headshot serena advani
Source: Seadrop

Exclusive: Founder of Seadrop Skincare Serena Advani 'Set Out' to Create a 'Just-Add-Water' Line: 'Have Faith in Your Ideas'

Jun. 17 2024, Published 4:27 p.m. ET

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Five years ago, Serena Advani found herself dealing with a hormone-related health scare. Fortunately, it ended up being a false alarm, but it propelled her to "start researching the everyday endocrine disruptors in our lives. I was shocked to find that many artificial preservatives in beauty products (e.g., parabens) were linked to endocrine disruption," the entrepreneur exclusively tells Morning Honey.

"In my ingredient research, I was also surprised to learn that our skincare is mostly water (90 percent of a liquid face wash is water). We only need these preservatives in water-based skincare since water breeds bacteria. This bacteria may be worse for us than the synthetic preservatives, but I found myself asking, 'Why not dehydrate the skincare, sell only the dry concentrates, and allow consumers to mix with the water they have on tap at home?'" she explains.

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founder beach shot
Source: Seadrop

Serena Advani started a 'just-add-water' skincare line.

Advani always knew there's potential for powdered skincare, as the women in her family had been making homemade face masks for generations by mixing water with Indian powders. So, Advani decided to "create a dry, 'just-add-water' skincare line that was designed for the U.S. consumer, with dermatologist testing, non-comedogenic ingredients, cruelty-free certifications and clinical allergy testing," she shares of launching Seadrop Skincare. "I also knew that if I was going to pivot my career into entrepreneurship, I’d have to create the best products I’d ever used. 500 formulator outreach calls, 250 manufacturing calls, dozens of formulation interactions and seven manufacturing test batches later, our patent-pending Hydrating Seafoam Cleanser beads launched!"

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Right now, a lot of skincare products are in the form of creams, lotions and gels, but Advani didn't see any "pre-dosed, clean, waterless products on the market," she says. "Every skincare aisle was lined with rows of plastic bottles filled with mostly water. I noticed an opportunity to set a new standard in skincare with a water-activated tablet format that preserves ingredient quality until use and allows us to easily use a biodegradable refill system."

"Before Seadrop, I had never found a facial cleanser I truly loved. Oil and balm cleansers often deposited a filmy wax on my skin, and foaming cleansers left my skin feeling stripped and desert dry. With Seadrop, I also set out to formulate our cleanser to also work better than existing liquid cleansers on the market. Our Hydrating Seafoam Cleanser beads foam generously to remove makeup, dirt, oil and SPF while softening skin with water-activated Triluronic Acid, colloidal oatmeal, Blue Butterfly Pea Flower Powder and papaya enzymes. 95 percent of consumers say their skin is 'immediately hydrated after use' with Seadrop (unlike the 40 percent who agree for liquid face wash)," she notes. "Another part of me was also purely fed up with my liquid skincare leaking in my suitcases and getting confiscated by TSA. I can now say that I’ve taken two years worth of facial cleanser with me in a carry-on internationally with no problems!"

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holding jars
Source: Seadrop

Serena Advani learned a lot about skincare from her mom and grandma.

The businesswoman learned a lot about skincare from a young age, as she spent her childhood in India alongside her mom and grandmother, whom she thought of while making the product.

"Our powder-based concentrates are inspired by the South Asian skincare rituals I grew up with. Some of my favorite childhood memories bring me back to summer Sunday mornings in my North Carolina kitchen. My mom would share the recipes her mother passed down to her with me; she would mix water with haldi (turmeric), besan (chickpea flour), multani mitti (a South Asian clay) and sandalwood powders. Those powder-to-liquid skincare recipes worked so well that I continued the tradition well into college, hosting skincare spa nights for my friends. I set out to bring that same freshly-activated skincare concept to life for Western consumers with Seadrop’s dermatologist-tested, non-comedogenic, pre-dosed formulations," she shares, adding that her mom is her "skincare role model" who taught her "the skincare rules" she now lives by.

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"She always emphasized the importance of gentle, barrier-repairing skincare (instead of overusing acids, peels, and stronger treatments). We’ve now seen that becoming increasingly trendy post-2018 with the rise of gentle, hydrating K-beauty. It was also a large part of the Seadrop philosophy, and I wanted to make sure we created a hydrating, non-stripping formulation with skin-barrier strengthening ingredients baked into the formula," she says. "She’s been an early adopter of wearing sunscreen every day (even before we had the silky, fun-to-wear formulations we do today!), and it shows. Some cleansers just tone up skin (without properly removing SPF), and I knew from day one that Seadrop needed to remove SPF. Lastly, use a separate eye makeup remover. Her tip? Soak a cotton pad or reusable round with an oil-based eye makeup remover and hold it onto your eyelid for 10 seconds. She always talks about how gentle the eye area is, and this method eliminates any tugging or irritation. I still use this method today, taking off my eye makeup right before using my cleanser every night."

packaging
Source: Seadrop

Serena Advani worked in the beauty industry before launching her own company.

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Advani always knew making it into the beauty industry was her goal.

"I wasn’t always interested in working in the space (I was a cognitive neuroscience major in college and always figured I’d end up in healthcare), but I now look back on my career and feels like fate. I was actually named after a beauty salon — Serena’s Salon in Mumbai, India. My mom would always walk by it on her way to school and decided to name her firstborn daughter after it. I grew up to love skincare, makeup and nail art as a hobby and respite from schoolwork. I didn’t realize how much passion I had for the space until my first job in consulting, where I learned that I could pursue the business side of beauty as a career. I focused my time in consulting on the beauty industry, and I never looked back!" she says of the latest venture.

jar seashell
Source: Seadrop

The Hydrating Seafoam Cleanser is currently available for purchase.

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Advani's mission is simple: to "reimagine skincare as pure and potent ingredients in powder form for more efficacious and sustainable products. While the waterless format allows brands to catapult zero-waste packaging into the mainstream, I don’t believe in prioritizing sustainability over quality," she notes. "Instead, I see skincare beads as the solution to creating freshly activated, more efficacious, and cleaner products as the norm for our skin and the planet."

"In the next 5-10 years, I’d love to see Seadrop in my favorite retailers (for example, Sephora, Ulta, Credo, BlueMercury and the Detox Market), ideally shipping internationally. While we have launched with our patent-pending Hydrating Seafoam Cleanser, I also hope to launch a suite of Seadrop freshly-activated beads across skincare, body care and haircare over the next decade," she adds. "It sounds counterintuitive for a brand founder to say this, but I’d love to see more brands competing with us. Right now, we’re one of the earliest adopters in the waterless category, and we’re educating consumers about the benefits of freshly activated skincare. Seadrop is a skincare philosophy centered in skincare that just makes sense — pure and pre-dosed ingredients with zero-waste refill packaging. If that becomes the standard globally in personal care, I’ll know we made our mark!"

serena headshot
Source: Seadrop

Serena Advani said to never give up on your dreams!

Advani wants others to know it's never too late to dream big and "have faith in your ideas!"

"I heard 'no' over 500 times when I was looking for a formulator, hearing that it’s 'impossible' to build an effective soft-pressed tablet cleanser. I knew our concept was chemically viable, and I kept pushing forward until I found a formulator willing to take a chance on our dream. For anyone reading this — if you have an idea to reinvent how things are done, I encourage you to push forward and validate your dreams!" she exclaims. "I hope consumers leave with soft, and cleansed skin! My goal was to create healthy, happy and hydrated skin barriers, and I hope Seadrop’s freshly activated skincare brings that same little luxury to every user!"

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