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Founder Stories

Sara Shah: Founder, Journ

You might own a lot of skincare or a ton of makeup—but do you own anything that's a skincare/makeup hybrid?

Journ founder Sara Shah left her job as a lawyer in an effort to create this kind of product for her cystic acne-prone skin. "When I started developing it, I created this profile of this perfect product, and it was a very detailed," she says. "When I brought it to various labs here in the U.S., the first problem that I learned very quickly was that makeup and skincare are siloed—makeup chemists have no or very little overlap with skincare chemists."

After trying out a few labs and more than a few formulations, Shah was left with 5 products that do the work of covering up your skin concerns including blemishes, hyperpigmentation, redness and more, while feeding your skin the ingredients it needs to reduce the appearance of these issues over time.

A few of us at SG HQ tried them and couldn't believe how effective a tiny drop of Matcha and Dew were in covering our acne spots and dark circles. All we had to do was throw on a few swipes of concealer on top (in my case a few dabs of Glossier Stretch Concealer did the trick) and our skin looked both uniform and hydrated. Read more about Shah and her brand below.

On Journ's products and what they do:

Marrakech & Kauai: There's two products for dark circles, hyperpigmentation, discoloration—they’re called Marrakech and Kauai. The difference between the two is that one is for medium to deep skin tones (Marrakech) and once for light to medium (Kauai), but they target the same concern.

The ingredients in each product are inspired by a different place. For example, Marrakech has sweet almond, carrot seed, and rose, and Kauai has white lily, kukui nut, and noni.

Matcha: The product for acne prone skin, Matcha, helps with any current live acne by drying out the spot and it also helps with acne scarring, redness, and oil control.

Dew: It's great for winter, it hydrates and nourishes the skin, and is great for any rosacea or sunburn because it calms your skin.

Alpenglow: The last is Alpenglow, which helps brighten skin, even out skin tone, and has anti aging properties. It’s also fantastic for any type of sallowness in the skin so around the chin area, forehead, when your skin just looks dull, which is more prevalent in medium to deeper skin tones.

The effects of Marrakesh with a thin layer of foundation on top

On her brand's origin story:

Journ was born when I was going through my personal journey with cystic acne. I was a lawyer seven years into a law career and I just completely transitioned out of it. My struggle was that I didn't have a lot of time for my skincare and makeup regimen, and after all the effort it just didn't look natural and that's all I wanted. I didn’t want to do all these layers of cakey makeup, so I wanted to create products are essentially did two things: one was to marry the skincare and makeup world together with efficacious products that actually help your skin, and the other was to make makeup that looks natural and flawless.

When I started developing it, I created this profile of this perfect product, and it was a very detailed. When I brought it to various labs here in the U.S., the first problem that I learned very quickly was that makeup and skincare are siloed—makeup chemists have no or very little overlap with skincare chemists. This was a common problem that I experienced talking to labs on both the East Coast and the West Coast, and then we finally started developing with five labs. One backed out within weeks, another said “we just can't do it.” And then slowly we were down to one. We had a failed formula at first, because the skincare would separate from the makeup, and we kept failing testing until we finally arrived at a formula that worked. That was at the end of last year, and then it passed all testing around March.

We officially launched on September 30th. We've been developing these products for over almost two years and the reason for that is it's not just a concealer or a corrector, it's a skincare system with high performance makeup built around it.

On how to use them:

You warm up the product on the back of your hand first, just a tiny bit because it’s so pigmented. You just need an apple seed sized amount. We just recorded a video campaign to actually show how the product is in use, because the first time everybody uses too much. That’s because we're used to using so much product, we take concealers and draw triangles on our face. This is sort of breaking that habit and creating something that is just a light touch so you could really achieve natural looking skin.

Because it's a corrector, you do need to put a layer of foundation on top and it totally neutralizes the spot. If you have any spots that are acne scars or active pimples, then the best way to apply it is with a lip brush. The way that their fibers are, they work really well with just getting into that localized spot than if you do it with your finger.

We're direct to consumer and for us, it's really important to teach the customers. I mean, it's a totally different product, right? It's replacing skincare and it's a different way of using makeup than your concealer and foundation. It's important to really teach our customers and answer their questions. We have a beauty concierge that answers questions 24/7 on our Instagram and on our website.

Pic by @anareczynski

On the packaging and the ingredients:

Each product has three ingredients that take you away to a moment in time for me, but are also good for your skin. Matcha is the product for acne. It has hibiscus, seaweed, and matcha in it. Hibiscus has alpha hydroxy acids that help control breakouts and oil, and minimize the appearance of pores. Seaweed has vitamin A, B and C that helps reduce the appearance of acne scars. Each of our five color correcting products have three ingredients, one of which is always a flower. Your kit comes on a bed of five flowers that represent all five products—lily, rose, hibiscus, jasmine, and daisy. Each tube explains what each ingredient does.

*Journ's Dew color correcting and hydrating creme is now a reward—get yours today!

Marrakech Color Corrector
Kauai Color Corrector
Matcha Color Corrector


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