Like many of you, we’re always on the hunt for beauty brands that offer an innovative approach to skincare. So this week on Sahar Reviews, we’re joined by Kathryn Jones, the founder of the skincare brand – KJ Serums. This homegrown cosmetics brand is best known for its hand-blended serums that are prepared in micro-batches to preserve their freshness for optimal results. Read on for her very real, candid answers.
KJ Serums: Made-to-Order Serums
When I asked what brought her into this market — her response was straight-forward and free of pretense. It’s no secret that in today’s time, skincare can be very expensive. If you’re in the market for luxury skincare brands, you’ll find some brands with markups that are insanely crazy. And this was exactly what prompted Kathryn to start her namesake brand – to deliver simple but effective skincare at a more accessible price range. She considers her start-up as a necessity, and not a luxury.
What sets this brand apart from the competition, is that their serums are made to order each month.
All their products are vegan-friendly, and free from parabens, PEGS, phthalates, sulfates and synthetic fragrances. Kathyrn, also ensures that her serums are delivered to her customers’ doorsteps in a temperature-controlled condition to maintain their quality and freshness.
In conversation with Kathryn Jones …
What got you interested in curating your own bespoke collection?
I started out of necessity. I simply could not afford the prices of some of the well-known skincare brands but still wanted excellent results. There’s some great information freely available about what the most effective skincare ingredients are, and so following some research I applied my background knowledge gained in the UK biopharmaceuticals industry to experiment and develop my own formulas. I started in my head a long time ago … but practically speaking, I started KJ Serums in early 2018.
What is KJ Serums’ USP? What sets your company apart from others?
‘Fresh = Effective’ is our mantra, and that really sums up our overall proposition. For example, Triology Day – our cornerstone vitamin C, E + Ferulic acid serum – is made fresh to order every month by our manufacturer here in the UAE. It is truly a unique product and one of which I’m very proud. The ingredients are all blended by hand and I personally supervise the procedure every month. The process is the same for all our other products; no machinery is involved, there’s a lot of stirring and a lot of hard work by a large team of people to bottle, label, pack and get the product to the customer in a personalized manner.
What factors go into deciding what ingredients to use in the product formulas?
In a word, ‘efficacy’. We formulate the most effective serums possible. In addition to this they must be as clean as possible and contain the fewest additional ingredients in order to preserve and stabilize the blend. In the case of our Triology Day serum, this uses the most potent form of vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) which is very unstable and must be used up while it’s fresh and effective, within about a month.
We purposely did not add any unnecessary ingredients to improve the look, smell, feel of the serum because we wanted to offer something unique in the marketplace, and, it appears our customers understand and value this. For our oil-based serums, the smell is of course very important, but for our other products we’re not so concerned about that as we need to deliver effectiveness first and foremost.
Can you list some of the standout ingredients in your products?
L-ascorbic acid vitamin C is really beneficial for the skin, niacinamide in our SkinKarma serum is also highly efficacious for anti-ageing and acne issues. And of course, liposomal vitamin A (retinol) is a key ingredient for improving skin and keeping it as young as possible. All of our ingredients are carefully chosen from tried and tested ingredients and that’s why you won’t find any faddy ingredients in the formulas. Simple and effective is always best when it comes to skincare.
Are there any challenges that you face while preparing a new serum?
I have to confess that I ‘geek out’ whenever I prepare a new formula. It’s always a real challenge to get the ratio of efficacy to ease of application and product feel exactly right. When blending a new formula there is always the challenge of perfecting the emulsification of the ingredients to minimize potential separation and trying to balance all the ingredients to make an efficacious blend. After I’ve achieved this in my lab, I then have our manufacturer conduct the necessary stability and challenge tests that all of our products must pass before submission for approval by the authorities.
Is there any difference preparing made-to-order serums and bulk-made ones?
Currently we don’t bulk produce any products in the manner of a large global skincare or cosmetics company. We’re at a nice volume level where we can meet the demand of the local customer base we’re serving. There’s really no difference in the way we produce our short shelf-life vitamin c serums and our other complimentary longer shelf-life products – I’m always present and overseeing the blending process, testing, verifying quality and generally being ‘hands on’.
Amongst the KJ Serums range, what’s the best-selling product?
This is our Triology Day freshly made vitamin C,E + Ferulic acid serum. It’s the cornerstone product around which our customers purchase our other complimentary serums.
What is your best skincare tip?
There are no surprises here. Wear a good quality, broad spectrum SPF sunscreen every day, eat a healthy balanced diet and stay hydrated.
Do you consider KJ Serums products unisex?
Most certainly. We specifically designed the brand look and feel to be unisex, and I’m pleased to see that we have a small but steadily increasing number of male buyers who purchase on a regular basis. Thankfully the notion of a man looking after his skin – and having a daily skincare routine – is now no different to a woman. Men appear to be slightly more cautious in their purchasing approach, which is most likely attributable to the overall level of knowledge about skincare products whereas women tend to know what they want and to buy products to address specific skincare issues.
What’s next for you and KJ Serums?
We will certainly add more products to our range and perhaps make our products more widely available in the marketplace. We have a few exciting pipeline products in development and I’m very much looking forward to sharing these with our customer base as soon as they are ready for launch. For me, you will find me busy in the lab and as always, and personally answering any customer enquiries to make sure that everyone has the best experience possible with KJ Serums.