Q&A with VOYA — the sustainable skincare brand delivering powerful results

There’s something to be said about a genuinely luxurious skincare routine. It’s self-care in its finest form, with the ritual allowing people to focus on just themselves twice a day for a few minutes.

But no routine is complete without the finest products, which is where VOYA comes into play. VOYA is a niche brand focused on creating genuinely organic, seaweed-based products.

Each product contains wild organic seaweed from the West of Ireland and is harvested by hand to ensure the delicate coastal environment of the region is not impacted.

However, just because the brand only uses natural and non-toxic ingredients doesn’t mean it’s not effective and powerful.

Combining pure elements with ancient traditions, each range promises dramatic results, and you can rest easy knowing you’re supporting a cruelty-free, sustainable brand that is doing right by the planet.

VOYA is already making huge waves in the beauty industry, and BEAUTYDIRECTORY was fortunate to chat with the brand to find out more about what they stand for and what consumers can expect in 2023.         

Tell us about VOYA’s philosophy. What do you want consumers to know when it comes to your brand?

VOYA is a leading global lifestyle brand that specialises in sustainable, organic luxury. Originating from Ireland with a rich heritage in seaweed bathing, a tradition that is over 300 years old, at VOYA, we create organic skincare products and spa treatments that are made using sustainably hand-harvested seaweed from the wild Atlantic Way. The name VOYA is derived from the word Voyage, acknowledging that we are on a journey and continuously evolving to find “a better way”; this is VOYA’s mission, and is centred around always seeking ways to improve our operations and products to better protect the environment.

We value innovation and are challenging and curious when developing our products, processes, and partnerships. Tradition, family and organic are also at the heart of VOYA. Our organic philosophy has always been a core part of our DNA. VOYA set the bar as the world’s first certified organic seaweed-based skincare brand when created in 2006. This impacts every single aspect of our operation, including using certified organic ingredients, ethical manufacturing processes, sustainable packaging and energy — even how we ship our products and how we travel for business. 

What makes you different compared to other skincare brands?

VOYA’s heritage and history creates our story and sets us apart from other brands. Our connections to seaweed bathing, family, and organic farming remain at the heart of VOYA, and we continue to be guardians of tradition. 

Seaweed bathing is a 300-year-old tradition and Ireland's only indigenous therapy. In 1912, the first seaweed baths opened in Strandhill, Co. Sligo, on the wild Atlantic West Coast of Ireland, but sadly the last of these original bathhouses was destroyed in September 1961 by the worst hurricane to ever reach Ireland's shores, Hurricane Debbie. In 2006, VOYA founders Mark and Kira Walton moved away from their hectic corporate careers in Dublin and joined the family business, a traditional seaweed bathing house owned by Mark’s brother Neil Walton.

They realised that many of the customers wanted to replicate the soothing effects of the seaweed bathing experience at home, and so seized this opportunity and created the VOYA product, Lazy Days. This first and still hero product proved to be so popular that it inspired them to delve into the world of skincare. In conjunction with independent scientists and researchers they created a full suite of face and body skincare products.

Mark’s father, the late Michael Walton, known to his friends and family as Mick, was one of the original forces behind the organic farming movement in Ireland. Mick sought the harvesting license for the wild seaweed on the west of coast of Ireland, as he used the seaweed on the land to fertilise his award-winning crops. His respect for sustainability and the power of seaweed continues to inspire the growing VOYA team and remains at the heart of everything we do. Although VOYA has developed into a thriving global luxury organic lifestyle brand, with teams based across the globe, Mark and Kira remain at its core, always looking to the future and ensuring that VOYA remains true to its founding principles. 

If you could only use one product by VOYA, which one would it be and why?

Our new Hyaluronate Anti-Pollution Serum is a fantastic addition to the VOYA facial range and has become my go-to product for instant skin hydration. VOYA spent two years working with cosmetic chemists and scientists to create this results-driven formula, made using innovative skin technology, seaweed science and advanced biotechnology. The serum is Soil Association COSMOS Organic Certified, Vegan and Cruelty Free. VOYA’s Hyaluronate serum works to visibly rehydrate, providing immediate and lasting hydration.

Sodium Hyaluronate is a derivative of Hyaluronic acid but has a lower molecular weight, so it’s more easily absorbed into your skin, working to concentrate and bind moisture. Used regularly, this uplifting super serum combined with seaweed extracts is a highly effective means of decreasing wrinkles caused by dehydration through the action of strengthening the skin’s moisture barrier for visibly improved firmness and elasticity. We are also thrilled to announce that VOYA’s new Hyaluronate Anti-Pollution Serum recently won the Bronze Award for the Best Organic Skin Transformer in the Get The Gloss Awards 2022.

VOYA is a sustainable, cruelty-free and organic brand. Why are these values so important to the company?

Our commitment to sustainability is born from our heritage in organic farming and VOYA’s love and respect for the ocean. Our seaweed is hand-harvested from the cleanest waters off the Atlantic coast of Ireland, so caring for the ocean and the environment is a huge priority for us. “There must be a better way” is what we live by at VOYA. We’re always thinking of better ways of working and supporting our environment; from our sustainable partnerships and product development to our packaging and beyond. In terms of organic, VOYA have Soil Association accreditation on our products which tells the customer that they are using certified organic products.

VOYA must go through a rigorous audit to achieve this, where products are reviewed by a third-party certifier to ensure they match up to expectations, contain a maximum percentage (95%) of ingredients grown in harmony with nature, and utilise natural resources responsibly. Buying certified organic beauty products means so much more than just using organic ingredients. It means saying no to animal testing, GM ingredients, controversial chemicals, parabens and phthalates, synthetic colours, dyes, or fragrances. It also means that you are using products that are biodegradable, helping to protect wildlife and biodiversity.  As an SME business, we want to operate without leaving a trace on the environment.

Since 2013 VOYA has partnered with the World Land Trust (WLT) and made a commitment to carbon-balance greenhouse gas emissions from energy consumption associated with all VOYA operations and business travel. An exciting new partnership that is launching in the new year (2023) is with Plastic Bank, which works to stop ocean plastic at its source. VOYA will work with Plastic Bank to support communities around the globe who work for ethical plastic collection branches, preventing plastic pollution in the ocean. As we know, plastic pollution has a direct negative impact on the environment, harming biodiversity, and threatening ecosystems, plant, and animal species. For every VOYA product sold, we pledge to stop three plastic bottles from entering the ocean. 

Each VOYA product contains wild organic seaweed harvested by hand. What are the benefits of using seaweed on the skin?

Seaweed naturally absorbs its nourishment from the sea - over 80% of the seaweed plant is made up of essential minerals, vitamins, and other bioactive compounds. Seaweed encompasses a broad range of vital nutrients that it helps to replenish in the body, such as fibre, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron. It is also well known for its high iodine content which supports the maintenance of normal healthy skin. In addition, seaweed contains several key vitamins, including folate, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, and C. In fact, seaweed is almost unique in that it is one of the few plant sources of vitamin B12.

Seaweed also contains several other bioactive compounds not found anywhere else, including Fucoxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that can quench harmful free radicals and reactive oxygen species that damage our body's cells, and Phlorotannin’s, a type of polyphenol, whose antioxidant activity fights against the free radicals that damage our cells and DNA.  VOYA completed thorough independent scientific research in collaboration with the Shannon Biotechnology Research Centre to prove that our seaweed has a profound effect on Antioxidant Protection, Collagen Production and Skin Barrier Quality. Our Laminaria Digitata species, in particular, was proven to improve collagen production in the skin by over 200%*.

*in-Vitro testing the Shannon Biotechnology Research Centre, Institute of Technology, Tralee

Could you tell us the process of harvesting wild organic seaweed by hand? And why isn’t this carried out by machines?

VOYA continue to use sustainable and traditional hand-harvesting practices. We have a license to hand-harvest wild seaweed and avoid using machinery to prevent harming the delicate seabed and marine life. Only a small portion of the seaweed is cut at a time to ensure it grows back within 6 - 24 months. The harvesters, who are local men from the area, move on to the different parts of the reef to allow it to fully grow back and replenish, thus creating sustainable harvesting. This allows species of juvenile algae to flourish and regrow. The team then monitors how the reefs and species are regrowing in different locations. We pay a lot of attention to our reefs and natural surroundings; we constantly monitor how we impact the ecosystem so as not to do any damage.

What can media and consumers expect from VOYA in 2023?

2023 will be an exciting year for VOYA, as we continue to create and launch exciting products and effective, luxurious treatments. We have great campaigns in the pipeline that truly reflect our core values, in which we will educate our customers and partners about our heritage, sustainable practices, eco-partnerships and results-driven products. 2023 will see VOYA expand our lifestyle, facial, and body ranges with products to enhance the skin and overall well-being. Our dedication to being an inclusive brand continues in 2023 through our treatments as we continue to train our Cancer Wellness programme and develop new concepts that allow VOYA to continue to make wellness and spa more accessible through their treatment offering and training.       

To see the full range of VOYA products, visit their website www.voyabeauty.com.au.

You can find the VOYA brand listing and download hi-res imagery here.