Saya Woman Series #10: Saya McDermott | Saya® Skip to main content

Saya Woman Series #10: Saya McDermott

Saya Woman Series #10: Saya McDermott

Saya Woman Series: Interview with Founder Saya McDermott


In the 10th edition of our Saya Woman Series, we sat down with none other than our Founder, Saya McDermott. A pioneer in advanced botanical skincare in Australia, Saya enlightens us of her journey which started more than 22 years ago...


  •   - "Saya, can you share the story of how Saya Skincare began? What inspired you to start this journey 22 years ago?"


    I had problematic skin throughout my teenage years and struggled to find anything that would help. I visited numerous beauty therapists and dermatologists, but with little luck. During this journey, I became aware of the ingredients I was putting on my skin. I didn't like the idea of applying harsh chemical-based products, especially when they didn't seem to be benefiting me. In fact, many treatments and products I tried only made things worse by stripping my skin, making it dry, flaky, and irritated. My skin felt weakened, causing even more problems.

    Through my own research, I learned about the importance of strengthening the skin to aid its natural healing process. I discovered that natural ingredients offered a variety of compounds that worked together to nurture and support the skin, helping it become stronger and healthier. This realisation led me to delve deeply into the world of natural botanical ingredients and their benefits.

    Back then, natural skincare products were often seen as ineffective and were packaged in ways that didn’t inspire confidence. I wanted to change the perception that natural skincare was simple and ineffective. With a lot of research and a fortunate opportunity to work with a homoeopath who taught me the basics of making skincare at home, I began formulating my own products.
    I was excited to start concocting my own formulas, focusing on unique ingredients that specifically addressed my skin concerns. I created moisturisers and cleansers and noticed a significant improvement in my skin almost instantly. Over time, I continued to refine my formulas and started making products for my sister, mum, and friends.

    On weekends, I would take over my parents' kitchen, setting up bain-maries and working with raw ingredients and packaging. One day, someone suggested I sell my products, so I got a stall at the local Eumundi markets and started sharing my creations. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with customers who had similar skincare issues. Some of my products were even inspired and developed based on their feedback.

    What started as a hobby with a passion for creating and helping people gradually grew into something more. I wanted to change the perception of natural skincare and ensure that my products looked classic and timeless, not ‘alternative’. From the beginning, I sourced the most sustainable and practical packaging, aiming to consciously create a brand that was effective, aesthetically pleasing, and had a minimal impact on the environment. 

    •   - "Over the years, how have you managed to stay true to the brand pillars that Saya Skincare was built upon? What are these pillars, and why are they so important to you?"


      Staying true to the brand pillars of Saya Skincare—People, Noosa, and Consciousness—has always been central to our journey and success. These pillars define us and guide everything we do.

      People are at the heart of Saya Skincare. Our community, customers, and team inspire us every day. We take great pride in being trusted for the quality and efficacy of our products. Our formulations are designed to be effective yet uncomplicated, ensuring they work for all skin types. This genuine connection with our customers drives us to keep improving and innovating. This focus on people is particularly important to me because it ties back to why I started making skincare. I was frustrated with products that didn't deliver, and I wanted to create skincare that truly works. Helping others has always been a key reason behind Saya.

      Saya was born in my hometown of Noosa, and staying connected to our roots has always been important to me. Noosa’s natural beauty and slice of luxury are a big part of what makes our products special. It's about sharing that luxury and purity with the world. Keeping Noosa close to our heart helps us remain authentic and true to our heritage.

      Consciousness is another core pillar. We’re proudly Australian-made, ACO certified, and cruelty-free. We carefully source sustainable natural ingredients. For us, it’s about intentional innovation rather than following trends, staying true to our vision of elevating everyday skincare. Our commitment to sustainability and ethical practices is something I’m particularly proud of, and it’s reflected in every part of our business.

      These pillars are essential because they define who we are and what we stand for. They guide our decisions and inspire us to create products that are not only effective but also ethically produced and environmentally conscious. Staying true to these values has helped us build a trusted and lasting relationship with our customers, creating a sense of community and making a positive impact. It’s more than just skincare; it’s about staying true to our roots, connecting with our community, and making a meaningful difference.

      •   - "Let’s talk about 'The Originals' - the Rose Mist, Cleansing Gel, and Balance Moisturiser. Why did you choose these products as your foundational range, and what makes them special?"


      The Originals hold a special place in my heart because they were the very first products I created, and they came from my own skin struggles. The Rose Mist actually started as a cleanser to balance and purify my skin. The Cleansing Gel, after much refinement, almost instantly transformed my skin. The Balance Moisturiser, originally called the Pure Plant Moisturiser, is a unique gel-cream hybrid packed with botanical ingredients, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids for skin strength, balance, and repair.

      These products are special because they directly addressed my skin issues and became the foundation of my skincare routine. They set the standard for all the products that followed, embodying the core principles of Saya Skincare: effective, uncomplicated formulations for all skin types. The Originals not only transformed my skin but also established the essence of Saya Skincare—solutions that are both personal and universally effective.

      •   - "How have your products evolved over the years? Can you share some insights into the formulation process and how you ensure each product maintains high quality and effectiveness?"


        Our product formulations have come a long way over the years, thanks to advancements in both botanical ingredients and lab-made compounds. The methods for extracting botanicals have improved significantly since I started making skincare over 20 years ago, which has greatly enhanced the effectiveness of natural skincare. As these technologies advance, we can achieve even better results for the skin.

        When we’re formulating, we get specific data showing trials and evidence of what these ingredients can do, which helps us understand their potential. The quality and sourcing of our ingredients are incredibly important to us. We always strive to find the best possible ingredients to maintain and continuously improve our products.
        Ensuring high quality and effectiveness is all about paying close attention to detail and committing to using the finest ingredients available. This approach allows us to deliver the best skincare products to our customers, meeting and exceeding their expectations of what natural skincare can do.

        •   - "Sustainability is a key focus for Saya Skincare. How have your packaging and overall approach to sustainability evolved since the brand’s inception?"


        From the very beginning, creating a sustainable brand and making responsible choices to minimise our impact has been a priority for me. This commitment came naturally from the start. Sustainability isn't just about packaging, though that is a significant aspect. It's also about where and how we source our ingredients, their longevity, and their sustainability.

        I’m very conscious of the ingredients we use, ensuring we avoid those that are over-harvested from natural sources. Our approach extends to how we operate as a business, maintaining a cruelty-free, vegan brand that uses only botanicals and lab-made compounds. Being locally made also helps us reduce our carbon footprint.
        Packaging is a major focus, especially in skincare and cosmetics. We use post-consumer recycled materials, meaning our packaging is created from materials that have been used and repurposed. We also ensure all our packaging is recyclable and reusable. The sustainability of packaging has evolved with refill capabilities and materials made from ocean waste or example. We’ve used packaging made from sugarcane, making it carbon neutral.

        We work with hotels and luxury accommodations to provide refillable options for their amenities, reducing single-use product waste. Initiatives like these not only help us improve our sustainability as a brand but also support our customers in making more sustainable choices.




        •   - "Saya Skincare has grown to become a global brand with offerings in spas and various amenities. How has this expansion impacted the brand, and what challenges and successes have you encountered along the way?"


        Like any expansion, growing Saya Skincare internationally has come with its challenges, especially in the skincare industry. Navigating the registration of products and ingredients, as well as meeting various regulatory requirements in different countries, has been a significant hurdle. However, it has been incredibly rewarding to see the brand grow and be embraced on a global scale.

        Australian-made products are highly respected and valued internationally, which has helped us immensely. We've seen significant success in spa and wellness spaces around the world. It’s been a proud moment to see our products featured in such prestigious spaces, affirming the quality and efficacy of what we offer.
        The journey has had its ups and downs, but the positive reception and the ability to bring Saya Skincare to a broader audience have made it all worthwhile. Our commitment to maintaining high standards and staying true to our core values has guided us through this expansion, leading to numerous successes and learning experiences along the way.



        •   - "Looking back at the 22 years of Saya Skincare, what moments stand out as particularly defining or memorable for you as the founder?"


          There have been so many defining moments over the past 22 years. Starting at the Eumundi markets and selling my first product to my very first customer. Getting my first stockist was another milestone.

          Moving from my parents' kitchen into my own factory was a significant step, as it allowed me to manufacture products on a larger scale. 
          Becoming certified organic was an achievement, as was securing our first international deal. But perhaps the most rewarding moments come from the ongoing messages from customers who have loved and seen results from using my products. These personal connections and stories of positive impact truly stand out and remind me why I started this.


          • - "What does the future hold for Saya Skincare? Are there any upcoming projects or products that you’re particularly excited about?"

            The future of Saya Skincare is incredibly exciting. Over the past few years, we've refined our look, keeping it timeless and classic while improving the sustainability and functionality of our packaging materials. We’re dedicated to continuing this trend, ensuring that our brand evolves with both style and substance.

            Looking ahead, we’re working on releasing some innovative new products that deliver incredible results and add significant value to our range. I’m very mindful about what we create, focusing on products that are multi-benefit and elevate everyday skincare. Each new product must meet our high standards and truly set new benchmarks for skincare.

            We're also expanding our refill options, making them more widely available both locally and globally. Beyond product development, my vision for Saya Skincare includes making the “Saya experience” accessible to everyone, everywhere. We have ambitious plans to expand our presence internationally, bringing our unique approach to skincare to new markets around the world.


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