[9 MINUTE READ]
With the new season almost upon us, you might find that your skin is going through some changes. I know mine certainly is! As someone who deals with environmentally-sensitive skin, I have become familiar with the points of the year where I am most likely to experience dry patches, oily skin or breakouts. Spoiler: the end of August is one of them.
If you can relate to this, then you might be intrigued to hear about this week’s interviewee. Jenny Hinton is the Founder and Formulator of Cipher Skincare; a skincare brand that refers to itself as intelligent alchemy.
Cipher Skincare focuses on active, clean ingredients and forward-thinking cosmetic science to help improve skin of all tones, textures and genders. We love their inclusive approach to skincare and after reviewing some products last week, we couldn’t wait to chat to Jenny about the importance of PH balanced skin, sensitivity and active ingredients. Want your fix of Cipher Skincare? Just keep reading...
Morning Jenny! Could you begin by telling me a bit about your childhood and how you feel it has influenced you today?
Sure! I grew up in the Midwest, United States and I was super inquisitive. I loved solving problems and building things as a kid, so it was no surprise that as an adult this translated into pursuing a career as an engineer. Eventually, my passion for building drove me to create science-driven skincare… Basically, I am a proud nerd for life.
"My personal struggle with my skin drove me into skincare. I, like so many others, dealt with acne, dehydration, oiliness—you name it."
I love that! So talk nerdy to me: how did you get started in the beauty industry? Was the transition tricky, coming from an engineering background?
Well, my personal struggle with my skin drove me into skincare. I, like so many others, dealt with acne, dehydration, oiliness—you name it. After lots of product trial and error, I felt a bit disenchanted with big beauty brands and was craving some honest guidance. So, I decided to do my own research and learn about skincare for myself. I guess you could say the rest is history.
It certainly is! When did you decide to start up Cipher Skincare and why? Was the timing important?
My move to Australia was probably the spark that motivated me to turn my hobby into a business. Cipher Skincare is still super small, but I am so excited for what the future holds. Skin confidence can have such a positive ripple effect on people’s lives. I want to help others feel empowered in their skincare choices.
That positivity definitely shines through Cipher Skincare! Does Cipher Skincare consider issues relating to sensitive skin/allergies?
Yes! Our products are specifically formulated to be effective, yet gentle. All our offerings are fragrance-free and focus on skin barrier integrity first. The product descriptions on our website break it all down, so definitely check them out! You will find heaps of skin soothers and hydrators alongside potent, science-backed active ingredients. I believe all skin can benefit from this balanced approach; harsh does not necessarily mean more effective.
I’ve learnt that the hard way! And in what ways does Cipher Skincare consider sensitive skin throughout the manufacturing process and when selecting ingredients?
Research, research, research is key. We have logged countless hours reading science journals and studies before selecting our ingredients. If something is known to be a potential irritant, we will not include it. But we are adamantly against that whole “chemicals are bad” vibe. Everything is a chemical! Natural things and synthetic things are all chemicals.
It’s about selecting which chemicals benefit our skin and bodies most, and that is not always easy. Balancing PH levels in a formula also has a huge impact. Skin is PH 5.5, and it does not like things that are basic, which means above 7. Super acidic ingredients can also be irritating to some… hello, L-Ascorbic acid serums. We take great care in ensuring our formulas are effective, non-sensitising and safe. Pro-tip though: check ingredient lists for allergens and ALWAYS do a patch test. If you would like to know more about our ingredients, we have a full ingredient glossary on our website!
I've checked it out and it's fantastic. How does sustainability factor into Cipher Skincare?
There is always more work to do relating to sustainability. Currently, we are trying to minimise the use of plastic use where applicable. Our shipping materials are 100% plastic-free, which is awesome. We also produce our products in small batches, which requires less energy and reduces waste.
That’s great to know! And do you think people are more conscious of the ingredients in their beauty and skincare products nowadays? If so, why?
I do actually! People are starting to question certain “too-good-to-be-true” claims, as they should. “50% reduction in fine lines in 2 weeks.” Ok, fine. What are the active ingredients? What are the concentrations? Was there a controlled study? On humans or in a petri dish? How many participants? Was it double-blind? How were the results measured? I am starting to hear a lot more of this sort of discussion and it excites me! Cipher Skincare is all about transparency, trust and wanting our customers to know exactly what to expect with our products. Science, not buzzwords, please.
What were your biggest challenges in starting up Cipher Skincare?
Learning to wear many hats, even the ones I am less comfortable with. Being a science-loving introvert at heart, the marketing and social media world is completely new to me. Also... does anybody actually like accounting? No. That being said, I’ve learned so many new skills such as: building a website, photography and editing. I’m an amateur at best but I’m enjoying the ride!
That’s great to hear. Everyday is a school day! What strategies do you think have been key to the success of your business?
We are still so young that I feel success is something to keep striving for, but I would say two things... 1. Actually LISTENING to customers and actioning their feedback and 2. Total transparency in what we’re trying to achieve, as well as what we’re putting in our products.
Transparency is so vital nowadays. I completely agree. And on a personal-level, what is your favourite thing about your job?
It is absolutely the people that I have met along the way. There are so many diverse voices in the beauty space and I am constantly discovering new, amazing humans that inspire me. It’s also so gratifying when I can play a part in someone getting a bit more joy from their skincare ritual or feeling more comfortable and confident in their skin. Oh, and getting creative when formulating! Chemistry is fun, kids. Ok, that’s three favourite things but who’s counting?
"I think a gentle and effective cleanse can be a real game-changer."
Not me! Right, so I know it’s going to be hard to pick, but which is your favourite product you’ve created?
This is a toughie. It’s hard not to pick Clout Melt! It’s just SO good, and I think a gentle and effective cleanse can be a real game-changer.
Definitely! It can make or break a skincare routine, I think. What do you think makes Cipher Skincare stand out as a brand?
Our focus on science, transparency, inclusivity, and the occasional skincare meme.
Oh, I’m obsessed with memes! Could you describe your biggest “pinch-me” moment?
I probably have one… weekly? It has been such a roller coaster so far! Of course, there have been many setbacks and plenty of stress too, but getting positive feedback from people I respect so highly is indescribably great.
And thoroughly deserved! What inspires you the most?
Science, and people who use their voice intelligently to spread knowledge and fight for equality.
PREACH! Could you describe what an average day looks like for you?
It usually involves a mix of emails, research, product testing, admin, social media, photography, website upkeep, packing orders and driving to the post office. I promise it is more exciting than it sounds...
I believe you! And do you think you have a work/life balance?
I do. I absolutely love what I do, and since we have such small stock levels at this point my schedule can be relatively flexible.
That’s brilliant. We tend to get more of a ‘no’ on that question. What words do you live by?
Think before you speak.
People definitely need to be reminded of that. Filters can be useful, particularly in business. What’s next for Cipher Skincare?
We want to increase our reach. We would love to get our products into more hands and onto more faces! We are also always working on a product or two in the background so stay tuned.