We are so excited to introduce you to Li Organics which is a clean skincare brand that’ll give you radiant, glowing skin (We can attest to this!). Li Organics was started by model Carolyn Li Ming Geh. She has sensitive skin, & the products they were using on her while she was modeling left her skin inflamed & irritated. We can’t wait for you to learn all about this fantastic brand & founder below. **We use Li’s products whenever we want our skin to look its absolute best, so if you’re looking for a new skincare brand to try, this is a great option. We met Li through the founder of ALIVIA. Li Organics has been featured in Who What Wear, TODAY, The Zoe Report, British Vogue, REALSIMPLE, InStyle & more. *Use code TSTBU20 for 20% off on their website
In this video, Delia walks you through each product & what she loves about it.
In this video, Alison & Delia interview Li
What led you to start your brand?
I often say that Li Organics is a culmination of all the ups and downs of my very personal journey and challenges with my own skin. I have had skin challenges (from eczema to contact dermatitis) for as long as I can remember, and in college, when I moved to Canada (from Malaysia) my skin sensitivities only got worse. I tried everything I could to fix them. Even after many dermatologist visits, prescription pills and creams, and even expensive skincare products, nothing worked for me and I would often feel pretty devastated, and wondered if I was ever going to find anything that would help.
At that time, I was doing a lot of lab research and so, with my background in experimental research (and a love for making things and problem solving), I started making my own skincare, sourcing my own raw ingredients. It took time with a lot of experimenting and trying different things and a lot of patience, I arrived at an effective solution. Then, my life took a turn and I was scouted to be on a sci tv show (Battlestar Galactica), and long story short this led to my move to NYC to model full time. I signed a contract with one of the top modeling agencies and as ironic as it all was to me, now because of work, taking care of my skin became even more important.
In the midst of this all (while still modeling), I had a pretty serious health scare that caused my skin to be even more sensitive (if you can even believe it), and during this time, all I could use was the skincare that I had been making for myself. Even very safe and hypoallergenic brands would cause my skin to be inflamed and really swollen. One time, a makeup artist used a very gentle makeup remover solution to take the makeup of my eyes, and my eyes literally swelled shut from this supposedly gentle makeup remover. After getting over this period, I knew I wanted to start something because I had an intuition that I wasn’t the only one who struggled with such extremely sensitive skin.
Tell us how the products are made.
Each product is formulated backwards. Meaning, holding in mind what I want the product to achieve in terms of results, I then list all the potential ingredients at hand, perform the scholarly research, and analyze the clinical data and efficacy for each ingredient. Once that’s determined, I then start our rigorous sourcing process. We source only from Certified Fair for Life and/or Organic farmers to ensure the quality of each plant ingredient. Then once we have our sourcing down, we start testing multiple formulas with varying percentages, testing at each stage as we go. This whole process can take as little as 6 months and as long as over a year and we only stop at our final formula when its checked every box and when we’ve made sure to test it for the achievable results that the product claims. Finally, everything is tested for safety before a first round of production.
Tell us about the ingredients you use in the products.
Leveraging the antioxidant rich ingredients that we source extremely carefully, our goal is to create synergistic formulas that work with the intelligence of the human body for noticeably healthier & radiant skin. For example, one ingredient that we use is fermented rice. We use this to make our Radiating Rice Pebble Mask. Fermented rice is a time tested, science confirmed South East Asian beauty tradition, that feeds the skin the vitamins and minerals it needs while soothing it from UV damage and hyper pigmentation.
Due to the fermentation, our rice also helps to balance our skin microbiome (and this is important as microbiome imbalance can lead to a variety of skin issues, including acne). Rice is also naturally high in gamma oryzanol, a powerful antioxidant that naturally brightens the skin as it protects skin lipids from oxidative stress. Our rice pebble mask also stimulates the sebaceous glands, strengthening our skin barrier and is therefore ideal for all skin types, especially in combination with its light-protective effect.
Finally, each ingredient present is chosen at its exact percentage and ratio, and has a complementary action on every other ingredient present. This in turn maximizes the absorption and efficacy of all ingredients working together in concert to nourish your skin to its very best.
What are some skincare philosophies in Malaysia that differ from the ones we have in America?
In Malaysia, one of the core philosophies of skincare and self care in general is using herbs and plants (instead of chemical actives and prescriptions) to treat skin issues from wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, to eczema. One example is when I was little, and had chicken pox, my grandma bathed me in a bath of papaya leaves to relieve the itching and inflammation and it helped tremendously. I have so many of these quirky sounding (perhaps?) Malaysian self care and skin care tips and tricks up my sleeve, and my friends are always intrigued.
How do you recommend using each product?
It is nearly always optimal and beneficial to massage your products into damp or wet skin. This allows for maximum absorption of both fat and water soluble nutrients and creates a hydrating seal, locking in moisture into your skin.
How does your brand give back?
Through our partnership with Project Orphans, every purchase supports two causes; the End Period Poverty program and New Mothers and Baby Kits.
On average, a young girl in a developing nation will miss around 80 days of school each year due to a lack of access to menstrual hygiene products. Through our partnership with Project Orphans, each purchase at Li Organics provides teenage girls living in Uganda menstrual products giving girls the opportunity to stay in school without shame or interruption.
In addition, the first weeks of a newborn’s life are the most critical. With the New Mothers and Baby Kits program, every Li Organics purchase also helps support a new mother provide the essential things to her new baby like a newborn care medical checkup, diapers, warm blankets, a container for clean water, and soap.
What is a challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
I think the biggest challenge for me is that the entrepreneurial journey can sometimes feel lonely and sometimes things either feel too busy, or like things are not moving fast enough- this journey has thought me patience, resilience, trust, and an ability to analyze risk in ways that I am not sure if I would have learned otherwise; and I know that there is still much to learn.
One specific challenge I had early on was during our very first production round, was that our supplier sent the wrong ingredient (it was just very subtly different from the one we actually used though so it was not obvious at first) and you wouldn’t believe it, but an entire round of production was carried out with this wrong ingredient. I literally freaked out because this meant we had to start from scratch again. It all worked out in the end and one thing I learned was due to the micro differences in ingredients, each ingredient shipment had to be inspected extremely carefully by someone that was skilled and not just the receiving team in our shipping department.
Tell us about the lifestyle of a model! What was it like walking runways, going on editorial shoots, etc?
I think it all sounds a lot more glamorous than it really is. 😉 Sure, there is an aspect of it that is glamorous, but it’s a lot of hard work too. I love being on set, walking shows, and all of it- it’s always so inspiring to see hard work, creativity, and brilliance come together at the last minute, and there’s usually always some fun and excitement involved.
There’s a lot of adrenaline too especially during runway shows. If you’ve been backstage at a show, you know- it’s literally crazy. BUT, it can often be physical, and you have to be okay with being very flexible with your schedule and often feeling uncomfortable (like having shoes that don’t fit well, being freezing cold shooting on location, and sometimes wake up for very early call times).
Can you share secrets for how to achieve glowing skin?
I can’t emphasize the basics enough- getting sufficient sleep (I like a proper 8 hours), drinking enough water and making sure you’re getting a really nutritious diet. I don’t do dairy and gluten, as I find these to be inflammatory for me, and I stick to a mostly vegan (sometimes pescatarian diet). Green juice and coconut water really helps too. Fitting in a workout a couple of times a week also helps a great deal. It’s so important to sweat, build, maintain muscle, and just move as this increases blood flow and oxygen to your epidermis.
How did you choose the price point?
First, I did the market research as to the price points of other products in the category we fall in. Knowing our target market, I also knew that I wanted to make the price point feel accessible. Finally, after determining the margins we needed to operate and still make a profit, including if we sold to retailers, I tested the waters with some prices before determining the final price points. Our price point ranges from $48-80.
How is your brand sustainable?
We’ve made every effort to be sustainable at every step of the way. At Li Organics, our goal is to do everything with intentionality. For us, this also means caring for the planet that we all inhabit. We only source our ingredients from Certified Fair For Life and/or Organic farmers because this ensures that one, our plants are supreme in nutrient availability, while safeguarding and supporting the local social fabric, particularly in rural settings.
We’ve also ensured that the packaging that your skincare comes in is safe and sustainable. This sustainable packaging matters for guarding the integrity and efficacy of the ingredients, which in turn matter for the health of your skin. We never use plastic, as plastic leaches into formulas, so all of our primary packaging is in glass. Our outer cartons are printed on FSC [Forest Stewardship Council] Certified paper. This ensures that every piece of paper packaging you receive in your order, from the folding cartons to the shipping boxes come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits to our community.
What’s next for you?
We’re in the process of beta testing 2 new product launches and hope to launch these in 2023.
Where can people find you?
The easiest is through both our website, liorganics.com (*Use TSTBU20 for 20% off on their website) and our Instagram instagram.com/liorganics/ Our team is super responsive, so if you send us an email, DM, or message, we will get back either within minutes, or at most within 24 hours.
Alison + Delia