When it came to creating a high-end Australian skincare brand, Nan Chen’s experience managing luxury retail boutiques was in perfect synergy with her daughter Yong-Li Zhou’s qualifications in personal care and skin science. Together, they founded Enbacci, a line of products built around the protective antioxidant properties of stem cells found in plants and fruits. Yong-Li spoke with us about the ways their shared values as family members imbue their brand, particularly in regard to eco-consciousness. We particularly like the way she views aging as a privilege while also utilizing technology to slow down the most visible signs of it.

On founding an Australian luxury skincare brand

When you ask someone to list where luxury skincare for aging is made, many will mention France, Japan, or the US, but very few will include Australia in that list.

However, from day one, Enbacci’s mission has been to change this mindset.

When we founded Enbacci 10 years ago, we always intended to utilize and celebrate the infrastructure and access to resources that we have in Australia.

We wanted to create skincare that can truly compete and is just as effective as the big global players, if not more so.

Enbacci’s hero ingredients

We are best known for formulating products with fruit and plant stem cells. These have powerful antioxidant properties when used topically; they work to neutralise free radical damage so that skin cells can continue to function properly.

Family values

One advantage of working together as a mother-daughter team is that we share common values and beliefs.

As you can imagine, this was particularly useful when we defined everything about our brand, from its values to its aesthetics.

It continues to be valuable as we work on new innovations. We also share experiences as women and as people of color.

Through Enbacci, we celebrate what is important to us, and we hope it will continue to be important for generations to come.

Eco-conscious production

One of these values that holds great importance for us and our brand is caring for the environment, on which we heavily depend.

The technology used to source our products’ key stem cells received recognition as an eco-breakthrough at the Rio20+ Sustainability Conference in 2012. It requires very little plant material to cultivate a large batch of stem cells for product formulation.

Consequently, minimal to no agricultural land is necessary, leading to a significant reduction in water consumption compared to conventional biomass production.

Furthermore, there is no need for fertilizers or pesticides, preventing the introduction of these additional toxins into the environment.

The entire cultivation process employs conservation practices.

For instance, in the case of apple stem cells cultivated from the Uttwiler Spätlauber variety, which is unfortunately rare, this variety was incorporated into the Swiss National Action Plan for the Conservation of Plant Genetic Resources in Food and Agriculture.

It is also protected by ProSpecie Rara, a Swiss non-profit foundation dedicated to conserving and promoting genetic diversity in flora and fauna.

Most of the remaining trees are organically cultivated by a local Swiss farmer, who supplies his fruit for stem cell cultivation.

Enbacci co-founder Yong-Li Zhou

Concious consumerism

Consumerism isn’t sustainable, and as a product-based business, we directly contribute to it.

Therefore, we continually assess how we can improve, whether it’s in our formulations, manufacturing process, packaging choices, or supplier partnerships.

In addition to promoting conscious consumerism, we aim to change the way skincare is marketed to everyday customers.

Many past marketing campaigns have revolved around creating an imaginary problem, convincing consumers they have it, and then selling them a product to solve’ that supposed problem.

Skincare should focus on improving skin barrier function—no more, no less.

Taking a holistic approach to aging

I must emphasize that aging is a natural process, and we should consider it a privilege.

That said, the rate at which we age results from a combination of internal factors (genetics) and external lifestyle factors.

These external factors encompass diet, hydration, exercise, stress levels, sleep patterns, smoking, and exposure to environmental stressors (such as UV exposure, air pollution, and extreme weather conditions).

Maintaining a balanced diet, ensuring adequate hydration, and adopting an overall healthy and balanced lifestyle can all contribute to a slower rate of physical aging.

Daily skincare, professional treatments, and lifestyle factors all play a role in maintaining skin health.

Daily skincare is one readily available tool that can help us slow down the aging process or delay the noticeable signs of aging.

Consistently using appropriate cleansers, moisturizers, serums, and sunscreens can enhance overall skin function and health, thereby improving texture and tone.

Professional skincare treatments, such as facials, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, or laser treatments, can offer more intensive and targeted solutions for specific skin concerns.

They can reach those deeper layers of the skin that skincare alone cannot. Professional skincare treatments can deliver more noticeable results in a shorter time frame compared to daily skincare alone.

However, they may not always be accessible due to the costs and time involved. If you have the disposable income and the time to devote to professional treatments, then I do recommend considering them.

Ultimately, we all hope to age and develop wrinkles (which isn’t a bad thing).

However, by using products daily, we can help our skin function at its optimum level, thereby reducing the rate of aging.

Focus on what to include, not what to avoid

There is so much misinformation out there regarding so-called ‘dangerous’ or ‘toxic’ ingredients.

This not only harms the cosmetics industry but also hinders sustainability efforts within it.

As cosmetic chemists, our role is to ensure we develop safe products. There are rules and regulations in place to ensure this.

That said, we don’t use products with ingredients banned by the AICIS (Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme).

However, as a general rule, you don’t have to worry about this if the products you’re using were produced in Australia, as these ingredients cannot even be imported into the country without a special reason.

Of course, even though I’d rather focus on what you may want to include in your skincare routine than what you shouldn’t, it’s still important to know your own skin and realize there may be ingredients to avoid.

During the pandemic, we saw an exponential increase in diminished skin barrier function due to people using strong actives without being aware of the consequences.

If you have sensitive skin, my general advice is to avoid ingredients like AHAs and retinoids, or at the very least, be aware of your skin’s limitations and proceed with caution.

Also, regardless of your skin type, please never use acids and retinoids on the same night!

The mother/daughter bond

We have one unique and privileged aspect within our business: unfiltered communication (I think most families in business can relate to this).

Mum and I can speak with complete honesty with each other, knowing that the other person is not going to be offended.

Or, in the rare case that they are, we will always give each other the respect to explain and discuss things openly.

Mum knows me almost as well as I know myself, which is something I didn’t see so clearly until I became a parent myself.

I am so grateful for the unending support we offer each other. This has been particularly important for me over the past four years, as I transitioned from being a single university student to a married mother of two.

Mum isn’t only my business partner but also a doting and very involved grandmother.

One of the difficulties of working as a mother-daughter team is the blur between personal time and business time.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of not making dedicated private time with each other or getting into the habit of talking about work at a family meal because it is convenient.

I still remember back when I had recently moved out of home, and I was sitting across from Mum at our desks.

She asked when I was planning on coming over for dinner, as they hadn’t seen me in a while.

With a confused look, I said to her, ‘But I’m sitting right across from you now?’ It was through this interaction that we realized how important it was to ensure we have time with each other that has nothing to do with work.

Enbacci co-founder Nan Chen

Yong-Li’s three hero products

Age Revitalising Eye Defence
I believe eye products receive insufficient recognition when addressing aging concerns, as most people don’t start using them until they notice signs of aging.

However, as I’ve mentioned, skincare revolves around effective barrier function and slowing down the aging process.

Therefore, we should incorporate specialized skincare products well before we observe aging issues we end up trying to remedy later.

This eye cream, containing a combination of apple stem cells, Dunaliella salina extract, palmitoyl tripeptide-5, panthenol, and sodium hyaluronate, truly saves the under-eye area.

With just two weeks of day and night use, you’ll notice a significant improvement in the appearance of that area.

Calm Reset Cleansing Balm
As a mother of two, I genuinely appreciate how this simplifies my nighttime skincare routine.

It’s an excellent product for those with dry skin types, especially for aging skin, as it’s formulated with a range of nourishing oils that gently remove makeup and debris from the skin.

Complete Body Firming Lotion
The first body product that contains Saponaria pumila stem cells effectively improves skin elasticity and density as we age.

I applied this multiple times a day throughout my pregnancies to help with stressed skin, and I continue to use it daily for aging skin.

It encourages us to care for our skin beyond just our faces, as the skin is the body’s largest organ and plays a vital role in our defense against pathogens.

Learn how to take care of your skin as you age.

Story by Zoe Briggs. Imagery provided by Enbacci.

This article was created in partnership with Enbacci.

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