How It's Made: The All-Natural Cleanser Minimalist Girls Love
Welcome to How It’s Made where we go behind the scenes with your favourite brands to find out how their most popular products are produced. For our latest installment, we went behind the scenes with Lanolips to find out exactly how the brand’s signature line products come to fruition.
Fact: Minimalist beauty can be tricky to get right. While there are products that can successfully moonlight as something else (lipstick = blush, coconut oil = everything), there are others that don't always hit the mark. (See: the 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner your mum used on you as a kid.) Bar soap is another one. Perhaps the original multipurpose beauty product, back in the day it was used for housekeeping as well as bathing. Having fallen out of favour in a big way, soap has all but been replaced by modern cleansers. 'Til now thought of as drying and damaging, it's been looked over by anyone with a passion for skincare. But all that is set to change if cult Aussie brand Lanolips' latest launch is anything to go by. Founder Kirsten Carriol set about creating a nourishing face-and-body soap made from natural ingredients. Obviously she smashed it. (This is the woman who created multi-purpose marvel 101 Ointment, $19, after all.) Ready to meet the all-natural cleanser minimalist beauty girls love?
Byrdie Australia: What’s the story behind Lanolips—how did it come to be?
Kirsten Carriol: I used lanolin as a young girl when my dad, a professor of molecular biology and genetics, told me it was simply the best moisturiser you could get. Growing up visiting my grandparents’ property I would spend hours in the shearing shed—I feel like lanolin is just a part of me! Moving to Sydney I spent 15 years running a PR agency specialising in all things beauty, cosmetics, haircare and lifestyle. I also consulted on colour ranges for beauty companies. I had a strong love affair with lip glosses and lipsticks, but never found anything that lived up to lanolin. Then, 10 years ago I was on my way to the airport in Paris, lamenting my chapped lips and contemplating the long flight ahead of me. There was a lack of products good enough to overcome the drying, in-flight climate, so I decided to bring lanolin back to the world. Lanolips was born.
B: What made you decide to rebrand this year?
KC: After six years I felt that our iconic Australian brand needed a new iconic Australian look. This is it. The sunburnt colours reflect the heritage of the products themselves, although this happened very organically and by accident. We started the re-design process with a new simple 'sheepie' drawn by hand, and the rest developed from there. In February 2016 we introduced our new look along with new hand and allover products. The new look is timeless and iconic—it feels like me, and I love it.
B: What’s the ethos behind the products you create?
KC: I wanted Lano to be an iconic naturals brand, so that’s what we are. We make natural, non-toxic products, using the world’s best lanolin. Lanolin is a natural substance found on the wool of sheep that helps to keep their coat protected and dry. Our products have no artificial fragrances, parabens, petrolatum, mineral oils or sulphates. They’re all 98-100 per cent natural, and of course 100 per cent cruelty-free. And the best bit is they actually work.
B: Talk us through the process, from start to finish, of creating the new cleansing balms.
#1: Identify the problem:
All of my products come from a problem I genuinely want to solve. I wanted to create a simple and easy cleansing solution that was super-effective, didn't need instructions, add an extra step or require extra cupboard space. I’m now a fully-fledged skincare minimalist. Enter, the All-Over Lanolin & Egg White Cleansing Bar ($11). It lives in your shower and you can use all over your body, or just on your face. Most importantly it’s made from a safe, age-old recipe, it works, and it’s natural.
The next step is reading and researching. This takes around 3 months as I research different methods and ingredients, what makes each harsh or gentle, and how to make good-quality, special soap.
#3: Source ingredients:
Next I decide what I want in my new cleansing bar. My hero ingredients are lanolin (to moisturise), and egg white (to refine pores). The bars are triple milled which means they won’t break down, flake or crack soon after use.
#4: Testing samples:
To truly live with and use at least 10 to 15 different options and samples takes 3-6 months. In addition to seeing what works best I was looked for what left skin clean after one wash, was gentle, the right kind of silky, and had a perfect creamy lather. Also, what lasted in the shower without going crumbly.
#5: Moulding the bar:
How the bar sat in my hand was super-important. My first samples were longer, flatter and skinnier than the final but they just didn't feel right. They slipped out of my hand, and hung out over end of my palm, they just felt… wrong. They also had flat bottoms, so when they dried they stuck down hard to my shower shelf. (I literally pulled off my shelf trying to pry one off!) I first made a shape at home with my kids white Play Dough to get the feel right, then I made a plaster mould. The final shape is shorter, curved along the top to fit under the fingers, and has grooves underneath for the water to drain away (so they don’t stick).
#6: Signing off on the final:
My favourite part is to receive the final samples to sign-off on. It still gives me butterflies when I touch, feel and use a product I know I have truly perfected and is everything I dreamt of.
The finishing line. The entire process took 18-months from inception to launch.
B: Why did you decide to add cleansing balms—your first foray into cleansing—to the range?
KC: We had moisturising down, but I needed to share my famous family cleanser with the world! You don’t need a complicated skincare system for simply great skin. These soaps are based on my grandmother’s recipes and I’m in love with them. I’m so excited to share them with the world.
B: What were you hoping to create with these particular products?
KC: These bars are simple, high quality, multi-purpose products—perfect for the modern woman. This is skincare 101, back to efficacious basics, and I love it. It’s about effective skincare for skincare minimalists, who believe in a 'less is more' policy, with natural beauty at the core.
B: What will be the next big skincare trend in Australia?
KC: Stripped-back beauty routines and natural products everyone can use. (See: Cleansing bars.)
B: Which are your bestselling items?
B: Where do you look for product inspiration?
KC: At home. I make products for myself and hope they resonate with other women in my position—busy, no time for nonsense. Beauty products are important but not more important than time you could spend with yourself, or your friends and family. To be honest, the less time we can spend worrying about unneeded skincare steps the more we can be living our lives.
B: How important is customer feedback to you? Does it influence the products you choose to develop?
KC: All of our customer emails come to me first—I read every single one of them and all our social media feedback. They have shaped many decisions and tweaks I have made to our products over the years. For instance, customers asked for a lanolin-based cleanser for years. I just hadn’t had the time to create one until now.