Synergie Skin’s Terri Vinson: Lessons from a 20-year career, and beauty’s sustainable future

In Professional Beauty’s January-February issue Terri Vinson of Synergie Skin shared lessons learnt in her 20-year business journey, and her belief in the sustainable future of beauty with Editor in Chief, Anita Quade. Read on.

The one thing that kick-started my devotion to creating active skincare was… my passion for the world of biology and chemistry. I was your typical science nerd at school and always so curious about the ‘why’ of science. I completed a science degree at Monash University and considered pursuing a career in immunology research, but I couldn’t shake my need to connect with people.

Throughout my career in the beauty industry… I was involved in training skin specialists and educating on ingredient benefits, as well as formulating and being the liaison between patient and doctor to help explain skincare ingredients, routines, and aesthetic procedures. I knew that marrying my love for science and people would fulfil my dreams and that a career in formulating skincare was the perfect vehicle for me to achieve this. It was then that I decided to gain a formal qualification in becoming a cosmetic chemist and everything changed from there!

I became an Australian skin scientist and cosmetic chemist because… I knew what was available in the market and simply couldn’t find skincare products that really delivered the promises they were making. I was frustrated with the white noise and false claims that so many skincare companies were making. There were no products containing the dosage of active ingredients required and the science to back the claims was seriously lacking. There were also so many ingredients I wanted to use for my own skin concerns and for my adolescent children at the time but reading ingredient labels in my local pharmacy literally made me cringe. As is so often the case, if you can’t find what you need and you can make it – do it yourself! That was the beginning of Synergie Skin.

Synergie Skincare: powerful, professional solutions.

I have more than 20 years of experience in formulating skincare and the biggest lessons I have learnt are…

1/ Delegate. Delegate. Delegate! You will never grow if you are resistant to letting go of areas of your business that you are expert in. In the early days, I could not afford to employ a team of specialists, so as well as being the formulator, I was the educator, marketer, accountant, graphic designer… this list goes on! This was totally unsustainable for the future of my business. I now surround myself with team members who are so much better than me in so many aspects of my business. I have grown so much personally and professionally when I became totally comfortable with letting go so that I could grow.

2/ Don’t deviate from your core market. I expanded into some new product ranges in the early days of Synergie Skin, including clean science perfume, haircare, and dental products. I lacked a deep insight into these specialist categories and realised I needed to maintain my focus on the market I truly understood… skincare. I now know to stay in my lane.

I set up Synergie Skin in 2005 because… I realised there was a significant gap in the aesthetics market for effective, evidence-based active products that were also free of ingredients that are questionable. As a female scientist, I also felt I could bring products to the market that helped women promote their own self-confidence. I believe healthy and vibrant-looking skin has such a bearing on self-esteem.

In a Melbourne café in early 2005, I was strategising about what I could bring to the market if I opened my own skin clinic with a range that I created. I had a sudden urge to brainstorm, so I began jotting down what I could uniquely offer to the aesthetics industry. With my background in biological science and cosmetic chemistry, knowledge of formulating, and a passion for the benefits of topical ingredients on the skin cells, Synergie Skin was born with that clean science philosophy at the heart of my business.

The major goal of the brand was… my trademarked Clean Science philosophy. I legally own the phrase ‘Clean Science’ in Australia and many global markets, and I am exceptionally proud to say that Synergie Skin pioneered the term.  I wanted to offer people clean, effective skincare that creates long-term change in their skin without ingredients that are considered undesirable or questionable.

I do not like to fear-monger or create anxiety in consumers about certain ingredients. I simply have a list of ingredients that may be associated with undesirable long-term effects that I refuse to formulate within my lab.  

I also wanted to educate customers about making informed choices when it comes to selecting skincare that works for them. I think it’s important as a brand to allow customers to make their own decisions, and it is our role to give them the information to do so.

My Clean Science philosophy is my foundation and is important to me because… my top priority has always been the long-term health of human skin and promoting self-confidence for my customers. Every Synergie Skin product is supported by clinical data and is free of potentially questionable ingredients such as parabens, SLS, phthalates, PEGs, propylene glycol, artificial colours, synthetic fragrances and talc.

This philosophy encompasses my commitment to harnessing the best of laboratory synthesised ingredients together with naturally derived ingredients to create effective and clean skincare. We are proudly Australian made and solely owned by a female scientist and cosmetic chemist (that’s me) offering evidence-based skincare and intelligent mineral makeup to deliver customers visible long-term results.

Some of the important steps in my journey have been… learning to let go and being comfortable with being less involved with the day-to-day minutia of my business. Today, most of my focus involves the research and development for new products. I am confident in my talented team to manage the day-to day aspects of the business and have invested in creating ownership of roles and open communication to ensure we all work in synergy to create the best outcomes for each other and each customer.

Synergie Skincare sustainable packaging
Sustainable solutions, in the bag.

Since 2021 we have started moving towards a new look with our packaging to embrace a more sustainable makeover – the reason for this is… as a business owner and scientist, making sustainable and responsible decisions that will reduce our long-term carbon footprint is fundamental to every decision I make.

After researching the science and listening to the needs of my customers, it’s clear to me that being more sustainable is imperative to our brand’s future. Having all our manufacturing and distribution operations in our Melbourne facilities, means Synergie Skin is more agile than other skincare brands and we can implement positive change quickly. The first phase of our sustainability makeover has already been so well received. I would love for Synergie Skin to pave the way for other skincare brands to review their practices and make positive, long-term choices that are more sustainable. We certainly have a way to go and can’t do it all yesterday, however we pledge to make changes both big and small every day to protect and nurture our precious planet.

To read the full story, head to page 22 of the digital magazine below.

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