Q + A with Annie Tevelin
Annie Tevelin is the first to tell you that when it comes to beauty, more is less. And she would know best. As a former professional makeup artist, beauty expert and the Founder of SkinOwl, Annie cut her teeth in traditional, mainstream beauty where the underlying message almost always pandered to women’s insatiable appetite for more – more makeup, more product, more money spent in the quest for perfection. Of course this viscous cycle only left them wanting more, but not actually achieving more. Annie herself fell prey to this kind of mass marketing. After years struggling with skin issues, spending untold amounts of money on products and seeing little results, Annie took matters into her own hands.
This early career experience helped Annie shape what her company philosophy is NOT. Her new beauty paradigm proffers that beauty is not skin deep and shows us how to get more out of using less, so long as we’re using the right stuff.
Annie is a magnetic force. She has that ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ pull to her, and and her trusting and trustworthy spirit is apparent upon first meeting her. It’s clear when you meet her that she’s all about intention. Every product she creates is done so with the utmost attention to detail, down to the name of the family harvesting the fruit, nut or herb that she uses in her formula.
Annie, the ‘SkinOwl’, shares skin wisdom and gives us a glimpse into the life of an intentional entrepreneur.
What are your origins in creating SkinOwl?
I struggled for years with skin issues and after countless visits to dermatologists and tons of money thrown into skincare products, and I was left with minimal positive results. I realized I was just like millions of other women who had nowhere to turn. There were a lot of salespeople telling me, “This will REALLY work,” and selling me a lot of products that, in the end, did nothing to help my severe acne and eczema. What was it going to take? It was then that I realized my results were in the INGREDIENTS of the products I was using, not what was being marketed to me. While working on commercial and music video sets as a professional makeup artist, as well as for a top luxury brand, I enrolled in a post-graduate program at UCLA and received a certificate in Cosmetic Chemistry. From there, I learned the truth about what is truly best for the skin, and more importantly, what works and stays working. From this knowledge came SkinOwl. SkinOwl began as a private group on Facebook, wherein my alter ego was “The SkinOwl,” a messenger of wisdom in an often confusing industry. The group went from 16 members to 1300 in a matter of months and it was then that I realized I had to take the concept further.
How did you learn the art of formulating?
I learned a lot about the basics of formulating from the Cosmetic Chemistry program at UCLA where I was certified. But the real results came from months of trial and error in my own kitchen and lab. I played around with several herbs from my own garden, which ultimately led to the creation of the beauty drop infusions.
When it’s time to develop a new product, how do you begin?
My process begins with an inspiration. I am an avid user of skincare products from around the world. I draw inspiration from the places I’ve traveled like Vietnam, Serbia, Montenegro, Israel, and France where I can experience specific ingredients in their natural habitat. Many of these destinations now play a role in SkinOwl’s line. I am also a lover of the Internet, so I love researching and seeing other beauty rituals that are happening all around the world, which also are a great source of inspiration.
How often do you make a new product? How long does that process take? Do you begin with an ingredient or an objective?
We try to stick to introducing only one product per year. The year prior to launch is spent formulating and beta testing the product we are launching the next year. We begin with formulation the product and measuring results. Then we focus on the design and packaging. You’ll notice that often there’s a star, ‘superpower’ ingredient that acts as the catalyst for the overall benefits of the product.
What’s been your biggest discovery in terms of the creative process in developing a new product?
Starting my beauty career in a well-known department store beauty brand, I was taught that skincare products are more effective with more ingredients, but skincare doesn’t have to be so complex and chemically infused. It can be simple, safe, AND results-driven, and that less is sometimes more when it comes to the ingredient deck.
Do you have a favorite ingredient? What do you love about it?
Mangosteen holds a special place in my heart for several reasons. I experienced this fruit for the first time in its natural habitat (Vietnam), where it had a visible impact on my own troubled skin. I became really curious about studying it because I had never heard of it before. When I learned of what it could do on acellular level (e.g. cancer remission, oxygenation of terminal cancer cells), I wondered what it could do for the skin on a topical level. Its high ORAC value makes it an incredible antioxidant, which is responsible for its potent benefits.
Can you share some of the details on how you source your ingredients sustainably?
Any ingredient we use must meet our standards of ethical harvesting and sustainability. All of our facial carrier oils are organic and cold-pressed. Each essential oil is sourced from its authentic origin and is of the highest quality, delivering true aromatherapeutic benefits.
What’s your workspace like?
Our headquarters are in West Hollywood and offers an alternative and cooperative environment. We prefer kicking butt for four hours and calling it a day vs. a prolonged nine-to-five routine. I can say SkinOwl is a team of highly productive people and its amazing to be a part of the day to day camaraderie, energy, and brain-hurricanes. And we laugh. A lot. Usually at ourselves. You can’t take yourself too seriously in this little nest.
Do you have a creative muse?
While we don’t have a specific muse, our motivation and inspiration comes from the average Joan, a customer who has tried everything and is still left with minimal results. We want the best for our clients, so we aim to create the best products to meet their need for ease and efficacy.
When you meet someone new at a party and they ask what you do, what do you tell them?
I tell them, “I am the founder of a skincare brand called SkinOwl. Have you heard of us?”
Where might we run into you on a Sunday Morning?
Walking my dog, Monkey, throughout my neighborhood. And brunching. But first, Monkey. Monkey always finds a way to come first.
How do you relax?
I like to get out of Los Angeles. London is my happy place. I also love spending an hour swimming laps at the pool or going to see live music with my husband.
What is your Vision for SkinOwl?
TAGS: Beauty Rituals, behind the scenes, organic skincare, skinowl, Use less. Love more.