Dear Self co-founders, sisters Tia and Aja Blanco, think all skincare can be sustainable. Not just for the planet, but for our own personal wellbeing, too.
Tia and Aja Blanco are busy. Tia, 24, is a professional surfer and star of ABC’s forthcoming season of The Ultimate Surfer; and Aja, 27, is a software engineer. They overlap as sisters—family is first and foremost—but their busy lives also intersect as business partners. They’re the co-founders of the sustainable, vegan skincare brand, Dear Self.
For the Blancos, skincare has always been about more than just looking good. It’s about feeling good in your own skin, and doing good, too. They’re out to revolutionize skincare, women-led business, and do their part to help slow climate change.
The brand launched three years ago with the aim of empowering customers to cultivate self-love. In the age of influencer-led beauty and unrealistic standards, that’s no small task, but for the Blancos, it’s a bottom line.
“Our entire mission and ethos is to encourage our customers to practice self-love daily! Every thought we think and every word we speak is an affirmation that is guiding the direction of our lives,” Aja told Ethos via email. “Which is why each product comes with a unique, positive affirmation designed to redirect habitual thinking patterns. We hope our customers see us as the skincare brand that reminds them to practice self-love with each use.”
With Dear Self’s positive affirmation approach—one of its best-sellers in the line is called “I Am Complete”—the sisters hope customers remember that before we can heal any of the planet’s issues, we have to heal ourselves, first.
Revolutionary plant ingredients
The newest line is a full-step skincare collection that Blanco says is designed for the most sensitive skin types, something both Aja and Tia can relate to. It features two of the sisters’ favorite ingredients of late: plant-based collagen and a bio-placenta.
“These two ingredients are revolutionary,” Blanco says. According to the sisters, plant-based collagen “is one of the most profound ingredients used in beauty.” It’s known for its anti-aging properties and innate ability to enhance the overall youthful appearance of the skin, Blanco says.
“The amino acids found in the collagen are the answer to improving uneven complexion and minimizing the appearance of dark spots. She says the company’s vegan collagen will give you the same “if not better” results, than animal-derived collagen. “To improve an uneven complexion, collagen is the answer.”
The Blancos are also introducing bio placenta—a plant-based version that is most often found under the pistil of plants. These plant placentas are a full of amino acids, proteins, and peptides.
“Plant-based bio placenta deeply regenerates skin, and dramatically repairs every visible skin flaw,” Blanco says.
“Recent clinical studies demonstrate that plant placenta shows a 70 percent increase in skin oxygenation versus using a human or animal-based placenta. When skin absorbs more oxygen it creates healthy proteins that strengthen the collagen structure of the skin. The stem cells found in this ingredient provide profound anti-aging properties, promote collagen production and increase your skins’ elasticity.
Clean beauty shift
Skincare is just the beginning for Dear Self, says Blanco. “We would love to branch out into sustainable sun protection (sunscreen), beauty products (makeup), as well as hair and body care, and maybe even health supplements one day,” she says.
But first is establishing Dear Self amongst the industry leaders. Blanco says they see the brand sitting alongside contemporaries such as the Ordinary and Herbivore. “We’d love for Dear Self to be considered a household name one day.”
And that’s more than likely given the changes happening in the skincare category. Herbivore has helped to put plants on the map and mainstream brands are adding more sustainable and natural ingredients every day. These choices benefit the planet, especially when sourced from responsible farming practices. But they’re also beneficial for skin health.
“We believe in the power of plant-based ingredients and natural skincare,” Blanco says.
This shift toward cleaner ingredients has most recently been embraced by Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, arguably two of the biggest instigators of unhealthy beauty standards. Jenner’s recently relaunched beauty brand shifted away from unhealthy ingredients including a shift from animal ingredients, too. Kardashian’s KKW Beauty is currently under (re)construction, promising to come back cleaner and more sustainable.
For Dear Self, that’s always been the brand’s manifesto. Blanco says the brand believes in never hurting animals, the planet, or the consumer.
Sustainable from the start, sustainable for the future
“All of our products are natural, vegan, cruelty-free, non-comedogenic, paraben-free, and free of synthetic fragrances,” she says.
And that approach has been well received. Much like millennials and Gen-Z are embracing oat milk and Impossible burgers, Blanco says there hasn’t been any friction as a vegan-forward skincare company, “as this generation tends to be very conscious and already looking for products that are ethical, cruelty-free and vegan.”
Like its founders, Dear Self is an activist at heart, constantly working to become a better, more responsible version of itself. Its latest iteration places sustainability front and center, with ecologically sourced ingredients, glass bottles, and eco-friendly packaging consumers and the founders can feel good about.
“Every single decision we have made thus far is made with sustainability in mind. Even with our brand relaunch, we wanted to make sure we weren’t compromising on sustainability and ethics,” Blanco says.
“We love our planet and that is why we strive to make our skincare line as eco-friendly as possible.”