Sugar StripEase is a 100% natural, vegan and cruelty free certified depilatory and accessories brand.
Aqua Natural was founded by Rosie and Hafiz Khandwala in 1989 in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, where they remain and continue to do their manufacturing in their own facility. They moved to the UK in 1987 and were looking to start their own business. Rosie grew up on the Northern coast of Tanzania and from her teenage years would help out her cousin by working in her salon during her spare time. In Tanzania and particularly amongst the Asian community there, strip-sugaring is the most common form of hair removal, with recipes and techniques handed down from mother to daughter. Upon arriving in the UK Rosie began working as a mobile beauty therapist in the local area. However unable to find sugaring anywhere on the shelves in the shops she would make her own in the kitchen. Seeing a gap in the market they made some enquiries with suppliers and soon after became the first people to introduce strip-sugaring to the UK market. In 1991 they approached Body Shop about contract manufacturing and the product was a hit with Anita Roddick who loved the natural smell. This led to a long and fruitful relationship with Body Shop, as both companies’ ethos suited each other perfectly, until they were taken over by L’Oreal who terminated the long standing partnership in 2009.
A decision had to be made as they had lost their largest client and after discussing their options they felt the product was too good to stop there. This led to them launching their own brand, Sugar StripEase in 2010.
Many lessons have been learned along the way, a couple of which are: Not to rely so heavily on one large client and trial and error is the only way to create the best product (lots of hours of testing the product and lots of spillage in manufacturing finding the right consistency.).
Sugar StripEase was created to offer something new to consumers. The design was set out to the catch the eye and stand out on the shelf, rather than the more clinical look of the competitors. Rosie and Hafiz wanted to create a product that women would want to pick up off the shelf and feel good about purchasing. Rosie comes from a background where her and her friends would get together on a Friday evening sugar their legs (and help each other out with hard to reach places) and laugh and chat the night away, this is something that we wanted to reflect in the brand.
We are passionate about creating the highest quality product for removing hair and making it simple enough that it can be used in the comfort of your own home, rather than going to a salon. This is a task that is often a chore for women, but we strive to make it as pleasant and easy a process as possible. We believe it is important to educate women on how to safely remove hair, and inform them of chemical free options. Many women are very conscious about what they put into their body but are not as concerned with what they put on it. We have created a product that is easy to use and is great for the skin; we feel that this is an important message to spread. We only use the best quality ingredients, and because there are only two of them we are able to produce and natural product that is gentle to use and environmentally and ethically sound.
As a company Aqua Natural have always been very conscious of producing the best quality product both in terms of efficacy but also ethically. Aqua Natural has been member and advocate of the BUAV since 1990. The company is certified as both Cruelty Free (by Cruelty Free International and PETA) and Vegan (by the Vegan Society). Aqua Natural is the only hair removal product in the market that is certified by all three of these organisations.
All Sugar StripEase products are manufactured in the UK at the facility in Northamptonshire and wherever possible we use local suppliers for our components.
Having started our range with just the Sugar StripEase hair removal kit, we have now expanded in the last couple of years. We added a Pure Fine Talc (free of titanium dioxide) this is important to the process as talc is necessary to ensure that the skin is completely dry before using Sugaring StripEase. We also added a Soothing Mist using Bergamot and Witch Hazel as soothing agents to calm the skin after use. It also cleanses the skin of any residue as the product is completely water soluble.
The beauty of Sugar StripEase is that the ingredients are very simple; it is an ancient recipe that we have refined so the basic elements were already there. As for our Soothing Mist, we looked for a combination of fragrances that worked well together and also had calming properties, which is how we decided on bergamot and witch hazel (after much trial and error!).
We source all of our products from UK suppliers but the key factor is that they as suppliers comply with our requirement to be cruelty free.
We have been using the same formula for Sugar StripEase that we have used since the beginning. Traditionally sugaring products are always made from the basic ingredients of sugar, water and lemon juice (and sometimes with other chemicals or additives included). However lemon juice can be an irritant on sensitive skin. It also has the potential to crystallise after re-heating and therefore reduce the shelf life of the product. Rosie and Hafiz in collaboration with Body Shop’s research and design team were able to eliminate the use of lemon juice altogether from the product. This created a much gentler product that is suitable on even the most sensitive skin.
When looking through the different design options we were presented with, we knew we wanted something that would stand out on the shelf, and draw the eye of the customer. So many of the other products in the market use very neutral tones, we wanted to be different.
The pink and paisley was like nothing else out there, and we liked the look of the woman in the pink underwear as well as the signature bow that would act as a kind of brand mark.
The strength of the design we believe, is that it will make woman want to pick it and find out more. We ultimately want women to feel good about removing hair, for them to enjoy the results and feel good about themselves after doing it; we think that our product design conveys this to the customer.
In 2010 the year we launched the product we won the Bronze Award at the Pure Beauty Awards for Best New Hair Removal.
The product that we supplied to the Body Shop (which is the same as Sugar StripEase) was also a favourite of Renee Zelwegger’s.