Navneet Kaur talks about skincare ingredients and fads to avoid, transparency (or lack thereof) in the beauty industry, her kickass morning routine, a productivity tip she swears by and more.
Amidst the burgeoning beauty scene both locally and abroad, misleading marketing, confusing ingredients and skincare fads are making the task of finding the right products increasingly tedious. This frustration is what led Singapore-based Navneet Kaur to take a deep dive into the depths of the industry, to understand and later reimagine how a skincare brand could be run.
She dug deep into ingredients research and travelled across Europe for an inside look into multiple skincare labs before founding Yours in 2018, which creates personalised skincare formulations that are ethically produced and environmentally sustainable. Read on for her discoveries that’ll help you make better choices for your skin…
Hi, Navneet! Tell us about your journey to founding Yours.
While trying to find the right products to treat my husband’s acne flare ups that happened after frequent travels, I ended up with a shelf full of products that didn’t work for his oily and sensitive skin. It didn’t help that my own beauty cupboard was bursting with unloved skincare products as well.
It was then that I realised how broken the product discovery process is for the skincare market. All too often, people rely on advice from bloggers, friends, influencers and other people who aren’t able to take into account our unique lifestyle habits and living environment.
So I went from working at Uber and OFO to co-founding the Yours brand with my husband. We take pride in being a customer-first brand that reimagines and simplifies the skincare shopping process, taking in consideration lifestyle and environmental factors that affect each person’s skin health.
What’s a common skincare misconception you’d like to dispel?
Before creating my own brand, I used to think skincare that was labelled ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ were the safest bet. However, through my research, I came to realise that it’s a flawed idea to think that all ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ ingredients are good for the skin.
Case in point: walnut or sugar face scrubs are natural, but they are actually much too rough to be skin-friendly and can end up enlarging pores in the long-term. And this is just one example – there are many unhelpful fads and unreliable information out there.
Ensuring that your products are non-toxic, environmentally sustainable and ethically sourced, plus importing them all the way from Switzerland must have been quite the process – what were some of the challenges?
The first challenge was creating a transparent supply chain, where we have complete visibility of how every ingredient is sourced. This is important because I found out that there is a lot of white labelling happening in today’s beauty industry, where the lack of transparency makes it difficult to trace the source of the ingredients used.
I spent close to three months visiting labs across Europe before finding the one that we currently work with. The next biggest challenge was to create a group of skincare experts and formulation scientists who can develop products and set up systems for ongoing research to expand our library of ingredients.
I stayed in Switzerland for the product development process and it was truly rewarding: today, we have full visibility of our supply chain, which includes checks and balances for quality control, and to ensure ethical and sustainable ingredient sourcing.
Are there skincare or makeup ingredients we should steer clear of?
For skin health and for the environment, there is a list of ingredients to avoid, including parabens (preservatives), sulfates (lathering agents) and phthalates (plasticisers). Ethanolamine, BHTs, BHAs, Siloxanes (Silicones), Formaldehyde, PEGs and Triclosan (TSC) are also other ingredients to watch out for. The list goes on and we cover it in our blog with all the essential details.
What are your top three skincare products?
I cannot live without my Yours personalised night cream and face serum. The night cream especially helps with balancing out my combination-oily skin in the humid Singapore climate. I also love our sunscreen mist (I’m getting excited just talking about it!), a product that we’ll be launching late Q1 in 2020.
What do you love about the local beauty market, and where do you think the industry will go from here?
I love the passion and verve that homegrown beauty brands are bringing to the local scene! Brands that are born and bred in Singapore often have their finger on the pulse of what Singaporeans want. They are thus able to develop a deeper relationship with their customers.
In the new decade, personalisation at scale using technology is definitely here to stay. Customers today are far more discerning, and are increasingly aware that what works for one person’s skin may not work on another’s. There is also a shift towards clean beauty, with a rise in the demand for quality skincare products that are as good for skin as they are for the environment.
In Asia, the pace of innovation has always been fast in the beauty industry, and Asian beauty consumers have consistently been early adopters of the latest skincare trends. But, only truly effective products will be able to stand the test of time.
What are your favourite makeup brands?
I don’t use much makeup aside from lip balm and eyeliner, but on occasion, I like to dip into my Urban Decay Naked palette or one of the Bobbi Brown eyeshadows.
Spill the beans on your morning routine…
I start my day with a 15-minute meditation. Then, I catch up on news along with some masala chai, plan my work day and head to the office. My morning skincare routine consists of toner, serum (face and eye), day cream and sunscreen.
What’s one productivity tip and one beauty tip that you swear by?
The best productivity tip I can give is to do deep work sessions – this is based on the book written by Cal Newport. Deep work refers to highly focused sessions concentrating on a single, cognitively demanding task (just one, no multitasking!) without any distractions to maximise efficiency and productivity.
There are just too many beauty tips I would love to give… If I had to share just one, it’s to apply sunscreen everyday (at least SPF30!), even when you’re indoors, because continued exposure to UV rays will give rise to issues like sun spots, pigmentation and premature skin ageing.
You’re constantly working on your brand, travelling and the like. Where do you go on a day off?
You might find me at Riders Cafe – I love the brunch menu there and watching the horses go by. On weekends, I’d go for a run at MacRitchie Reservoir or have some quiet reading time with a glass of wine on my balcony.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
In my free time, I paint. Not only is it extremely therapeutic, but it’s also an activity where I’m constantly reminded of the need to periodically take a step back and look at the bigger picture before making the next move.
Yours, available online.