Welcome to Beauty Boss, a reoccurring series in which we spotlight the power players driving the beauty world forward. Consider this your chance to steal their get-ahead secrets, and grow from the real-life lessons they’ve learned on the job.
ONDA Beauty Founders Larissa Thomson and Sarah Bryden-Brown were brought together by their high school friends. Not just your run of the mill high school friends; Thomson’s long time friend Liev Schreiber married Bryden-Brown’s friend Naomi Watts. “I was at Naomi’s one night, and she texted Larissa and said, I have a friend here you should meet. Come over!” and the rest was clean beauty history. Australian born Bryden-Brown already had a successful run managing a few start-ups and Thomson’s has been a leading translator of trends and a conduit of style for millions of consumers.
What was the impetus for starting ONDA Beauty?
Thomson: When I left fashion magazines I knew I wanted to start something of my own in the wellness world. It seemed crazy to me that so many people were focusing on making sure that what they were putting IN their bodies was clean, healthy, organic, etc. but not so much as to what was going ON their bodies. What we put on our bodies impacts our health and the health of our families just as much as the food we eat. I learned that there were few FDA regulations in place banning toxic ingredients from our personal care products, plus there are harmful ingredients in some products that are linked to illnesses such as cancer and many others. I decided to create a space that would feel warm, inviting and possibly much like a destination, affecting all your senses in a positive way, where people could either be educated about clean beauty options or just simply rely on ONDA to recommend healthy, effective and toxin free products.
Sarah Bryden-Brown: When Larissa shared her vision with me it resonated beyond the idea of a curated collection of natural beauty brands to playing a key role in growing a movement supporting the normalization of natural beauty.
What criteria do brands need to pass to be part of the ONDA collection?
Thomson: I find that a lot of the clean beauty brands are driven mostly by the personal passion and integrity that comes with each brand founder. They all subscribe to full transparency which means it’s easy to know if the brand’s motives and philosophies are aligned with ours. Each product has to be toxin-free, be true to what the product claims it does, be mostly cruelty-free and sourced ethically. Along with all that is scent, which is a big factor, as well as texture, efficacy, and packaging.
As natural products have improved have you seen the stigma (that they don’t work as well) associated with them diminishing?
Thomson: There is still much room for growth but the people I’ve encountered since launching ONDA are all very interested and most are ready and willing to make changes. My testing of various natural products led me to the conclusion that not only are there many beautiful and effective products available, but a lot of them did a better job than the chemical options.
SBB: In my circle, which is not all natural beauty buffs, it’s still in development mode. Once I convince my friends to try a product they are hooked. Along with the obvious efficacy, scent plays such a big role, something chemical-based products can’t match.
VIDEO: Watch Lucy Hale Play Never Have I Ever
What is your NEVER ingredient?
Thomson: I usually look for the dirty dozen and some of those have variations and alternate names, so they can be hidden. The one that always jumps out at me is Propylene Glycol, which in most cases means you need special gear just to dispose of it properly!! Why would anyone want any amount of something like that on their body?
SBB: Anything Larissa tells me is a NEVER ingredient.
What’s the most surprising yet effective ingredient you’ve seen? ie peony extract
Thomson: Often it’s about how some of these ingredients work together synergistically. Everything is about integration and balance and many of these ingredients when combined create better results. A perfect example is C, E and ferulic. Ferulic acid is a potent antioxidant and when combined with C and E, also powerful antioxidants, not only increases environmental protection but also produces much healthier and radiant looking skin. I’ve also seen incredible anti-aging results from both Retinol and Hyaluronic acid.
SBB: Vitamin C. I knew my body needed it but didn’t realize how much my skin would love it, too.
Is there a non-chemical-free product you can’t give up?
Thomson: Not really. But if there is one that you love and can’t give up don’t worry. I don’t believe in extremes it’s more about finding the right balance. I think we should all just do the best we can.
SBB: Nope. Nothing. When I find myself stuck in a situation where I have no choice (like this week when I am in Bath, UK, and realized I left my Reverie Shampoo and Conditioner at home, I spent nearly half an hour trying to convince myself to buy a non-chemical-free product. I couldn’t do it and will be wearing a matted-bun for at least a week.
Are you considering launching your own line?
SBB: We are. It’s not going to be a traditional roll-out of a line, rather we are partnering and collaborating to create ONDA products with some of our favorite brands and familiar faces. We are excited to share our first product in Fall 2017.
What do you enjoy/hate about running your own business?
Thomson: It feels good to be creating something that’s yours, building it from the ground up. Although it may be both a blessing and a curse to only have yourself to answer to, it also feels incredibly liberating; there’s such a sense of strength and freedom in it, and because you’re also calling the shots, it’s simultaneously terrifying. So this is my new motto: If it scares you, you should probably do it.
SBB: I love the freedom to fail because it means you’re stretching yourself. I don’t like to have to always make decisions. Sometimes I miss the days when you could sit in a meeting with 10 people and just eat the cookies, knowing full well nothing would come of the endless conversations.
Shop their favorite products, below.