Online Exclusives

Ancient Irish Secret

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | July 23, 2013

Straight from the Emerald Isle, Voya’s seaweed products are found in spas, hotels and retail markets around the world.

Seaweed has a storied history of medicinal benefits. Once referred to as the “Sailor’s cure,” seaweed baths have been popular for more than 300 years.
The Irish flocked to facilities that used the marine plant to cure what ailed them. At one time, there were more than 100 marine wellness centers in Ireland alone, each offering baths using the marine plant harvested from the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Today, the number of wellness centers in Ireland has dropped to a scant few, but Voya is keeping the benefits of seaweed treatments alive and well with modern consumers in the Ireland and elsewhere.
The cold-water plant seems to be a hot commodity with eco-minded shoppers who are smitten with natural and organic products.
“In the last 10 years we have seen the demand for our seaweed baths and other therapies expand rapidly, fueled by the cultural shift to embrace traditional wellness practices along with a move to organic products and materials,” said Mark Walton, managing director, who founded Voya Beauty.
This Spring, Voya’s products were picked up by its first online retailer in the US, But spa goers and travelers in the US and many other countries may have encountered this organic beauty and skin care brand through its extensive hotel amenities and spa presence.
“Thankfully, our launch coincides with a large consumer shift towards organics and general environmental awareness,” Walton said.
Voya traces its roots back to 1912 when the first seaweed bath/wellness center opened in Strandhill, County Sligo.
Walton, who describes Voya’s current seaside spa “modest,” has seen client turnover grow from 3,000 customers to 40,000 annually.  
That foot traffic helps Voya’s retail presence.
“Voya seaweed baths is a bit of a ‘must do’ thing in Ireland and attracts around 30,000 visitors a year, so it’s a natural sampling tool,” he said. “The natural evolution of the growth of our business was the decision to supplement our seaweed baths, which are certified organic, with a range of seaweed based organic therapies and health and beauty products.”
Walton added, “Voya is the result of eight years work; our products and therapies combine our traditional knowledge of the therapeutic properties of seaweed with the scientific expertise of the best cosmetic scientists, marine biologists and dermatologists.”
Today, Voya products can be found in 35 countries, with approximately 95% of its business coming through luxury hotel and day spas. Its retail clients include Selfridges in London, House of Fraser and Avoca in Ireland.
Voya has been supplying a number of US luxury properties, notably St. Regis, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Canyon Ranch. The brand’s Seaweed Bath is its most iconic product; the facial serum and body moisturizer are extremely popular too.
“Real advances in green chemistry over the last few years” have really helped with consumer expectation, according to Walton, who has the “organic” movement in his blood. His father, a founder of the organic movement in Ireland, was one of the original directors on the board of the Organic Trust.
“Eco/Organic may be new, it’s not for us; we grew up with it, along with the tradition of sustainably harvesting seaweed by hand,” said Walton, who has helped with drafting organic aquaculture standards for the European Union organic standards. He also sits on the EU expert panel on organic standards for the EU Commission and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), which works to promote sustainable organic agriculture around the world.
According to Walton, Voya uses biodegradable or recyclable materials in its packaging “wherever feasible, down to the chips we pack our boxes with.” In addition, manufacturing is done with sustainable energy, (specifically wind) in Strandhill.
“Five years ago, being a certified organic brand meant we had to make compromises when it came to feel and texture of many cosmetics and we couldn’t make a comparable products. That thankfully has changed significantly,” said Walton.
He told HAPPI that the firm has invested approximately 20% of its turnover in R&D, specifically for new product development.
“The fruit of this is going to be a seismic re-launch of making core products, but also brand extension,” he told HAPPI.
Without divulging too many details, Walton said expect significant brand expansion, with focused isolated seaweed extract to treat conditions rather than skin types.
“We are also launching sub-ranges for global markets and a highly functional range of organic facial products, targeting the age defiance sector in 2014, which will use many ingredients developed from a collaborative project with a few Irish universities.”

Related End-User Markets:

blog comments powered by Disqus
  • Who Makes That?

    Who Makes That?

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||April 1, 2016
    From concept and formulation to testing and filling, today’s contract manufacturers perform a range of services for marketers

  • Multi-Cultural Beauty Update

    Multi-Cultural Beauty Update

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||April 1, 2016
    Established brands and start-ups address the needs of multi-cultural beauty consumers.

  • The Scalp Microbiome

    The Scalp Microbiome

    Nava Dayan PhD, Dr. Nava Dayan LLC||April 1, 2016
    A review of recent findings and innovative approaches for treating scalp disorders.

  • Mapping Out Multicultural Beauty

    Mapping Out Multicultural Beauty

    April 25, 2016
    Agnieszka Saintemarie of Kline Group about current trends and challenges in multicultural beauty.

  • At a Loss for Curls?

    April 22, 2016
    Amplixin, a Miami-based maker of hair strengthening products, has a solution for hair loss.

  • Why Look Good, When You Can Look Perfect?

    Why Look Good, When You Can Look Perfect?

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||April 4, 2016
    A new way to try-before-you buy is capturing the attention of consumers and the beauty industry.

  • NYSCC Explores Product Innovation

    NYSCC Explores Product Innovation

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||March 14, 2016
    New product development, formulation expertise and proper preservation are topics of discussion at February monthly meeting.

  • Battling Pollution via Skin Care

    Battling Pollution via Skin Care

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||March 7, 2016
    Canadian start-up turns to crowdfunding to help launch a new anti-pollution moisturizer.

  • Texture on the Runway

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||February 22, 2016
    Au Naturale by Dark and Lovely, Cantu, Creme of Nature, Design Essentials and Garnier create head-turning hairstyles.

  • Arm

    Arm's Reach: skin care line with unique packaging

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 15, 2016
    Chemist brothers create a skin care line with packaging that helps consumers cover hard to reach spots.

  • Buy the Sea, Buy the Sea, Buy the Beautiful Sea

    Buy the Sea, Buy the Sea, Buy the Beautiful Sea

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||February 9, 2016
    Nova Scotia Fisherman makes a boatload of products that contain sea kelp and a raft of natural ingredients.

  • What

    What's on Tap for 2016?

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||February 8, 2016
    CEW and NPD present their beauty industry review and preview.

  • Witch

    Witch's Brew: Dickinson's celebrates milestone in 2016

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 1, 2016
    Dickinson’s celebrates 150 years of witch hazel skin care with the biggest line expansion in the company’s history.

  • From Research to Retail

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||February 1, 2016
    What began as research on skin disorders led a dermatologist and his father to create their own skin care formulas.

  • 5 Things I Learned

    5 Things I Learned

    January 15, 2016
    The Avon & Women’s Dermatologic Society Mentorship Program. Dr. Sabrina Fabi (left) and Dr. Kimberly Jerdan.

  • Perfect Timing

    Perfect Timing

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||January 11, 2016
    New ways of collecting data can help cosmetics companies understand what women really want—and when they want it.

  • When a Cosmetic Becomes a Drug

    When a Cosmetic Becomes a Drug

    Jacqueline Sheridan, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP||January 11, 2016
    The unintentional conversion of personal care products through marketing.

  • Africa, Rising

    Africa, Rising

    December 14, 2015
    Savvy marketers should expand their operations on the continent, according to speakers at a WFFC seminar.

  • A Home of One’s Own

    A Home of One’s Own

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 23, 2015
    NeoStrata’s Exuviance has opened its first freestanding retail space, complete with on-site skin analysis and express treatment rooms.

  • Hitting a Wall(mart)

    Hitting a Wall(mart)

    November 9, 2015
    Walmart imposes slotting fees and that hurts a lot of Tier 2 and 3 FMCG companies.

  • That’s Quite an Achievement!

    That’s Quite an Achievement!

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||November 2, 2015
    The CEW honors seven beauty industry leaders.

  • What

    What's Not to Love?

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||October 26, 2015
    The sun care category is rife with issues, but there’s a lot to like about it.

  • Sharp Competition

    Sharp Competition

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 26, 2015 signs a high-profile athlete to promote its growing direct-to-consumer razor and personal care business.

  • About a Boy

    About a Boy

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 19, 2015
    As a mom, Jenny Cupido wanted to solve her son’s skin issues. Now she’s raising an indie beauty brand too.

  • A Suite Deal

    A Suite Deal

    October 12, 2015
    Image Studios provides an innovative venue for beauty professionals seeking a new way to do business.

  • For Their Own Good

    For Their Own Good

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||September 29, 2015
    With a rich heritage and recognized formulation expertise, FC Sturtevant Company is moving into the consumer marketplace.

  • A Foothold in Foot Care

    A Foothold in Foot Care

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||September 22, 2015
    Treating feet right is the heart and soul of one Brooklyn-based company.

  • SK-II to the Rescue

    SK-II to the Rescue

    September 8, 2015
    A new formula targets microRNA, which a P&G researcher insists plays a key role in skin aging.