My lightbulb moment: Skincare founder Sarah Hancock, reveals the inspiration behind her cosmetics brand
- Sarah Hancock, 38, who lives in London, founded Skin & Tonic in 2015
- Inspiration came from trying to find organic, sustainable products for her skin
- Celebrity fans include nutritionist Ella Mills and model Jodie Kidd
In 2015 Sarah Hancock, 38, founded Skin & Tonic, an ethical skincare brand. She lives in London with partner Josh and their daughter, Thea, four.
For me, 2010 was a very difficult year. My dad died suddenly. I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis, a womb condition which often results in pain, cysts and fertility issues, and had to have five surgeries.
The struggle with grief, living with chronic pain, and coming to terms with the fact I might not be able to have children left me drained. This led to dermatitis and my skin became dry, itchy and red.
Sarah Hancock, 38, (pictured) who lives in London, revealed the inspiration behind her brand Skin & Tonic
As a beauty junkie, you’d normally find me trying new brands at Selfridges. But I decided to switch to organic, sustainable skincare to see if this would help. In wholefood shops I found basic products that didn’t deliver the results I was used to. The brand I needed didn’t exist.
So, I quit my job in TV — I worked in global branding for the BBC and the Discovery Channel — and did a Neal’s Yard Remedies aromatherapy and skincare formulation diploma. I then worked as a clinical aromatherapist for a few years.
I started to create products in my kitchen, then in 2015 I got a £5,000 loan with my partner Josh and we took on a workshop in Hackney.
The first product we made was our Calm Balm, which is now our bestseller. I’d massage it into my pulse points and breathe it in before stressful meetings. Josh quit his job to join me and we named the brand Skin & Tonic. I gave up drinking when I got poorly, but gin and tonic was my favourite drink.
Chill: Face oil, £18; serum, £28; and Calm Balm, £13, skinandtoniclondon.com
People loved how our affordable products made them feel. We got coverage in Vogue and retailers such as Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Whole Foods asked to stock us. We hired cosmetic scientists and later outsourced production to a manufacturer in Yorkshire. Then, in 2017, I gave birth to Thea — our surprise baby.
Everything is certified by COSMOS (Cosmetic Organic and Natural Standard). We’re sold in more than 20 markets globally and have been growing by 100 per cent every year since launch. Celebrity fans include nutritionist Ella Mills, model Jodie Kidd and Poldark actress Eleanor Tomlinson.
We were managing a rebrand in 2020 which wasn’t made any easier by the pandemic. The silver lining was seeing new customers searching online for wellbeing products. We ended up selling 70,000 units of Calm Balm and were able to donate 5,000 to NHS workers.
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