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Annie Tevelin of SkinOwl

The former makeup artist and cystic acne sufferer on how the world’s number one fruit antioxidant cleared her skin, and how she finally broke up with hyperpigmentation.

If acneic skin has been your number one skin concern for as long as you can remember, you’re not alone. Annie Tevelin, founder of SkinOwl (named after a Facebook group that she was a member of), struggled with acne and eczema for years on end before she formulated her own solution — a geranium-based facial oil — which became the brand’s first product.

Annie’s road to success has had its challenges. Unlike beauty brands that manufacture products from synthetic ingredients mixed in a lab, Annie always considers the health and sustainability of the environment, and the fruits and plants that she sources her ingredients from. So much so that it almost put her out of business just a year after the launch. The ingredient? Mangosteen. The product? A serum that effectively targeted cystic acne.

Rather than leaving her customers high and dry and compromising on quality standards, Annie went in search of an equally potent — and more sustainable — alternative. And she found one: maqui berry, which she calls “the number one fruit antioxidant in the world” — now bottled and sold as the Maqui Berry Beauty Drops PM. Together with SkinOwl’s other offerings, the collection is tailor-made for acne sufferers of dry, oily or sensitive skin types.

Personally, we love Annie’s work ethic and philosophy. We too are familiar with ill-timed breakouts, stubborn zits and dark spots that never seem to lighten up. But we’re sold on SkinOwl’s natural, consciously crafted creations. Here’s to clearer, brighter skin we can be proud of!


“Argan and baobab oils work wonders on dark marks and acne scars.”

Tell us about your journey with acne, and what you used that finally made a difference.

It was a very long road for me. I worked as a makeup artist when I had acne, so I had access to a wide range of products. Sadly, none of them worked for me. I decided to take matters into my own hands, go back to school and learn what’s best for the skin versus what is marketed to us. It was then I started experimenting in my kitchen and created SkinOwl’s first product, the Geranium Beauty Drops. This product got rid of my acne in less than 30 days. It was then that I realised I had the power to transform my own skin with the ingredients I sourced.

With ingredients being so pivotal to each product, how do you ensure the quality and purity of those sourced for SkinOwl?

Ingredient sourcing is a huge deal to SkinOwl. We only work with farmers and distributors with a strong code of ethics and sustainability. We have close relationships with our distributors and strive to use the most efficient and pure ingredients all over the world.

How should one assess one’s skin needs, and what’s your advice on how to go about finding complementary products?

I always ask people to give me three words to describe their skin. That tells me a lot. So many times people go into stores and ask for “an acne cleanser” without highlighting some of their other skin concerns. Acne comes in various forms — you can have dry skin and be acneic, but you can also have incredibly oily skin and acne. Both clients’ needs will be different. I also think it’s helpful to tell the person selling you the products what hasn’t worked for you in the past. That will help them gear you towards the right products that complement your skin type.

What are your recommendations on minimising or lightening hyperpigmentation?

With respect to hyperpigmentation, I think pure plant oils have changed my skin. I have never seen a product work faster. Argan and baobab oils specifically work wonders on dark marks and acne scars. Baobab oil contains all three omega fatty acids: omega 3, 6 and 9. It is also rich in exotic fatty acids that are rare in other oils, such as palmitic, oleic and linoleic acid. The high amount of vitamin A also acts as a brightener.

Please share with us about the now discontinued Mangosteen Beauty Drops PM and the sustainability issues you faced.

At the end of the day, I am in the business of doing right by the earth. I don’t want to create any hardship within a community, or with regards to a scarce ingredient. Mangosteen wasn’t able to grow with SkinOwl. It had an expiration date and I wanted to respect that. It wound up being a blessing in disguise because it motivated me to go out into the world and look for something better and sustainable. As a result, I found the number one fruit antioxidant in the world: maqui berry. The response to this oil has been incredible! Dare I say, people love it more?!

“Mangosteen wasn’t able to grow with SkinOwl.
It had an expiration date and I wanted to respect that.”

Skinowl beauty drops pm

The Maqui Berry Beauty Drops PM is SkinOwl’s hero product

How did this journey lead to your discovery of the maqui berry, and what are the skin benefits of this ingredient?

After battling cystic acne, I knew I didn’t want to discontinue the Mangosteen Beauty Drops PM without attempting to find a replacement. This product was responsible for healing acne and I couldn’t imagine taking that away from people. That in itself was the best motivator. Because of its high ORAC value, the Maqui Berry Beauty Drops PM essentially does what the Mangosteen Beauty Drops did, but better and faster.

People can expect immediate results in the form of smoother, more even skin, less redness, pore minimisation, decongestion and a brighter, less acneic complexion. It is, without question, SkinOwl’s hero product.

Tell us about the Maqui Berry Beauty Whip and the Maqui Berry Beauty Drops PM, and how you use them.

The Maqui Berry Beauty Whip and the Maqui Berry Beauty Drops PM are for all skin types, and I really mean that. Everyone should have these two products and use them on a daily basis. I can’t explain what results people are seeing after a few days. The Beauty Whip can be used as a traditional mask, a sleep mask, a makeup primer and a moisture booster.

I love mixing two pumps of the Beauty Whip with five drops of the Berry Beauty Drops PM — our night-time oil-based moisturiser — before bed. I wake up to glowing, more even skin, and it only gets better over time.

Skinowl Beauty Whip

The Maqui Berry Beauty Whip is described as a “gentle, creamy, skin-drenching mask”

Lavender and clary sage also feature prominently in your line. What do you love about them?   

Lavender is a healer and clary sage acts as an anti-fatigue ingredient. The Lavender Beauty Drops are the best for oily, sensitive skin types; and especially for someone who has inflamed skin, or acne that is loud, red and persistent.

The Clary Sage Beauty Drops are the best for mature, dry skin types that have lost radiance and elasticity. Fatigued skin benefits from both products as well.

I would use both of these oils in place of a daytime serum or moisturiser. After people use them once, they are hooked. They are so simple, but so effective.

How important is a self-care routine to you, and how significant has its benefits been to improving the quality of your life?

Without practicing self-care, I’m not sure where I would be or who I would be. With how fast everything in life moves these days, it is imperative that I take time to be by myself. It’s not a choice, it’s something I have to do. I’m very affected by my work load and my ambition. I want to take on a lot and I love my drive, but it requires me to replenish more often than I think I need to. Since I started dialling down, my life feels better. I feel more balanced, more energetic and more present.

Finally, what does conscious living mean to you?

To me, conscious living is doing what you want to do and not being roped into the things you don’t want to do. Of course, there will always be things you have to do, like waking up super early to catch a flight. That’s part of life. I’m talking more about the things that challenge your core values.

Do what feels good. What brings out the best in you. What enhances your life in a positive way. If you don’t know what those things are, listen to yourself when asked to make a decision or commit to something social. Wait for the first gut response. That’s your answer.

“Listen to yourself when asked to make a decision or commit to something social. Wait for the first gut response. That’s your answer.”

Images courtesy of SkinOwl; @Knotably