20 Years of Formulating Skincare | Saya Skincare | Saya® Skip to main content

20 Years of Formulating Skincare

20 Years of Formulating Skincare

Meet Saya McDermott, the founder of Saya Skincare. We ask her to share her story on how she turned a passion project into a global brand, where it began and where it’s headed.


What led to your interest in skincare?

“It all started when I was about 17 years old. Like most teenagers, it was a time in my life where I started to see a huge change in my skin which really knocked my confidence.“ 

“Back then, there weren't a lot of natural skincare products on the market and the ones that were available didn’t give me the results I was looking for. I wanted a clean, natural alternative that felt good on my skin and actually worked. That’s when I decided to work with a homeopath who taught me the basics of skincare and how to create my own formulations.” 

“I learnt about the importance of skin barrier function and that in order to overcome skin concerns like breakouts and eczema, it’s imperative to focus on strengthening and protecting the skin. That’s where the benefits of botanicals and in particular Australian natives come in, they do just that. Rich in skin-protective antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, they promote healing, hydration and protection.”


saya in shop


Let’s talk about formulations

“After a few years of hand-making skincare and creating formulations in my parent's kitchen, I started selling my products at the local artisan markets in Eumundi. And that’s when it really did turn into a passion for me. I was seeing incredible results, not just with my skin but with my friends, family but also with my  customers, and that’s when I decided to take my formulations even further.”

“I started working with a cosmetic chemist so that I could elevate my formulations and provide high-performing natural solutions to the market, which I knew other women wanted too. I wanted to reinvent natural skincare by creating really unique formations that targeted skin concerns like mine - all without compromising people's health. I was adamant that if I were going to create a skincare brand, it would always be Australian-made, vegan, cruelty-free and as sustainably-minded as possible.”

“Over the past 20 years of formulating skincare, I've seen such an expansion of ingredients including Australian natives and actives like Bakuchiol and Peptides with clinical studies backing their performance. This has given me the ability to continuously advance and evolve the brand and formulate an incredibly unique and diverse range of products that take a multi-functional and multi-correctional approach to skincare.”


brightening peel and serum


What product in the range is your oldest formulation? 

"The first product I created was an oil-free moisturiser, I called it the Pure Plant Moisture. It was a very unique formulation made with pure Aloe Vera, Green tea, Calendula and Comfrey extracts. At the time, it was very different to anything on the market as gel-based moisturisers weren’t common in natural skincare. I started using it and literally within a few uses, I saw a dramatic improvement in my skin. It was calm, hydrated and felt smooth."

"Today the Balance Moisture is the more advanced "hybrid" of my original pure plant formulation now featuring powerful hydrating actives and a powerful blend of Australian native botanicals including Kakadu plum."

"The Rose Hydrating Mist is also another original formulation but our formulation today includes Hyaluronic Acid and Pentavitin® to enhance the hydrating performance."

Why do you select certain ingredients?

“I select ingredients based on efficacy as well as how these ingredients are sourced, their quality and their traceability. Over 20 years of formulating, we've based our formulations on ingredients that have proven to be effective. Before formulating with any new ingredients, we ensure that they are scientifically proven to be highly effective in skin care."

What does clean beauty mean to Saya?

“For us, it means formulations that are plant-based and rich with botanicals. When we talk about being a clean beauty brand we define this as ensuring that we are honest and transparent with our ingredients, their quality and traceability. This also means that our products are created without potentially harmful ingredients like parabens, phthalates, petroleum, and synthetic fragrances and dyes. We do this so that everyone can feel safe using our products, not limiting who can use them."

saya holding child applying clay mask


Why is sustainability important to you?

“The fact that we are a brand creating products, it's our responsibility to take ownership and minimise the impact we have. Especially for brands using plastic. If we are bringing in these materials, then we need to manage them. The beauty industry accounts for billions of units of waste each year, so it’s imperative that every beauty brand advocates for sustainable packaging solutions.”

“Sustainability isn’t just about packaging either, it’s about the ingredients we’re using within our formulations. It’s our responsibility to ensure that these ingredients are sustainably sourced and produced.”


saya holding products


“For us, it’s all about creating less of an impact. Finding ways to meet the demands of creating products without causing detriment. At the moment, we’re using a mixture of 100% recycled materials, PCR, glass, sugarcane tubing and FSC-certified cardboard -  it’s the most sustainable option for now, however, we are continuously looking for new ways to reduce our impact even further.”

“We are currently focusing on how we can be more circular as a beauty brand. Our next step is to become plastic-neutral, with the goal of being 100% plastic neutral in 5 years. In 2023, we’ll also be offering our customers refillable options. There’s definitely a shift in the beauty industry so I’m excited that I can be a part of this shift. There are so many companies out there like Terra Cycle and Waste Revolution that are providing brands with recycling and plastic-neutral options. For Saya®, 2022 has been all about putting action solutions in place.”

Learn more about our commitment to sustainability here.


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