Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Meeting Sodashi’s Megan Larsen: natural wonder


Considered by many to be “the purest skincare brand in the world”, Sodashi is an Australian skincare company that has successfully harnessed the benefits of natural ingredients to produce effective, chemical-free skin care products and spa therapies since 1999. As a lover of those rare moments when all natural-meets-high performance in the world of beauty, I for one was very excited to find out that that their products and treatments have arrived in New Zealand – with facialist Keely Watson, at the Sanctuary Day Spa at Mollie’s boutique hotel, and soon also at Lucy & The Powder Room.
The extensive range of Sodashi products are formulated using a unique combination of biochemistry, aromatherapy and Ayurvedic principles, and are all produced at the company’s own laboratory in Fremantle in Western Australia. A Sanskrit word, Sodashi translates to ‘wholeness, purity and radiance’ – the values on which the company and its products are based. As well as producing beautiful, desirable products, their absolute commitment to working in harmony with nature is reflected across all areas of the business, a factor you can’t help but admire. Not a single synthetic chemical, preservative or fragrance is used in the Sodashi manufacturing process. Products are never tested on animals and Sodashi packaging is recyclable and printed with natural vegetable dyes, and they must be doing something right as the range is available at many of most exclusive resorts and spas worldwide.
Kiwi Megan Larsen (above) founded Sodashi, and is an absolute joy to spend time with. She has never lost sight of the fact that wholeness, purity and radiance cannot be attained via products alone, but requires a genuine balance between mind, body and spirit. Megan practices what she preaches, too. Her staff are given time to meditate every day and people are hired for their passion as well as their expertise.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to run a few curly questions by her recently, and got some inspiring results back…

When you first started developing Sodashi, what were the three key principles you were determined to stick by?
I wanted to create chemical-free skincare that really worked. I had tried many natural skincare ranges, and whilst they were lovely to use I did not personally see great results. I decided to create my own range. My key principles were that they were high performance, chemical-free and made using the finest therapeutic grade essential oils and plant actives.

Did you ever envisage that it would go all over the world?
Not at first, but then I got very excited when I realised there was a global demand for my products. Within two years of establishing Sodashi we signed our first international client in Thailand. Today, Sodashi is stocked in over 60 luxury resorts and spas in over 25 countries, and our global footprint continues to grow.

What do you think of the green washing that happens in beauty today, which I'm sure has gotten worse and worse in the last twelve years?
Whilst the green washing in the beauty industry is huge, I think we are now talking to an increasingly savvy customer base who demand authenticity from beauty brands. A growth of the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) demographic is testament to this. People are questioning ingredients such as parabens, GMOs, petrochemicals and phthalates in their skin care products and are becoming aware that around 60 per cent of what is applied to the skin is absorbed into the bloodstream. More and more consumers are experiencing sensitivities to synthetic chemicals and are seeking chemical-free alternatives.

Does it get you down, how prevalent it is and the way consumers still get duped?
It is frustrating how brands claim to be ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ when in fact they are far from it. But I think another issue is that natural ingredients vary in quality so much. And just because a product is natural or organic doesn’t mean the ingredients are necessarily of a high standard. For example Lavender Essential oil can be purchased on the world market for as cheaply as $80USD per kilo. Sodashi buys its Lavender directly from the organic grower in Provence in the South of France and it is priced substantially higher but is of a substantially higher quality as well. All ingredients used in the Sodashi products are of the highest quality available and this, along with the synergies used in the formulations is what ensures the products really work.

Who in your mind is the Sodashi customer, the woman who seeks out your products?
Anyone who cares for their skin and their environment or is concerned about using chemicals on their body and wants to use high performance, effective skincare products. It has also been interesting to see how many men are now using skin care products and the Sodashi Mankind range now has a very large following.

What is your favourite Sodashi product, the one you can't live without?
Well since most of my time is spent travelling I always carry a jar of Samadara Ultimate Age-Defying Crème - our new high-performance anti-ageing formula which is proving very popular with our customers too! It’s extremely nourishing and smoothing and is packed full of antioxidants so keeps my skin looking its best, even after a long haul flight! And I love Sodashi Clay Cleanser with Lavender. It contains argiletz French clay that also works like a gentle exfoliant and leaves my skin deeply cleansed but not tight and dry as it is gently moisturising as well.
When I get on the plane for a long flight I always cleanse my skin with the Clay Cleanser with Lime and then apply the Samadara. Throughout the flight - and always in my handbag - is the Rose Calming Mist, which is hydrating and uplifting, but especially handy in hot climates to cool and refresh. Then before landing I spritz my skin and wipe it with a damp cloth, before applying Rejuvenating Skin Serum, Eye Lifting Gel and Eye & Lip Smoother. A relaxing bath is always high on my list when I arrive at any destination and I use this opportunity to further replenish my skin with a Sodashi Face Mask and the Sodashi Eye Mask.

You travel a lot, where is the most incredible place you've visited?
Zimbabwe in Africa would have to feature pretty high on my list. But my travels take me to many incredible places; some of my favourites are in Europe, and in Turkey. Taking a balloon trip over the rock formations in Cappadocia (Turkey) and picking roses in the Isparta Valley in Turkey are both unforgettable. The Lavender fields in Provence, and not to forget parts of New Zealand – which is always close to my heart.

What makes you feel beautiful?
I think feeling beautiful comes from within; beauty on the inside is beauty on the outside so that’s what I am always working on. Giving love, appreciation and empowerment to others – that’s what makes me feel beautiful.

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