Turkish skincare specialist defies toxic beauty regime

A young visionary Turkish woman challenges beauty industry norms by offering natural, eco-friendly products and ushering in a new era of sustainable self-care.

In a small, see-through jar, you’ll find a light-coloured cream that embodies transparency in skincare, setting a positive example for the billion-dollar industry.

It is a deodorant, free from aluminium, parabens and synthetic fragrances, and its primary task is to embrace and support your body’s natural perspiration process.

In recent years, there has been an increase in demand for this handcrafted cream deodorant. Setting itself apart from mainstream cosmetics brands, this product does not contain antiperspirants that may disturb the balance of beneficial and harmful armpit bacteria. It refrains from claiming to block sweat, recognising that sweating is a natural mechanism for eliminating toxins from the body.

While giants of the beauty realm churn out mass-produced concoctions laden with chemicals, meet Feride Tekin Seymenoglu, the visionary behind a two-year-old cosmetics and skincare brand that defies conventions, whose story reveals not just a striving businesswoman but a warrior for change in an industry that has lost its way.

Today, Feride’s products are used across all provinces of Türkiye and in over ten countries. Handcrafting each product with a commitment to affordability and eco-friendliness, Feride stands alone, crafting her products to demonstrate that it is indeed feasible to develop skincare routines without negating the body’s natural requirements or attempting to alter its essential functions. Feride’s production volume for most of her products has increased approximately fivefold since last year.

From curious consumer to aromatherapy entrepreneur

Before founding her cosmetics brand “Atelier Feride” in 2021, Feride was a curious consumer. Little did she know how her practice of reading and researching the ingredients of everyday products silently shaped her path into the profession of producing them.

“I was unknowingly laying the foundation for my future profession,” she tells TRT World. “Today, I craft products for my brand that I wholeheartedly trust and incorporate into my routine.”

The 30-year-old entrepreneur, holding degrees in nursing, embarked on further training in medical and aromatic plants, a pivotal moment during which her interests shifted towards aromatherapy, herbal therapy and traditional treatments.

Aromatherapy, a holistic healing approach using essential oils extracted from plants to enhance physical, mental and emotional well-being, is the backbone of her production. In contrast to synthetic alternatives, aromatherapy oils offer natural fragrances that nourish the skin. For instance, lavender oil, mostly used in Feride’s cream deodorants, alleviates stress, imparts a pleasing aroma and boasts antimicrobial properties. Inhaling citrus oil has the positive effects of joy and pleasure. Grape seed oil, mostly used in skin-nourishing serums, has an antioxidant effect on the skin.

“I use aromatherapy oils not only for their fragrances, but also because they are beneficial to the skin,” she says.

Swim against the current

In recent years, there has been a noticeable surge in the natural cosmetics sector as a response to mainstream cosmetics. However, it’s intriguing to observe how this new industry, born out of resistance, is gradually experiencing its own pitfalls.

Feride highlights her reluctance to merely promote the separate realm of natural cosmetics as an escape from conventional products, saying that beauty lies in embracing moderation and practising minimalistic care.

“The products we use throughout the day are increasing our exposure to toxic substances, and unfortunately, they are also leading to bioaccumulation within our bodies,” she says.

Experts warn about the harm of overusing skincare products, or of layering too many products, and emphasise the significance of concentrating on fundamental products that uphold skin health.

“I swim against the current,” Feride says, “As a cosmetics manufacturer, I consistently express that minimal personal care is essential.”

From nourishing serums and toners to deodorants, moisturisers, lipsticks, and mascaras, Feride single-handedly handcrafts an impressive array of over 40 products. However, her daily skincare regimen consists of just a handful of essential products: sunscreen for morning use, cleansing toner for evening use, moisturiser, occasional addition of vitamin C and regular use of cream deodorant.

“As I’ve always believed, choosing natural oils has its merits, particularly in fortifying the skin’s natural barrier, leading to healthier and more resilient skin that demands fewer frequent skincare routines,” she says. “This is essentially what our minimal skincare philosophy aims for.”

Her customers often share feedback that echoes this philosophy, saying: “I started using the product, liked it, and over time, I needed less of it. I don’t need to use it as often as I did initially.”

In just the past year, the production volume of most of Feride’s products has surged by an impressive fivefold. Feride attributes this growth to customer satisfaction, and says, “While we can’t allocate a budget for advertising, our customers are actively promoting our brand on our behalf.”

“In the production stage of products, I try to recycle any waste generated as much as possible. Even during the shipping process of products, I strive not to use any packaging that would create unnecessary waste,” says Feride.

‘Speaking’ cosmetics

As waste emissions continue to rise, sustainability goes beyond the environmental question and begins to play a crucial role in personal well-being. This principle of sustainability extends to Feride’s personal care line.

Despite the industry’s greenwashing, which does not make cosmetics purer or more innocent but is merely a marketing facade that obscures the reality of the products being offered, Feride stands strong in her commitment to transparency and true sustainability.

Her dedication to crafting genuinely eco-friendly and skin-friendly products sets a new standard of authenticity in an industry often marred by hidden agendas.

“If I can’t source quality raw materials of a product, I prefer not to produce it,” she says.

In the present day, the cosmetics industry grapples with the impact of its products and contends with a notable erosion of consumer trust. Research shows that 79 per cent of individuals who purchase beauty products express scepticism regarding the industry’s claims about sustainability.

Feride remains resolute in maintaining her brand a “speaking” one, as she says, sharing content, purposes, and the positives and negatives of each product transparently with her customers.

Conscious entrepreneurship

In addition to her business endeavours, Feride is deeply committed to striking a harmonious balance between corporate social responsibility and commercial operations, aiming to advance her social responsibility initiatives to the best of her abilities.

Following the February 6 earthquakes, she initiated a campaign to provide rash creams to the victims, which was among the urgent needs, since there was a significant hygiene problem in the region, as babies’ diapers couldn’t be changed frequently or properly cleaned.

Feride’s campaign aimed to supply rash creams to the affected quake victims. She says that due to the cold weather and the effect of the wind, children and adults were experiencing dry, cracked and bleeding hands.

With her friends’ support, she quickly produced over five thousand units of her rash cream and a remarkable amount of moisturising cream, lip balm, soaps and sunscreens. Her products have reached every city directly affected by the earthquake.

Thanks to the dedicated friends who volunteered to support the production, Feride could swiftly prepare products that, due to her production capacity, could have taken months to produce.

As Feride’s journey unfolds as a testament to the power of female resilience, it’s also a sharp reminder that the allure of cosmetics often masks a darker truth about environmental impact.

While the industry grapples with a variety of issues, encompassing sustainability, ingredient safety, animal testing, misleading marketing, counterfeit products, plastic pollution, supply chain ethics, and alignment with health and wellness trends, Feride believes in the possibility of achieving a conscious and healthy form of cosmetics both in terms of the environment and human health.

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