Finding the right skincare line is never a straight-forward affair. You have to consider your skin’s mood, your mood, your diet, the weather, your cat’s feelings and your desired outcomes. Ok, maybe not your cat’s feelings but you get the gist.
You also have to know your skin. Case in point: until only a few years ago, I thought I had combination skin that could take anything I put on it like a brave warrior. Before I knew about the harmful effects of using mainstream beauty products, I used any and all drying, anti-acne cleansers I could find. My skin was red, blotchy, bumpy and suffered frequent pimple break outs. I certainly never had “problem” skin, but as it turns out, I could have better, healthier skin.
The key is to know your skin, establish a healthy routine, and to use great products. I’d suggest visiting a facialist who can properly identify the health of your skin and recommend the right all-natural products for you. For example, my dry, sensitive skin doesn’t like hot and cold water so now I always wash my face with luke warm water. Doing that alone eliminated my bumpy forehead skin and red splotches on my cheeks.
Catherine Clusiau of Mekar Bioactive Skincare recently reached out to me to test her all-natural skincare line. Based in Montreal, Quebec, Clusiau left a comfortable job in finance to launch a safe skincare line that answered all of her own skincare needs. She sent me her moisture-rich line and recommended I combine her serum with the moisturizer for an extra-rich boost of moisture that I desperately needed this past winter.
I have been using her products for more than three months and I am very happy with the results. I didn’t break out, my skin wasn’t blotchy and any little wrinkles that have begun forming around my eyes were minimized. If you’re looking for a Canadian skincare line to try out and love, I highly recommend Mekar.
The Velvet Cleanser – $30
This cleanser looks and feels like mainstream ones. It’s easy to apply, it lathers well and it washes off without leaving residue or a tight feeling on my face. The lavender scent is soothing and calming to my red cheeks. A great way to gently purify the face.
Regenerating hydrating cream – $45
This lightweight cream absorbs quickly and is perfect for summer. It doesn’t clog pores and it hydrates effortlessly throughout the day. My skin was exceptionally dry this winter so Catherine suggested I apply this over her serum for an extra punch of hydration. The perfect combination for winter weather.
Firming eye cream – $42
I’ve always been skeptical at just how effective eye creams are. Those dang little crows feet seem so permanent! I was pleasantly surprised to see that this eye cream, when applied morning and night for at least two weeks, did reduce any wrinkles around my eyes. It also reduced any blueness I had in the inner corners of my eyes. Divine!
EF Magazine: What were your skin problems that prompted you to launch a skin care line?
Catherine Clusiau (CC): I had very sensitive skin. I have fair skin and thin skin. It’s also prone to imperfections, acne and blemishes. I couldn’t find anything in the natural skincare lines that suited me well. They were always either too thick, I didn’t like the textures nor the scents. I was also looking for a company that had high values. I didn’t want to support a bigger, mainstream cosmetic company either. So I decided to make my own line. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and be passionate about something.
EF: What were you doing in your past life?
CC: Before, I was working for the National Bank of Canada. I studied business administration at university. I didn’t find that I was doing something that went along with my values and so when I found the opportunity to start a new line, I went for it.
I started working on the business plan outside of work and then when I was on maternity leave for my second child, I worked hard on launching the product so I didn’t have to go back to my work.
I had my boyfriend’s support and everyone around me thought it was a good idea, something that suited me.
EF: What surprised you about your initial launch?
CC: When people bought the products, in the beginning, they wanted to support me but soon after, they continued to buy the products because they liked them. Mekar is now available for purchase in store at terra20 in Ottawa, Ontario.
EF: What are your ingredients and where do you source them from?
CC: We work with an Indian supplier with organic certification for Moringa oil. We have yet to find a local, fair trade and organic-certified supplier. This is an easier feat for Argan oil but not for Moringa oil. It is a dry oil, not as thick as Argan oil, so we use it as the base of our serum. It leaves a silky finish to the skin and isn’t greasy. I like it because it spreads easily, adds a lot of amino acids, vitamins, and essential fatty acids to your skin.
EF: How did you make sure you were producing a safe product, and something that customers would like?
CC: I worked closely with a local chemist and I also did a lot of my own research. I have a lot of feedback from customers when I go to stores that carry my products. I meet customers and they often send me emails of praise. I don’t have a lot of returns in the stores. Normally with hand-made skincare lines, manufacturers use too many essential oils which make customers react. I worked with a chemist to make sure my products were good for sensitive skin.
EF: What is your most popular product?
CC: I would say it’s the Hydrating regenerating cream because it has great moisture power, it is very lightweight and it doesn’t leave your skin greasy. The serum is a close runner up. I had a big demand from customers for more hydrating products so that’s why I introduced a serum that you could use alone or mix with the moisturizer.
EF: Where do you source your ingredients from?
CC: France. It has very good ingredients and the country’s technology for developing natural, active ingredients is more advanced than in North America. I also source from some suppliers in Montreal for essential oils.
EF: How do you educate your consumers and attract new ones?
CC: I promote awareness every time I speak to a customer or during events. I also have a section on the site called “Learn” where I write articles on everything that’s related to wellness, cosmetics and skincare.
EF: Aside from developing your line, what else is keeping you busy?
CC: I’m working on expanding my distribution and collaborating with a representative in BC to get my product into stores there. I want to have more stores in Ontario as well and expand my line so I’m working on a facial mask that should be out in a couple of months. It’s a great mask with red algae to give an instant glow and it’s really moisturizing. I want to have gels for the summer and for oily skin. I also want to develop products for specific demanding skin types to treat specific problems. I’m always listening to my customers for their feedback. This really guides me in my work.