In Conversation With Seda Bilginer & Amanda Sichon

Today's inspiring Forte Females are the founders of Esas Beauty, Seda Bilginer and Amanda Sichon. Esas Beauty is a sustainable and organic fragrance and beauty brand developed by these two chemists, who had been working in the corporate beauty industry for a combined 25+ years. Seda and Amanda set out to create a beauty manufacturing company, inspired by their mutual love for science, agritech, wellness and innovation. They saw a true need to create skincare and cosmetics that deliver superior benefits without compromising the health of the people who use them, the health of the people that make them, and the wellbeing of Mother Nature. Esas Beauty develop high performing, organic beauty products, rooted in rituals and traditions from around the world that increase your overall skin health and wellness. They believe in taking care of yourself so you can take care of others. 10% of all of their profits will be donated to Action Against Hunger, a global humanitarian organization providing communities with access to safe water and sustainable solutions to hunger.

Tell us about Esas Beauty

Esas Beauty is a premier fragrance & beauty house, focusing on organic & sustainable products, rooted in the traditions of our ancestors. Esas is the Turkish word for real & rooted, because we only use real ingredients from nature in our formulas. Amanda and I decided to launch Esas after working for a combination of 25 years in the fragrance manufacturing industry. Our goal was to improve upon one of the oldest industries and create products that were good for you, good for the people who make them, and of course the environment!

What's your process behind creating your fragrances and skincare, particularly in relation to your 3-prong approach?

Fragrance development can be inspired from anything and everything around us including our memories, favourite destinations, ingredients and, of course, holidays. Once we’ve decided on an olfactive direction, it mostly incorporates hours, days and weeks of creating and smelling lab trials until we like the way it smells! We always like to have outside opinions, so once we are happy with a direction, we will defer to our internal community and send them samples to evaluate. Until we feel we’ve reached a consensus where everyone’s happy, we will rework the formula. Once we’ve approved our formula, we will run it through a battery of stability and safety testing.

Our 3-prong approach is a scientific method that we established in formulating our products. Our goal is to combat inflammation and damage by repairing, hydrating and protecting your skin with all of our skincare products as follows:

  1. Repair & reduce inflammation in combating free radicals and pollutants by restoring the skin’s microbiome with the highest quality enzymatic ingredients.
  2. Hydrate & moisturise your skin with antioxidants and humectants.
  3. Protect & prevent transepidermal water loss and long-term environmental damage with organic and cold-pressed oils and butters.

Both of you have backgrounds in Chemistry - what motivated you to primarily go down this route and eventually into beauty?

Seda Bilginer – Chemistry was one of the only subjects that made sense to me and it quickly became my favourite, especially Organic Chem. While I was in college, I did 3 years of research with one of my professors and knew it wasn’t something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. While I was researching a variety of PhD programs, we had a speaker come to one of our school events and talk about cosmetic chemistry. I couldn’t believe that was an actual field of work that I could apply my studies to. I quickly decided against staying in research and got an internship at a skincare contract manufacturer, which ended up becoming my first job!

Amanda Sichon - I love learning why things work! I find chemistry to be a nice balance of all the disciplines, but what makes it special is that we can get a genuine understanding of why certain problems happen and how nature & science can resolve them. I love the applied sciences and chemistry was the best route. I got into beauty after learning about fragrance ingredients in organic chemistry and then looked for my first internship at a fragrance house.

What inspired your dedication to sustainability in beauty?

Honestly, our grandparents. As first-generation Americans, we were both raised with the help of our grandparents (from Turkey & the Philippines). When we were establishing the company and its ethos, we talked a lot about the values we were taught by them, from eating organic, practicing sustainability and just being kind. While they didn’t have the modern words to describe this way of living, they certainly taught us that to live simply and respectfully of ourselves, one another and the environment was and is the best way.

And ultimately, we left our corporate careers to make a positive impact in the world. It was so important to us, that if we were going to do something, it needed to be done to the highest of standards without any shortcuts. Improving the lives of people with our products was equally as important as taking care of our environment. We all know that the beauty industry creates an infinite amount of waste that ends up in our oceans and inevitably our food supply chains. We wanted to create a circular and regenerative business model, because everything in life is cyclical. Sustainability is a lifestyle mindset and it’s something we wanted ingrained in our culture from Day 1.

What's one thing you think the beauty industry can do as a whole to improve its sustainability practices?

There are so many things we can do on the front and back end from sourcing to packaging like:

1. Integrating more local supply chains
2. Reducing plastic waste throughout the lifecycle of a product
3. Creating more refilling/recycling programs
4. Optimising manufacturing processes to be less wasteful
5. Use ingredients that are biodegradable.

What are your favourite beauty places or spa treatments?

Seda: If I could live in a spa, I would! After trying dozens of treatments, the hydra-facial became my go-to! It’s truly the perfect all-in-one facial that cleanses, exfoliates and hydrates! I always leave with the most glowy skin.

Amanda: I’m definitely more of a massage girl! Due to my eczema, I find that getting facials can sometimes irritate my skin and cause breakouts. I prefer to pamper my skin at home and save the spa treatments for massages!

What is your skincare regime (morning and evening)?

Seda: I believe less is more when it comes to ingredients in skincare! For evenings, I cleanse with our own cleansing butter formula which I remove using a warm washcloth. Afterwards, I moisturise with our facial oil. In the mornings, I usually splash a little water on my face and apply a quarter-size amount of oil and do my daily gua sha. Once a week, I like to apply a light glycolic acid toner for exfoliation. If I feel I have a pimple coming on, I dab a drop of our Kolonya, it really works due to the formula's anti-inflammatory properties! We’ve had several people reach out and tell us they do the same thing!

Amanda: I have had eczema since I was a baby and am very particular about what I put on my skin. Less is also more for me and I keep my skincare routine very light. In the evenings, I use a cleansing butter to remove any excess oils and makeup from the day. Immediately after, I use our mineral-rich and anti-inflammatory facial oil. In the mornings, I usually spray our rose oil facial mist I made for myself and that’s about it!

Any skincare advice for our readers?

Eat right & take off your makeup at night! Beautiful skin starts from within. If you’re not eating properly and getting enough rest, all the masks in the world won’t help. In terms of finding the right skincare, do your research. We are all different and react differently to different products. I once created a spreadsheet of all the products I was using and kept weekly tracking of how my skin was reacting. This is something you have to do more than once because just like you, your skin is always changing. Make a habit of observing your skin and finding products and habits that best support it.

What are your plans with Esas Beauty for the rest of 2021/2022?

We will be launching the remainder of our Holiday-scented Kolonya, in addition to our first collection of organic candles! In 2022, we will be expanding our Kolonya Collection, Organic Fragrance Mists, Candles and finally introducing our skincare!

What's your favourite:


Seda: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Amanda: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall


Seda: Groundhog Day

Amanda: The Firm


Seda: How I Built This

Amanda: Snacks Daily

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