Honestly, after a few years as a beauty journalist, not a whole lot surprises me anymore. In my time on the enjoyable-yet-objectively-outrageous beauty beat, I’ve seen brands spruik a veritable smorgasbord of unexpected ingredients – red wine, kimchi, even wasabi.
But despite my familiarity with left-of-centre launches, I had to do a double take when local brand Synth Labs Intl slid into my inbox with its latest launch, Bang Gang – which purports to have bottled a post-coital glow, thanks to its use of “aphrodisiac technology”. I was immediately intrigued.
Not a lot is known about Synth Labs Intl, and I get the feeling Sydney-based founders Dani and Sasha Shreev like it that way. They’ve kept their range minimal, starting with Chill – a frozen (kind of phallic-looking) face mask that glides onto your skin like an icy pole – and following it up in November with the unveiling of “polyamorous” skin kit Bang Gang.
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Dani tells me that it all began while she was working at a well-known beauty retailer as a make-up artist. “Sasha and I are obsessed with beauty. We admired the innovation of Korean and French skin care, but we saw room in the Australian industry for a skincare brand that was based in science, but also felt visionary.” The couple decided to explore formulas incorporating native Australian ingredients, plus “a touch of the subversive”.
Having noticed an explosion of high-strength actives in the market, they wanted to offer counter-products to soothe the skin. “We chose to utilise proven yet gentle actives in our formulas over more aggressive dermal options such as retinol and acids,” Dani explains. “We are seeing brands pushing higher and higher percentages of actives or acids in their products, but this can disrupt the skin’s acid mantle, causing inflammation and provoking sensitivities.”
With their unorthodox design, Synth Labs Intl products stand out in a jam-packed industry. Chill, the “iceblock facial”, piqued interest on Instagram thanks to its ageless, gender-neutral appeal. “I would freeze serums at home and apply these little ice cubes in the morning and before bed, so I knew they helped with hydration and puffiness, but I needed something supercharged,” Dani recalls of her vision for the product. “I found a great formulation chemist, listed my non-negotiable ingredients such as cica grass and Kakadu plum, and after years of painstaking research and development, we created Chill.”
The latest product, Bang Gang, was conceived as a skincare cocktail system, consisting of both a serum and a moisturising concentrate. The serum, which features a blend of niacinamide (a form of vitamin B-3 that helps build proteins and lock moisture in the skin) and vitamin C (a hydrating antioxidant that has a role in repairing skin damage), can be used on its own or combined with the hydrating concentrate to create what Dani calls the “ultimate love potion” for your skin.
This is where the aphrodisiac element comes in. According to Dani, the pair chose ingredients that increase circulation and oxygenation to “arouse” your skin, helping to kick off its glow-inducing renewal process.
The serum also features phyto-endorphin Vitex agnus-castus, which is “reputed to stimulate beta-endorphin activity and induce feelings of pleasure, assist in healing the skin’s natural barrier. It’s also anti-aging,” Dani adds.
The couple are excited to turn Synth Labls Intl’s inventive attitude towards fragrance and body care next. “The beauty space is oversaturated but not very competitive in terms of formulation. We require extra time to research and test everything, but it means our products aren’t clones of what’s already available,” Dani says. “We strive to create Australian-made products that tick all the boxes in that they are multi-use, made in micro-batches, and they’re both vegan and cruelty-free. We want to be the antidote to the ‘fast’ beauty industry.”
Synth Labs Intl products are available online now.