Why Two Former La Prairie Execs Started a New Natural Skin-Care Line

We’re clearing some shelf space.

By: Katie Becker
Photography: Alec Kugler

It used to be that a skin-care brand merely leaning toward clean, green, and natural could get attention and customers, but that distinction no longer stands as its own. Natural products have to perform with the same sophistication as the stuff you get at the derm’s in order to keep loyal customers. But, to be honest, as a beauty editor, I see a lot of just *ok* natural skin-care lines, usually dreamed up in the kitchen of a well-intentioned wellness fan with almost zero skin expertise but a great knack for designing an Instagram-y bottle. There’s a lot of pretty, essential-oil-infused “meh” out there.

This is why my ears perked up when I heard about a new natural skin-care brand, complete with Europe’s strict Ecocert organic certification, called Well Within that was launched by two former execs from La Prairie. The duo, Lynne Florio and Renee Tavoularis, worked together for more than 20 years and branched off to start their own thing.

“There is no work-life balance these days,” says Tavoularis, who developed hundreds of products while at La Prairie. “I don’t think there’s any such thing anymore unless you try to make it your own. When we went on our own, the business had to fulfill a passion and a purpose and to speak to where we were in our lives at this current moment. That very much included self-care and wellness—something we had put on the back burner in our lives.”

After leaving the epic Swiss skin-care house (and, for what it’s worth, this beauty editor thinks La Prairie is one of the most effective brands out there), they launched Well Within with an edited lineup of seven products, including an exfoliant that uses plant extracts from pineapple and raspberry to dissolve dead skin cells, and a universal moisturizer packed with antioxidants from avocado, passion flower, and acai berry to help skin act and look younger. I’ve taken home the de-puffing and brightening eye cream, which they said was one of the trickiest to formulate.

 

I mention to Tavoularis that many natural brands claim that skin-care ingredients can be absorbed into skin, but they all seem to throw around random numbers and rarely say where they got the stat (a pet peeve of mine).“Over the years we’ve read multiple research publications that have shown skin absorbs between 60 to 90 percent of what you put on it into the bloodstream, potentially circulating through your cells,” confirms Tavoularis. “When you look at organic plant matter, which is really made up of the same vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, and enzymes as the human body, our skin recognizes them. One hundred percent of our ingredients are from natural origins.”

That said, natural is not a free pass, says Tavoularis. The duo applied the same rigorous criteria applied at La Prairie: patch testing, efficacy testing, and in-use testing. Plus, natural ingredients also need a really good preservative system. “We wouldn’t accept alcohol, which is a natural preservative, but has some irritancy potential,” says Florio. “So we found other natural preservatives and chose opaque, airless pumps to keep the product protected from air, light, and contaminants. Our packaging has a shelf life of thirty months, which, for a natural skin-care line, is pretty incredible.”

And does it work? Just like with products at La Prairie, every ingredient they incorporated was pre-tested to show it actually does what it says it does, whether that’s increasing collagen production, improving circulation, restoring discoloration, or diminishing the signs of aging.

“We were definitely a chemist’s nightmare,” Florio adds. But, truthfully, that’s exactly our dream.

 

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