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Svetlana Sanchez of Gressa Skin

The conscious beauty founder on creating the perfect foundation, her favourite skincare ingredient and the best answer to understanding our sensitivities to organic makeup.

If you haven’t heard of Gressa Skin before, it’s time you do. Having created the first and only oil-based serum foundation in the market — with it going on to sell out on its launch day — founder Svetlana Sanchez has united the worlds of skincare and makeup in a truly beautiful way.

With quality, purity and performance as the three pillars of Gressa Skin, the Seattle-based beauty brand offers a comprehensive skincare line that supports radiant, healthy skin and makes for flawless makeup application. After all, the cleaner and smoother the canvas, the easier it is to paint and highlight colours.

Then there’s Gressa’s makeup range, featuring singular products like the aforementioned serum foundation; a balm-lipstick-gloss, and a contouring serum bronzer that delivers a healthy flush while caring deeply for the skin. Pushing the boundaries of colour cosmetics that double up as wholesome, beneficial skincare items, reaching for Gressa’s violet glass bottles promise to uplift your daily beauty ritual. Free of silicones, preservatives and “anything that is harmful [to] your health,” the collection’s formulations are also crafted with at least 85 per cent organic content.

It doesn’t go unnoticed that Svetlana too is a walking advertisement for her brand, with her exquisite, lit-from-within skin and makeup looks that showcase high-performance colour and flawless application.


Gressa Skin cemented its position in the conscious beauty market with the ground-breaking MINIMALIST Corrective Serum Foundation. Tell us about its formulation process, the testing stages and how you knew you’d created the perfect blend.

Minimalist took me three years from concept to launch. The whole process started in 2009 and around that time, there was no such thing as high performance clean cosmetics. There have been plenty of foundations out there but consumers desired something more aesthetically pleasing. As a consumer, I desired the same.

I had two different formulas I was choosing between: a solid, wax-based anhydrous foundation, and the second one was the serum; a runny, surprisingly full coverage foundation which thousands of women know today as the Minimalist. The wax-based formulation already existed and after beta testing the serum formulation, it was a no brainer that I had created something special that I wanted to share with the world.

What is the best way to use this serum foundation, and which skin types is it best suited for?

It is great for every skin type. The name says it all: Minimalist. I don’t believe it’s necessary to have a hundred SKUs when things are done right in terms of formulating. The skin must be prepped well: freshly exfoliated, moisturised with a water-based toner, and followed by an oil-based serum before a drop of Minimalist is applied. The ‘less is more’ approach is our philosophy, so to start with less is key and build-up when coverage is necessary.

“We believe that self-clarity and sovereignty is the true definition of luxury. What you choose to put on your skin and how you choose to wear it is part of that definition.”

What are the key differences between formulating organic makeup and skincare products?

Formulating colour cosmetics is much more challenging since micro-batches have to be precise and each batch must be colour matched to its original shade and undertones. At Gressa’s labs, we formulate in micro-batches, with real-life colour matching and a hands-on approach for both colour and skincare.

Gressa Skin ingredients

Free of silicones, preservatives and “anything that is harmful [to] your health,” the collection’s formulations are also crafted with at least 85 per cent organic content

How do you source your ingredients and how do you ensure their quality?

All of our ingredients have gone through purity testing, are certified organic and are sustainably harvested or grown. We are Leaping Bunny certified, so every facility we purchase from is cruelty-free. We take pride in ingredients and always will as it’s what makes our formulations so efficacious, fresh and aesthetically superb.

What is your favourite ingredient and what are its skincare benefits?

I can’t say that I personally (or as a brand formulator/owner) follow trends when it comes to ingredients. I love sticking to the originals, to the basics. I will highlight one of my favourite ingredients that is both rare and so incredibly beneficial: cold-pressed broccoli seed oil.

Broccoli seed oil is a powerhouse of antioxidants and has a unique combination of essential fatty acids. It is also a natural plant-based source of retinol, and thus leaves your skin revitalised. It is the first ingredient in our Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation.

Besides Gressa Skin, what are three of your favourite makeup brands, products and why?

I am very minimalistic and my kit stays Gressa-heavy. However, I do have some brand crushes and a couple of staples in my makeup kit. There’s Kjaer Weis’ Lip Tint in Sensuous Plum — the formula is nice and easy to wear. I love this plum colour and the packaging is exquisite. Rituel de Fille’s Celestial Sphere Eye Soot is gorgeously pigmented and creates beautiful definition with its iridescent shimmer. Lastly, I use EcoBrow’s Defining Wax in Sharon for brow definition.

“Broccoli seed oil is a powerhouse of antioxidants and has a unique combination of essential fatty acids.”

Svetlana Sanchez bw Après Avant

What about your three favourite skincare brands, products and why?

Josh Rosebrook’s Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30 is a wonderful sunscreen that goes beautifully under Minimalist. I love this brand for how clean and high-end the formulas are. Herbivore Botanicals’ Jasmine Body Oil smells like heaven and this brand is a fellow Seattle-based brand that always keeps a clean aesthetic. I’ve also loved Laurel Whole Plant Organics for years. The Eye Balm has been my favourite since the first time I laid my hands on it. I use it on my eye area, as well as lips.

How do we determine our sensitivities to organic makeup?

This is a complicated question that’s difficult to answer briefly and without taking into consideration so many factors that could cause an allergic reaction in a person. When a person has an allergic reaction, histamines get released as an immune defence in response to the trigger. In this case, it is a topical application of one product or another. I’ve always called any kind of sensitivity to food or topical application a blessing. It is the way your body communicates that something doesn’t suit you.

With that said, let’s say a product has 10 ingredients. It may only be that you’re allergic to one of those ingredients and not the rest of the formulation. It could also be that you’re not allergic to this isolated ingredient or in this particular product, but when combined with another ingredient in another product you’re using simultaneously, your body is triggered into an inflammatory response, a hive, a breakout, redness and so forth. I don’t believe in allowing your skin to ‘adjust’ or go through a certain period and continuing using something that causes you to have discomfort.

In terms of trying things out first, I would recommend sticking to the simplest products with the least amounts of ingredients and to keep your routine simple. “Organic” doesn’t mean ‘not active.’ It may very much be the opposite, since you’re getting undiluted, fully potent, naturally derived ingredients.

““Organic” doesn’t mean ‘not active.’ It may very much be the opposite, since you’re getting undiluted, fully potent, naturally derived ingredients.”

As the ‘green beauty’ movement continues to grow and evolve, how will Gressa Skin’s product developments change and adapt; and what is your ultimate dream for the brand?

My personal dream is to influence authenticity in women. Gressa is a fundamental beauty line. Its philosophy is to deconstruct conventional beliefs of ‘perfect’ beauty. Luxury is synonymous with being seamless and unattainable. We believe that self-clarity and sovereignty is the true definition of luxury. What you choose to put on your skin and how you choose to wear it is part of that definition.

We stand proudly within our own authenticity as a brand. As we expand, we plan to continue doing it with the same level of integrity we started with. Pure ingredients, proprietary formulas, exquisite aesthetics. Minimalistic and essential. All things Gressa.

Svetlana Sanchez Gressa2 Après Avant
Svetlana Sanchez Gressa Après Avant

What does conscious beauty mean to you?

Conscious beauty is doing no harm to the well-being of yourself or our planet.

Images courtesy of Gressa Skin