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A Marriage of Science And Nature: Saaf Pure Skincare + Founder Interview


Just launched in February ’08, Saaf Pure Skincare is a British beauty brand that’s scientifically-researched, carefully formulated and one of the most certified skincare ranges in the world.  Accreditations include organic certification from the Soil Association (one of the most stringest certification agencies in the world), certified 100% Vegetarian by the Vegetarian Society, Vegan Society registered, Halal certified (no GMOs, alcohol or irradition) and cruelty-free certified by Naturewatch.   From rave reviews of beauty editors and bloggers, to a “Best Organic Facial Skincare Product” nomination, to it’s founder honored for her work at Buckingham Palace; this line boasts pure cold-pressed ingredients from a company whose ethos is founded on integrity.

A couple weeks ago, I had the true pleasure of speaking with the company’s founder, Homeopath and Pharmacologist, Dr. Mah while she was visiting in New York.  To discover more about the products, the company behind them, new products in development and where to find them (at a discount):

Interview With Dr. Mah Gambles

Stancie: With so many skincare lines out there, why did you feel as though the market needed another?

Mah: I created my products out of necessity.  My husband has highly sensitive skin (even allergic to band-aids) and my  twin girls inherited it.  Even products that claim to be “natural” or “organic” irritated their skin.  I believe that if a product claims to be organic, it should be and not at minimal percentages.  Honestly, greenwashing frustrates me.  The only way to prove that a product contains what is says it does, is to acquire the necessary certifications from independent third parties.  Many products claim to be “organic” or contain “organic ingredients” but few have the proof to back it up and I wanted something that people could trust, including my own family & friends.  

Stancie: How long did it take you to develop the line?

Mah: At least 5 years of trial and error and scientific research taking into consideration what truly works on the skin.  The oils I use have a specific purpose in the product and they yield high results.  
Stancie: What were you doing before you launched Saaf International? 

Mah: I worked in the pharmaceutical industry as a drug development chemist for many years and eventually saw the error of my ways and turned to Homeopathy and began learning how to treat like with like and about Chinese medicine.  I firmly believe the body is designed to heal itself if given the “tools” it needs to do so.  And the same applies to skincare.  Natural remedies have been used effectively for thousands of years, including natural skincare. If there is a choice, I would always favour natural over synthetics whenever possible, in my opinion. 

Stancie: Most skincare lines have different products for various skin types, why do you just have one set of products for all skin types?

Mah: I created my products to heal the skin and bring it into balance no matter what the skin type.  Much of the reason companies have different lines is a marketing strategy. You don’t need a separate eye cream, one for the face, one for the neck, day or night, its just to get consumers to buy more of their products. Be sensible, use a light oil on the delicate eye and neck area and if you have an oily skin. Use a richer cream/oil for dry skin and its really as simple as that. Thats why my range only contains two oils, one for oily/normal skin and one for dry/normal skin. Our consumers have been using these face oils successfully for many years without the need for a separate eye or neck, or day or night cream. I would like to add, that for day time, it is a very good idea to use a natural sun block to protect the skin against UVA and UVB damage.
Stancie: I noticed you don’t have a toner, why is that? 

Mah: Honestly, the majority of toners are alcohol based, which strips the skin of essential moisture and removes the beneficial oils naturally found on the skin.  Why not use cool mineral water to splash your face with after cleansing? Thats why I created Pure Face Cleanser, which is a balm containing organic skin purifying, toning and sebum regulating natural oils. I also don’t believe in harsh exfoliators, they do more damage to the skin than you can imagine, you might as well use fine sand paper from a DIY store. Saaf will be launching organic muslin exfoliating face cloths which can be used to wipe any residues of the balm off and will also gently exfoliate the skin at the same time. I am currently working on developing a refreshing toner that would be used to refresh the skin and its for all skin types. 
Stancie: Why did you feel it necessary to obtain so many certifications?

Mah: I wanted to legitimize the products and make them stand out amongst the competition.  The Soil Association is one of the most stringiest certifications in the world, most similar to the USDA standards and I believe that what you put on your skin, is food for the skin and therefore I wouldn’t put anything on my skin that I wouldn’t put in my mouth.  The Halal certification is not necessarily for religious reasons, it is because the certification guarantees no alcohol, GMOs or irradiation in the products and presently there are not any such standards pertaining to these. 
Stancie: What is the shelf life of your products (after being opened)? 

Mah: 3 years.  Most organic products have a shelf life of 6 months to 1 year, but I wanted mine to last longer.  Because they are so concentrated, they will likely to last a long time and I didn’t want them to expire while using them.  I increased the amount of Vitamin E (a natural preservative) to sustain the products for a longer amount of time. 
Stancie: Is your packaging eco-friendly? 

Mah: For starters, all of our packaging is recyclable.  The glass bottles and even the gold plastic pump top can be recycled after the metal spring is removed.  Our bottles and jars are packaged in cardboard boxes from sustainable forests and we use vegetables dyes for printing.  Currently our labels can be peeled off, but as we speak we have our new containers being printed using organic inks, so they do look very chic indeed. My goal is to eventually have manufacturers in all the countries selling Saaf, so that we reduce our ecological footprint by producing the products locally, and in return, create more local jobs.
Stancie: What is your favorite product from your line?

Mah: It would have to be my Eraser Body Oil.  I used this when I was pregnant with my twins and assuming they would inherit the sensitivities by husband does, I wanted to ensure that whatever I was using to prevent stretchmarks, was not affecting them negatively before they were born.  This Body Oil is amazingly beneficial and heals as well as prevents stretchmarks.  It has healed scars from surgery and helped eliminate stretchmarks of people who have lost a good amount of weight or who are worried about stretchmarks from pregnancy. It is also used very effectively for age spots and hyper pigmentation.
Stancie: Are you working on any new products?

Mah: I’m working on formulating a facial toner, a day cream with some sun protection, an organic cleansing facial bar for acne prone skin and a skincare mask.  I’ll also be introducing a certified organic cleansing cloth that will provide exfoliation after cleansing. 
Stancie: For those of us who live in the U.S., where can we purchase your products?

Mah: is the first and currently the sole supplier of Saaf in the US.  We are thrilled to partner with them and trust the owners, Ann and Barry, like our own family.  Ann is a well-known and highly respected skincare executive from the UK who has moved to the US and launched Beautorium.  For consumers who don’t have the time or knowledge to investigate their products and read every label, Beautorium does all the leg work for you.    

From now until August 31, 2008 get 20% off any order at Beautorium by entering code FGS2008 at checkout (and all orders ship with a super cute fair trade tote bag that I continually receive compliments on)!

Image: / Mah and her twins. 

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Written by Stancie Wilson

Stancie Wilson is an avid researcher who’s passionate about organics and the personal care industry. She’s not a hippie or treehugger (though nothing wrong with that), she’s a modern working woman who loves spreading the word about truly pure and stylish products, helping educate others about the dangers of toxic ingredients and who’s tired of rampant greenwashing.

She’s Co-Founder and Editor of Fig+Sage™ [], the go-to online resource for discovering hip organic & fab eco finds (with a heavy emphasis on organic beauty), Green Editor for Pricegrabber’s ShopGreen site [] and was the first to be awarded the 'Eco-Friendly Expert Maven' title by where her recommendations are followed by millions of shoppers.

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