Savan: Quebec's Own Clean Personal Care Brand
Savan is a Quebec skincare brand that was created by co-founders Marianne and Eric. Frustrated by the lack of reliable skincare options for sensitive skin on the market, Marianne and Eric decided to take it upon themselves to create a product line based on their core values of transparency, authenticity and results focus. We sat down with Marianne and Eric to find out more about who is behind this up and coming brand!
What's your name?
Eric: I’m Eric
Marianne: I’m Marianne
What's your background?
Eric: My background is very unconventional and not linked to skincare at all. After that, I worked a little bit as a circus artist but got injured so I had to stop.
We launched Savan at that time. Recently, I have been taking commercial pilot courses and got my license this past November.
Marianne: As for me, I studied sciences in CEGEP, then did a degree in psychology and got a certificate in web development. We launched SAVAN when I was still in university so I never worked in the cosmetics industry before.
Where are you from?
Eric & Marianne: Quebec City
Where do you live?
Eric & Marianne: Quebec City
What do you call yourself?
Eric & Marianne: Entrepreneurs and co-founders of Savan,
What skin type/condition do you have?
Eric: I have combination skin with some oily parts like on my forehead and dry parts like my cheeks and eyes. I used to have acne on the forehead too.
Marianne: I have the most sensitive skin you can think of, and I have rosacea!
Why did you decide to create your own cosmetic brand? Tell us about your journey
Eric: Marianne and I always wanted to start a company. We did not know what at the time but it would be something. In our late teens, we both became deeply passionate about skincare and the beauty industry, trying dozens of products each year. We started to do research for our own benefit. We wanted to understand skincare better to make better choices for the product we used. I had acne that I really wanted to get rid of… Doing our research, we rapidly discovered that a lot of bad ingredients and false claims were common in the cosmetic industry. It became difficult to find good, simple products that were free of irritants and affordable. During our early twenties, we started to think that a solution to this nonsense might be a good start for our company. It took around two years to create Savan and we eventually came up with our first two products (The Lightweight moisturizer and Gentle cleanser). We first tried making our own product in the kitchen which was not very successful! We rapidly realized that if we wanted to create something high-end, we would have to work with a cosmetic lab.
Savan Lightweight Moisturizer
Size: 50 mL / 1.7 oz
Midori Score: 100/100
What is the main problem/issue with skincare products found on the market today?
Eric: I think the biggest issue is how inauthentic this industry actually is; this goes from unrealistic “miracle results” claims to inaccurate representation of what healthy skin is and looks like, not to mention the less-than-ideal ingredients used in certain products. For all these reasons, it is hard for customers to make educated purchasing decisions when it comes to the cosmetic and skincare industry.
Why do you think large cosmetic manufacturers are not focusing on products catered to those with rosacea or other skin conditions? What is missing about the solutions they offer?
Eric: I think that is because they would have to substitute out a lot of irritating ingredients that they are currently using. People like fragrance even though it is bad for every skin type… They want to make money so they sell what is going to attract customers. Rosacea is a very tricky condition and manifests differently depending on the person. We are not dermatologists, but it helps to avoid anything that leads to increased skin irritation.
What are 3 things that you know today that you wish you knew when you started your journey?
Eric: How difficult it would be to find a machine to seal the aluminium tubes we use for our products! That is the biggest struggle we’ve had so far. Also, to double check everything that people do.
Marianne: I do agree with the tube story … I’m not sure we would have chosen this kind of packaging had we known! Oh, and also how people, even professionals in the industry, are so passionate about essential oils…
What are the benefits for using organic/natural skin care products from brands such as Savan? Can you show us your lab? Where do you source your chemicals? What are some of the challenges you face with running your own cosmetic lab?
Eric & Marianne: We do not have our own lab; we partner with an independent chemist and we subcontract the production of our products. We tested different options in the past and we found this one suits our needs the best. It allows us to have access to the best facilities and professionals, while still retaining control of what is done. We source our chemicals ourselves and send them to the lab so as to make sure everything is top quality. We source our chemicals mostly from Canadian suppliers and when that’s not possible, we buy from American ones. I think the biggest challenge we faced was making sure our partners in the lab understood how important it was for us to use safe and science-backed ingredients. It sounds easy and reasonable, but it was not because they were not used to working that way.
What are your top 3 ingredients? Why did you decide to use these ingredients?
Eric & Marianne: We do not have a top three ingredients list because it all depends on the individual skin concern and the type of product you are looking for. We believe that what makes a great product is the whole formula. The skin needs a lot of different ingredients. You want to protect your skin with antioxidants, soothing ingredients, and sunscreen. For dry skin, you want to help restore the skin’s barrier so it can retain its water and prevent it from evaporating (Ceramides + cholesterol + oleic acid). Finally, you want a gentle cleanse that will not strip your skin.
What makes your ingredients gentle/beneficial for those suffering from sensitive skin conditions?
Eric & Marianne: We selected them because they are not commonly irritating, and some have soothing properties.
What are your thoughts on unregulated cosmetic claims like “100% natural”? Do you wish there were stronger regulations to protect brands that spend time and effort to offer high quality products like Savan?
Eric: The all-natural claim is a new way to sell products. Since no regulation dictates what is considered natural and what isn’t, anyone can say pretty much whatever they want. One of the biggest misconceptions is that natural means better and safer. A lot of substances found in nature are harmful for the human body, this is common knowledge. A lot of ingredients from nature are very irritating like essential oils, scented flower extracts, citrus, etc… Moreover, the concentration of ingredients extracted directly from nature will vary from one source to another which makes it hard to find a reliable one. Many great ingredients are synthetic. They are safer, constant in quality and can give better results. We all need to remember that water is a chemical… At Savan we focus on results instead of what is considered ‘trendy’.
Marianne: We do wish there was more regulation in the industry, not so much for us because our authenticity and transparency is what makes us different, but more for the consumer that does not want to be lied to or deceived. It is very hard at the moment to dissociate benefits from marketing!
What's the main advice you would give to someone who struggles with sensitive skin issues?
Eric & Marianne: Be extremely careful when buying a new product. Read the ingredient list and educate yourself on the ingredient that may increase skin sensitivity. Use resources like Midori or ingredients dictionary (You will find Savan’s own ingredients dictionary here) to help you understand them. Do not use essential oils and try to keep your routine simple with fewer products.
Do you know what are the long-term hazards of using products with toxic compounds?
Eric & Marianne: We are aware of the long-term hazards of using certain kinds of ingredients for a long period of time, and that is one of the reasons why we started our brand.
What do you look for when you shop for skincare and personal care products?
Eric & Marianne: I look for clean products. The first thing I do is look at the ingredient list, always. Even if the packaging has strong claims, I cross-reference these with the ingredient list. I don’t want to be fooled by a claim that showcases the benefits of a certain ingredient only to find that this ingredient is far down the ingredient list which suggests that it is used in very small concentrations and likely ineffective.
Do you have any tricks to share with those that suffer from the same sensitive skin condition?
Eric & Marianne: We believe that everyone should treat their skin as if it was sensitive. Be gentle, don’t use too many products at the same time and wear sunscreen.
What is the first thing you look for on labels that you want to avoid?
Eric & Marianne: I usually don’t trust labels on cosmetic products, so I look at the ingredients list. Irritating ingredients like essential oils, alcohol and endocrine disruptors (check out Savan’s post about endocrine disruptors)
Do you think brands should be more transparent in the way they formulate their products?
Eric & Marianne: Yes, and I think the other big issue relates to unrealistic claims. There are no miracles when it comes to skincare, it takes time and consistency.
What do you think makes a consumer trust a brand?
Eric & Marianne: The authenticity of the brand and the care with which the company treats their customers.
How is Midori useful for people?
Eric & Marianne: It is ridiculously hard to know which ingredients to avoid. Midori is an absolutely fantastic tool that does the research for you on every single ingredient when you are shopping for a new product. In a matter of seconds, you can see if there are any harmful or irritating ingredients and view products that don’t contain those ingredients. It takes a lot of time and effort to gather all that knowledge and not everyone has the time to do it. With an extension like Midori, more people can have access to that information and hopefully it will put pressure on brands to force them to be more careful with what they sell. Midori is the kind of resource we wish existed back in the days when we started Savan, so we are so happy with what Midori is doing and hopefully it will help change things for the better!