It seems bizarre that, despite the force with which yoga culture has taken over the world, the beauty industry has been slow to target this niche market. It’s been years since it was deemed acceptable (to some, at least) to sport your workout gear in public even when you’re not on your way to the gym, so fashion brands with little relationship to the fitness world quickly capitalised on the athleisure trend. Heavily marketed health fads like juice cleanses, colonics or low-carb diets have come, gone, and come round again. And yet the Big Beauty Brands are still all about secret scientific finds and glamorous faces.
It was a gap that beauty-industry veterans Emmanual Rey and Suzanne Dawson observed when the duo, a married couple since 2005, decided to take a year-long sabbatical from their careers to travel the world and earn their yoga-teacher certifications.
“We took advantage of our trip around the world to become Ashtanga yoga teachers, which we did in Greece,” explains Rey. “When we did our training, we talked a lot to the students about what they were using in terms of personal care and beauty products, and we quickly realised there was not one brand created for that type of lifestyle, an active lifestyle. That was the moment that athleisure, like Lululemon, was completely exploding, and we knew that fashion is a bit ahead of beauty when it comes to trends.”
The couple then decided to settle in sunny California, a pleasant change from their original home in chilly Minneapolis, where they both worked for L’Oreal Group. “We started to look at the market. We started to work with a range of beauty and fitness influencers, and came up with a range of products that we believed solved their needs,” says Dawson. “The first thing they said was saving time was a really big deal. Most people work out mornings, or lunch time, and you always want to clean up on the go. Even if there is a shower you may not want to use it, or there’s two showers for 15 people.”
And so, under the name Yuni Beauty, the couple created on-the-go products such as the Flash Bath No-rinse Body Cleanser, a cleansing foam that can be smoothed over the body to dissolve dirt an leave the body feeling fresh, or Shower Sheets, giant disposable towelettes that refresh and moisturize skin using an antibacterial, alcohol-free formula and stretchy biodegradeable wipes.
Besides saving time, performance enhancement and stress relief were also flagged as goals of the yogi set. “A lot of them love the way they feel after working out, so they said, we want to recover faster, or breathe better, so enhancing performance was a big deal. And a lot of people work out to relieve stress in their lives, so it was about helping them anchor some of those moments and be able to take that away anytime during the day,” says Dawson.
Chillax, Yuni’s muscle-recovery gel, uses green-tea extract and arnica to ease post-workout aches and pains, and it’s like your typical deep-heat treatment, on crack. (“It lasts about 45 minutes, so it works really well,” says Dawson.) Hot Head is a fun one – billed as a microveil hair treatment, it’s sprayed onto hair follicles ahead of a workout, and then uses the heat generated by your body’s activity to penetrate strands and infuse them with argan and kukui oils. Bonus: embedded essential oils also release stress and the treatment can be left in all day or washed off after your workout.
For more targeted stress-relievers, there’s the Pocket Savasana, which is a roll-on that helps to ground, relax and improve focus, and Wind Down Wonder, a warming body oil that eases muscle tension, best used after a shower and before bed. “From an aromatherapy point of view, the oils also help you to sleep better,” Rey adds.
And while most of the products are body-related, the couple is already working on skincare formulas as well as cosmetics – all of which subscribe to the same, nature-loving philosophy. “We wanted to make a brand that was natural and very sustainable,” explains Rey. “We use two factories in Texas and California that are solar-powered; there’s a low carbon footprint. We took special care in using outer packaging that is all FSC certified. We’re cruelty free, no animal testing, of course. There’s a long list of ingredients that we don’t use. It’s not only [because of] our own background, but we felt it would resonate well with our audience.”
And though the couple loves yoga, the brand seems to have reached further beyond their niche market. “Very quickly we saw that other people were using the products. All the products that help you save time are used by people who are travelling, camping, before going out, between work and heading out,” says Rey. “When you think about saving time, enhancing performance and relieving stress in a place like Hong Kong – you guys need that really big time.”
Yuni Beauty is available in Hong Kong at Joyce Beauty.