24 Minutes with Evelyn Marietta on her vegan and cruelty-free beauty routine
Founder of vegan and cruelty-free beauty line Wunderbath Evelyn Marietta isn't your average beauty-lover-turned-entrepreneur. Previously a food scientist who modelled and emceed on the side, Evelyn was inspired to create her own line of natural beauty formulations when she realised that she couldn't find a lip balm that could suit her (ultra sensitive) skin. Close to three years later, Wunderbath has expanded its range to include all sorts of creative beauty essentials such as bath bombs, soaps that come in quirky shapes and sizes, and even anti-ageing face and body sprays.
Below, we had a chat with Evelyn on what her beauty routine is like and her go-to botanical ingredients that she can't live without:
1. Please explain your beauty regimen. What kind of products do you only use?
I won't call myself a purist but I have a simple rule for my beauty routine, I'd call it the "awareness" rule. In a nutshell, it's being aware of what goes into the product, the manufacturing company and most importantly, being aware of your own skin type. I only use products if it checks all the rules below:
- They must not contain sulfates, paraben, formaldehyde releasing preservatives, BHT/BHA and other chemicals that are controversial (like parabens) and have been linked to certain illness or hormone imbalances.
- They must not contain ingredients that I don't know of or ingredients that will irritate my skin such as salicylic acid. So before purchasing anything, I always check the full ingredient list.
- The company as must also be cruelty-free (no testing on animals) and vegan (no animal byproducts are used in their ingredients).
But also, it's important to bear in mind that a vegan, organic, or eco-friendly product might not always be free of formaldehyde releasing preservatives such as DMDM hydantoin, for example.
2. What made you decide to go vegan and cruelty-free, beauty wise?
I had sensitive, acne-prone skin for the longest time. My nickname in high school was "Jelita", short for "Jerawat Lima Juta" — which translates to "five million acne." Since then, I was more aware of certain ingredients that do not suit my skin. When I was in school, I was interested in nutrition and a natural skincare regimen. [After trying out the regimen] I saw improvements in my skin. Also, my degree in Nutrition and Food Science has trained me to have a research-first mindset before trying out any beauty product.
3. What are your thoughts on the "clean beauty" trend? Do you think people nowadays are more aware of where their beauty products come from and what ingredients it has inside?
I personally think the term "clean beauty" is misleading. "Dirty" in skincare should only refer to bacteria-laden products. I think associating certain ingredient as "dirty" or "unclean" is not accurate as there's a safety limit to every ingredient in skincare. A good example is essential oil. Even if it is 100% natural, certain essential oils (be it lemon, cinnamon, cloves, etc) might cause burns to your skin upon direct contact. I think the term "clean beauty" is more of a marketing gimmick as there is no government regulation for such claims.
In Malaysia, more consumers are more aware of where their beauty products come from, but reading and understanding the ingredient list on each product can be quite tricky as most beauty companies would list more than 20 types of ingredients on their product. On a positive side, I've seen companies spend more on marketing as an effort to educate customers about their ingredient list—which is great!
4. What advice can you give first-time beauty users who are jumping on the vegan and cruelty-free beauty bandwagon?
The first one is — just because the product has a vegan and cruelty-free claim, it doesn't mean that it will suit you perfectly. Read the ingredient list and be sure to understand your skin type. There might still be parabens and sulfates in vegan and cruelty-free products.
When I first started to support cruelty-free products, I was amazed to see some companies that are supposedly "cruelty-free" (as per the labels) were selling their beauty products in China. As far as I know, animal testing is mandatory in China so every product that's retailed there is unfortunately not cruelty-free. So I'd say — stay informed!
5. How can beauty users be more aware of what they are putting on their face and body?
The most crucial step is to first understand your own skin type. My skin burns if it comes in contact with any products that contain acid, so I will make sure that what I use do not include acids (including salicylic, AHA, etc). Secondly, read and understand the ingredient list of every product. Don't read their marketing brochure as it usually only highlights the star ingredients.
Check the full ingredient list, especially the first 10 ingredients listed. Typically, the ingredients will be listed in order from the highest to the lowest. Lastly, always do a patch test — apply the product on the most sensitive part of your body e.g. neck or inner thigh and wait after 24 to 48 hours to observe any reaction on your skin.
6. What are some of the biggest misconceptions that people have regarding vegan/natural beauty products?
The biggest misconception is: "As long as it's vegan and natural, it will be good for me." That is not always the case, always read ingredients and do patch test before starting a new product.
7. What kind of products can we find in your everyday beauty bag?
Wunderbath lip stain in WunderWoman — it's my favourite shade! I like to carry small bottle of tea tree essential oil in case of bug bites or the onset of acne. Also, sunscreen to protect my skin as UV rays are the number one cause of ageing. Since I have an oily skin, I also carry loose powder with me all the time. I recently made a Wunderbath loose powder prototype, so I'm using that right now.
8. Please let us know some of your foolproof beauty tips.
If you don't have a makeup remover, you can always use clear lip balm to remove the most stubborn make up such as liquid lipstick, or if you accidentally smudge your face during makeup application. Just swipe the clear lip balm on the area you'd like to clean up, massage slightly and wipe with a cotton bud. Another tip is to spray some toner or essence on cotton pads and use it as an economical everyday mask after you remove your makeup.
9. What do you use for a weekly pampering treat for your skin?
I like to make my own mask. If I'm not feeling lazy, I will blend avocado and yogurt to apply it on my skin. If I'm running short on time, I'll use Wunderbath Body Butter as a mask then remove after 10 minutes.
10. What would you recommend for people who have acne-prone skin — is a vegan beauty routine advisable?
It depends on the ingredients. There are plenty of vegan products for acne, but choosing what's right for you might not be an easy feat as acne has many forms and causes. Most natural products are quite concentrated e.g. facial oil, so always do a patch test to see if your acne will get aggravated with such rich products. For acne-prone skin, my favourite ingredient is licorice extract as it works as an anti-inflammatory agent.
11. What are some home remedies that people can use for their skin?
Yogurt is my favorite as it has probiotic (good bacteria) to increase your skin immune system. I use a lot of organic brown sugar too in Wunderbath scrub products as it is a mild scrub even for the most sensitive skin, so you could also use it as a home remedy. All you have to do is mix one part oil to two parts brown sugar and scrub gently in circular motions.
12. The top three Wunderbath products you'd recommend to a first-time user are...
Wunderlippie Lip Stain in Elektra — it's a shade that can suit most people.
Fairy Godmother Body Butter — it's our most raved body butter and is especially good for eczema and psoriasis prone skin. We've had so many success stories for this product.
Our ultra realistic soaps. Try showering or washing your face with our rubber duck or fried egg shaped soap. Because ... why not?
13. What are plant-based ingredients you like to incorporate into your products and why?
Licorice extracts: It's been well researched and there are a few peer-reviewed scientific studies that have proven the anti-inflammatory benefit of this extract.
Lavender essential oil: It's a popular favourite when it comes to natural scents.
Shea butter: High in Vitamin E and it has been used for years to nourish and moisturise skin. It's quite pricey but it really moisturises well.
14. What is the one thing that people may not know about Wunderbath?
Most people may not know that we are a fully customisable company. This means that we could create soap in any shape you like, cosmetic products with your very own brand label, and we even can help to formulate the products you'd like to create. People like to call us the handmade OEM (original equipment manufacturer)!
15. Your beauty motto in life is...
"Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring." — Marilyn Monroe