Lynn’s Apothecary is a Beirut-based curated beauty space founded by a clean beauty believer and cosmetic student, Lynn Khoury Soubra. Lynn’s aim is to introduce and educate clients about the power of a new generation of green products developed without any toxins nor synthetic ingredients.
With limited regulation, it is a niche subject that is difficult to transition into, here we asked the Lebanese beauty addict to set the record straight about the natural beauty game and shares her opinion on how to make the switch to clean beauty!
Firstly, tell us how did you get into green beauty /skincare and why?
I’ve always been a beauty junkie. A couple of years ago I was at a juncture in my life where I thought it’s time for me to start anew and do something I am passionate about. My family in law has been in the beauty industry for more than 15 years and I’ve been constantly attracted to the business.A couple years ago, I travelled to Miami and grabbed a Tata Harper kit randomly at a beauty shop. I didn’t know the brand nor was into any special clean beauty trend but I was intrigued. When I tried the products I was instantly hooked. It transformed my skin and every time I used them it felt like such a beautiful experience for the mind as well, like nothing I have tried before. I wanted to know more about the brand and this is when I discovered the wonderful world of clean beauty and the other brands.
A new generation of beauty makers that were disrupting the industry and creating high performance natural products that broke away from the traditional/artisanal way associated with natural. Through my research, studies and while deepening my knowledge in clean beauty I also discovered the appalling truth of the ingredients found in the common personal care products we trust the most and we use on daily basis. I couldn’t go back to non-clean products knowing now the health hazards they can cause. None of the brands was available in Lebanon so I identified a gap in our local market and an opportunity for me to do something I believe in and I am passionate about. Which is beyond just selling clean beauty products but also passing on this newfound knowledge and helping others in our community to be more informed when they decide to use a product on their largest organ: their SKIN.
How has this transition from working for the UN to opening your own beauty business affected how you approach sustainability in other areas of your life?
My previous job at the United Nations was very different of course. It was easier in terms of job security and ensuring a work/life balance but after 10 years and given my personality it was not longer motivating. Owning my business has been fulfilling in many ways, I wish the days were longer as much as I enjoy being around the store, with clients, discovering new brands and growing Lynn’s Apothecary into my dream company. It’s a lot of pressure and it’s very demanding in terms of time away from my family and my two little daughters, which is the hardest part.
What are your most recent favourite skin care or beauty products?
The Tata Harper range is always a staple in my cabinet and the products I always go back to, my foundation. However, I always like to try and discover new brands and new products. Especially that it is easier for me to understand a product and advise my clients when I have tried it personally. The latest discoveries I have made and which have had incredible results on my skin are Vanderohe N.1 Face Serum and Opuntia Revival Oils. They are two niche brands not as well known as the others we carry but they are really special, I am kind of in love with these 2! I am also experimenting now with Josh Rosebrook, which produces one of the purest lines on the market.
Walk us through your ideal daily skincare regimen.
At night: Double Cleansing with an Oil Cleanser to remove the make up and all the surface impurities, followed with a gel or cream cleanser to really clean the skin and the pores. After cleansing I never miss the toner, which is essential and is an instant upgrade to the routine. I am currently using Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelarator. Then on each part of my face I apply different products, yes because very often our face has different issues going on in different spots. In that case, I apply Tata Harper Elixir Vitae to smooth and relax fine lines followed by a rich moisturising cream, using Tata Harper Crème Riche; around the eyes I use Pai Echium and Argan gentle eye cream, but I always make sure to use at least twice a week Tata Harper contouring eye mask which lifts the eye area, hydrates and procure a relaxed look in the morning.
Every now and then I do a Vanderohe Nourishing serum cure where I would just cleanse, tone and apply. It’s great in rebalancing the skin, supporting rejuvenation, correcting and toning. In the morning I cleanse once, tone, use the wrinkle serum on my forehead, the clarifying agent on my chin and then on top of everything the Opuntia Day revival oil, it’s amazing in toning, energizing the look and gives a special glow.
At least twice a week I do a mask depending on my skin needs: Deep cleansing, Exfoliating, Hydrating, Glow…
As a female entrepreneur, what has been your biggest challenge? Especially with being based out of Lebanon?
My business challenges in Lebanon are not related to being a female, on the contrary I think that female entrepreneurs in Lebanon are a strong breed and are becoming a norm setting inspiring examples of success and high standard at the local, regional and international level. However doing business in Lebanon and being an entrepreneur is challenging because there is not a proper structure to support the start up stage in terms of credit facilities, basic infrastructure, government regulations etc.
Moreover, in the cosmetic industry the cost of importing beauty brands is very high with additional customs duties imposed and tedious clearing procedures. In my specific category, I import products that are fresh and without strong preservatives so I have a high turnover and I need speed in terms of getting the merchandise on time to my clients and to be time aligned with the international launches of new brands and products. Exporting and growing your e-commerce is also an unbelievable affair in terms of customs rules etc.
Do you ever think about starting your own skincare line?
I am always open to new ventures so nothing is off the table. However, I have to be strategic and realistic in all my undertakings and starting your own skincare line in our region and grow it into a successful international brand requires many givens that are currently not available.
What’s your take on the beauty and skincare industry in Lebanon?
Unfortunately, the local market in terms of cosmetic innovation, production facilities, access and sourcing of raw material, oversight on organic farming and government support for the industry is still very much underdeveloped. I think there could be a huge potential with the proper support and I think it will of course be led by the private sector. Similar to the boom of the Lebanese Fashion industry, the local beauty industry could also thrive to set new standards of excellency. At Lynn’s Apothecary we are proactively looking to support new local brands that follow the strict ingredients policy we have set. In fact, we will be launching one or two local brands this year.
What kind of advice would you give someone who’s new or trying to transition to green beauty and skincare?
First I would of course encourage everyone to make the switch to clean beauty! If you are convinced then great go for it you are in for a beautiful experience. When switching your skincare start with a good cleansing routine first before investing in moisturizers and serums because it’s the base of everything else and will instantly make a difference. Clean beauty products are adapted to different skin types and concerns, you just need to find the right one for you and we are here to advise. Not everything labeled natural is actually really clean, you have to be aware of certain ingredients that are added to products and that could be toxic. Also the quality, sourcing and method of extraction of natural ingredients found in products are key to procure true benefits. Don’t be afraid of oils as they are wonderful to help in regenerating the skin, even if you are on the oily side some oils are very beneficial in regulating the skin sebum and oil production and protecting from bacteria that can cause breakouts. It’s important to stay informed.
If you are still skeptical and afraid of letting go of the products you are used to then start with body products. The body products are easy to switch and with just a shower gel and body cream you have already switched your largest skin area to clean beauty! Ladies please move asap to aluminum free deodorants. For the skeptical ones when moving to your face skincare start with a good cleanser, then a mask to incorporate in your existing routine and then slowly as one of your existing products end try a clean beauty alternative.
Are there any big plans in the works for Lynn’s Apothecary?
We are constantly growing. This year we have moved to a larger flagship store in which we will be soon launching a natural treatment room, and organizing masterclasses. We are also expanding through our Lynn’s Apothecary Clean Beauty Mini Corners that we are launching with like-minded partners. These satellite corners include a selection of our products adapted to the space and clientele of our partners. We also have expansion plans outside of Lebanon. We have started with our online store where you can shop all of our selection and we deliver worldwide including the UAE and all across the Gulf.
Your life motto…
Work Hard, Play Hard. Family and work first.