How I Created Overnight Facial
Four years in the making, Overnight Facial rapidly became my best-known product – and not just that, but one of the most famous formulas in the beauty industry. But how did it become an icon? I answered some of my most-asked questions for an insider look at what went into creating this formula.
What was the inspiration behind Overnight Facial, and why does it have to work overnight?
In my facials at the time, I was mixing results-driven cosmeceutical ingredients and vitamins with a splash of an oil, botanicals, balms and floral waters to create an unctuous blend to massage the face with – a mix that smelt amazing yet delivered powerful rejuvenating results. I wondered why we could not have all the technical aspects blended with natural and pleasurable elements, and I decided that we could! The main priority was for the formula to deliver results, but it was important for it to have not only concentrated levels of actives, but also the refined oils in it for the skin conditioning and supportive benefits and for that massaging pleasure factor.
It became a night-time concept for homecare due to its concentration of actives but also that wonderful sensation of applying an indulgent oil-serum at night. At night, our skin goes into ‘repair mode’ – cellular renewal speeds up, and our skin repairs itself from damage incurred during the day. I wanted to recreate the effects of a facial overnight as much as possible so looked at what all the comments were after a facial – “my skin looks plump”, “I look rejuvenated”, “I look like I have had a lift”, “my skin is glowing”, “I look younger and healthier”, “my lines look less obvious” – I then used this insight to focus on targeting all of these elements with a carefully calibrated blend of ingredients.
Why was it so important to you that it was pleasurable to use?
One of my first clients once said to me: “At the weekend, I had a friend to visit. She was in the bathroom doing her skincare regime, and she opened up this big pot and stuck her fingers into this luxurious cream, and I thought, that looks so lovely. And I turned back to my aluminium tube, and I squeezed out this smelly cream and put it on, and felt so envious – but I said to myself, "Listen to Sarah, I’m going to look so much better than her in 20 years’ time!"
I had already been thinking about creating my own products, but in that moment, I thought – why can’t the product you’re using deliver results, but also smell great, feel great, and give you that moment of luxury?
What effect were you aiming for?
I wanted applying Overnight Facial to feel like wrapping yourself in a cashmere blanket: indulgent and pleasurable. My ideal was for people to enjoy the moment of putting it on just like they’d enjoy a facial massage in the Clinic, and to have that feeling of being cocooned in the smells and the process – and I wanted them to wake up with their skin really plumped-up and glowing, like they’d had a facial while they slept.
How did you come up with the name?
When I came up with Overnight Facial and ran it by people, everyone thought it was the most ridiculous name for a product, and that people wouldn’t understand what it was. In the end I thought, I like it, I’m going to go with that anyway. In general, developing the products was like that – people said, “don’t put it in that packaging, that colour’s too masculine, nobody’s going to like it”. I had a vision for things and I was almost quite naïve – I knew what I wanted, so I just went with my instincts!
How did you know it was a winning formula?
If you’d asked me at the time whether Overnight Facial would have been the bestseller and become an icon, I wouldn’t have known. Overnight Facial was really in a category of its own – there wasn’t anything like it, so I couldn’t compare it to anything else on the market. I suppose that is partly why it was so successful but even today, 13 years on, it is still unique!
How long did it take to create the final formula?
The formula went through four different labs over four and a half years, with maybe 40 or 50 versions in all. Even in the last prototype, when we had the structure of the formula, it still took several rounds to get the smell right.
Would you ever update it?
I’ve looked at the formula and thought about it, but so far there hasn’t been anything else that it’s needed. There are new versions of certain ingredients, but after studying those, they’re not going to add any benefits as it’s already so potent. If there were some new clinical research, like a new molecule with amazing efficacy that wasn’t covered by the actives in there, I’d try it – but I haven’t seen that yet.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at Overnight Facial. All these years later, it’s still my Skinesis desert island product.