It was a love of New Zealandâs pristine coastlines that ultimately became the catalyst for Jo Gilberd and Karen Yangâs skincare brand, Syrene. âJo and I both emigrated to New Zealand 20 years ago and fell in love with the beautiful, clean New Zealand beaches,â explains Yang. Combined with their love of the NZ coastline was a realisation that something was missing from our skincare offering. This led the pair, who both have extensive experience in the health and beauty industries, to harness marine-based ingredients for a new luxury skincare company, Syrene.
âEveryoneâs skin is different and I found that the brands in the market were too rich and heavy for my skin, so we talked about the possibility of creating a skincare range that was light on the skin but still nourishing and hydrating to suit all skin types,â says Yang. From the brandâs inception, the pair worked tirelessly to ensure that Syrene would stand out in a cluttered skincare market. âFrom the very beginning, weâve made sure to keep Syrene unique from other brands â from the look, feel, formulations and our story,â explains Gilberd.
Drawing inspiration from Anne Morrow Lindberghâs book, Gift From The Sea, Gilberd and Yang forged the brand to become much more than just a traditional skincare line. âWe feel that we all need to lead calmer and more contemplative lives and so developed our range with that in mind,â says Gilberd. âSyrene embraces the tales within this memoir and forms an essence for women to live by through each product, by reminding women to find moments to relax, be mindful and look after their skin.â Gilberd and Yang were also mindful of the fact that todayâs beauty consumer is more educated than ever before.
âThey are more aware of what they are putting into their bodies and very much aware of what they are putting onto their skin, so from the beginning we knew we wanted to use natural ingredients,â says Gilberd. Although many ingredients are sourced locally, Yang and Gilberd believe that combining the best New Zealand ingredients with internationally sourced active ingredients is one of the things that sets Syrene apart from other skincare brands. âWe have a highly effective skincare range that combines science and nature, and we use incredible local ingredients, which all add to the efficacy,â says Yang.
For the collectionâs hero ingredients, Yang and Gilberd turned to the ocean. âFinding effective marine ingredients was a must as we knew the great benefits these have for your skin,â says Gilberd. At the heart of the range is a game-changing seaweed-derived ingredient, Ephemer. âItâs a seaweed extract that enhances the protection of the skin by helping strengthen its antioxidant capacity, slowing the formation of free radicals that are responsible for ageing,â Gilberd explains.
The hydration-enhancing properties of marine collagen are also harnessed throughout the range to help promote a glowing, well-hydrated, vibrant complexion. âOutside the ocean, youâll also find homegrown extracts such as pĆhutukawa, which contains ellagic acid that helps the skin to remain soft, even, moisturised and toned. Thereâs also black fern, which is a natural skin tightener, and mÄnuka honey to help keep the skin moisturised and clear,â says Gilberd.
The pairâs love of the ocean doesnât stop at the ingredients and ethos of Syrene. More recently, Gilberd and Yang overhauled their packaging, becoming one of New Zealandâs early champions of Ocean Waste Plastic within the skincare industry. âThese are plastics that have been collected from the oceans and recycled into new packaging,â explains Gilberd.
After launching just four years ago, the pair were thrilled to be named as the first New Zealand skincare brand to be stocked in beauty behemoth, Mecca. âIt means a lot to our whole team,â says Yang. âWeâve all worked really hard to grow this brand and for a company like Mecca to stock Syrene as the first New Zealand brand. Itâs a huge honour.â Although Yang and Gilberd believe the partnership will increase Syreneâs brand awareness, thereâs plenty more innovation to come from the New Zealand-born brand. Theyâve also recently launched into the UK and European markets. âWe are also moving forward and working on other international markets, which we will be able to announce soon,â says Yang. As for product development, Gilberd says thereâs always something in the pipeline and itâs a process the entire team gets involved with. âWeâre currently working on bringing a serum into our Aqua range, which the team have been trialling and perfecting for more than a year. We also have another collection weâll be launching soon with a new, very special marine ingredient in the mix.â