In early 2008 I found my skincare soulmate in Metta Murdaya's Indonesian botanical based line, Juara. Indonesian-born but US educated, Murdaya combined the principles and ingredients of her island archipelago home with the most stringent standards of spa skincare found in her earth-forward (adopted) hometown, San Francisco. The nascent line's resulting brilliance, even in its infancy, earned it coveted space on the shelves of Bendel's and Bliss. After sitting down for a cup of coffee in Soho with Metta last fall, I left certain that this powerhouse would continue to contribute to the skincare world for a long long time. Thus there is no woman better suited to be our inaugural guest for this the first installment of "The Same Questions I ask Everybody."
What is your first memory of beauty products?
-My first memory is from when I could first walk. I would watch my mother ‘put on her face’ meticulously in Indonesia EVERY morning. I recall how much time she took to do her makeup – and how much time she spent not only putting on the color, but also the ‘prep,’ the moisturizer, sunblock, all sorts of things I didn’t recognize at the time. I remember my dad saying “It’ll be another hour and half until your mom is done…” and I would think, “Wow, will I have to do that too when I’m older? Then I don’t want to grow up!” Haha.
At what age did you start wearing makeup?
-While growing up I have always gone light-to-no makeup. As an adolescent with oily skin prone to breakouts, I was more concerned about ‘not clogging pores’ and keeping acne breakouts under control. I was a bit of a tomboy all through the first half of high school in San Francisco, where ‘au natural’ was the preferred look, however, I did start flirting with lipstick around 6th grade… Believe it or not, only last year did I start wearing foundation. Being in front of TVs and cameras really very quickly gets you adjusted to makeup.
If you could apply only one product for the next month what would it be?
-So tough! I would choose either sunblock or a moisturizer. But probably a sunblock – since I know there are some sunblocks with good emmolient, moisturizing properties, (sufficient for my skin anyway…) and the key to preventative maintenance against aging is sunblock – those UVA/B rays are real killers! But after 31 days, you'll see me running for my moisturizer and toner!
If you could give one product to all women in the world what would it be?
-I have to say JUARA’s Tamarind Tea Hyrdating Toner. I’m not saying this just because it’s a product in my line, but because we created that product based on a need I didn’t see any other product out there fulfilling. It’s a dehydration buster with antioxidant properties. And we know dehydration in ALL skin types (not just dryness) is one of the leading causes of aging. It will single-handedly quench your thirsty skin and make your skin softer and more hydrated (with no oil) but with a chock full of hyaluronic acid and tamarind seed extract. And it makes whatever moisturizer you put on after work better. (So you can use less of it, and go easy on your jar of Crème de La Mer.) Also, if you want a hydrated but not heavy/greasy skin this is your product. It’s packed with tea antioxidants, but fragrance free, paraben-free. We keep the ingredient list pretty tight. In the summer, I actually forgo the moisturizer and just use the toner (which oily skinned people can do,) since my skin produces enough oil anyway…No cotton ball needed either, wouldn’t want to waste the precious liquid on a ball, and at a rocking $27, it lasts sooooo long…
If you could ban one harmful ingredient from all beauty products what would it be?
-If I had to choose one harmful ingredient - harsh detergents and scrubs should be banned. Our skin is a gentle organ that needs to be nurtured and taken care of. It’s a myth that we have to really scrub or wash our faces until it become squeaky clean in order for it to be REALLY clean. This feeling of “needs to be squeaky clean” may come from childhood, when us oily teens were told to wash with bar soap and we got used to what that felt like, but that’s not a good benchmark. There are plenty of gentle surfactants that can cleanse thoroughly but not irritate or strip the skin – which can cause or aggravate redness and irritation. It’s misleading – I have gotten many a phone call or email from people who think they have “weird, schizo skin” that is red, dry but greasy, irritated, and need to know what moisturizer or mask to use. My first question is: What do you use as a cleanse? It’s important to be kind to your skin in the first step of your cleansing/skincare routine. If you mistreat your skin at Step 1, you’ll be taking step 2 and 3 to undo that damage, instead of really improving your skin.
What is your favorite skincare ingredient?
-In sunblocks, I LOVE mexoryl. UVA protection that’s less photosensitive and won’t turn my skin white. Other skincare ingredients – I’m a huge fan of Kombucha/Fermented Sweet Black Tea and Hyaluronic Acid. Kombucha is a natural, preventative anti-aging ingredient, not harsh but effective, and hyaluronic acid is just so clean and hydrating.
What is the last product you created?
-In March, we launched the Sweet Black Tea & Ginger Mattefying Moisturizer. It’s an oil-free moisturizer (for combo to oily skin), a counterpart to our existing and popular Sweet Black Tea & Rice Facial Moisturizer (for dry to combo skin.) It contains Ginger and Cinnamon, which are good natural oil-control ingredients, with Sweet Black Tea (Fermented Sweet Black Tea, actually,) which has anti-aging properties. A moisturizer that’s BOTH anti-aging AND has oil-control, is fragrance free, paraben free and works great under makeup, it’s being received quite well!
Who is the business woman you most admire?
-One of my role models is Anita Roddick – the founder of Body Shop. Beauty products inspired by natural ingredients are more commonplace today, but back when the Body Shop was founded decades ago, I think her model to create a natural based line which contributed back to the communities from which she got her ingredients from was amazing. I think she really institutionalized the concept of “Giving Back” in beauty and also managed to make the line large and successful – which shows you can be a business woman and make great contributions to society at the same time and be very successful at both.
Whose beauty do you most admire?
-I don’t have a specific person in mind. I see beauty as an inside-out concept – if you’re passionate about life, what you’re doing, and really care about the people around you, that energy really translates – and I do believe it translates into your skin. Women who are healthy (take care of what they eat and exercise,) try to live life to the fullest and share laughter with friends – I’m convinced there’s something internal (lower stress factor? A happiness glow?) that just radiates to the outside. That’s the kind of beauty I admire, because it’s natural. It will exude no matter how much or little sleep you’ve had.
What was your best Spa experience?
-My best spa experience has been in Bali, hands down. It’s hard to beat a multiple hour treatment that starts with a delicious massage, followed by a body scrub, then a FANTASTIC yogurt rub, and a warm floral bath with rose petals and magnolias floating all around you, while you’re also sipping a traditional ginger/spice filled sweet herbal tea. One of the locations I received this treatment at was on a mountainside where I could hear the waterfall on the other side of the mountain, and the view from the outdoor floral bath was of the mountains as far up, down, right, and left as the eye can see… The other one was a similar treatment, but by the beach so I could hear the ocean waves as the warm beach air brushed by my body. (Tugu Hotel, Bali)
Besides your own, what is your favorite brand?
-It depends on the product. I love products that don’t make me feel like I have goop on my face or threatens to aggravate my skin or drown it in perfume.
Sunblock: I LOVE La Roche Posay. It’s just so gentle and elegant feeling on the skin.
Moisturizer: Avene/Vichy: Also good for sensitive skin (love!!) has a nice, light smell and isn’t overwhelmingly greasy. It absorbs quite well.
Cleanser: So hard – I really do love our JUARA Rice Facial Cleanser. But as backup, Rice Force, a line in Japan works great too.
Body products: Scrubs and stuff – 100% Pure is just pure healthy decadence.
Hair: (Though we don’t have hair products…) Pureology is my latest favorite. I have long, black, coarse hair – it moisturizes it and gives it body with no frizz, and brings out the natural waves.
Thank you Metta for sharing your incredible skincare knowledge and of course the Tugu Hotel treatment recommendation. I didn't start wearing makeup or foundation until I was 26. I love hearing that someone else has fallen as hard and as fast as I have for all the truly effective and environmentally friendly products now on the market.