BEHIND THE BRAND: CLAIRE VERO INTRODUCES AURELIA PROBIOTIC SKINCARE
In a white house in Fulham, southwest London, lives Claire Vero. With vases full of pink flowers, hand drawn dishes in the kitchen wall and toys in the living room floor, she received us during a sunny November morning. Over two years ago, Claire launched Aurelia Probiotic Skincare, which, made with probiotic technology, promises to postpone skin-ageing by helping to manage its level of inflammation.
The brand, available on Net-A-Porter and at Liberty, has very clear principles: all its products are developed without mineral oils, silicones, parabens or sulfates, and nothing is tested on animals. They are formulated with precious ingredients, like calendula, baobab, raspberry extracts and hibiscus flower. Even though there’s a high care behind every formulation, Aurelia also obtains its components ethically and all its packaging is 100% recyclable, but also made with with delicacy and aesthetically dazzling.
Claire told us everything about Aurelia’s history, from the brand’s foundation to its plans for the future. She also offered Morning Beauty advice about how to properly take care of the skin and revealed her favourite makeup products.
How Aurelia Probiotic Skincare came up?
My background was very much on vaccines for GSK [GlaxoSmithKline]. I was on the team that kind of launched the cervical vaccine in the UK. Then I started to work in Dermatology, in a sector where we were looking at chronic psoriasis and more challenging skin conditions. During this process, one of the main underlining issues of eczema is inflammation and, obviously, accelerated skin turnover, and through conversations with some of the women they were using probiotics to calm their skin, which gave me the idea about calming the inflammatory cascade, which would help to reduce the ageing process or slow the ageing process.
After working as a consultant for a couple of years, I decided that, through a lot of the marketing researches we’ve done in the projects I was working on, women would then become more aware of ingredients that they would like to avoid in their skincare. Silicones came up a lot, as well as petrochemicals, mineral oils and some of the more cheaper ingredients several bigger business use to fill the products. So I hired a freelance formulation team and worked with them in a core range of five products that I had in my mind and we formulated Aurelia Probiotic Skincare using probiotic technology, repair complex and peptide complex. The probiotics reduce inflammation of the skin and rebalance the immune response, while the peptide complex works in the fibroblasts to increase synthesis of collagen by 140% in hyaluronic acid ten times natural levels. That’s the science you get from the range, and the rest of it is just really lovely, naturally formulated as we use botanicals we source from Africa.
I’ve been to Malawi, and we partnered with Phytotrade Africa, which has a number of community farmers across Africa. By purchasing via them it means we can use fairtrade price ingredients, and that the communities get paid properly for the botanicals they collect, yet we get to source the most unusual and amazing botanicals from the most remote parts of the world. That was very important to me as well, that when we were going to source ingredients they had to be sourced ethically and organic where possible.
Which were the first products developed for Aurelia Probiotic Skincare?
The Miracle Cleanser, the Revitalise & Glow Serum, the Cell Repair Night Oil, the Cell Revitalise Day Moisturiser, the Cell Revitalise Night Moisturiser, and the bamboo muslins were the first range, and we launched all together in January 2013. It took about a year and a half to formulate and finalise all the products. Everything is produced in England; the only thing we import are the bamboo muslins, and we use them because they are antibacterial, much, much softer, and they go in the washing machine, while the cotton muslins can get crunchy after like 10 washes.
Another element of the brand is that we don’t use synthetic fragrances. All the products are formulated with essential oils, other than the eye products which we use [Bitter Orange and Rosa Damascena] flower water. I’m so keen that the blends really keep the people loving the products, and also that they get the most out of them. We try to use blends that are very indulgent, and the textures are so important: our moisturiser is like a whipped effect, and our cleanser is a light cream, almost like a balm, so you can massage the face and get the circulation going, which is essential for lymphatic drainage and to keep the collagen fibres exercised.
How did you select the ingredients that you would never use in the brand’s products?
I started looking through ingredients lists, doing a lot of reading. Then when I was looking at formulations that were some things I just didn’t want to go anywhere near, ingredients such as mineral oils, which is like a liquid paraffin, that are very cheap and can diminish the function of the skin, and silicones. People love putting primer on, or a cream that feels really silky on the skin, but actually that is all silicone. Although it feels amazing, they are blocking the skin, so if you can avoid using a primer I would, unless they are not made with a lot silicone on it.
How the packaging of the products was created? And why did you choose the name Aurelia?
We use amber glass because it protects the products from sunlight and, as we have essential oils in there, it keeps ithem as fresh as possible. Also they are recyclable, which was important [to us]. About the name, I was going to call my first girl, if I had one, Aurelia, I just love the name, and I didn’t want to have a brand called Skins Systems or something that just didn’t encompass what we were trying to achieve, which is completely luxury skincare, but scientifically proven and with natural ingredients.
And how Aurelia Probiotic Skincare was received by the media and customers?
It was a real surprise. Although I knew the products were really, really good, this market is very competitive, and I also knew that I was self-funded and that I was working as a consultant to create the range, so I had a very limited marketing budget to get the word out there. We did a PR-led launch, which really helped because we got to sit in front of lots of pleople, and they loved it and lots of them gave us great coverage. Net-A-Porter called three months later, and took us as one of the 15 brands in their line-up. Liberty came six months later [after the launch], came Liberty; they gave us a small table, then a larger table, and finally a counter.
What are your plans for Aurelia Probiotic Skincare’s future?
At the moment I’m working on three new products, and I think they are going to take 14 months to come through. What we want to do is build a really good following in the retailers we’ve got. We are also looking to expand in a few selected markets, such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia and Asia. We have a relatively small team, there is only seven of us, and not everyone works full-time, so I just need to balance the right growth with product development, which is very important to me. And I just had a baby, so I’m stretching in a few different ways.
Which products do you use daily in yourself?
I use pretty much the whole range. My absolute favourites are the Miracle Cleanser, the Cell Revitalise Day Moisturiser and the Cell Repar Night Oil, although we have a new polish [Refine & Polish Miracle Balm], which is a mask and also a exfoliator that you put it on, leave for about 5-7 minutes and then rinse it off, it slightly warms the skin and really, really makes your skin feel good, that’s fast becoming one of my favourites. Make-up wise I use Chantecaille’s Future Skin and then I try to use some of the more natural colour brands, such as ILIA and Vapour. I love Rahua’s shampoo and condidioner.
I just try to take the same principles, and look at the ingredients in the products. It’s harder with colour and it’s impossible with suncare, so where I have to make sacrifices I do, but I make sure everything else if there’s an alternative I look for it.
What advice would you give to women to want to establish or maintain a skincare routine?
Many women say they are using expensive moisturisers or night oils, yet there are washing their face the wrong way. Either using wipes, which is a big no-no, or not really looking what’s in their face wash. Cleansing is the foundation of a great skin.