Kinvara Skincare — a real local success story

Dr Joanne Reilly, the founder of Kinvara Skincare. Picture; 
Julia Dunin

Dr Joanne Reilly, the founder of Kinvara Skincare. Picture; Julia Dunin

Kinvara Skincare is a home-grown natural skincare brand which has been steadily gaining a cult following since it was founded in the place where it gets its name by Dr Joanne Reilly in 2012. The brand combines the healing power of plants with a scientific approach, which has certainly proved a hit with customers and Kinvara Skincare products are now stocked in more than 320 pharmacies and health shops nationwide.

It is not easy to compete in an industry which is flooded with big names like Clarins, Dermalogica, Lancome, and Estee Lauder, but after starting the business from her home in south Galway four years ago Joanne Reilly is managing to do just that. The idea came about as she was completing her science doctorate in Indonesia and she began observing how effective natural remedies were at solving different ailiments.

“It is obviously a place that people do not have very much access to manufactured products. I became interested in how to use plants in skincare products. I have always had tricky skin and was finding it difficult to source products that were suitable. I had tried so many products that I was beginning to get disheartened. But it is a simple concept really, plant extracts have huge benefits and we should be using them more. So I decided to come up with something myself. I started making the serum by hand at home and got great support from the Galway Enterprise Office.”

Nowadays the business has expanded so much that production has been outsourced and there are currently four products sold under the brand - the Rosehip Face Serum, Absolute Cleansing Oil, an Active Day Cream, and Eye Wow - an eye serum which is the newest product targeting fine lines, puffiness, and dark circles around the eyes. Dr Reilly does not believe in cluttering up people’s skincare regime. “A few hard working products that deliver results is all everyone needs.”

The first product to be launched on the market was the face serum. It contains jojoba, evening primrose, rosehip, and sweet almond oil along with sea buckthorn, carrot, and rosemary, and can be used alone as night serum or under day cream. The doyenne of Irish beauty bloggers, SoSueMe, has waxed lyrical about the serum stating that if she could only use one skincare product for the rest of her life this would be it. High praise indeed coming from a woman who is probably sent hundreds of products to review each week. To quote her words; “It is like an intense care treatment for the skin, and oh my God talk about a difference in my skin when I use it! My skin feels so dewy and my make-up goes on so much better. I bring it with me everywhere, it is like rescue remedy and is my must-have product.”

Dr Reilly believes that we need to get more in touch with our skincare needs especially if we are suffering from problematic skin. “Our skin is the biggest organ in the body. It will tell you if it is dry, tight, uncomfortable, or oily. The skin absorbs 60 per cent of what is put on it. We have to take a little bit of responsibility for what goes on our skin. We need to start using what was intended for our skin which was plants. A lot of the bigger skincare brands use synthetic forms of an ingredient because it is more cost effective. For me, it is also important that our products are not tested on animals and we use recyclable packaging. “

The entrepreneur says there is a real feel-good aspect to being involved in the skincare business. “I run the business with the ethos that we want to make a difference to people’s lives by making a difference to their skin. Because our skin is constantly on show, it can really start to affect your self-confidence if you are experiencing problems with it. I get so many e-mails from customers to tell me about the amazing results they are achieving from using the products. I got a lovely e-mail from a woman lately who had been suffering with bad acne. She sent before and after pictures and the change was massive. It is lovely to receive things like that and is really satisfying to know that you are making a positive difference to somebody’s life.”

Sometimes when people hear words like natural and organic they automatically presume that this comes with a major price tag. But one of the reasons for this brand’s on-going success is the affordability of the products which range between €19.99 and €29.99. When you compare this with prices being charged by some of the bigger brands, this is small beans. The business founder says she was always mindful of keeping her products affordable. “I believe good skincare is not something that should be kept for special occasions like birthdays or Christmas. Quality products are something we should be able to afford every day. You can get six months use of the face serum, while the cleansing oil will last three months. Cost per use is pennies.”

And the mix of cost effective and natural is working because as well as its nationwide presence, Kinvara Skincare is now beginning to export to the UK, Scotland, and Germany and it appears the sky is the limit. Dr Reilly is a mother to two young girls and admits that while her husband and family are very proud of her business success it is definitely a balancing act. “My head is constantly switched on. It is definitely not a 9 - 5 job. It takes huge passion to make a business a success and a lot of commitment but for me it just all made so much sense. Plant extracts are good for you and our products can be transformational.”

+Kinvara Skincare products are sold through the website www.kinvaraskincare.com, and the products are available in all the Evergreen stores in Galway, along with many other healthfood stores and pharmacies.

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