for the beauty industry, in what ways is Emulsion incorporating sustainability into its business model and brand identity?

Emulsion uses highly recyclable packaging and continues to look for the newest available packaging that is more sustainable. The ingredients in our products are natural and renewable. The ability to tailor make your products lessens the need to buy new pro ducts. For example, the face cream can be used for day and night and can offer more than one benefit by adding the different add-ons. A shampoo can be shared by more than one person and can be tailored to suit the different hair types and scent preference. This assisted us in cutting waste and making sure our production approach was as sustainable as possible.

How has the Emulsion direct-to-consumer website been performing throughout this uncertain period?

It is a coincidence that the pandemic has coincided with the launch of Emulsion’s new website. We have developed a standout tool that prescribes the best recipe for your beauty needs which will be launching in the next few weeks!

In what ways has Emulsion been adapting to such challenging times?

Emulsion has continued to support its clients through third party websites such as Namshi and Amazon. These times have given us the insight to look into new products with a different view and has opened our eyes to the need of becoming universal.

What were the biggest challenges you faced setting up Emulsion?

My biggest challenge has been to explain the concept behind Emulsion, and to encourage clients to choose and mix by themselves. Our offering of the personalisation aspect is novel, it isn’t your ready to wear concept but rather the haute couture. It is the invitation to try your own recipes. A lot of education is needed to be put in place to help our consumers better understand the concept at the beginning and their needs to create.

What’s next for Emulsion?

Emulsion is launching its new website very soon with an interactive tool that allows customers to choose from the endless combinations with maximum ease and confidence. Emulsion is planning on expanding its range of products to stay on trend and to offer consumers the best and most up-to date ingredients. The brand has also launched its signature kits. We have carefully created several kits to target the most common needs of our clients. This is to help them kick start the process of mixing and blending. These will be launched across third party websites too.

What advice would you give to anyone starting a beauty brand?

Success looks like the tip of the iceberg, everyone sees the beauty rising above the ocean, but as we all know it is supported by a huge underlying rock of hard work, perseverance, worry, failure, sleepless nights and risk taking . However, it is all worth it in the end. If you follow your passion all that lies underneath the iceberg will bring the
best in you.