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:

  • OTC = TLC

    OTC = TLC

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||March 1, 2017
    Over-the-counter treatments provide consumers’ skin and hair with extra care.

  • The Green Dot

    The Green Dot

    John Kim and Lambros Kromidas, PhD*, Shiseido Americas||March 1, 2017
    Insights into one of the most used trademarks in the world.

  • An Essential Read

    An Essential Read

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2017
    Industry expert Nadim Shaath takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the history and the future of essential oils.

  • The Good, The Bad Can Get Ugly

    The Good, The Bad Can Get Ugly

    March 28, 2017
    If you are what you eat, you may really be in trouble!

  • What’s Up with Brexit?

    What’s Up with Brexit?

    March 9, 2017
    During In-Cosmetics, industry experts from the CTPA will weigh in on what’s ahead for the beauty industry.

  • Fit for Fitness

    Fit for Fitness

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 21, 2017
    Kinx Active is a new brand targeting women who want beauty products that can stand up to their fitness routines.

  • Monday Morning Quarterback

    Monday Morning Quarterback

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 6, 2017
    Super Bowl commercials are big business. Let’s look at some of personal and household care brands that bought spots this year

  • Catch These Rising Stars of Beauty

    Catch These Rising Stars of Beauty

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||February 6, 2017
    Who won what at Fashion Group International's Rising Star awards show

  • Erasa

    Erasa's New Evangelist(a)

    January 9, 2017
    Impressed by the performance of its hero SKU, supermodel Linda Evangelista joins the company in a hand's on role.

  • Discourse on Disclosure

    Discourse on Disclosure

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||January 6, 2017
    Transparency impacts the cleaning industry.

  • The Top Stories of 2016

    The Top Stories of 2016

    December 26, 2016
    The companies and topics that grabbed headlines and your attention this year.

  • Positive Influence

    Positive Influence

    December 19, 2016
    Co-founder Elizabeth Scherle talks about her growing consumer review platform, top beauty products and more.

  • Olivia Care Pays It Forward

    Olivia Care Pays It Forward

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||December 12, 2016
    Seeking post-election unity, a small natural personal care company hopes to cause a big wave of giving.

  • Cos Bar: Turning 40 and Hitting Fast Forward

    Cos Bar: Turning 40 and Hitting Fast Forward

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 21, 2016
    With a recent investor infusion, a new CEO and rebranding effort underway, this luxury beauty retailer has big plans.

  • Organic Matter

    Organic Matter

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 14, 2016
    FTC and USDA hold a public roundtable to discuss consumers’ perception of organic claims.

  • Help for Up Above

    Help for Up Above

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 14, 2016
    A brand from Down Under is touting a new formulation for what’s missing on top.

  • Get Ready, ‘Cause Here it Comes…

    Get Ready, ‘Cause Here it Comes…

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 1, 2016
    Skinphonic is a new brand created with a team of beauty experts and fronted by singer Smokey Robinson.

  • Hair for Me!

    Hair for Me!

    October 31, 2016
    Function of Beauty fulfills the promise of personalization in the beauty space—one bottle at a time.

  • A Facial Bar Grows in Brooklyn

    A Facial Bar Grows in Brooklyn

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 24, 2016
    With three doors in Canada, Blitz Facial Bar opens its first US location in one of the hippest areas of New York.

  • Let the Magic Begin!

    Let the Magic Begin!

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||October 10, 2016
    IFSCC Congress gets underway at Walt Disney World this month.

  • Ogee Opens for Business

    Ogee Opens for Business

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 10, 2016
    Banking on the power of jojoba oil, a Vermont-based start-up is the newest player in organic luxury skin care.

  • P&G’s Latest Patents

    P&G’s Latest Patents

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 10, 2016
    A look at recent patent and IP related news from the biggest household and personal care player in the US.

  • A Cosmetic Armor Against Pollution

    A Cosmetic Armor Against Pollution

    Julia Comas, Cristina Davi, Elena Canadas, Laia Gonzalez, Raquel Delgado, Lipotec SAU||October 3, 2016
    Lipotec’s Pollushield creates a barrier between skin and pollutants and boosts the antioxidative potential of skin.

  • Cosmetic Chemists Head to Orlando Next Month

    Cosmetic Chemists Head to Orlando Next Month

    September 26, 2016
    Organizing Chair Guy Padulo explains why you should attend the IFSCC Congress.

  • Active Agents

    Active Agents

    September 19, 2016
    On the surface, surfactants may seem staid, but the market, and the supplier activity driving it, is bubbling.

  • Expanding Erbaviva

    Expanding Erbaviva

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||September 13, 2016
    A farm-to-bottle organic brand celebrates its 20th anniversary with a new look, new products and plans to expand in the US.

  • Lauder’s Latest Patents

    Lauder’s Latest Patents

    September 1, 2016
    A composition with NIR light emitting material, a skin care device and more awarded to this beauty business giant.

  • Long Term Sustainability In the Nonwovens Market

    Long Term Sustainability In the Nonwovens Market

    August 23, 2016
    Learn more at Cleaning Products USA, Nov. 9-11, 2016