The next green beauty maven we’re spotlighting in our Naturally Beautiful series for Earth Month is founder, formulator, and president of suki® skincare, Suki Kramer.
Suki got her start in the green beauty industry nearly 20 years ago. After growing up being teased and bullied for her own skin issues, she was fed up experiencing the constant frustration with products that offered empty promises along with zero-results and major irritation. “Struggling with skin problems and sensitivities throughout my life inspired me in my twenties to start investing and living a more holistic lifestyle,” she shared. Suki then started learning more about traditional medicinal treatments, and creating herbal tinctures and salves herself. “My entire life I tried everything from pharmaceuticals and synthetics that temporarily blocked symptoms but of course, made my sensitive skin inflamed and irritated, what I call the VSA, volatile synthetic active, response, to ‘gentle naturals’ that at best, moisturized with no effect. It was back then that my education began in the true nature of skin problems and combination skin, which is all about what goes on beneath the surface. Things like allergies, systemic imbalances like inflammation, bacteria, and oil imbalances. I realized that if you treat only symptoms, which is what the science of topical treatment is all about, you are working a frustrating cycle offering no real solutions for people with serious problems or sensitivities, nor any truly transformational skincare for anyone!” It was from this that suki skincare was born in her kitchen. “I was looking to create a cure. At the time naturals were very limited, so I was looking to create something entirely new in the industry – 100 percent toxin and synthetic-free, scientifically-advanced, clinically-proven effective formulations, knowing if I was looking for this for myself many others would be too.”
For Suki, creating tinctures and salves in her kitchen was one thing, starting a formal skin care business was another. “When I started on this journey, I sought out progressive-minded chemists to mentor me and worked with them for two years during my experimentation process. Most traditional chemists I reached out to flat out said what I was looking to achieve, formulating a pure, results-oriented, advanced, high-powered cosmeceutical with actives from non-synthetic sources, could never be possible, much less as effective as a synthetic,” she explained. “Well, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and it always takes a fresh perspective to invent something new. That was definitely the case here. I persevered and became a formulator myself. I also fought my way through the early, emotional years of wondering why I was doing with this and if I was wasting my life, was it a crazy thing to try especially with absolutely no money? But, I learned and performed every job myself, an undeniably beneficial experience, but certainly not for the impatient or weak of heart! While working odd jobs and maintaining my freelance writing gigs, I fought my way through learning how to design, do PR and marketing, bookkeeping, sales, everything I had to, with the help of the local SBA and helpful friends who knew about these things. I had a lot of failures on my way to my own proprietary formulas, working with labs to create new actives. Eventually, I launched a four piece line I took around to stores, and little by little, here we are today, global and ready to take off in a major way in 2015.”
When asked if there were misconceptions regarding green beauty that have shocked her, Suki responded that “there is a common misconception that all natural products are gentle and ineffective and that you can’t have pure ingredients and powerful actives. This simply is not true.” suki® uses high-grade actives in pure forms such as salicylic acid, vitamin c, and retinoids. “We don’t use VSA’s [Volatile Synthetic Actives] which are the caustic synthetic versions that typically cause peeling, scaling, redness and other side effects,” she shared. “Many people think that the unpleasant side effects of VSA’s must mean the [product] is working, but actives needn’t be hostile to work. In fact, studies show these synthetic actives often are the actual cause of a vicious cycle of premature aging, acne, eczema, and other chronic skin problems where the natural, pure versions can treat effectively without side effects.”
Want to starts your own green beauty routine? Suki recommends that you “start with your primary skin problem and opt for skin care that offers you a solution to that problem.” Another great place to start? Exfoliation. “Exfoliation is extremely important to me, to keep the skin youthful, plump, clear, and really smooth, all over! The reason exfoliation is so important for having well-hydrated skin is because, like most things, preparation is the key with skincare. Your canvas, the skin, must be fresh, patch-free, and smooth. An exfoliate that actually works will provide that smooth canvas for the rest of your regimen. With a body brush or loofah, and your favorite exfoliate, you’ll start your routine with fresh, new, soft skin. Your driest parts will take some time to get back to a state of real softness, so don’t be discouraged if this takes a couple weeks!”
In fact Suki believes in exfoliation so much that her favorite product from her line is the suki® exfoliate foaming cleanser. “The first product I created which remains a celebrity and fan favorite. Our soft sugar crystals provide both granular and AHA cell renewal without tearing skin. Granules melt into skin to help lift toxins and dead cells for safe and effective deep cleansing, providing real results without the irritating and inflammatory side effects of VSA’s.”
Another product from her line that Suki really recommends is the suki® ultra-protect body balm. “It’s incredible for healing irritations of all kinds. It soothes sunburns and tight skin, wounds and scrapes, dry stretch marks, sore, chafed, cracked, and damaged skin, even moms’ bellies and babies’ bottoms! It works precisely because of its unique texture that doesn’t run off skin, providing the moisture barrier that dry, sensitive, troubled skin needs.”
What’s next for Suki? “Know your beauty, has always been the empowered philosophical meaning behind my brand. It means really to embrace and accept who we really are, never having to be perfect, and knowing we must be as informed as possible to make educated choices about our health and wellbeing, not leave that in the hands of anyone else. As an extension of this mission, we’re launching a suki® VIP program this spring that will give our fans even more of that power and influence over their skincare choices. With the program, they’ll be able to try and review our potential product launches pre-launch and we’ll be using their input to drive our innovations. I’m really excited to see where this new level of conversation takes us!”
We’re pretty excited too!