Community | 9 Jul, 2021

An Interview with Sarah Battersby, Founder of State of Kind

by Christina Almeida

3 months after launching skincare brand State of Kind, CEO Sarah Battersby joins Pildora to chat about her revolutionary clean beauty philosophy, upcoming plans, and the unique journey she’s experienced (so far) in launching an entire brand with only 1 product.

PILDORA: Why launch with just 1 product?

SARAH BATTERSBY: Looking at the beauty industry today, people are just really overusing skincare. Especially single-use skincare. And when I say single-use, I’m referring to an eye cream or PM moisturizer or sunscreen—basically the opposite of a multi-tasking product. So State of Kind’s main goal is to combat this effect of skincare overconsumption that is wreaking havoc on so many people’s skin.

I think there has been an increase of 50%—in people, but especially women, reporting sensitive skin to their dermatologists. And dermatologists are responding: it’s just skin that’s been sensitized, because you’re over-exfoliating, you’re using too many acids, really you’re just using too many products. And all of this really, really damages your skin barrier.

PILDORA: What made Kindly Restore the #1 product to launch the entire State of Kind brand with?

SARAH BATTERSBY: Well, I’ve been there myself, personally. Buying more products to combat the damaged skin barrier, it just continues on and on. When I decided on Kindly Restore, the name, the product, I was thinking from experience. Kindly Restore, it’s really an ode to what the product is meant to do: restore the skin barrier in a simplified way, in just one step. 

PILDORA: Any new products on the horizon? Or are you still focused on Kindly Restore?

SARAH BATTERSBY: We have other skin care essentials slated to launch, one of them later this year, we’re really excited about that one! But our priority right now is to address this issue of overconsumption beating up our skin barrier. We’re focusing on getting people used to the idea of using less skincare. Ultimately, our philosophy is always being mindful about using products that are multi-tasking, of course, but also gentler for the skin and the planet. 

PILDORA: How does Kindly Restore fit into your vision of simplified skincare essentials?

SARAH BATTERSBY: Kindly Restore is a potent anti-aging hydrator, definitely. In terms of [my vision of skincare] essentials… you need something, of course, to put on your face in the morning with an SPF in it. You’re going to need a nice serum, as well, in the morning or at night or both, depending on your skin.

Finally, you’ll have a cleanser along with your PM moisturizer. My thought [for Kindly Restore] was to really really focus on being that PM moisturizer. Except with benefits, so that the consumer wouldn’t need to purchase other creams, like an anti-aging cream or an eye cream or any of those other moisturizers that kind of get tacked on. I tried to put [all of those moisturizers] into one product, so that’s why we really encourage people to use [Kindly Restore] under the eyes and all over the face.

PILDORA: Can anyone use Kindly Restore?

SARAH BATTERSBY: Kindly Restore is suitable for all skin types, especially desensitized skin. It’s not one of those products where- if you have oily skin or you have dry skin, it’s good for you. It’s very universal and especially comforting for really sensitive and sensitized skin.

PILDORA: Kindly Restore, it’s pretty powerful in terms of anti-aging. Is that a big part of its identity as a skincare essential?

SARAH BATTERSBY: Yes. Anti-aging is definitely a big piece of it because of the Bakuchiol oil, which is basically a more natural, gentler alternative to traditional retinol. But Kindly Restore also has wonderful skin balancing ingredients like Rosehip seed oil and blue tansy, both of these are incredible for repairing your skin barrier at night time. There’s also the broad spectrum CBD and that’s also skin balancing. CBD helps to soothe and reduce inflammation. 

PILDORA: And you’d recommend using it on its own?

SARAH BATTERSBY: A lot of people, a lot of customers, a lot of influencers, tend to just use [Kindly Restore] on its own. So if you don’t want to do a serum or if your skin doesn’t really need a serum or an oil afterwards or anything like that . . . people are loving the fact that Kindly Restore really stands on its own as a multi-tasking skincare essential and a combination of all of these products, if that’s what you want out of [Kindly Restore]. 

PILDORA: How long would 1 bottle of Kindly Restore last me?

SARAH BATTERSBY: So some people I know even like to use [Kindly Restore] in the morning, even though it’s really focused for nighttime treatment when your skin is repairing itself. And they will go through the product faster, but of course you can use it in the morning, there’s nothing wrong with that. But typically we see reorders after about 3 months.

PILDORA: Since this is anti-aging, when would you recommend starting to use Kindly Restore?

SARAH BATTERSBY: I don’t even like the word anti-aging, but I know we don’t really have a great alternative. I tend to say, premature signs of aging. So if someone’s near, like my age, 31, and they’re seeing some defined lines and hyperpigmentation and things that tend to happen due to a damaged skin barrier, too much UV exposure . . . [Kindly Restore] can really help reverse some of this damage, some of these . . . premature signs of aging.

But of course, at any age, we want to try to look our best . . . and in terms of when to start using [Kindly Restore], [starting at the age of] 20 is absolutely appropriate because at this age, the ingredients found in Kindly Restore are highly preventative.

Of course, we can’t be in a bubble, whether it’s stress or pollution, these things are going to happen naturally. My thought process behind Kindly Restore is to give you the strongest, most healthy skin possible. Because there’s just so much our skin does innately that we just don’t give [our skin] enough credit for! So I think if we just really nurture our skin and give it what it needs, instead of overwhelming it with so many other ingredients, I think that’s all our skin needs to thrive.

PILDORA: What’s the 1 ingredient that Kindly Restore couldn’t live without? Why?

SARAH BATTERSBY: Oh, my gosh. That’s such a hard question. I would say for sure, the Bakuchiol oil. I think it’s such an underrated ingredient, and there’s some really strong evidence that it works in the same pathways as retinol in the skin. And it’s just as efficacious as traditional retinol, but you’re not getting that skin irritation, the flakiness, the increase in skin sensitivity, all of that. And of course [Bakuchiol oil] can help to reduce any existing signs of premature aging, which is huge.  So that’s one ingredient that I’m really in love with.

And then if I could pick a second ingredient—because picking 1 is really hard!—I would pick blue tansy because it’s just so restorative, it helps to repair any existing damage but also maintains the skin barrier, helps it function optimally. And of course [blue tansy] also has this really lovely scent!

PILDORA: From what you’ve said so far, I can tell you care a lot about the environment and the Earth, and it’s important to you that the product works naturally with our own skin’s processes. I feel like we throw around big words like clean beauty, real beauty, natural beauty. We throw them around all the time, but I think that you have a very specific idea and philosophy for what clean beauty means, what natural beauty means. Could you tell me a little bit more about that?

SARAH BATTERSBY: It’s such a complicated thing, yeah, [because] there isn’t this authority that’s coming out and saying “these are the guidelines for clean skincare”. I mean, you have some retailers, they’re doing a great job, and there are also some brands, yes, they’re also doing a great job. But ultimately there isn’t this guidebook on clean beauty, no direction manual, no stamp of approval.

So with State of Kind, what we follow and strive to be is biocompatible. I like that word better than clean, to be honest. I try not to use it too much because [the word] clean is more recognizable, and calling a product biocompatible confuses people.

But to me, biocompatibility is all about [using] ingredients that your skin can actually recognize and benefit from. When you follow that philosophy [of biocompatibility in skincare], I think that it makes things a lot easier when it comes to answering questions like, what does clean beauty mean to us? What are the standards we are going to follow.

PILDORA: How did you actualize this definition of clean beauty and biocompatibility? 

SARAH BATTERSBY: I was really fortunate to find Krupa, our product consultant, who’s been in the clean beauty space since, you know, before it was cool, decades ago, and has deep roots in it. She has deep roots in Ayurveda, as well. Clean beauty, this is her specialty. So she enlightened me a lot as well in terms of like, what does this mean and what ingredients do we want to make sure we absolutely don’t use? [For example] some easy no-no ingredients that stand out to me would be endocrine disruptors.

Years and years ago, I had no idea that there were endocrine disruptors in skincare. And that’s something I had to learn. And Krupa really helped educate me on those types of things. I think as consumers, we are all a bit naive, we just think everything that’s on the market is obviously safe . . . but it’s really not true [that everything on the market is safe]. And you have to be your own advocate, which is sad, but you do, you have to look into these things. Yeah, in a nutshell, thanks to Krupa’s guidance and my philosophy, we follow the highest, highest standards [at State of Kind]. We qualify for EU certification, well above what’s required.

PILDORA: What has surprised you the most since launching State of Kind?

SARAH BATTERSBY: How quickly our community that we’re growing has gotten on board with this notion of simplifying their routine. I mean, it’s definitely a bit of an uphill battle with larger, broader society. It’s a different approach to skincare, and it’s a bit different for a skincare brand to come out and say we’re only going to release a few essentials, we want you to use less skincare. But it’s been just so amazing to see how excited people are to get on board, join our affiliate program. It’s amazing how many people just want to talk about [Kindly Restore] and post about [Kindly Restore].

PILDORA: So just to start wrapping up because I am trying to be conscious with time, I did really want to quickly touch on your list of 2,800 banned ingredients. How did you come up with this list?

SARAH BATTERSBY: When we came up with that list, I really leaned on my formulator Krupa, and [the list] was based on her experience with formulating skincare products over the past few decades. And what we did, to be honest, is we looked at leaders in the industry, so Credo would be one of them. 

It’s hard, especially with natural skincare, because a lot of natural skincare ingredients still have silicones in it . . . so that’s one thing that clean retailers have been really impressed by, that we don’t even have silicone in our product . . . in the two years that I’ve been working with Krupa, I just literally leaned on her expertise because for me, I knew I wasn’t going to be an expert overnight. I really wanted to find a true expert I could count on to be that voice within the company and say: no, we’re going to go above and beyond and not include any of these ingredients. So Krupa, she’s really been a huge part of that.

But, I mean—it’s still not easy, far from it! It takes a long time to formulate products like that, and you have to do compatibility testing at multiple stages, obviously, compatibility to make sure everything is working okay, because it’s a lot easier to formulate with some of these ingredients or the common ingredients that aren’t so clean or biocompatible with our skin. And these banned ingredients, of course, they also prolong shelf life of the product, so that’s another challenge we always have to be considerate of. 

PILDORA: I’m curious as to how, if you think it’s even possible, for the beauty industry to comply with this list.

SARAH BATTERSBY: I think it starts with the consumer and education, once the consumer asks for it, the beauty industry will start to take some serious steps towards banning these ingredients for good.