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This year, Eco by Sonya Driver is a Finalist for the 5th Clean Beauty Awards!
Over 300 products entered the 5th Clean Beauty Awards, hosted by CertClean, and Eco by Sonya Driver has 4 products as Finalists! What an amazing feat!
We took the first opportunity to speak to the brains behind Eco by Sonya Driver – a certified organic tanning, skincare and body care range created in Australia! Sonya shares the spirit behind her brand, the diligence she took in formulating her products, highlights her absolutely favourite ingredients, and so much more! Keep reading!
What inspired you to create organic tanning products? Why did you expand your offering to include other safer skincare products?
I started Eco Tan for personal reasons. Almost a decade ago, my gentle-spirited sister was diagnosed with a melanoma. She had a cancerous growth cut from her arm, leaving a horrible scar. Growing up in the Australian sun, we still wanted to get a tan without the risk of harmful UV rays, so I thought the next best thing was fake tanning. We started getting spray tans together, but I became concerned about the ingredients in the different brands we were using, regardless of their claims. It only took me a few minutes to decide not to use their products anymore.
Our skin is our largest organ and much of what we put on it is absorbed into our blood stream. So I took matters into my own hands. I started buying samples of cacao, flower essence, grape seed extract, chamomile and all things natural and organic and started mixing batches out of my tiny kitchen in Currumbin. The first batch, or fifty batches, weren’t perfect. Working with organic ingredients is a lot more challenging than working with synthetic ingredients! But I was determined to create a natural tanning option that was good for our skin and good for the planet. And I finally did it… In 2011, Eco Tan made Australian history by becoming the first and only tanning manufacturer to be certified organic by the Organic Food Chain under the Australian government. After the initial tanning product, we created a tanning range. Which then expanded to body care, sun care and our latest range, organic skin care.
After I had a large basal cell carcinoma removed from my face in 2017, I needed a product that would give me the best shot at healing the scar that was left on my face. So I created certified organic Glory Oil, one of the heroes in our skincare range, packed with phenomenal botanical actives to reduce the appearance of scars and fine lines. Inca Inchi is a secret anti-oxidant rich weapon in the formula, known for it’s ability to heal skin and reduce the signs of ageing. The superpowers of Mother Nature are incredible and I never tire of hearing from our amazing customers of the results that Glory Oil has brought to them.
Coconut Mint Body Wash and Super Citrus Cleanser had similar motivations behind why they were created. Firstly, I wanted a thorough face and/or body wash that left my skin feeling deeply clean. It had to be free of toxic chemicals, synthetic fragrances and pretty much anything nasty! I wasn’t satisfied with the “deep clean” feeling I was getting from other organic face and body washes that I had used. As a mother of two girls, with a husband that tends to use my products in the shower, I also wanted to create products that could be used on all skin types and for everyone in the family. So again, I created my own! Super Citrus cleanser is made with organic aloe vera, lemongrass and caviar lime. These ingredients have incredible healing and anti-inflammatory properties that fight acne and reduce skin irritations. It also smells incredible! Much the same, Coconut Mint Body Wash is designed for the whole family, it’s gentle for everyone from mums to bubs and it smells phenomenal, like a Pina colada.
I created Eye Compost because I wanted an organic eye cream with the usual properties of reducing the appearance of dark circles and fine lines, but I wanted something more. I started researching potential ingredients and (in my opinion) found the winning combination of Kakadu Plum, Hyaluronic Acid and Spirulina to tighten, firm and hydrate the delicate skin around the eye. Active botanicals and Vitamin C in these ingredients simultaneously improve skin luminosity, while hyaluronic works to attract and retain moisture. The natural Spirulina however, is the real winner here. The bright/blue green colour counteracts the colour of dark circles around the eyes to brighten skin.
What were some roadblocks/issues that you have faced? How did you conquer these issues?
Everything you can imagine. Working with organic and natural ingredients is a lot harder than working with synthetic ingredients! The first organic spray tan I created took me multiple attempts – close to a hundred – before I was happy with it. The first batch was sticky, then the next I wasn’t happy with the colour and so on. Luckily, we haven’t faced much greenwashing in our supply chain, as we are extremely thorough in who with partner with in business. It would be hypocritical if I told my consumers to research the products and ingredients they were using if I didn’t do the same in selecting our supply chain partners. For us, educating our consumers goes hand in hand with providing our products to the market. Our message to consumers is to “check labels, read ingredients, do your research, practice sun safety and #BewareOfBS” (bullshit). So many products claim to be “organic” or “natural”, but we tirelessly try to inform the market that they should look out for certifications which guarantee products are truely made from organic and natural ingredients, like ours. Obviously the cost of producing organic products is higher, especially sourcing some of the beautiful natural ingredients that we use. However, we’ve always wanted to make clean beauty products accessible to the mainstream market.
Please tell us more about the products that have been deemed as the Finalists of the 5th Clean Beauty Awards! Why do you think they’re so well loved by the panel of judges?
Our product reviews speak for themselves! I will link each product to our website page where you can check out the hundreds of amazing reviews.
Eye Compost is an eye cream that brightens, plumps and helps to reduce the appearance of dark circles and fine lines. Active botanicals in Kakadu Plum, Spirulina and Vitamin C work simultaneously to improve skin luminosity, while pure hyaluronic attracts and retains moisture. Eye Compost is applied with an exquisite Jade Stone applicator which helps to increase blood circulation and naturally boost collagen.
Glory Oil is a certified organic miraculous night and day treatment oil pioneered to reduce the appearance of scars, fine lines and wrinkles to restore skin to its true glory. It harnesses the phenomenal healing and moisturising powers of organic super seeds including Inca Inchi, Acai and Pumpkin Seed to heal, sooth, reduce sign of ageing and assists in restoring moisture balance to your skin. This specially formulated omega abundant oil drenches your skin and will help protect, improve and restore all skin types.
Super Citrus Cleanser is made from an extraordinary blend of organic Aloe, Lemongrass and Caviar Lime. It deeply cleanses and helps regenerate skin for a smoother, more even complexion. Organic Aloe Vera is known for its super healing and anti-inflammatory properties to fight acne and sooth skin irritations. With anti-bacterial properties from organic Lemongrass, this product helps to give your skin that beautiful, clear, even glow. Australian Caviar Lime is also packed full of natural gentle AHA’s and antioxidants to not only exfoliate skin gently, it also helps clear acne and increase production of collagen that promotes healthy, smooth skin.
Coconut Mint Body Wash is an award winning, revitalising organic body wash. Our unique organic body wash recipe is a gentle formulation, so it is suitable for all skin types and can be used by your whole family. Mums and bubs love it! It is free from synthetic ingredients, soaps and SLS. Instead, it is made with only certified organic and natural ingredients sourced from Mother Nature. With a delicious blend of natural coconut, peppermint and aloe vera, Coconut Mint Body Wash will gently nourish your skin and leave you feeling revitalised.
What are your favourite ingredients and why?
I have so many organic ingredients I would love to speak about but I’ll limit it to three:
Aloe Vera: I use it in almost all the products I create. It’s fantastic! With healing, anti-bacterial and anti inflammatory properties, it also provides moisture and hydrating to skin. It fights acne and helps to unclog pores, it has antiseptic properties that can treat infections and fights the signs of ageing, as it stimulates fibroblast activity in the skin which creates an uptick in collagen production.
Lemongrass: it’s a powerful anti bacterial and anti-fungal ingredient. Lemongrass is renown for it’s skin healing properties from being cleansing and antiseptic to astringent properties that gives skin a beautiful glow. Read more about it in my blog – https://ecotan.com.au/2017/10/16/lemongrass-for-skin/!
Incha inchi: is an ancient Peruvian omega abundant supersede oil packed full of proteins, vitamins, anti-oxidants and fatty acids, which help restore your skins natural barrier by preserving the lipid balance. It’s a unique and phenomenal anti-ageing product and is able bring youthfulness back to the skin. Inca Inchi has an exceptional poly-unsaturated fatty acid content, notably Omegas-3, which is the richest of all oleaginous seeds! It provides unparalleled regeneration and moisture to the skin.
We absolutely love the ethos of your company. Can you tell us more?
– Our professional, tanning, skincare and body care range is Certified Organic by the Organic Food Chain Australia.
– We are Accredited Toxic free by Safe Cosmetics Australia
– We are Accredited by Choose Cruelty Free – we have never and will never test on animals. – – We don’t even sell to China because of their animal testing processes. Our commitment to being against animal testing is more important than the potential sales we would make in that market.
– Our tanning, skincare and body care range is vegan
– Our products are free from ethanol amine compounds and salts (MEA, TEA, DEA and derivatives), Ethoxylated ingredients (eg PEGs, ammonium laureate sulphate, SLS and more), palm oil (or derivates of) from certified sources), paragons (butyl-, ethyl- or methylparaben), petroleum-derived non-preservative ingredients and synthetic fragrances
Product formulations: As I mentioned before, it took me way more than 20 attempts to create the first organic spray tan formula. But I was persistent and I wanted to teach myself to be a chemist. Product creation isn’t necessarily a quick process, some products take months and even years of research, developing and testing before I’m happy to launch it to the market. However, as the company has grown, so has my knowledge, so it probably takes me around 8 batches until it’s perfect and I’m obsessed with the end result!
We are committed to Sustainability: Our products are biodegradable with ingredients responsibly sourced from Australia and communities around the globe. We strive to positively protect the natural environment and have only a positive impact with products that are not only reef friendly, but drain friendly also, with no micro beads or toxic chemicals flooding into our oceans.
We are in conversion to zero waste and committed to a greener, cleaner future by using environmentally responsible packaging that can be recycled, reused or repurposed, with renewable energy sources. Our packaging is already 100% recyclable, plus we are increasing and maximising the use of PCR (Post Consumer Recycled) materials in all product packaging now and in the future. We choose glass packaging where necessary as an endlessly recyclable option protected in biodegradable outer packaging selections. We’re even implementing biomaterials composed of sugar cane pulp, all made using innovative manufacturing solutions like solar farms to minimise our global impact as a business. Carbon Neutrality is our goal and to become a fully sustainable company that has a hand in improving global conditions. With efforts in all areas, we aim to achieve this ASAP.
We know you are passionate about supporting women in business and other community projects – can you share more?
We are super passionate in supporting women in business and community projects that are close to our heart.
From supporting a woman, Lonela, and her 6 daughters, literally sleeping on piles of rags with mice and rats, with no food, water, door, window or bedding. While at the same time Lonela’s husband was in jail for domestic violence and other crimes. I went with our Operations Manager, Michelle, to Romania to provide not only financial support, general household amenities but just love and care! I can honestly say I have never felt so loved in all my life. When Lonela hugged me, her whole body was shaking, her heart was pounding and she just cried. She couldn’t understand why another mother from another country cared so much about her. Read the full blog.
We recently launched our first Not For Profit product – Hand and Nail Cream for Rafiki Mwema. It’s a beautiful certified organic hand and nail cream, designed to replenish and retain moisture to your skin and strengthen nails. 100% of profits from the sale of this product are going directly to the charity for Rafiki Mwema, who help vulnerable children who are victims of horrific sexual abuse in Kenya (www.rafikimwema.com).
Our latest mission is supporting Yoshe Taylor. A woman and mother, falsely imprisoned in a Cambodian jail for 6 years. Watch her story on the ABC:
PART ONE: https://youtu.be/HIk_SxVemo0
PART TWO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wseW9hhI36U&t=1s
We have been raising money and providing support to Yosh, even today, we organised getting her dog shaved and organising a bond cleaner for her home!
Thank you Sonya Driver for sharing your story and creating vegan, plastic-free, natural and clean beauty products!
Learn more about the finalists below!