Welcome to the latest installment of my Meet the Maker interviews, a series of questions and answers with some of the faces behind the brands that make a big impact on our skincare routines. It is great to find products that can transform our beauty regimes for the better but I wanted to find out more about the people behind the brands and discover what motivates them to formulate the products within their ranges.
Today we’re talking to Morgane and Ben, the founders of Roze Mountain, a conscious and ethical beauty brand based in Belgium. Roze Mountain’s range of anti-pollution products are inspired by Ben and Morgane’s Middle-Eastern heritage (don’t be fooled by their names), and their passion for clean ingredients and wellness. Roze Mountain not only pride themselves on taking a sustainable approach to skincare but also on their ability to create time-saving solutions that can easily be integrated into our busy lives…
Emma: Hi Morgane and Ben, thank you for joining me today. Tell us a little about yourselves and your own green beauty journeys. Were you both always interested in natural ingredients and the beauty industry?
Morgane: Hi Emma, thank you so much for talking to us! We are very grateful for the opportunity ! To answer your question, yes and no. No, because for the longest time, I wasn’t interested in skincare at all! I found it beautiful to look at all the luxury packaging in stores but as I wasn’t consistent with any skincare routine, I felt it was a waste of money and never bought it unless it was to be gifted. And yes, because even in my disinterest, when I did look at skincare products, I was always curious of what was inside and if I was able to recognize some of the names, their purposes and their benefits/dangers to humans and animals.
Ben: Hi Emma, thank you for doing this interview with us! For me, it is also no to that question. I feel like as men, we have not been taught to care about our skin and how it looks and it is really when I got older that I realised I didn’t want to use just any product on my skin or on my son’s skin/body. I started paying attention to what would go onto his body and as a result, onto mine as well.
Emma: I think so many people can relate to your experiences. What made you both decide to create Roze Mountain?
Morgane: Well, for me, it all started as a kitchen affair! I liked cooking (I don’t know if I am very good at it though) and I was very much interested in herbs and spices and how to blend them to create different flavours. So I decided to scatter the internet and buy some books. I found great ones that were not only talking about spices for cooking but also for health. And that is where it all began ! Herbs and spices for health! I started making my own concoctions to take internally or apply on wounds and I LOVED it! It felt so empowering that I couldn’t sleep at night because I wanted to spend every bit of my free time digging up information. Which is how I found out about formulation and more precisely, cosmetic formulation. I, then, embarked on a 3-year formulation course that enabled me to get certified in cosmetic formulation, preservation of cosmetics and stability studies. But what (or should I say who) really pushed me to create the brand is my brother. He said something very simple: “why don’t you start selling it?” and from that moment, I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind. It took me another year to get my head wrapped around it as I was a bit afraid and didn’t feel confident enough despite my knowledge. I eventually worked on those self-conscious issues and slowly started taking it seriously. I spent 8 months doing artisan fairs every weekend in all of the South East of England and 6 months after that (I had returned to Belgium at that point), I met Ben!
Ben: It was a very natural process for me. Morgane was already making handmade products that she would show us at the office and we really loved them. We started buying some and seeing how passionate she was about it, I told her that if I had a passion like this, I would jump with both feet and make things bigger! And she told me that she was actually scared to do it alone and asked if I wanted to partner up with her! We were already friends and colleagues so being colleagues for a second time just felt natural! We sat up at a Café and discussed about our vision. And after that, we never stopped !
Emma: I love that it has always been such a passion project! Talking of making products, you focus upon anti-pollution skincare within your product range, so what was it that made you focus on this in particular, and what are the main benefits of utilising anti-pollution products within our routines?
Morgane: So, this is very simple. I am from Belgium but I lived in the UK for my postgraduate studies and 2 months after my move, my skin and my hair started changing (that’s when I had no choice but to start having a skincare routine). And after that, it never stopped! Dryness, extreme dehydration, occasional pimples influenced by air pollution and junk food, dull hair caused by the water in the UK, etc. It took a long time to my brain to realise that I needed to fight pollution both on my skin and inside my body ! But what really convinced me that anti-pollution skincare products were important was also seeing how pollution influenced my brother’s skin, my friends’ skin and a lot of people in general ! I wasn’t alone, this was (and still is) a phenomenon. From increased acne-related problems, to acute sensitivities and dehydration, environmental pollution has had a large negative impact on our skin (and I am not even mentioning what it does to our planet). So, we were very eager to formulate skincare products that would help with these consequences.
Ben: I agree with Morgane and I’d like to add that an Anti-Pollution skincare routine re-balances your skin. It re-balances your skin’s pH, your skin’s protective barrier, your skin’s sebum production, you’re skin’s antioxidant levels, etc. It gives an equilibrium after air pollution came like a hurricane! We gather a lot of skin problems that are not just due to skin types but that appear or increase due to air pollution and we tackle that!
Emma: I think we often forget about the external factors that affect our skin so it is great that your range does this for us! You have actually just added a new range of products to your collection so i’d love to know how you decide what to formulate next. Do you personally look at gaps in the market or is it based upon items you’re personally looking to add into your own routines?
Morgane: Both. We conduct our own market research to learn about trends, which is a great starting point for our research. And then, we turn to our social groups. What skin problems are more common to what age groups, skin colors, skin types, geographical locations etc. We then develop, test, modify our formulas until we have a product that can be multi-functional without loosing anything in its efficacy. I start most of my tests on formulas I have created for my skin type as this is what I know best and then I compare it to the end product. If I can’t replace my initial product with the final one in my skincare routine, I go back to the drawing board. We both would feel dishonest if we were selling products that we would not use ourselves. Our goal is to sell our own skincare routine,nothing less! And to develop it so that it can be extended to other skin types and skin problems as well.
Emma: While we are discussing products, what is your current favourite product from your range and why?
Morgane: Definitely the cleanser ! I didn’t have a lot of expectations as I used to take mainstream wipes to cleanse/remove makeup. So I didn’t start form a very high point in the beauty industry. But for the past 5 years, what has, by far, relieved my skin the most is the cleanser! And of course, my inner child is very happy that it has a little magical touch: it transforms into a milk when we mix it with water !
Ben: For me, it is the serum! I am not big on cleansers or masks or long skincare routines. What I like about the serum is that I can use it on my face, my beard, my hands and everything feels so soft and healthy ! I know it is a face serum but, if it works elsewhere too, I’m definitely going to switch to 1 product instead of 3!
Emma: They are certainly two beautiful products. What are your three favourite ingredients within natural beauty products?
Morgane: This is a tough one for any formulator! Okay let’s do this. I would say: Date seed oil, Hyaluronic acid and Jojoba oil. They are permanent ingredients in my skincare routine and they are also incredible ingredients for the face, the hair and the body all together. And well, you already know we love quick and multi-purpose products so it makes sense!
Ben: For me, Jojoba oil, Curcuma and Aloe Vera. Jojoba because it is a good moisturizer for all parts of the body, skin and hair. Curcuma because it makes a great detox treatment and Aloe Vera because I use it on sunburns for my son.
Emma: What are the biggest issues you face as formulators of natural beauty products?
Morgane: There are a few… An important and tricky one is to always check that the ingredients chosen are compatible with each other. Another one is creating products that surf on the current trends. As formulators, we tend to do a lot of research, conduct a lot of tests and read a lot of studies. So we base our formulations on what we deem are the best ingredients for the purpose we are after. But that doesn’t always mean that the best ingredients for our objectives are the ingredients that appeal the most to consumers. And I find it hard to create products that make both coincide. Another difficulty is knowing when you should stop changing your formula!
Emma: I suppose without the struggles, the rewards wouldn’t be as gratifying! Finally, just for fun, what would be your desert island product or item?
Morgane: My blanket.. It is very very very comfortable! You would understand if you try it! I love sleeping so it definitely influenced my choice! I can’t afford to do it often but I am a big fan of that concept ! And also a Roze Mountain candle probably. I love candles, whatever the temperature, I just like having a nice smell around!
Ben: My Roze Mountain’s Arabian Nights Elixir (our face serum).
Thank you Morgane and Ben for taking the time to feature on Meet the Maker, it has been great to find out a little more about you both and Roze Mountain.
To find out more about Roze Mountain’s product range, head over to www.rozemountain.com or check out all my reviews of Roze Mountain’s products here. Be sure to also follow them on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date.
Emma @ Beauty Folio x